Email Scrubbing: Get A Squeaky Clean Email List With These 5 Easy Steps

18 Feb 2024

Have you ever seen those deeply satisfying cleaning videos on YouTube, where years of dirt and grime are removed before your very eyes? 💦 👀

Now it’s time to clean your email list too, in the form of email scrubbing. Namely, getting rid of disengaged contacts who never open your emails, even though it costs money to send those emails. 

It’s nothing personal. It’s just every campaign costs precious time, energy and ultimately money to create and send. Inactive or disengaged contacts simply won’t deliver a return on your investment. 

Email scrubbing can fix that for you, as it works to clean your email list. The result will mean each campaign you send has a much higher chance of being opened and ultimately acted upon. 

While nobody likes to say goodbye, having a squeaky-clean email list is in the best interest of every business.

Buckets/mouse buttons at the ready, here is everything you need to get started with email scrubbing to get a clean email list today.

What Is Email Scrubbing?

email scrubbing how to clean your email list GoSquared

Email scrubbing involves going through your list of email contacts to remove inactive contacts. Those who never open your emails, and basically never interact with your campaigns.

Generally, inactive subscribers are considered as contacts who haven’t opened at least a single email in the last six months. 

For those who can't see the logic in deleting contacts from their email list (even if they are inactive), look at it this way.

Having a ‘dirty’ or unhealthy email list can be likened to sending physical greeting cards to people.

Imagine, taking the time to write out 100 Christmas cards and paying for the postage of those cards. You’ve been sending the same cards to the same addresses and to the same people for decades. Only, since you started, people have moved, and maybe others no longer play a relevant part in your life anymore. New people have also come into your life who aren't on the original list.

Harsh as it sounds, the reality is as you move through life your circle of people changes. Only a few people remain in that original lineup, and others come and go.

Email marketing lists work much the same, in that unless your list of contacts is both relevant and consists of engaged prospects, it just won’t work for your business. Instead, it will reduce your ROI and ultimately cost more than it ever earns you, because you're targeting the wrong crowd.

After all, you can't expect 100/100 contacts who signed up to your email newsletter 5 years ago to still read every single email you send.

Even if 20 still do, you're still paying to send those emails to the other 80. These disengaged contacts are not only reducing your email ROI, they are clogging up your list, and preventing fresh engaged prospects from joining the party.

So in summary, email list scrubbing is about achieving a healthy, effective email marketing list by removing disengaged users so that only engaged users remain.

Why Bother To Scrub Your Email List? 

We’ve given you one analogy above, but here is another.

Think of your air vents when they haven’t been cleaned in a while. It’s impossible for them to work effectively, and soon enough, they’ll throw around more dirt than they even remove from the air. All the while, you’ll pay for the privilege in terms of running costs. 

Ironically, the thing you bought it for (air conditioning) can't happen because the vents are clogged. This is what happens with email marketing when nobody bothers to clean out their lists. Emails are being sent, but nobody is opening them.

Before we move onto how to scrub your email list let's look at the impact on your business of not doing so, along with the benefits you set to gain.

Improve Open Rates

The average email open rate across all industries is 21.33%. That technically means 8 out of 10 people won’t open your email even on a good day.

So it makes sense you want to do everything in your power to not only increase this figure but prevent even more users from slipping through the net.

By scrubbing your email list, you’ll leave only those who open and engage with your emails on your contact list. Your open rates will improve as a result, making for a much more effective marketing strategy and a higher ROI. 

Reduce Your Emails Being Marked As Spam

If you continually send emails which aren’t being opened (because you don’t scrub your lists), email servers will consider your communication as spam. When this happens, it can be difficult to reach active users, let alone grow your email list. 

Economical Reasons 

HubSpot found $2,600,000 is spent per day on sending emails which are never opened by the recipient. 💸 😬

It’s not just the time and effort you spend on creating your email marketing, but the cost of email marketing software too. It’s no good being on a package that allows you to send emails to up to 100,000 contacts, but only 5,000 contacts are regularly opening your emails. 

Scrubbing can help fix that for you so that every penny of your email marketing budget is spent wisely. 

Clean Email Lists Are Better For The Environment 

Research by the BBC suggests every email sent emits between 4g and 50g of carbon. With 300 billion emails sent per day, that soon adds up. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we developed our new email marketing tool EcoSend

Alongside our own work to reduce the carbon emissions associated with email marketing, it’s a simple fact that sending emails unnecessarily just won’t do. In fact, cleaning your email list is one of the easiest ways to become a more sustainable business today. 

Clean Your Email List With These 5 Easy Steps 🧼 ✉️

Now you know the value of cleaning your email list, it's time to get to work. Luckily, you don't need as much elbow grease as you do for cleaning your actual home.

Instead, you can achieve a clean healthy list in just a few easy steps as we're about to demonstrate.

Step #1 - Identify Disengaged Subscribers

Any email marketing tool worth its salt should allow you to identify disengaged subscribers in one click. 

