Tomorrow never comes, does it? 

When you promised yourself that your email list would receive a good spring clean tomorrow, you knew, deep down, that it was a pipe dream. No – let’s be honest: it was something you really couldn’t be arsed to do.

That’s fine. A bit like ironing, email list cleaning is something from which you know you’ll experience some kind of benefit, but which you’d rather exchange for a punch in the face.

Only, now, you have time, right? And I can say that confidently because you’re reading this blog post.

So, here are five stupidly simple ways to clean your email list. Just remember to start with your most active and work backwards from there.

1. Sniff out the duplicates

Think about this: every duplicate email in your list reduces your ROI.

Sucks, right?

So, with that firmly in mind, always start your list cleaning process by getting shot of the duplicates. Your email marketing client might provide a tool for this, or you might find it easier (nay, therapeutic) to hunt through alphabetically. The duplicates should be easy to spot, after all.

Smaller lists are usually better than big lists. Trust me.

2. Clean out the spam

You’d be a pretty rare case if your email marketing list didn’t include any spammy addresses.

They will look a bit like this:


Find them, and delete them. They’re not real people and, at worst, might be spam traps.

It’s also important to look for ‘catch-all’ email addresses and consider how important they might be to you. These are addresses which typically start with ‘sales@‘, or ‘info@‘ and are likely picked up by several people.

That might sound like a good thing, but what if none of those people is interested? Any opens they register will inflate your open rate, so check their engagement history and bin them if they’re quiet.

3. Look for low engagement

Looking for people who aren’t particularly bothered about your email marketing efforts shouldn’t be confined to catch-all addresses.

Every once in awhile it makes sense to have a really good hunt through your list to suss out who you can remove due to lack of engagement. Think of it a bit like a Facebook friends cull (only nowhere near as much fun).

If you can, run a report that lets you order recipients by opens and clicks. Those who haven’t bothered to do either for several months – or years – should definitely be binned.

4. Try and find the obvious typos

‘’ probably isn’t a real email address. Remove it, along with any others which are clearly misspelt; they’ll only add to your bounce rate.

You are better of cleaning them out.

5. Honour all unsubscribe requests

Granted, this is more of an ongoing task, but a vital one, nonetheless.

Most people will unsubscribe from a mailing list via the correct method – i.e. clicking the link at the bottom of your email.

However, if you’ve run an email campaign for any length of time, you’ll know this isn’t the only way people decide to unsubscribe. Sometimes, they’ll reply and ask you to remove them. Sometimes, they’ll call and do the same thing.

Whenever this happens, swear briefly under your breath and to yourself only, and then honour the request. Don’t put it off.

Clean them out immediately

Cleaning up

Why are we doing this? A clean list sits at the heart of every successful email marketing campaign – that’s why.

Dirty lists raise bounce rates, increase the likelihood of spam reports and, in some cases, distort open and click rates.

Get cleaning – it’ll be worth it in the long run.