Email List Cleaning – What, Why and How?

Every time we launch a new email marketing campaign, we run into problems. Most of these problems are the result of an email list with a lot of junk and invalid emails on it. We start our email marketing campaigns with these junk emails, but fail to perform an important task of email list cleaning.

What is an Email List Cleaning?

Email list cleaning is a process of removing spam, junk or invalid contacts from it. In other words, you can remove junk emails from your list that you no longer need or those that do not respond to you. Removing junk emails from your list makes your email marketing campaign a huge success.

Top 10 Email List Cleaning Services

Here is our recommended list of email cleaning services that are paid, but clean your email list with efficiency & accuracy. You can read more about them here.

Email Cleaning Service Verification Accuracy Price for 500k Free Trial? Time (100k)
MyEmailVerifier 98% $149 USD One Time 100 3 Hours
MillionVerifier 99% $199 USD One Time 200 1 Hour
ZeroBounce 99% $1100 USD One Time 100 1 Hour
ListWise 99% $605 USD One Time 100 4 Hours
QEV 97% $900 USD Daily 100 2 Hours
DataValidation 99% $1000 USD One Time 100 10 Hours
EmailMarker 97% $441 USD Daily 150 4 Hours
Bounceless 95% $699 USD One Time 100 2 Hours
EmailListVerify 97% $449 USD One Time 100 2 Hours
EmailChecker 99% $799 USD One Time 50 3 Hours

These services are very efficient, accurate and quick.

For example, MyEmailVerifier can identify “disabled users” in Yahoo/AOL, which is very unique.

EmailAcademy offers efficient tools for email marketing and email validation & verification.

MillionVerifier can validate your email list with 1+ million email addresses in less than 24 hours. isn’t it super quick?

To clean your email list, you can upload it in a .csv format, or you can use their real time email verification API.

They also offer quick integration with Mailchimp, Sendgrid and many other similar services. You can verify your mailchimp list on the fly in a single click using these services.

(2) Why Email List Cleaning is necessary?

Over the years, some emails in your lists will become inactive. Domain name of some of your contact might have expired. Some of your contacts may have changed their email address. A research shows that over 5 years of period, 23% of emails in your email list become invalid or junk.

What happens if you send emails to them? Your emails will be rejected and they will bounce back. So what? How is it going to impact your campaigns?

If you are using Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to send your marketing campaign, they will slow your email deliver-ability if bounce rate is greater than 5%. If your bounce rate is greater than 10%, they will stop your marketing campaign.

If you are using MailChimp, they will start sending you warning if your bounce rate is greater than 2%. They will block your email campaigns if your bounce rate is greater than 5%.

In a nutshell, all these ESP (Email service provider), have strict criteria for bounce ratio. You’ll have to make sure that your bounce rate is less than 3%.

Only by regularly cleaning your list, junk & invalid emails will be removed and bounce ratio of less than 3% will be maintained.

There are multiple risks involved when you do not clean your email list on regular basis. Here is just a few of them.

(A) Spam Complaint:

Over the period of time, your email subscribers may lose interest in your topics. When you continue to send emails to them, your emails will go into junk or will be frequently marked as a spam.

Spam complaint is very bad news for your email campaigns. Providers like Gmail, Yahoo & AOL keep minute track of spam complaints. When more & more of your emails are marked as spam, they will start delivering your emails in their “SPAM” folder. Ultimately, your emails to all your subscribers (who are legitimate and interested in your content) will also start receiving your emails in “SPAM” folder.

It’s better to proactively minimize your risk of spam complaints and recover from becoming blacklisted because of spam complaints. This is why you should clean your email list regularly. Although it can be time-consuming, cleaning your lists regularly will reduce spam risk.

(B) Increased Bounce Emails

A spam complaint is not the only issue that can deter your email server reputation. Email bounce is also an important factor in your email reputation management.

There are two types of bounces, hard bounce & soft bounce. According to a research, an uncleaned list will have 12% to 18% soft/hard bounce ration, while a cleaned email list will have this ration in 1% to 2% range.

A soft bounce indicates a temporary deliverability issue. Your email administration should try sending the email once more.

A hard bounce refers to an email that never sends. This may be because the email address is wrong, the domain does not exist, or email servers have blocked delivery.

Email usually bounce when they are unable to reach your subscriber’s email box and this usually happens when their email account is inactive or dead. You can always find out such email accounts using bulk email list cleaning process.

(C) Higher Cost

If we have contacts that are junk, invalid, or not interested in hearing from our business, then we are wasting time, money and emails on them. This is a waste because they are not interested in most email service providers charge you based on the number of emails you want to send.

ESPs like Mailchimp will charge you on per contact basis. So, it is always beneficial to clean your email list, remove invalid, junk and spam-trap emails.

Here is an interesting example, you have 3000 subscribers that is costing you $50 a month to send them emails. The cost for 1 year of sending emails to them is $600 a year. If 1000 subscribers from this list are junk, the cost per year will be reduced to $400 per year.

Email List Quality Not Cleaned Cleaned
Subscribers 3000 2000
Cost per month $50 $30
Cost per year $600 $360
Savings $240

(D) Lower Open and Click-through Rates

When your email list is inflated with the inactive contacts engaged within your email list, you will have lower open rates and click-through rates. If you are the only one who notices these numbers regarding low open rates and click-through rates, this can be discouraging. You may feel less motivated to invest time and energy in your email marketing regarding this issue.
You should keep track of the open rates and click-through rates because it impacts your subscribers. So, it does not make sense to keep those people who are inactive and that do not engage with your email marketing campaigns.

(E) Difficult to Interpret Email Statistics

When you have lots of disengaged contacts on your list, it’s difficult to say whether your email marketing strategy is working or not. You might not get enough subscribers if your marketing email approach does not resonate with your ideal customer.