EcoSend by makes this simple, as you can see in the above image. ⬆️ 👀

Engaged also allows you to send segmented campaigns to reach disengaged users to tempt them back, but more about this in step two.

For now, you need a clear list of who is regularly opening your emails and who isn’t. That’s because it's no good sending an email to try to tempt them back when they are already engaged users. 

Also, take the time to understand the percentage of disengaged subscribers vs engaged. If the balance isn’t swinging in your favour, it may be time to change up your email marketing strategy. 

Step #2 - Send A Re-Engagement Email

Re-engagement emails work up to 25% of the time, so sending one to any disengaged users is definitely worth a shot.  

Sending a re-engagement email works like so: 

  • The subject line should get right to the point, such as ‘Do you still want to receive our emails?’ 

  • Tell subscribers you’re reaching out to check if they still want to hear from you in the body copy

  • Take the opportunity to highlight the value of your emails, such as blog post recaps, company news, promotions or any other nuggets your subscribers are likely to find valuable

  • Include one CTA button to allow subscribers to stay on the list, and state they will automatically be removed if they don’t click the link within 7 days

The idea of sending an email like so to disengaged users, is it gives them one last chance to remain active subscribers. This is, in contrast, to automatically removing every disengaged user, assuming they definitely don’t want to hear from you.

Re-engagement emails are the best way to determine what’s actually true so that you avoid losing potential prospects in the process of cleaning your email list. So, think of them as a safety net.

Step #3 - Remove Inactive Contacts 

remove inactive contacts gosquared

As it says on the tin, now you have a definite list of disengaged contacts because you haven’t heard from them, and can’t get a response even after sending a re-engagement email, it’s time to cut them from your list. 

Removing inactive contacts will make way for new, engaged subscribers to take their place so don’t hesitate here. Going six months or more without so much as opening your email means you’re essentially talking into a paper cup. 

Once you have done this, your email list will be so clean it will sparkle. Well, it might do if your email campaigns are for a jewellery store. But even for everyone else, you'll be looking at a clean list for the foreseeable.

Step #4 - Segment Your Email Subscribers

Would you use a duster to clean your carpets? How about dishwashing detergent to clean your windows?

Seen as we’re on the topic of cleaning your email list, it pays to mention segmentation. That’s because just like cleaning your actual home where you need different tools and detergents depending on what you happen to be cleaning, a one-size-fits approach doesn’t work for your email campaigns either.

Segmentation is the name of the game here. It means you send the right message, to the right person at the right time. Use segmentation to further clean your email list by avoiding sending emails which have a low chance of being opened or acted upon.

Don’t just take our word for it either. The Data & Marketing Association found that segmenting emails leads to a 760% increase in conversions

Step #5 - Repeat The Email Scrub Every 3-6 Months 

Imagine only cleaning your home once a year. Instead, we all know that deep cleans and regular general cleans are a must for your living environment. Well, your email list is much the same, in that it will only work if it's clean. 

Depending on the size of your email list, experts recommend scrubbing your email list every 3-6 months. Considering the cost of email marketing, it pays to ensure each campaign will have the maximum impact. That can’t happen if your email list is full of cobwebs figuratively speaking. 

Clean Email List Best Practices

  • Never buy email lists

  • Keep an eye on unsubscribe rates

  • Include a one-click email unsubscribe feature (GDPR)

  • Understand your email audience

  • Consider using double opt-ins

  • Cleanse your list regularly

EcoSend - Not Just Clean, But Green Email Awaits!

If you're thinking of scrubbing inactive email contacts, it might also be time to refresh your email provider.

Thinking of jumping ship from the likes of Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign? Whether you're just starting out with email marketing, or are looking for a change from your existing tool we've got you covered.

EcoSend runs on renewable energy sources and we'll plant trees on behalf of your business just for using us.

Discover our amazing features and learn how EcoSend could work for your business by signing up for your free trial.

About the author

Rachael O'Flaherty

Content Writer

Grow your business sustainably

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Grow your business sustainably

Get the EcoSend Weekly newsletter — inspiration, helpful tips, and a good giggle, every Friday.

Grow your business sustainably

Get the EcoSend Weekly newsletter — inspiration, helpful tips, and a good giggle, every Friday.

The email marketing platform for better business

Win new customers, send better email, and make the planet better with every campaign.

  • Free Email Templates

  • Smart Segmentation

  • Lead Forms

  • Automated Campaigns

  • Automatic Offsetting

  • Team Sharing

  • HTML Email Editor

  • Multi-channel Campaigns

  • Drip Campaigns

  • MailChimp Import

  • Zapier Integration

  • Powerful API

The email marketing platform for better business

Win new customers, send better email, and make the planet better with every campaign.

  • Free Email Templates

  • Smart Segmentation

  • Lead Forms

  • Automated Campaigns

  • Automatic Offsetting

  • Team Sharing

  • HTML Email Editor

  • Multi-channel Campaigns

  • Drip Campaigns

  • MailChimp Import

  • Zapier Integration

  • Powerful API