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8 Easy Steps to Email List Scrubbing for Higher ROI

email list scrubbing techniques

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Do you want a $36 return on merely a $1 investment? Then, consider email marketing – it can help you achieve exactly these numbers (or maybe more!). But your efforts can all go south if you don't have the right email addresses to target. 

Worry not because we know a tactic to help you filter email contacts of your best potential clients. We are talking about email list scrubbing. 

A scrubbed email list boosts deliverability, elevates engagement, and safeguards your reputation. 

Moreover, email marketing goes beyond getting more numbers of recipients. It forges meaningful connections with each of your target leads. And having a scrubbed list will lead your marketing efforts to those who will value them. 

So, join us as we explore ways to scrub your email list!

What’s Email Scrubbing?

The term “Email scrubbing”, also known as email list cleaning, refers to cleansing and updating your email list. It aims to discard outdated or inactive email addresses and maintain a vibrant community. 

Scrubbing helps remove bounced emails, unsubscribes, and those who never engage. It tidies up your contact list and optimizes your overall email marketing. Thus, you can:

  • Enhance deliverability
  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Nurture a genuinely interesting list

As such, email scrubbing ensures your messages land in the right inboxes, fostering more robust and responsive audience.

When Do You Need To Scrub Your Email List?

Let's talk about the signs that scream, "It's time to scrub that email list!"

1. Changes in Subscriber Engagement Metrics

Notice a dip in likes, clicks, and overall engagement? That's your cue. When your subscribers start playing hard to get, it's time to roll up your sleeves and scrub that list. 

Rejuvenate the relationship by weeding out the disinterested ones. Instead, focus on those who can't wait to open your emails.

2. High Bounce Rates and Low Open Rates

Ever feel like your emails are shouting into a void? High bounce rates, low click-through rates (CTR), and dips in email opens are red flags. At least your open rates should reach above an average of 15-25%. CTR should be around 2-5%, and bounce rates should be lower than 40%.

Scrubbing eliminates outdated addresses and ensures your messages hit the right targets, reviving the above-mentioned metrics.

3. Frequent Spam Complaints: 

If you've got contacts who haven't opted in yet or have put you on their spam list, it's time to cut ties. Doing so also keeps you in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regulations. 

Scrubbing helps you stay on the right side of the law while keeping your list fresh and compliant. 

How to Scrub Your Email List in 8 Steps

How to Scrub Your Email List in 8 Steps

Let us check out proven steps to help you clean your email list: 

1. Segment Your Email List 

About 22.71% of email addresses go bad yearly due to changes in jobs and domains or user preferences. Sending emails to invalid addresses leads to bounces and diminished recipient engagement. Ultimately, it harms your sender's reputation.

So, the first step in cleaning your email list is to segment your audience. Start by identifying and separating updated email addresses from outdated ones. It helps in targeting your active and engaged audience. 

2. Remove Duplicates and Inactive Subscribers

Tidy up your list by eliminating duplicate entries and inactive subscribers. Duplicates can skew your metrics, and inactive subscribers might harm your engagement rates. 

To tackle this:

  • Set a threshold for inactivity and create a strategy for removal.
    For example, you can define criteria for inactive subscribers (e.g., no opens or clicks in the last six months) and consider removing them.
  • Run a duplicate check using your email marketing platform.

3. Remove Unsubscribed Contacts

If you are using cold email campaigns, comply with email best practices. Here's what you need to take care of:

  • If any of your cold recipients don't subscribe after you make significant follow-up attempts, promptly remove their contacts. 
  • Ensure to provide a clear opting-out option, as 50% of consumers mark emails as spam due to the inconvenience of finding the unsubscribe link.
  • Regularly update your unsubscribe list and ensure these contacts are excluded from future campaigns.

It maintains legal compliance and prevents emailing people who don't want them. Hence, it improves your sender's reputation.

4. Verify Email Addresses and Correct Errors

Take time to review email addresses and correct any existing errors. Inaccurate email addresses can result in bounces and affect deliverability. Therefore, you must: 

  • Correct any formatting errors or typos in email addresses.
  • Use email verification tools to identify and rectify syntax errors and invalid addresses. This step is critical for ensuring your emails reach the intended recipients.

5. Remove Hard Bounces 

Soft bounces often occur due to temporary issues, but hard bounces can be a dead end. Sounds serious, right? A hard bounce occurs when you can not deliver an email permanently for reasons such as:

  • An invalid recipient address (due to an incorrect or nonexistent domain name)
  • An unknown recipient

Many hard bounces among your email addresses pose a risk to your deliverability. Plus, spam filters may interpret them as a warning sign. However, you can use email marketing platforms like Campaign Monitor to eliminate hard bounces from your subscriber list promptly. 

6. Delete Contacts Who Mark You As Spam

This step is crucial if you use the sequencer to send cold emails to your prospects who still haven't opted-in. 

Jesse Ouellette, a Growth & AI Automation Expert, analyzed about 400 businesses sending cold emails through sequencers to unsubscribed leads. And he found out that it's a bad practice and can raise your spam complaints above 0.01%. 

Though you can not do much using a sequencer, you should surely take spam complaints seriously. High spam rates can trigger warnings from email service providers. Here's what you should do: 

  • Monitor spam complaint rates.
  • Promptly remove contacts who mark your emails as spam.

