Email List Cleaning Part 2: See the Sparkling Results

Jay Harris

By Jay Harris on April 1, 2022

We previously looked at why it is more important than ever to deep clean your email list now. We reviewed simple tactics for doing so and explained how this exercise will improve your email sender reputation and deliverability to help you reach more people with your marketing messages. If you missed part 1, learn about jump-starting your email marketing efforts here.

Even if you’re already familiar with Apple’s iOS 15 update and why it makes cleaning your email list a priority, you still may need convincing before putting in the work. Fair enough. The results speak for themselves and we’re happy to brag, uhmm share. Ridge Marketing proves the impact of deep cleaning lists with every email marketing campaign we conduct. 

The proof is in the data...

The above chart shows the impact of email list cleaning based on the engagement example we covered in part 1 (see the background data here).

The blue line represents people who were sent emails without error or bouncing, having subscribed and agreed to receive them. This list is for an eCommerce audience and you can see the number of blue recipients steadily growing as the client added customers up until October 2021 when we cleaned their email marketing list.

Looking at engagement, we saw that of their 9,601 subscribers, more than 1/3 (or 3,618) had not opened ANY of their last 50 email marketing campaigns. This meant that 37.68% of subscribers were dead weight.

They don’t open emails; what’s the big deal?

Most people think that sending to inactive email subscribers doesn’t hurt anything, but that’s where they’re wrong. If more than 1/3 of your email list never interacts with your emails, that tells Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Optimum and T-Mobile that a high percentage of your customers aren’t interested in what you have to say.

When you continue to do this regularly, ISPs will lower your email sender reputation – a score that ISPs assign to those conducting email marketing. A poor sender reputation can cause a greater percentage of your emails to get filtered out as spam along the way. This hurts deliverability and the chances of reaching recipients’ inboxes.

While email sender reputation had been primarily influenced by opens in the past, with the onset of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection eroding the validity of opens, ISPs now look to clicks and other hard metrics to determine deliverability. 

Focus on the results

Back to the chart above. After lopping off the dead weight of unengaged contacts, we sent the next campaign to roughly 2/3 of our original subscriber list. At the time, this meant taking a little leap of faith and, admittedly, we weren’t sure how cutting the list down so drastically would play out.

That’s where the orange and gray lines show that we had nothing to fear. The orange line represents opens and the gray line clicks. Granted, opens may not be as easy to measure after the iOS 15 update, but the important thing is that opens and clicks did not go down after our deep clean.

Exceeding expectations due to improved deliverability

Better yet, our open and click rates actually went up significantly. Having averaged a 19.86% open rate and 1.62% click rate prior to cleaning, these rates doubled to 41.26% and 3.56% respectively after cleaning our email marketing list, representing increases of over 100% for each metric. The open and click rate chart below makes this clear.

The real value of email listing cleaning

Yes, the reporting looks impressive. But more importantly, these rates are effectively telling the ISPs that almost half our list is engaged with our email content and a strong percentage of them clicked through.

That’s the real value here. As we continue posting these numbers, our email sender reputation will improve in the eyes of ISPs, increasing deliverability to recipients. That means more people will receive our marketing emails in their main inboxes. Having convinced the ISPs, Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Google, Microsoft and Apple who live at the end of the line on recipients’ phones, tablets and computers, will follow suit. 

Data doesn’t lie

Assuming you create strong email content like Ridge does for our clients, you can expect results to only improve over time after a deep clean of your email list. This is evidenced by the growing trend lines on the above chart from November 2021 forward.

The impact was seen immediately when sending that first post-cleaning campaign in late October and we closed out 2021 with the highest opens and open rates of the year. These results have continued this year, with impressive open and click numbers thus far.

See summary data below illustrating the average gains from email list cleaning for the eCommerce audience reviewed. While this is just one example, approaching email list cleaning this way has proven successful for Ridge Marketing to reach more contacts across numerous lists in multiple industries.

But what about my unengaged contacts?

The simple answer is… who cares? If they weren’t ever engaging with your content, they aren’t your target audience. Scrub your list to focus on your most engaged contacts and run with the increased conversions. Be the star of your office, get that promotion and ride off into the sunset with fellow marketing gurus…

But seriously, all is not lost for your unengaged contacts. You can look at updating your opt-in process to maintain deliverability or run a reconfirmation campaign to attempt to bring some of the “dead weight” back into the fold of subscribers.

If you have questions or need help keeping your email marketing campaigns clicking, ask the email marketing pros. We’ll help you scrub your list, improve your deliverability and get the most out of your email marketing efforts.


About Ridge Marketing

Ridge Marketing is an agency that specializes in crafting creative digital assets and using websites, search, advertising and email to ensure that the right prospects interact with your brand and become loyal customers.

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