The size of your database means nothing if the people you want to communicate with don’t engage with your emails. In fact, your email database naturally degrades by about 22.5% each year and the more disengaged contacts you have in your list, the worse your email delivery and the less effective your campaigns will be. How do you address this? By clearing out dirty data and practicing good email list hygiene.

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What is Dirty Data?

Dirty data is any information you have that is causing problems for your business. Common examples in email databases include:

  • Duplicate records
  • Outdated information
  • Incomplete or inaccurate data
  • Non-compliant data

How it Impacts You

Dirty data reduces your ability to communicate with the right people. When this happens, a whole bunch of things can result, like:

  • Lower email deliverability: Email service providers calculate how recipients engage with your emails and use this information to determine if you’re a spammer. The lower your engagement (a consequence of dirty data), the more likely it is that your emails will be marked as spam, reducing your email engagement even more.
  • Fruitless marketing campaigns: Sending the wrong information to the wrong people, sending to disengaged contacts, or sending mails that just bounce back kills the effectiveness of your campaigns and skews your campaign metrics.
  • Misguided decision-making: When your stats are incorrect, the decisions you make based on those stats are ungrounded too, reducing your campaign effectiveness even further.
  • Decreased ROI on email: When your emails aren’t performing optimally, you pay more for less effective campaigns and your bottom line is impacted.
  • Low-quality leads for sales: When your data is incomplete, incorrect, or stale, the leads that go to the Sales team are of the same quality.
  • Poor customer experience: Send information to the wrong person and not only are you at risk of a data breach, but the customer experience can be damaged too.
  • Damaged brand reputation: Data breaches, bad customer experiences… It’s not hard to see how these kinds of things can damage your brand. And in today’s world, when someone has a bad experience, they talk.
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Preventing Dirty Data

Data errors can creep into your mailing lists at any stage. To address this, we recommend cleaning your database every three months. A thorough, consistent list hygiene practice like this can help you mitigate risks like:

  • Sender reputation threats (e.g., spam traps, honey pots, etc.)
  • Inbox delivery threats (e.g., bots, spammers, etc.)
  • Customer conversion threats (e.g., false usernames, profanity, etc.)

4 List Hygiene Tips

Ready to rock your list hygiene? Here’s how you can maintain a clean list…

1. Don’t Buy Email Lists

This is a one-way ticket to getting marked as junk or getting blacklisted. People who haven’t opted into your communications will be way less engaged and are substantially more likely to report your emails as spam. It’s also illegal to send unsolicited email, and laws like POPIA and the GDPR prohibit this practice.

2. Set Up Double Opt-Ins

Double opted-in mailing lists send an email to contacts when they subscribe, asking them to confirm their subscription before they’re added to your database. How does this support email list hygiene? By ensuring that only engaged contacts (who are humans – not bots) are on your list.

A double-opt-in form like this may slow down the growth rate of your database, but the people on it will be way more likely to engage with your content, improving engagement and conversions.

Tip: When using a double opt-in form, let subscribers know that they’ll need to check their inboxes to confirm their subscription.

3. Remove Bounced Data

Bounced emails let you know when an error has occurred with a contact’s email address. Email service providers have pre-determined methods for automatically dealing with bounced emails. These systems handle soft and hard bounces differently:

  • Soft bounce: The system may try to re-send the email until a bounce limit is reached, based either on the number of bounces, or a time during which the mail consistently fails. Once the bounce limit has been reached, the system will stop sending emails to that address.
  • Hard bounce: Most email service providers will automatically suspend an email address that returns a hard bounce. This is to avoid developing a bad reputation with the ISPs and possibly being marked as spam.

We don’t recommend that you delete contacts who have been set to an inactive status due to bounces. If you do, you run the risk of re-importing them at a later stage and sending to them again, damaging your email reputation.

Email bounces are inevitable in marketing. Want to get the lowest bounce rate to boost the efficiency of your campaigns? Here are six tactics to get you started.

Clean Up Your Dirty Data with These 4 Email Database Hygiene Tips | Everlytic | Email marketing | Happy man working at laptop

4. Segment Your Email List

Segmenting your lists into groups enables you to partition your contacts into various categories, like:

  • Active subscribers: Contacts who are opening and clicking your emails.
  • Not-so-active subscribers: Contacts who haven’t interacted with your emails in 6 months. This is a great opportunity to run re-engagement campaigns.
  • Inactive subscribers: Contacts who haven’t engaged with your emails in over a year. . If they don’t, switch these contacts ‘off’ or mark them as unsubscribed.

It’s Worth the Effort

Email list hygiene can be time consuming if your database has been running untouched for a while, but it’s worth the effort. Clean email databases perform better, giving you higher open and read rates, and a far better return compared to sending to uninterested or non-existent contacts. Get started now.

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