There’s a reason that email hygiene services are so popular: following regular email list hygiene best practices not only keeps email deliverability from tanking, but will also boost your list’s performance to the moon! Regular mailing list maintenance gives you amazing open and click-through rates, and not just because you’ve removed the dead wood. So many email senders who know that they should follow email hygiene best practices often just can’t bring themselves to abandon inactive subscribers. However, once you realize just how incredibly responsive a leaner, meaner list can be you’ll not only want to perform mail hygiene maintenance regularly, you’ll actually look forward to it, because it’s the secret sauce that will keep you ahead of your competition. We call this secret sauce “compounded deliverability”.

Here’s the thing: it’s common sense that removing non-openers from your list will give you an immediate boost in terms of the open rate and click-through rate (CTR) percentages. After all, if you have 1000 people on your list, and 50 people are opening your email (an abysmal 5% open rate), and then you remove 400 people because they are not opening your email, now your list has 600 people on it, and so when those same 50 people open your next mailing, that’s a 8.3% open rate. In a way, that’s an artificially enhanced new open rate.

But, you see, removing all of that dead weight actually boosts your open and engagement rates beyond the basic math above, because it boosts your delivery into the inbox. And that better deliverability compounds and begets even higher deliverability and engagement rates, and so on, and so on. Because the more you increase your open rate and engagement rate, the more the inbox providers and spam filters will look upon you with favor, and the more they will put you into the inbox, and not in the spam folder! This is why we say that it compounds, and call it compounded deliverability.

Here is an actual example of someone we worked with just this month. They have a mailing list that had 9,600+ email address on it, all built with double opt-in (also known as confirmed opt-in), so they were really loathe to purge any email addresses, no matter how long it had been since the email address had actually opened, let alone engaged with, their email. As you can see, their open rate was in the 18th percentile, with a click-through rate of less than 1%.

example of how email list hygiene boosts open and click through rates - before

In terms of actual numbers, they were routinely having about 1,800 people open their email, and between 50 and 90 people click through.

click through and open rates before email list hygiene

We had them remove all of the email addresses that had not opened in the last 90 days (when you do this, it’s fine to reach out to those email addresses in a re-engagement campaign, but if you get no response from that, it’s time to say goodbye to them permanently, they are only hurting you). This resulted in the removal of a bit over 2000 addresses (2053 to be exact). This cut their list size by more than 21%! But they were ruthless, and did it, and it was so very worth it!

Just 3 days later they sent to that exact same list, minus the 2053 non-openers. Now, if you were applying straight math to this list, you would expect that about 1,800 people would open the email to the newly trimmed list, and that roughly 50 to 90 people would click through. It’s nice that the list is a recipe list, because it means that each email is essentially the same, it’s a recipe, meaning that results can’t be thrown by one email containing a different offer, or sale, from the others. So, remember, logically you might expect about 1,800 people to open the email, and 50-90 to click through, as that was the pattern prior to getting rid of the non-opening email addresses. Again, just 3 days later.

the effect of performing routine mailing list hygiene maintenance

This is the magic of compounded deliverability. Performing routine email mailing list hygiene maintenance doesn’t just boost your open and engagement rate relative to the number of email addresses that remain on your list. Remember, greater deliverability begets even greater deliverability.

Oh, and lest you think it’s a fluke, this is the open rate on the next email they sent, 5 days after the previous, and 8 days after the purge.

email list hygiene begets better deliverability and open rates - after

Most, if not all, email service providers (ESPs) allow you to determine who has and who has not opened any email from you within a specific time slice, or before a certain point in time. They also allow you to create segments based on those same metrics, so that you can send a re-engagement campaign to the non-openers, and only send your regular mailings to those who are engaged.

If you’ve been putting off your mailing list hygiene for way too long (as so many do), hopefully this has given you the push that you needed!

[NOTE: While in this post we are talking about how list hygiene affects compounded deliverability, everything that we say here applies to how you build your mailing list as well; confirmed (double) opt-in will always give you the best deliverability and that will also compound. Single opt-in can push you in the other direction (less deliverability, and certainly not compounded deliverability). And opt-out, well that’s just spamming and will put you in the spam folder. When reading the below, you can simply replace the term “non-openers” with “people added to your list without their consent”. In point of fact, people added to your list become non-openers, dragging your open rate and your deliverability down. For explanations of each type of opt-in see here.]

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