A bloated list also creates noise in your results. A strategy you tried in your last email campaign may have been incredibly useful within a large portion of your list. However, this success may show up as a lackluster 2% increase in your click-through rate rather than a noteworthy 10% increase.

When you use an email cleaning approach to prune your list, your email statistics will likely become more accurate. It will be easier to figure out which proposals are working and others that are not. Along these lines, you can benefit as much as possible from proper email advertising techniques.

(3) Benefits of Email List Cleaning

There are several benefits of the email list cleaning that is helpful to explore and utilize. Benefits of Email Verification

(A) Reduced Email Marketing Costs

Generally, email service providers often charge based on the size of your database. You must pay more money to send an email to 50,000 people compared to 5000 people.

Therefore, this may motivate you to clear your email list from a cost perspective. There is no reason to pay additional costs for the contacts who do not actively engage with your business emails.

As a result of trimming down your list to only the necessary contacts, you may receive an ROI boost. Since you are sending emails to people who are interested in what you have to say, you will receive more openings of emails and click-through rates.

(B) Reduce Spam Complaints

No one wants their business marked with the dreaded word spam.

If you do not clear your email list and continually send emails to the contacts who do not want to hear from you, then there is a possibility that these contacts will mark you as spam.

If you are cleaning your email list regularly, you may rest assured that your chances of becoming marked as spam or receiving complaints are relatively low. This means that the contacts you do send emails to are active and want to engage with you.

(C) Increase Open and Click-through Rates

As mentioned above, your metrics will improve after clearing out your email list.

For example, your database holds 5000 email addresses, and you have a 20% open rate.
This is not ideal, but it is a decent amount However, once you clean your email list, this reduces your database to 4000 email addresses. Along with that, your open rate increases to 30%. This is an even better ratio.

(D) Actionable Data Insights

Once you remove invalid email addresses from your email list, you will get a better idea of how to engage your subscribers by providing specific, unique content.

(E) Effective Marketing

Verifying emails prevents you from wasting valuable time mailing to bad leads. Once you clean your email list, you should segment inactive and active emails. Target each group with appropriate messaging.

(F) Increase Conversion Rates

Email list cleaning, as a rule, builds transformation rates by evacuating leads that will never change over. When your messages are received from an engaged audience, your conversation rate automatically increases.

(G) Prevent Delivery Issues

It is ideal to take a proactive approach to email lists than wait until your emails are blocked. Email checks, ordinary email list cleaning, and email affirmation can help forestall future deliverability issues.

(4) When do you Need to Perform Email List Cleaning?

So, how will you know it’s time to clean your email list? There are a few ways to determine when you should clear out your list.

It is recommended to clean your email list every three months to start. Think of it as a quarterly cleaning. There are a variety of warning signs that indicate that it is time to clear out your contacts.

Unfortunately, there is no explicit time setting for email list cleaning, you should also watch out for the red flags that indicate that your list is getting bloated or overwhelmed. The following are the significant warning signs to signal that your list is ready to be cleaned.

(A) Emails Open Rates are Lower than Ever

Email open rate will be a primary indicator in deciding email listing cleaning time settings.

Low open rates suggest that your subscribers do not respond to your emails. There can be several reasons for not reading or responding to emails. However, this idea does not matter because you can not control it. When this is the case, what you can do only is clean out your list.

(B) Emails Click-through (CTR) rates are Lower than Usual

Click-through rates measure the percentage of subscribers who click on the call-to-action in your email. On the off chance that your click-through rate falls adrift, you are balancing on a risky concept.

Click-through rates are usually much lower than the open rate. Contacts often read emails without further engaging with them. However, if you see a significant drop, that’s a red flag.

(C) Getting a lot of Spam Complaints and Bounce Rates are High

Consumers can do two things with unwanted emails: Trash it or spam it. The more this happens, the more dangerous this can become for your business.

Email service providers pay special attention to spam complaints. When your emails reach a certain threshold, your email will automatically get sent to spam. Consider this as an important factor to decide on email list cleaning.

(5) How do I Verify Email Lists?

Before we move on to the process of cleaning your email list, let’s take a look at what should be done before cleaning an email list.

First of all, you need to check bounce rates. There are two types of bounce rates in email marketing: Soft and Hard.

To solve this issue, send a re-engagement email campaign targeting Inactive subscribers. Before cleaning your email list, you can segment out inactive subscribers. Why should you send a re-engagement email to inactive contacts? Because this is an approach to possibly get these contacts back.

The Process of Cleaning your Email List

(A) Start by Cleaning your Most Active Email List – Do not Forget your Other Lists!

Always begin with your active list—the people who want to hear from you regularly. You might have several distinct files, so work through them systematically. Segment your list by different categories. Your active lists may include unique demographics, interests, or other related information. Sort through and segment your inactive contacts as well to keep your information organized.

(B) Remove Contacts who Unsubscribe from your Email List

If a contact communicates to you that they do not want your emails sent to them, then you should honor that request ASAP. Remove their contact information from your email list immediately.

(C) Correct Obvious Typos

You can often find typos manually in your email list if it’s short enough. Take [email protected] for example. The same goes for versus You can also verify whether the email address is correct by using any email finder tool.


You might be thinking that more contacts will get you more opening rates. However, this is not necessarily true. Removing contacts from your email list might seem daunting but you should not be hesitant when it comes to removing connections. When you remove inactive contacts, this will be beneficial for business. Inactive contacts only bring bounce backs and the danger of spam, which your email marketing campaign does not need to be burdened with.

Pro Tip: Use these inexpensive bulk email verifiers to effectively clean your email list.

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