How To Clean Your Email List And Ensure Good Delivery Rates From A New Sender

When I recently migrated my email list from Drip to FluentCRM, there was an issue of cleaning the list. And switching platforms is a great opportunity to clean your email list. The issue was twofold:

  • I had leads from a few different places that needed to be brought into FluentCRM. Some of those emails were old and I had to figure out which.
  • I was going to begin sending emails using AmazonSES and I didn’t want my first few emails to be sent out to bad email addresses as this could really hurt my sender reputation and my account health with Amazon.

So, I had to do a few things to ensure a good experience as I switched email platforms.

I needed to clean the list as best I could.

And I needed to “break in” a new email platform to begin sending emails without hurting anything. After all, good email delivery rates depend a lot on building up your reputation as an email sender.

Let me share a few thoughts on this that might prove helpful…

How To Detect And Purge Bad Email Addresses From Your List

Over time, any good email list platform is going to respect unsubscribes and flag bounced email addresses so you don’t continue to send to them. However…

It isn’t foolproof.

Plus, when you are moving lists around and you’re dealing with a bunch of imported leads, sometimes you don’t know which email addresses are valid and which are not.

It can be made even more complicated when you realize that many people used masked email addresses, “catch all” spam accounts they never check, and other such things. And it really is best not to send to those kinds of addresses.

This is why re-engagement campaigns are so important. You want to make sure you keep a clean list by automatically flagging leads that don’t open or click on anything in certain timeframes (90 days, perhaps) and then sending them a re-engagement campaign to get engagement. This process is really important for maintaining delivery rates.

But, how can we scan for bogus email addresses and proactively remove them?

When I switched to FluentCRM, I actually ran a lot of my leads through a service called ZeroBounce.

Clean Your Email List With ZeroBounce

Using ZeroBounce, you can upload a list of email addresses and run them through a bunch of tests to see if they’re valid or not. It looks for:

  • Whether the address is valid or invalid
  • Whether the address is a “catch all” account
  • Whether the address has any “do not email” flags on it

They offer monthly pricing and “pay as you go”. I simply used the “pay as you go” option so that I could test my leads before bringing them into FluentCRM.

I didn’t do this on all leads. Just the sets that I thought were most likely to be questionable. For instance, here’s one set of leads I ran through the system:

ZeroBounce Results

It was a set of 2017 email addresses. After I uploaded the CSV to ZeroBounce, it sat there ad chugged for several minutes. And when it was done, it showed about 80% of the addresses were valid. The others were either invalid, catch-all accounts, had abuse reports, etc.

When you download your results, you get a set of CSV files. This allows you to then import the valid ones and ignore the invalid ones. Or, if those invalid ones are already in your system, you can proactively remove them. If you stop sending to those accounts, you will help your email delivery rates.

ZeroBounce has a number of tools in their system. It even has built-in integrations with some systems (but not FluentCRM yet).

How To Begin Sending From A New Server Without Hurting Your Reputation

OK, so let’s assume you have done on your due diligence to make sure you’re going to be sending to a clean email list. Now comes the moment when you begin sending those initial emails from the new system.

In my case, my list was locally hosted with FluentCRM, but I was using a fresh account with AmazonSES to send the emails. Amazon wants to make sure spammers aren’t using the service, so they definitely monitor account health.

In fact, Amazon has a Reputation Dashboard where you can monitor things like bounce rate and complaint rate for emails sent using your account. Here you can see my reputation is well within the green:

Clean Your Email List - Amazon SES Account Health

But, you’ve got not only the job of maintaining your account health, but you have the fact that you’re sending from a NEW server. The major email servers out there are not used to seeing your emails from that server.

See, over time, servers like Google, HotMail and other email providers are all watching email engagement rates from your domain name and sender IP address. They’re seeing if people are opening your emails, clicking on your links, and whether people are marking you as spam. And these things can and do affect your ability to deliver your emails into those platforms.

So, you come in there blazing from a brand new sending server IP address and, in some ways, you’re starting from scratch with your reputation.

So, here’s some advice to begin sending from a new server…

#1 – Make sure you clean your list.

Of course. 🙂 Do not just import email addresses into a new system willy-nilly and start blasting away. You’ve GOT to ensure the list you begin sending to is as clean as you can make it.

Hopefully you were practicing good list hygiene before. Also, you can use an email validation service like ZeroBounce to clean the list (see above).

#2 – Start Sending To List Segments Rather Than Whole List

Ideally, your first few emails from the new server will be to your most engaged list segments.

Don’t send to the whole list right away. Instead, send to some smaller segments. For instance, send to paying customers since they’re most likely to be engaged with you.

By sending out a few emails to smaller batches and ensuring those segments are more engaged, you’re sending training signals out that you keep a clean list and that your list is engaged. That’s all good for delivery rates. And you’re training the email providers to see you and your new server IP as a legit sender.

#3 – Get Them To Engage!

When you send out those segmented emails, try to get them to send clear engagement signals.

In other words, get them to click on links in the emails. And, even better, get them to hit the reply button and talk back!

When your subscribers reply back to emails from your email list, that’s one of the strongest engagement signals they can send. People only reply back to emails from people they trust, generally.

So, ask your list a question. Give them some reason to hit that reply button!

By doing so, you will be helping train the email service providers that you are a legit sender and your sending IP is valid.

Need help writing your email campaigns? The Email Marketing Engine goes over how you structure your own email marketing engine.

#4 – Drive Engagement As You Send To Larger Segments

As you start out with sending to smaller segments first and driving that engagement, you will build up to sending to larger segments. And, before too long, you could even send to your whole list at once.

But, as you do, drive engagement in the same way!

This process doesn’t have to take long at all. But, I would plan out a little ramp-up period to break in a new server for sending emails before you decide to just “blast” the whole list with a newsletter. 🙂

Giving People A Fresh Choice

One final thing to keep in mind here…

The fact that you’re bringing leads into a new system (from potentially multiple sources) and using a new server, it is possible that suddenly people are hearing from you who haven’t seen your emails in awhile.

I had it happen in multiple instances when I switched to FluentCRM.

So, you just want to make sure they actually want to hear from you!

So, it might not be a bad idea to run your own little, custom re-engagement campaign in the beginning. Once again remind them what they can expect from you and invite them to unsubscribe if they’re not interested.

If they don’t want to be there, you’d much rather know that upfront than keep pounding them until they complain.

So, that’s the basics of how to clean your list and break in a new email sending server.

This is a process you’ll go through in some capacity if you switch email platforms… as I did when I moved from Drip to FluentCRM.

And, in fact, most of these are just good practices for maintaining good email deliverability as time goes on.

Want some direct, hands-on help to migrate your email list and ensure you do things right? I might be able to help.

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