In our daily work, we send email campaigns on a regular basis. However, we tend to not take any action once the campaign has been sent. We’re talking about list hygiene.

Do you know that the various ISPs (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) know if you’re sending to an invalid email address and they can tank your deliverability?

Yes, they can.

For example, if after checking reports no action is taken in regards to bounces or email addresses that have not opened your last 30 campaigns, ISPs can start to block your campaigns with their filters. They will consider your emails to be from a sender that doesn’t take any action to improve results.

That said, do you know what you need to remove?

When we are referring to list hygiene, we’re talking about removing the hard bounces and email addresses which aren’t opening your campaigns.

If you don’t already know, there are three different types of bounces:

  • Confirmed bounces. The email addresses that no longer exist and the sending server has tried to contact them three times, but the campaign has been able to be delivered.
  • Hard bounces. These are email addresses that no longer exist. When they bounce three times, they turn into confirmed bounces. This could be due to a mistyped address, the domain no longer existing or the person who belongs to the email address no longer works there, and the address is no longer valid.
  • Soft bounces. They are email addresses that temporally are inactivate. It has not yet been possible to deliver the campaign, but only temporally. Consequently, they are valid email addresses which should not be removed. What might the temporary issue be? It could be that the inbox is full of messages and the person cannot receive more emails until they free up space for it. Perhaps you sent a campaign outside working hours and got an autoresponder, or maybe the server has been down temporarily. These email addresses are not available for a period but when those issues are solved, they back to being activate.

It might feel like you can’t see the importance of list hygiene, but we’ve made it easy for you to check the health of your list in your account in the reputation panel. This section will indicate a number between 1 and 8 which evaluates the status of your reputation.

Do you know what reputation means?

Reputation is a measure used for monitoring the behavior of your campaigns in regards to the spam filters and subscribers’ campaign interactions.

It is precisely this interaction which will be improved with list hygiene. This is because you’re sending your campaigns to an email address that really exists and can actually open and click to your links. Similarly, if you remove the email addresses that have not opened your campaigns for a long time, you’ll be increasing the interaction for the rest of your list that remains. Furthermore, you can opt for a smaller plan and only pay for the subscribers that are opening your campaigns and through which you have chances to deliver your message.

Please note that this won’t necessarily work with a new list as you likely won’t have enough data or bounces to make any major changes to the hygiene of your list. List verification may be more helpful to you in this instance, to remove things like mistyped email addresses. This is also solved by using double opt-in signup forms.

In this blog, One Simple Way To Rescue Your Email Marketing Strategy we shared some ideas on how to increase your database.

However, if the database is not current, or if you have never sent email marketing campaigns to it, your campaign’s reports will likely show a high bounce rate (in other words, more than 2%).

Do you know what bounce rates you have?

An email marketing account should have on average a 2% of bounces as the maximum.

Additionally, list hygiene can be necessary if your list lands you in a spam trap. A spam trap is a trap used by ISPs to know which users are sending to a non-permission database or have a very old database.

How can list hygiene be done with Benchmark?

  1. If you do not have a good control system in place to handle your contacts that you have removed, it’s possible they can be uploaded again into the tool. To solve this, the list hygiene would be:
    1. Login in your account
    2. Click on “Clean list”
    3. Select: confirmed + hard bounces
    4. Click on “Create New List”
    5. Once it has been created, you need to access the list and click on the three points.
    6. Select the option “Copy List”
    7. Copy to an “Existing List” and select “Master Unsubscribe List”
    8. In this way, we are blocking those contacts that are unuseful to be uploaded again to the tool. Keep in mind that this action is irreversible.
  2. If you have a good control system to handle your contacts to avoid your removed addresses being sent to, then the list hygiene would be from the points 1.1 to 1.3, and then click on “Remove from list”
  3. If a specific campaign you sent had a high number of bounces, and in that campaign, you selected multiple lists, following the steps above can be tricky. In that case, we recommend you to do the following:
    1. Go to Reports and click on the campaign
    2. Click on “Bounces”
    3. Select “Hard Bounces”
    4. Click on the three points and then “Export to File”
    5. Download the file and upload it to the “Master Unsubscribe List”

If you have spam traps in your account, you should follow the previous steps and include the subscribers who have not opened your last 30 campaigns. The spam traps are in this group because they won’t be opening your emails.

These are the four ways that we propose you keep your account clean of bounces to earn a high reputation.

Now, you just need to choose the option that fits best with your needs and start doing it.

If you need help with this process, you can contact your Email Marketing Specialist, or if you observe an anomaly in your bounce rate, such as a sudden growth in it, feel free to contact us before proceeding with list hygiene.

We want to know what list hygiene practices have impacted your email marketing. Share your tips or results in the comments below!