What Email Scrubbing Is and Why You Should Practice it


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When was the last time you cleaned out your email subscriber lists? There’s plenty of reasons why you may not have – perhaps you haven’t had time, you weren’t sure where to start, or feared that if you did, you may be left with no subscribers at all. It’s time to face those fears and give your undivided attention to your email marketing lists, leaving you with a cleaner and more useful email subscriber list. 


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What is email scrubbing?

Email scrubbing is similar to a spring clean for your business’s email subscriber lists. A thorough email scrub is a chance to get rid of those addresses that constantly make your company sendouts bounce; no longer active subscribers, duplicates, and junk email addresses. It leaves you with a nice shiny list of subscribers who readily welcome your emails and even read them, making sure you’re targeting an active audience.

Email scrubbing also gives you an idea of which subscribers are currently on the fringes of your email campaigns. By identifying those who do not regularly interact with your emails, you can reactivate semi-dormant contacts and improve customer engagement rates. This results in an active list of subscribers, whereby your campaigns are welcomed with genuine intrigue.

Who should be scrubbed off?

The idea of email scrubbing isn’t to leave you with a list of superfan customers. Knowing who to retain is just as important as which emails you should dump. There are certain groups of subscribers who you’ll most likely be cleaning up, using excel automation on your subscriber spreadsheets to highlight and filter the following groups of recipients. But, if subscribers can be re-engaged with your email campaigns, this is the ideal outcome. 


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Start with eliminating duplicate addresses, where either the same email appears multiple times or multiple emails come up under the same name. Email list filters can help identify these subscribers and it’s an easy way to free up some space from your lists without actually losing any recipients.


These are people who don’t want your emails and are likely to report them as spam if they do receive them. It’s unlikely that continuing to include them in your marketing campaigns is going to change their mind and you could also run into trouble with data protection legislation. Avoid all those issues by doing a quick search and deleting any addresses tagged as “DNC” (do not contact.

Spam Bots

Yes, it’s tempting to pay for a whole email list, ready-made. However, the majority of those addresses are just going to be spambots that won’t be actively interested in your campaigns. They’re usually easy to pick out, with addresses using numbers generated at random or letter sequences. Although they make it look like you’re emailing more people, they’re a literal waste of space.

Hard Bounce Addresses

Everyone has emails that bounce at some point. Some of these are soft bounces, where there are temporary issues at play; others are hard bounces, meaning there is a permanent issue with reaching that inbox. Before you delete these addresses, check there aren’t any glaring typos in the email address – you don’t need to lose willing subscribers over minor mistakes.

Inactive subscribers

How you define an inactive subscriber is somewhat subjective to your business style. However, if they haven’t opened any of your emails in a long while, it’s a pretty good sign they probably don’t want to receive further communications. Ideally, try to re-engage these subscribers through better-targeted emails but, if they’re still not opening sendouts, it’s probably time to give them the chop.


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What difference does it make?

You might not usually prioritize your email lists compared to other business communication tools. However, carving out a slot in your schedule to do your email scrubbing properly is most definitely worth it. Having a clean list of subscribers can help both you and your email lead generation strategy, with some of the following benefits:

  • Saves money – when you use an email marketing platform, it’s likely the rate you pay depends on the size of your lists. By slimming down the number of recipients, you don’t have to waste money on non-responsive addresses or fake emails. It also means there is more space for new customers on your lists, without your company having to spend more money.
  • Reduces being labeled as junk – occasionally, customers are likely to report your marketing emails as spam, either because they’ve forgotten that they signed up to them, or because they simply don’t want to reive them any longer. However, the more spam reports email providers receive, the more likely they will automatically filter your emails as spam for all addresses. This can be avoided by filtering out addresses regularly.
  • Maximizes the reach of your list – email scrubbing isn’t entirely about deleting all your subscribers wherever there is a lack of interest. It also gives you a chance to re-engage your subscribers as well as check for errors in email addresses that are preventing your campaigns from getting through. This means emails sent to your lists are at least making it into the inbox and bringing back those customers on the edge of churning. 
  • Makes metrics more accurate – you may have loads of subscribers, but your email strategy stats don’t look particularly healthy. It may be due to old unresponsive emails on your lists, dragging your engagement metrics down. Email scrubbing gives you more accurate audience analysis and insight into what interests your active recipients. 


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Get email scrubbing today

It doesn’t seem like clean subscriber lists will aid your business to the same extent as installing computer telephony integration software or the like, but it’s crucial for managing email marketing and targeting the right consumers. 

Investing in email marketing platforms is wasted if your lists are filled with fake addresses and non-responsive prospects. Make a habit of regularly scrubbing your lists so your email campaigns reach customers who need to see them, every time.

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.


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