List scrubbing – should you do it?

list scrubbing should you do it

Have you ever heard of list scrubbing?

In case the answer’s no, here’s a quick primer:

List-scrubbing entails removing subscribers from your list when they’re no longer engaging with your emails.

It’s an important step for the long-term hygiene of your list for many reasons:

  1. Helps you avoid spam-traps (inactive email addresses can become spam-traps, which hurt your sender reputation)
  2. Reduces the cost of your ESP (most ESPs charge per active subscriber, so why should you pay extra for people who are NEVER going to read another one of your emails?)
  3. Increases your open rate (which is better for your sender reputation!)

Usually I don’t really care about open rates because they’re not so reliable anymore.

But ESPs care. You’ll land in the primary inbox more often when your open rates are better.

So, hold up — if open rates aren’t reliable anymore, how can you even know who’s engaged with your emails?

And should you even scrub your list anymore?

Here’s my take on it.

Before I remove ANYONE, I like to run a re-engagement sequence.

I send 3 total emails to let people opt back in before I remove them from my list.

But here’s the important part – I don’t assume they haven’t been opening my emails.

Because that can be kind of insulting.

Imagine the following: you’re using an ESP that, for one reason or another, doesn’t tell email marketing tools that you open their emails.

But you’re still opening your favorite newsletter every day. And you’re purchasing from them consistently. You’re handing your hard-earned money to them.

And suddenly, you receive an email asking you why you’re not opening their emails anymore.

You’re gonna be confused, if not downright insulted.

That’s why I address the issue in my re-engagement sequence.

I let susbcribers know that my email software is telling me they’re not opening my emails — but that it can be wrong sometimes.

And that all I want is to clear it up so I still have their permission to email them.

I’m not making assumptions.

By doing this, I make sure I have CLEAR permission to keep emailing them.

That’s because the re-engagement sequence can go one of three ways:

  • A subscriber opens the email and clicks on the link to confirm they’d still like to receive my emails. I’ve gotten explicit permission, yay!
  • A subscriber opens the email and doesn’t click. So while they’re kind of engaged (they opened the email), they ignore the link, which means they’re no longer interested. If they’re no longer interested, why should I keep emailing them?
  • A subscriber opens NONE of the 3 emails I send over a three-week period. In this case, I can safely assume they’re 100% unengaged.

You don’t have to follow the same list-scrubbing process as me. But I do encourage you to have SOME kind of process in place to make sure you don’t keep old contacts around.

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