woman exercising proper email list management at her desktop computer

Email List Management – A Guide (Infographic)

Email list management is essential for any marketer looking to get the most value out of their email list. That’s why we put together this handy infographic to reference when you need guidance on the next steps to take for email marketing results.

Read the ZeroBounce Email List Decay Report to better understand the lifecycle of email lists

The benefits of proper email list management

Benefit 1 – Lower bounce rate

Are you struggling to deliver your emails? A high bounce rate not only hurts your chances of converting, it makes it harder to get your messaging to everyone on your email list. The more you bounce messages, the worse your sender reputation is, making you less trustworthy to recipient email servers.

By scrubbing invalid emails and bad data from your list, you can drastically reduce the number of bounces you see in a month, or eliminate them altogether.

RELATED: Learn the difference between soft and hard bounces

Benefit 2 – Better open rates

If you’re able to deliver more emails to interested subscribers, you’ll naturally see your open rate climb upward. When you have more people reading your email content, you gain more accurate insights into which strategies work and which don’t.

Additionally, strong open rates help your reputation. Email service providers love to see users that send relevant content to their audience as intended.

Benefit 3 – More conversions

With proper email list management, you have more high-quality opportunities to convert your readers.

Instead of burning up your budget on bounced emails or misleading data from unengaged subscribers, you’ll be able to craft the perfect message to convert your audience.

Benefit 4 – Email list management equals better email marketing ROI

The only email address that can convert is a valid one.

By making email list hygiene a priority, you eliminate invalid addresses, fake accounts, and all those users that don’t seem to engage no matter what you try. Clean up your list, focus those emails on active readers and gain more from what you put into email as a marketing channel.

The telltale signs of poor email list hygiene

Sign 1 – Your bounce rate is higher than 2%

Email service providers agree – you shouldn’t bounce emails.

Though each has their own policy for recommended sending practices, the industry standard is a 2% bounce rate. If your monthly reports show that you have more undelivered messages than this, then it’s time to take a look at your email list health.

Sign 2 – Your open rate is lower than 20%

Email open rates fluctuate by industry, but 20% is a standard industry average.

Unusually low open rates are a sign of one or more of the following:

  • Your emails aren’t getting delivered
  • Your email contacts did not subscribe to your content
  • You’re messaging alternate emails or aliases, which show lower engagement
  • Your messaging is missing the mark (boring subject lines, preview text or content)

Sign 3 – Your unsubscribe rate is higher than 1%

A high number of unsubscribes looks bad for your email reputation. But it also shows that you aren’t keeping up with unengaged contacts.

Many make the mistake thinking that it’s a poor choice to delete unengaged subscribers. However, if they’re not opening emails, clicking or converting, they’re hurting your metrics. If you’re able to engage most of your audience, but notice that it’s just not working for some, scrub them from your list.

A high unsubscribe rate can also indicate that your email contacts came from a bought list. You should never buy email lists. Messaging those that did not opt into your content is simply asking for unsubscribes, spam complaints or worse.

RELATED: Why you should never buy an email list

Sign 4 – Your spam complaint rate is higher than 0.1%

Spam complaints should never be a common occurrence. If you receive them, it means you’re emailing people that didn’t ask for your content.

The occasional spam complaint is inevitable. But some people won’t bother looking for the unsubscribe button and abuse the report function. Exercising proper email list management can help you identify abuse emails so that you can purge them from your list.

What emails are lurking on your list?

No one is safe from invalid emails.

Yet, time and again, we see brands falsely believe that their email lists are always clean and problems won’t catch up to them.

Yet, here’s what we found in our Email List Decay Report for 2023. This is an analysis of over six billion emails from client lists over the entire year.

  • Valid emails (57.21%) – These emails are in-use and safe to message.
  • Invalid emails (20.19%) – These can be fake addresses or the result of a misspelling or typo. An invalid address doesn’t exist and leads to an automatic bounce.
  • Catch-alls (16.74%) – These are a special type of email address that brands use to capture incoming messages sent to otherwise invalid addresses on their domain. Some are active and safe to email, but many are inactive and simply havens for spam.
  • Abuse emails (1.19%) – Though technically valid, these contacts love to hit “Spam.” As we saw above, spam complaint rate allowance is low, so you can’t afford to have these on your list.
  • Do-not-mail (1.32%) – The name is apt, as you should never email these accounts. This category includes bot-generated emails, disposable emails, or other possible traps that damage your email reputation.
  • Spam traps (0.01%) – These are great tools for capturing malicious senders, but they’re devastating for your list. Emailing a spam trap just once can put you on an email blacklist.

Best practices for email list management (and what you can do to improve ROI)

Email validation

The first step you should take to clean your email list is to upload it to an email validator. This technology helps you rapidly identify which emails are valid and safe to use, and which you need to purge from your email list immediately.

Routine email list management with a validator promises to eliminate those telltale negative signs including high bounce rate and low open rate. Clean your list at least once a quarter to keep your CRM in peak health.

Related: How to Write A Winning Re-Engagement Email

Remove invalid addresses

Working with email validation, use the results to carefully remove all invalid addresses from your list. You should also be on the lookout for high-risk addresses including abuse emails, catch-alls, and do-not-mail addresses to keep up with your list hygiene.

Take your email list management further with audience segmentation

With a freshly-cleaned list of valid contacts, consider segmenting into two or more focused email lists.

Though your product or service may appeal to a wide audience, not every group or demographic subscribes for the same reason. Find out the best ways to segment your lists, whether by product interest, age, or income, and personalize your messaging for better results.

Personalize the message

Proactive email list management allows you to personalize the message of each email.

Customers today demand a modern, personalized experience. Segmenting your list aids with this as it allows you to more carefully craft a message that speaks to the individual audience member. Be sure to also employ tactics like auto-populating the reader’s name if you have the information available.

A/B testing

Unsure of what type of content works best with your email list? Test two different versions of an email and measure which performs best.

A/B testing is a must-use tool for any marketer, and that includes email marketers. Give your email audience the opportunity to tell you what they like to see and update your future campaigns to accommodate their interests.

AI scoring

ZeroBounce can help you identify which email contacts are the most active and likely to engage with your emails through AI scoring.

When you upload your email list for validation, you can choose to add contact scoring to your results. This grades your contacts on a ten-point scale, with ten being the most likely to engage and one being the least likely.

Use this advanced email list management tactic to find out what you can expect and whom you should target for better email marketing ROI.

Test your inbox placement

Simply publishing a campaign and measuring the results is one strategy to determine your inbox placement. However, it’d be better if you could just find out before you hit send.

Take advantage of an inbox placement tester to help you identify potential issues that cause your emails to bounce or hit the spam folder. Anything from improper email server configuration to misleading content can negatively affect your ability to hit the inbox.

Monitor the results of your email list management

No matter what type of marketing you do, the results will always help tell the story.

After cleaning your list, segmenting the audience, personalizing the message, and testing, check on your email campaign results to see what works.

Are your messages bouncing? Double back and check your email list hygiene to ensure that there’s no bad data lurking there. Having trouble converting? Re-evaluate your messaging and try a different approach based on audience feedback.

Remove inactive subscribers

Though it can feel like admitting defeat, sometimes the best email list management strategy is to know when it’s time to part ways.

There are numerous reasons why a subscriber can fall out of interest with your email marketing. However, if you’re getting positive results aside from these outliers, then take the initiative and remove them from your list.

If a subscriber goes longer than six months without opening an email, scrub the address to avoid an unnecessary damper on your monthly metrics.