The Ultimate Clean Email List Guide for Retailers


A clean email list is crucial for retailers everywhere as the back-to-school and holiday seasons loom in the not-so-distant future. 

You’re most likely preparing for the season by ensuring quick fulfillment options, like ship from store or BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store). However, you’ll never be able to inform customers about all of the convenient, omnichannel options you have available for them if you don’t have the correct email address on file or if your sender reputation is poor and prohibits you from sending emails to legitimate email addresses. 

To reach prospect and customer inboxes consistently and effectively, you need a clean email list. 

What are the benefits of a clean email list?

The benefits of a clean email list include:

Increased Engagement: A clean email list results in better campaign engagement. Because the detritus has been identified with an email cleansing tool, like emailHygiene, marketers can use their judgment on which email addresses pose the greatest threat and remove them accordingly. With dangerous email addresses—like disposable domains, spam traps, and honeypots—removed, you’ll see your open, click, and conversion rate skyrocket.

Reduced Bounce Rates: Similarly, your deliverability will drastically improve once garbage email addresses are identified and weeded out of your email lists. 

Save Money: Email service providers often charge based on the number of contacts included in your list. If 30% of your email list is identified as Reputation, Fraud, Delivery, Conversion, or Beta threats, then removing those email addresses will reduce the amount of money you’re paying each month for your ESP subscription. 


Learn about Reputation, Fraud, Delivery, and Conversion threats in our Email Hygiene and Verification Special Report.


Improved Email Campaign ROI: Better email deliverability and engagement drive more conversions per email. And at the same time, you’re no longer wasting budget on junk emails in your ESP and instead focusing on legitimate contacts who can and will convert. The overall improved return on investment for each email campaign makes all stakeholders happy.


What are the consequences of not keeping your email list clean?

Honeypots: Honeypots are an anti-spam technology that act as inactive email addresses posted online, invisible to the human eye, and designed to catch spammers, harvesters, and bots. Sometimes honeypots are email addresses that have been abandoned and are repurposed. Even if you are utilizing a double opt-in, you’re at risk of getting caught in a honeypot without using an email hygiene service to identify them. 

Spam Traps: Spam traps are created and monitored by blocklists and email providers to catch malicious email senders. Often, legitimate senders get caught in spam traps, especially if they’re not using correct email hygiene or acquisition practices.

Blocklists: Blocklists, formerly blacklists, are real-time databases that help decide which email should be considered spam. It is a filter that determines whether or not an email makes it to its intended recipient. Your IP can be placed on a blocklist if you inadvertently send an email to a spam trap or honeypot. Once your IP is put on a blocklist, your emails will be labeled as spam and your email delivery rates will plummet.

Poor Sender Reputation: A poor sender reputation results from the cumulative effect of your email sends to receiving servers. Poor results with high bounces, low opens, and high spam complaints will damage your sender reputation and land you, more often than not, in the spam folder. 

Lost Business: Allowing the issues above to go unchecked ultimately results in lost revenue. If you’re unable to reach your customers or prospects, your customer engagement and conversion rates will plummet. Additionally, digging yourself off of a blocklist and fixing your poor sender reputation takes time, resources, and manpower that is better spent preventing the problem altogether with frequent email list cleaning practices.

How to keep a clean email list:

  • Double opt-in strategy 
    • A double opt-in strategy adds an extra step to the subscription process, ensuring that your subscribers truly want to receive your emails. 
  • Frequent email verification and email hygiene practices
    • Many marketers are under the misunderstanding that verification alone is enough to keep them out of honeypot and spam trap inboxes. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Email hygiene is critical to ensuring all of the nasties in your email list are identified. 
  • Real-time lead hygiene with API integration and ReCaptcha
    • Protect your forms with real-time API lead hygiene and reCaptcha, stopping bots and spam at the front door. A real-time email cleansing API is designed to quickly determine if the email address submitted is a valid working email address and not a bot. This will help decrease fraudulent or inaccurate data entered into your forms, protect your deliverability and sender reputation, and improve your campaign ROI. Additionally, it will create a better UX for your prospects and customers.

Download our Pre-Send Email Checklist


Is your email list clean?

  • Do you use a double opt-in strategy?
    • Yes - Great!
    • No - If you’re not using a double opt-in strategy, it’s time to implement one. With a single opt-in process, mistyped or fake email addresses will end up on your email list, resulting in increased bounces and poor deliverability. 
  • Have you recently, or ever, purchased a list?
    • No - Great!
    • Yes - Stop. Immediately. First and foremost, sending to email addresses on purchased lists is illegal under GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and CCPA laws. If you don’t have consent to communicate, then don’t. Additionally, quality email lists are never for sale. Sending emails to a purchased list will harm your deliverability and IP reputation and result in lost business.
  • Have you used an email hygiene tool on your list within the past 3 mos? 
    • Yes - Great!
    • No - If you haven’t used an email hygiene tool on your list within the past 3 months, it’s time to revisit. There are undoubtedly things like spam traps, honeypots, and disposable domains hiding in your email list. These can get your domain blocklisted in a matter of minutes, so don’t wait until it happens! Protect your sender reputation and improve campaign engagement by investing in a service like our emailHygiene proactively.

Retailers, don’t wait until the last minute to clean your email lists for fall’s campaigns. 

Start increasing engagement, driving conversions, and reaping a greater return on investment from your email campaigns. For more about the importance of email hygiene, check out our special reports. 

Let us get you started with a free email list hygiene test today.

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