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Clean list = Happy life 🧘‍♀️

  • Messaging and Automation

There’s nothing more damaging to a domain and IP reputation than sending to a dirty list of email addresses. So when we hear our customers’ techniques for maintaining a clean list, it’s music to our ears!

🎶So fresh and so clean clean…🎶

So how can you maintain a clean list and why is it so important?

While there are many important factors to maintaining good deliverability, having a healthy relationship with email clients (Apple, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) is one of the most important. The truth is, email clients have begun cracking down more and more each year when it comes to what they allow to come through and making it harder and harder for senders to get on their “nice” list.

So what does this mean? If you frequently send out newsletters to users that never open and/or click on them, it’s a good indicator that either:

  1. That user is no longer engaged with your emails and may just want to opt out.
  2. You’re sending to an invalid or spam trap email address.

Let’s focus on indicator 2. If you continue to send month after month to these same invalid or spammy email addresses, email clients will start to raise major red flags 🚩and you will likely see their reactions in the following ways:

  • Rate Limiting. Every email client has a limit of the number of emails it will accept from a company over minutes. They have a generic base level rate but then will adjust this based on the domain’s deliverability reputation, volume of emails they send and speed at which they send. If your reputation is bad, they will accept less at the same time.
  • Emails going to Spam. If you continue to send to invalid emails, email clients will assume you yourself are spammy and therefore will throw your emails into the place no one wants to end up, the dreaded spam folder! 😱
  • Blacklisted. If you have been extra naughty, you might have an email client blacklist your domain or IPs and therefore block all email traffic.

Maybe then you’re asking yourself, how did these emails even make their way into my list? Well there’s many ways this can happen, but the common ones are:

  • Through forms with no security. We highly recommend if you have an email sign-up form that you use a honeypot to avoid bot sign-ups from entering your list. A honeypot is a tool used to detect when automated bots are trying to add subscribers to your customer list or sign up for your product. We’ve got a great article on how to add one here
  • Spam Traps. Spam traps in essence are email addresses that don’t belong to anyone. So email clients and blacklist protocols are able to monitor these and essentially access how you are subscribing your email addresses. Their initial purpose is to genuinely identify spammers but these email addresses can sometimes end up in real lists a couple of ways:
    • Genuine typos.
    • Bad actors adding these email addresses to your lists.

And now, down to the most important question of all, how on earth do I maintain a clean list??

I’m so glad you asked. 😉 Here’s how we recommend keeping a sparkly clean list.


Double Opt-In

A double opt-in means asking new subscribers to confirm they want to receive your emails twice, so there is no ambiguity. This typically entails having them first fill out some kind of form which in turn results in an email being sent to them. Once received, they must then click a button or link in the email to confirm that they would like to receive emails from you.

Why is this the ultimate list cleaner? It requires interaction. So one, you know that email address is valid, and two, you know that there’s an actual person acknowledging they received it and are giving you clear permission to send to them.

Want to set up a double opt-in? We’ve got this handy article to get you started!


Sunset Clause

This is a term that you may have heard us throw around at Vero. The practice of “sunsetting” 🌇 users is an important and easy way to remove both spam traps, invalid emails, and unengaged users.

A sunset clause consists of two main conditions:

  • “Has been sent any campaign in the last xx days”
  • “Has not opened any campaign in the last xx days”

The concept is simple, if a user has been receiving emails for 90 days and has opened none of them, it’s possible that they are a spam trap or an invalid email. But if it’s neither of these, it definitely means that this user isn’t very engaged with your emails and it might be time to either remove them from your usual list or follow-up with them using a re-engagement campaign to see if they want to keep receiving your emails or not before you give them the boot.

Does continuing to send to unengaged users hurt your sending reputation? Not directly, but it does run the risk that those users will end up marking your email as spam instead of unsubscribing and that will hurt your reputation with email clients. Plus, sending to engaged users means happier-looking metrics and who doesn’t want that? 📈😃

Ready to set up a sunset clause? We’re thrilled to hear that! Follow this simple guide to set one up on your Vero Cloud account.


List Cleaning Tool

Last but not least, we must also mention that there are a ton of wonderful list cleaning tools out there in the market. These tools allow you to upload your list and it will check for invalid emails, bots, spam traps, etc. They will then provide you with a clean scrubbed list. Some tools offer some free imports, but most are paid accounts. Remember to double-check that it is a valid tool as there are a ton on the market. We can personally recommend Email List Verify and Debounce.

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