7. Create a DNC List 

Create a Do Not Contact (DNC) list to redirect your resources to promising contacts only. This list includes individuals who have unsubscribed or explicitly expressed that they do not require the offered solution. 

By maintaining a DNC list, you respect user preferences and adhere to regulations.

8. Regularly Maintain and Monitor Lists

Congratulations, you are on the last step! Regularly review your email list for changes and update it with new subscribers. Also, repeat the cleaning process periodically. This ongoing maintenance ensures the continued effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

Here's how to do it:

  • Set up a regular schedule for list cleaning.
  • Analyze key metrics like email open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates for ongoing list health.

Best Tools for Email List Scrubbing

Here are some of the best tools for your assistance: 

1.  Email Verification Services

These tools ensure the accuracy and validity of email addresses in your list. They prevent unnecessary bounces, which saves you from unnecessary headaches and waste of resources.

Service Selection Tips:

  • Look for services with high accuracy rates in identifying valid and invalid emails.
  • Consider integration capabilities with your existing email marketing platform.
  • Opt for real-time analysis services that can keep your list constantly updated.
  • Check for additional features such as typo correction and disposable email detection.

Some good choices are MailerCheck and BriteVerify

2. Email List Segmenting and Cleaning tools 

Facilitate the organization of your email list into targeted segments via these tools. They improve the effectiveness of your campaigns and enhance deliverability.

Tool Selection Tips:

  • Pick tools for easy segmentation based on engagement metrics, demographics, or subscriber behavior.
  • Ensure the tool integrates seamlessly with your email marketing software for a streamlined process.
  • Look for automation features that enable regular list cleaning without manual intervention.
  • Prioritize tools that provide insights into subscriber activity, helping refine your segmentation strategy.

Some good options are Mailchimp and HubSpot.

3. Bounce Managing Tools (Optional)

Though your email verification service can oversee email bounce issues, a dedicated tool to tackle it can be effective. 

Tool Selection Tips:

  • Select tools that differentiate between soft and hard bounces for more targeted actions.
  • Opt for platforms that offer bounce handling automation, promptly removing invalid addresses from your list.
  • Check for reporting capabilities to track bounce rates and understand trends over time.
  • Ensure compatibility with your email marketing platform to facilitate seamless integration.

Some best tools available are ZeroBounce and NeverBounce.

Best Practices for Scrubbing Email Lists

Ensure to follow the below-given practices while you scrub your email list: 

1. Choose a Balanced Email Scrubbing Frequency 

You should assess the engagement levels of your subscribers once a quarter to determine the optimal scrubbing frequency. For example: 

  • High Engagement: Subscribers actively opening, clicking, and engaging may require less frequent scrubbing, perhaps quarterly.
  • Low Engagement: If engagement is sporadic or declining, consider more frequent scrubbing, perhaps monthly, to maintain list health.

2. Follow Industry Norms and Regulations for Email List Usage

Adhere to regulations like the GDPR and the CAN-SPAM Act.

Here are specific rules to comply with:

  • CAN-SPAM Act: Ensure emails include a clear opt-out option, accurate sender information, and relevant subject lines. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • GDPR: Obtain explicit consent before sending emails, provide easy opt-out options, and handle data securely.

3. Use Regular Scheduled Maintenance and Trigger-Based Cleanups

Apply two-way email scrub practices: 

  • Scheduled Maintenance: Set up regular intervals for list cleaning, whether monthly or quarterly.
  • Trigger-Based Cleanups: Implement automatic triggers for list cleaning based on specific events, such as a significant drop in engagement or a high bounce rate.

4. Reduce Email Database Degradation After Scrubbing

Incorporate a double opt-in process for your new subscribers. It ensures your email list has only genuinely interested individuals. Plus, leverage monitoring metrics, such as:

  • Regularly monitor key metrics relevant to email performance to detect any sudden changes in engagement.
  • Analyze engagement patterns to identify potential issues before they escalate.

5. Start Re-Engagement Campaigns for Inactive Subscribers

Create targeted re-engagement emails before removing the contact from the email list permanently. Use these elements for successful re-engagement of dormant prospects

  • Personalization: Use the subscriber's name and personalized content to make the email more engaging and relevant.
  • Compelling Messaging: Create a compelling message that communicates the value of your products or services. Highlight any new features, updates, or exclusive offers to reignite interest.
  • Incentives: Provide special offers, discounts, or exclusive access to encourage re-engagement.
  • Limited-Time Deals: Create a sense of urgency by making the incentives time-sensitive, prompting subscribers to take action sooner rather than later.
  • Feedback Option: Include a Call to Action (CTA) inviting subscribers to provide feedback on why they've become inactive. This valuable information can help you improve your email strategy.

Doing so can revitalize your relationship with inactive subscribers and potentially bring them back into the active fold. However, monitor responses and remove subscribers who do not re-engage after the campaign.


Don't let outdated/unmanaged email lists tarnish your reputation. Follow our guide and embrace the power of email list scrubbing. It's a way to ensure email deliverability, compliance, and sustained audience interest in your brand. 

For a seamless, reliable experience, trust Revnew—a proven email list provider committed to enhancing your outreach. Our expert-curated list enables you to engage confidently with prospects. Let us be your partner in email marketing success. Contact us today

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