Email List Hygiene: The Importance of Flossing Your Email List

Every six months, when you go to the dentist, the reminder is echoed again. Good hygiene is important, and flossing your teeth daily is an important facet of maintaining that hygiene. The same premise of good hygiene can also be applied to marketing, and, more specifically, to your email list. And as I think about that analogy even more, I can’t stress enough the importance of flossing your email list. Practicing good list maintenance is essential to email list hygiene.

We all know what flossing does for our dental hygiene. When it comes to sending email, I think it becomes an essential task in your list maintenance routine and maintaining excellent email list hygiene.

When you send email, within a few days, you have a good grasp of who opened your email, who clicked your email, who unsubscribed from your email and who never got your email. Naturally, those that open and those that click get categorized as those who want to see your message and are potentially open to additional communications. Those that unsubscribe are giving you a very clear response – I don’t want to receive your messages anymore. And lastly, we have the bounced email addresses, often divided into the hard and soft varieties. What to do with these undeliverable addresses?

Good Email List Hygiene Floss Your List

When it comes to hard bounces, it really is a no brainer. They need to be pulled out of your list because the address is failing. There is no advantage in keeping their email address in your list. Emailing to a hard bounce is the equivalent of mailing a postcard to an address that no longer exists. In mailing, you save yourself the cost of delivery to a bad address; in email, you remove the address because repeated attempts to deliver can negatively impact your email delivery reputation. And no one wants to have a bad reputation when it comes to email delivery.

Now the matter of bounces is a little more delicate. Many of the email solutions out there will allow you to set rules and thresholds for those rules in attempting to clean up your soft bounce addresses. Some addresses may just have an issue with delivering one time; whatever the reason may be for the temporary inability to deliver to that email address. Setting rules to try them at a later point, whether it be another day or with another message, can help clear up the ambiguity of the deliverability to that email address.

As bounces begin to recur for email addresses, rules need to be set to floss these addresses out. Just as emailing repeatedly to a hard bounce damages delivery reputation, emailing to a soft bounce is not advised. It identifies you as a sender who is disregarding the warnings of not being able to deliver to an address. It also classifies your list as one of poor hygiene. And the only way to correct poor email list hygiene is regular list maintenance, including flossing out the bad addresses.

Good email list hygiene is critical in getting your message delivered. Delivering to bad email addresses does not get your message in front of your target recipient. And if your brand is not getting delivered, your marketing initiative is not succeeding. Moral of this story, keep your email list clean, and remember to floss after every campaign!

Thanks for reading!

HKM Direct Market Communications