Email Dead Weight: Purging Your Email List Means Better Deliverability

Purging your email list is no fun. No one wants to watch their email subscriber count plummet with the click of a button. But, I am here to tell you the good news about purging your list: By doing so, you are actually increasing the value of the entire list by boosting your email reputation and deliverability rate.

Email service providers have become increasingly sophisticated over the years. Gmail is likely the leader in the webmail space, with the most sophisticated spam filter on the planet. However, they didn’t get this notoriety over night. In fact, it took years of understanding user’s email habits to be able to detect spam as well as they do. And how do they detect spam, remove it from your inbox, and place it in the spam bin with 8,523 messages we never see? They’ve learned from you and I — And our habits.

When email is delivered to the inbox of any of the large email providers, it is generally understood by them whether or not that email is of interest to its recipient. This is based not only on how your recipient reacts when email from you arrives, but how other recipients react as well. When a large number of recipients ignore an email from your company, there is a greater likelihood that it will not reach the inbox of your subscribers who actually do want to read your email.

In fact, Having a large percentage of your list ignore your email is dragging the entire list down.

Sure it’s nice to see a large number of subscribers to you email list, but digging into your list’s analytics a bit will tell the dark side of the list’s story. There are probably a number of people who subscribed and forgot about you or are no longer interested, but are too lazy to click unsubscribe (What? People are lazy? No way!). It happens quite often, in fact.

Why bother to send to the people that don’t open your email?

The chances are very slim that they ever look at what you sent them and you know now, that they are hurting your chances of making it into the inbox’s of the people who DO want to get your email. So, the answer is: Don’t bother.

Yes, it’s a case of missed opportunities. Yes, you could have done something different to better engage them. And yes, there is hope for you still! Take this as a learning experience and purge your email list of those who are ignoring your email anyway. You will gain the side effect of gleaning real metrics that reflect your open rate and click-throughs based on a clean list; rather than deciphering the open rate and click-throughs of a list with a large percentage of dead weight. In the end, those real numbers are what matter most.

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  • Professional email list marketers use systems that segment their data into different buckets.  You will have successes, failures, deferrals, unsubs, opens, clicks, fbl (feedback loops).  There are quite a few details about each bucket but I can tell you that by eliminating the failures which are true hard bounces you will get better deliverability and better ip reputation over time.  I personally like to keep as much as I can of the list and think that if anything has to go it would be failures, then deferrals, then other buckets depending on your strategy and goals for the project.

    Jim Alamia
    (link removed)

    • Hello Jim,

      Thanks for stopping in. While we are well aware of these “buckets” there are many different ways of delivering email. Some companies are still using Outlook to send 😉 And while we don’t recommend that, of course, this post is more of a general statement than a complete break down for sake of simplicity.

      I personally don’t recommend hanging on to dead weight (failures are a given). I agree that trying to hang on and re-engage is very important – but once you’ve lost them — you’ve lost them. There”s no point in hoarding useless email addresses.

      • Anonymous

        okay great.  just trying to add value.  can i get a link on that first post i left?  i don’t know why you stripped it..  let me know

        • You can actually add your link while commenting via the “Post as” dialogue or by adding it to your Disqus profile (which will make your name a link, as mine is) and you are more than welcome to. Link dropping on the other hand — not so much 🙂