How Fast Email Data Goes Bad – And What to Do About it


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young caucasian man working at laptop analyzing the rate at which an email list degrades

Photo by Christian Velitchkov on Unsplash

Almost one out of four email addresses become useless every single year – and in some industries, even more. To some people in business, that seems like no big deal. However, if you know about how email works, that statistic is startling.

Some companies have many customers on their email databases, whereas others have smaller lists. Whatever your case, the ramifications of email data going bad cause persistent damage for all list sizes.

Read on to find out about how quickly email data declines and how you can have peace of mind knowing your list is protected.

How fast does email data go bad?

A recent analysis of email list health showed that at least 22.71% of all email data churns within 12 months. “Within that percentage of damaging email addresses, more than 20% are simply invalid,” Brian Minick, COO at ZeroBounce, commented on the report. Minick went on to elaborate: “However, other undesirable data will be present in any list. Some of the contacts on an email list are particularly toxic and will result in email deliverability problems.”

This means that keeping certain types of emails on your database, such as spam traps, will prevent your emails from arriving in the inbox.

The drop in email list quality can affect your deliverability within just a few months. Even if your email list is relatively new, email data decay buildup starts accumulating right away. Around 2% per month is the norm. In some industries, email data decay goes bad far quicker.

What happens if you ignore email data spoilage?

Some people fall into the trap of thinking that if most of their subscribers get their emails, it doesn’t really matter that some emails bounce. Nothing could be further from the truth because bad data tends to have a snowball effect.

By not paying attention to email data health, you’re sending many signals to Internet service providers (ISPs) that you exhibit spammer behavior. Spamming, by definition, involves indiscriminate sending of emails. By sending to a degraded email list, you become harder to differentiate from those unscrupulous email senders.

Not paying attention to the quality of your email data will always result in a decline in your email readership. With a drop in people seeing your emails, you’ll also experience a drop in clickthrough rates, open rates, and ROI.

In short, a lack of awareness of email data health always defeats every reason a business would use email. “It stifles your ability to communicate with customers,” said Dmytro Zaichenko, Marketing Specialist at The email marketing specialist further remarked: “On top of that, since your email provider charges based on the size of your email list, it also wastes budget and time resources.”

Keeping email data quality high is an ongoing process

No different from building, equipment, or landscape maintenance, it’s better to continuously follow best practices than wait for catastrophes to show up. Better to brush and floss than have cavities filled. The first step in keeping your email list current is identifying the ineffective and bad data. This means routinely using a bulk email validation service to find problematic and erroneous contacts.

Once the service has completed the validation, you’ll be able to see these low-quality addresses. You should remove them and not think twice about it. Although it will decrease the size of your list, it can only help you with marketing and communicating with customers.

“There’s consistent evidence that many people mistype their email addresses on forms. There are also bots that can find their way onto lists through those forms,” says Flavius Porumb, CEO of Pubconcierge. So what can be done to keep bad data off of an email list in the first place? “You should connect an email validation API anywhere online that uses a form requiring an email address, which is generally all of them,” Porumb adds.

Improved email data hygiene means better results

Being aware of how fast an email list can start to turn sour will encourage you to follow all the best practices. For one, avoid buying lists. Make sure all your subscribers show a genuine interest in your emails by using double opt-in. A unique confirmation link is sent to anyone who signs up. The subscriber has to click the link to show that they really want to be added to the list and that they are a real person.

An email list is nothing to neglect. Treat it for what it is: a valuable database of people who have shown an interest in what you offer. Take care of this functional, precious resource, and it will serve you well. Better email data always leads to better email results.


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