Email Marketing Ed: Here’s How To Clean Up Your Email List For Better Deliverability

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Not all email subscribers are created equal. It is important to gauge your email list every once and in a while, and clean up the ones that hurt rather than help! Hard as it may be, cleaning up your email list achieves healthy deliverability and helps staying away from spam traps* and high spam rates.

When building up a list, one of the most common ways of collecting information is via a Signup Form. This one regularly offers an incentive in exchange for user personal information and depending on the traffic that’s driven to your website you can have good quality subscribers or bad quality subscribers. Sometimes it is hard to filter them and you end up having a considerable number of unengaged subscribers that only enter because of a nice incentive and not really because they are interested in the brand.

Because of all these subscribers that ended up on your email list, it is important to clean your email list very now and then in order to keep healthy deliverability and staying away from spam traps* and high spam rates.

Why is it important to clean my email list?

  • It increases your deliverability rates
  • Reduces spam or unsubscribe rates and increases ORs and CRs 
  • Improves your IP reputation
  • Retains engaged profiles 
  • Keeps you away from spam traps that might block your IP (blacklists)

*For this specific article, we’ll keep away from the Spam Traps but you can go ahead and read our How to keep a safe distance from Spam Traps blog post to find more about it.

How to clean my email marketing list?

1. Identify Unengaged Subscribers/Profiles

Create a segment to find those unengaged subscribers in the last 365 days using the following conditionals: 

  • Received at least 10 emails overall time 
  • Have opened email zero times in the last 365 days
  • Have clicked on an email zero times in the last 365 days
  • Profile is not suppressed

Klaviyo email list cleanup: Remove unengaged subscribers

These conditionals may vary depending on how many emails you sent per week, how old is your list, and if the number of profiles shown makes sense for you. You can go ahead and duplicate the segment moving the number of days or emails received.

2. Suppress or delete profiles

  • To Suppress the segment you’ve already created export the CSV segment file with only the email column**. Then go to your Suppressed profiles and manually add this CSV to suppress the profiles. 

Remember that suppressing the unengaged subscribers will not erase history data and will keep them our from the emails you’re sending.

** The way of suppressing the profiles will be different in each platform make sure to read their instructions to make sure the subscribers are indeed suppressed and won’t receive more emails.

  • Deleting the unengaged profiles is also another way to cleaning up the list but is not the most recommended one since you’ll be deleting all the information and history from the profile. This action is permanent so make sure you want to delete the profiles before taking this step.

In Klaviyo, to delete a list or segment takes a few steps. Go to your Account Settings and select Profile Maintenance then select the list/segment you want to permanently delete.

3. Remove Soft Bounces from your campaigns

  • When emails constantly bounce or go unopened, inboxes will start sending your emails to the Spam Folder. That’s why cleaning out bouncers will positively affect your deliverability and reputation.


There are 2 types of email bounces: Hard Bounce And Soft Bounce

Hard Bouncers: 

A Hard Bounce occurs when the email is permanently rejected due to two specific reasons: 

  • A non-valid email address 
  • The email address doesn’t exist

Soft Bouncers:

Unlike Hard Bounces, Soft Bounce is caused by a temporary reason such as an email server going down momentarily or a full inbox.

For most email marketing platforms, hard bounces are automatically suppressed while soft bounces are considered a hard bounce once they bounced a specific amount of times, depending on the platform conditionals.

As a good practice, exclude soft bounces from your campaigns. Create a segment where bounced email is at least 4 overall time and exclude this segment in each sending.

Sparing some time to have a good look at your users from time to time, and following the above steps will ensure that you’re left with a list that may be smaller, but a lot more engaged and watch all your email metrics soar.

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