how to clean your email list

Recently, I’ve told you why it’s important to clean your email list regularly and how to know when it’s time to give it a scrub.

If you’ve checked out those posts, you know that cleaning your email list improves the success of your email marketing campaigns. How? By making it easier to reach and engage the subscribers who really do want to hear from you. You also know that your open, click through, unsubscribe, and spam complaint rates can help you learn when to clean your list.

But now there’s something else that you’re probably wondering about: how exactly do you clean your email list?

Keep reading because I’m breaking it all down below.



Want a high-quality email list that’s full of engaged subscribers?
Send a welcome email series to new subscribers when they join.
Download my FREE swipe file with a full welcome email series copy template.


What to do before you clean your list

Before you dive into scrubbing your list, there are two things you can do to salvage disengaged subscribers:

Find and fix typos

In the rush to sign up for your lead magnet or content upgrade, some people make a typo in their email address when filling out your opt-in form. When this happens, the emails you send them will either bounce (if the typo email address doesn’t exist) or end up in someone else’s inbox (if the typo email address ends up being someone else’s address). In either case, your emails don’t end up reaching the person who signed up to be on your list.

To salvage subscribers who fall into this category, review the email addresses on your email list for typos. Obvious typos include misspelled email provider names (e.g., “gamil” instead of “gmail”) and company names (e.g., “” instead of “”). Fix any typos you find and see if these disengaged subscribers begin opening and interacting with your emails.



Gmail open on a laptop


Re-engage your subscribers

Most experts recommend sending a re-engagement email to disengaged subscribers before removing them from your list. This can seem like a good idea in theory, especially if you’re desperate to keep your subscriber count as close to where it is now as possible. But remember that if people aren’t opening your emails now, what are the chances that they’re suddenly going to open your re-engagement email?

On the other hand, it doesn’t really take that much work to send a decent re-engagement email. So it’s still worth it to send one before you get to work on scrubbing your list. Plus, if you make your subject line compelling and different from what your subscribers usually see from you (e.g., “Is everything OK? I’ve missed you.”), you might succeed in capturing the attention of subscribers who were ignoring your emails before.

In your re-engagement email, ask subscribers to clearly indicate whether or not they want to remain on your email list. Remove those who answer “no” or don’t respond. And for those who respond “yes,” show your love by offering them a freebie as a thank you.



Person typing on a laptop


Who to remove

Before you get deep into email list cleaning, there are a few categories of subscribers you can remove:

Spam email addresses

Sending emails to spam addresses can be a security risk (not to mention a waste of money). So it’s a good idea to delete spam email addresses when you clean your email list. You can usually spot spam email addresses by searching for email addresses that just don’t look right. Here are some examples:


Duplicate email addresses

Sometimes people sign up for your email list more than once. And although some marketing email providers delete duplicates automatically, not all of them do. This can leave you with duplicate email addresses on your list. To avoid paying for the same subscriber twice, remove duplicate addresses.


Two planes in the sky


Email addresses you paid for

It’s never a good idea to buy an email list or buy subscribers for an existing email list. But what’s even worse? Keeping them on your list. Paid subscribers didn’t actively sign up for your list and probably didn’t give you permission to contact them. So at best, they’re likely not at all interested in hearing from you. And at worst, they may be driving up your spam complaint rate. For these reasons, it’s smart to remove these subscribers from your list.


Want a high-quality email list that’s full of engaged subscribers?
Send a welcome email series to new subscribers when they join.
Download my FREE swipe file with a full welcome email series copy template.

Send me the free template

How to clean your email list

Now that you’ve tried to salvage disengaged subscribers and removed subscribers who aren’t useful to you, it’s time to start scrubbing. Here’s how to clean your email list:

Step 1: Choose your list

If you have more than one email list, choose the email list that you want to clean first. In most cases, it makes sense to start with your most active email list.

Step 2: Segment disengaged subscribers

Once you’ve selected your list, identify disengaged subscribers and create a new segment for them. Most major email marketing providers have filters you can use to identify subscribers who haven’t opened your emails within a certain period of time. If you’re just starting out with list cleaning, focus on deleting subscribers who haven’t opened your emails at all within the last 6 months.

Step 3: Remove disengaged subscribers

It’s time to delete everyone in your new segment from your list. You can do this manually by selecting each subscriber or each page of subscribers and deleting them. Alternatively, if your email marketing provider has one, you can use a bulk unsubscribe feature to remove lots of subscribers at once.

Email list cleaning services

Don’t have time to clean your email list yourself? You can get an email list cleaning service to do it for you. Depending on the service you use, it can validate your email list, automatically fix typos in addresses, block fake addresses, and verify your list in bulk. Here are just some of the many options out there:

How to keep your list squeaky clean

Now that you’ve cleaned your email list, let’s talk about how to keep it as healthy as possible:

Send a welcome email series

A welcome email series is an automated series of emails that you send to new subscribers once they sign up for your list. The goal is to familiarize your new subscribers with your brand, shower them with tons of value, and get them excited about what you’ll have to offer them in the future. Because a welcome series helps you nurture subscribers right from the beginning, it helps to keep them engaged.

Related: How to write a welcome email series + free 6-email template

Send targeted email campaigns

Make your emails more relevant to your subscribers by segmenting them based on the freebie they signed up for or other key characteristics. Then send targeted email campaigns to different segments.

For example, send content about building a website to subscribers who signed up for your freebie on how to build a website in 30 days. What about the people who signed up for your Facebook Ads cheat sheet? Send them content about how to succeed with Facebook Ads. When people know that they’re receiving relevant content, they’re more likely to open your emails.



Target with darts


Write magnetic subject lines

Never underestimate the power of a strong email subject line. After all, the subject lines of your emails are one of the main pieces of info your subscribers will use to decide whether to open your emails. Use curiosity, tease incentives, and A/B test different options to find the subject lines that your subscribers are most responsive to.

Related: The 7 most effective email subject lines + 63 free templates

Take the time to write good email copy

If you’re nurturing your list effectively, your emails will be one of the most frequent ways that your subscribers interact with your brand. That’s why you can’t throw together your emails by slapping some half-baked text onto a standard template. Instead, take the time to write copy that engages and converts your subscribers. After all, that’s the point of email marketing, isn’t it?

Related: 7 email copy mistakes that are destroying your conversions + 63 free email subject line templates

It’s worth it to build a healthy, high-quality email list

It can feel incredibly painful to delete subscribers who haven’t asked to be removed from your list. But remember that if people aren’t opening and clicking on your emails, it’s like you don’t have them on your list in the first place.

Build a healthy, high-quality email list by trimming your list regularly and using best practices to nurture and engage your subscribers. It’s the best way to boost your open and click rates, ensure your emails end up in subscribers’ inboxes, and maximize your conversions. What’s not to love about that?



Want a high-quality email list that’s full of engaged subscribers?
Send a welcome email series to new subscribers when they join.
Download my FREE swipe file with a full welcome email series copy template.

Send me the free template







How to clean your email list

How to clean your email list to keep it healthy + free welcome email series swipe file

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