A Quick Guide to Keeping Quality Email Lists

Having a quality email list does not only mean making sure you have people’s permission to contact them. Continuous and proactive management is necessary to maintain this quality at all times.
Alain Marceau
28 August 2020
Data Management
6 min 30
guide rapide pour conserver la qualit de vos listes de courriels

Having a good quality email list doesn’t just mean making sure that you have everyone’s permission to contact them. You have to maintain that quality with regular checkups and a little proactive work. It is very important to take this task seriously if you don’t want to feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of irrelevant data you are accumulating. And that feeling of being overwhelmed can happen quickly!

To equip you better, here are a few key tips and tricks on how you can achieve this goal. Let us help you keep your list up to date and contain practical information you can use to target the right person with the right message. A task that is greatly simplified by maintaining a clean database. The cherry on the sundae is that you do all this while maintaining a good sender reputation!

Designate a Master List

We have all gotten into the bad habit of having or working from more than one list or file with client information. And, in some cases, this type of situation can’t be avoided to do well-established company processes or preferences.

However, to effectively manage your customer data and marketing practices, it is highly recommended that you designate one Master List where all of your customer data is stored and updated. This list should act as the central record keeper for your customer data, from which all other lists are updated.

This allows for better management of your data and simplifies your life at the same time. Because when you will modify this master list, your other lists will directly reflect its updates. No need to search in which list your customers are in. In the end, it’s a service you’ll be doing for yourself!

Check Email Addresses to Avoid Spam Traps

Review your email lists and remove any distribution or system email addresses that are not directed to a particular person. For example, sales@company.com or postmaster@company.com are email addresses that you will want to remove. They are often sent to several people in the same company and the emails you send tend not to reach the audience you are looking for, as they are often ignored.

Moreover, it might seem like an obvious recommendation, but you’ll also want to check for any email addresses with the word spam in them or other words that suggest it is a spam address.

Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) have list hygiene tools built-in and will clean your list of these types of addresses when you import them.

This saves you from spending time on this step and you can go straight to the next one. Think about this when you’re looking for an email solution, choose a provider that works for you, and save you work for no reason.

Validate and Organize Your Data

If you are planning to use customer data contained in your email list to segment and create targeted groups, the data needs to be as standardized as possible. This starts with the forms you use to collect this information.

For example, you can use drop-down lists with predetermined options rather than open text fields to gather the information that can be written in different ways such as country, title, industry… In fact, several elements can benefit from it.

You can also have pre-formatted fields for content such as postal codes or phone numbers so everyone inputs this data the same way.

In addition, some forms allow you to pre-fill the fields requested from your contacts. These are based on information already stored in your databases. For example, if you are doing lead generation advertising on Facebook, the platform already has a lot of information about each user. Targeted people can then change information that is no longer valid or simply empty instead of having to complete everything.

This will mainly serve to enrich the contact profiles you already have, in a perspective where they will continue to grow and stay up to date. This method can also be used to maintain your list. This method can also be used to maintain your list.

Make a profile modification form available

A profile modification form is a type of form, often included in promotional emails, that gives your contacts the opportunity to modify the information you have about them. People naturally change their e-mail address, telephone number, or physical address and this allows them to modify this information in order to always receive offers adapted to their situation or simply continue to receive your communications.

As an example, here’s what the Dialog Insight profile editing form looks like:

If you include a profile editing link in your communications, it is worth using this type of form to avoid irritation to your contacts and unwanted unsubscriptions. Because if they want to modify their information and they don’t have the option, they will probably unsubscribe by default.

You can also offer some control by allowing them to manage their profile or customize their mailing preferences. Because some people prefer to receive your communications once a week, others once a month… in short, it allows you to leave them in control of what they want. This way, someone who feels they are receiving too many communications from your company can easily change their frequency, instead of simply unsubscribing from your list for lack of alternatives.

Manage Your Subscriber Expectations & Reduce Unsubscribes

At the sign-up process, let your subscribers know how often you will be sending them messages. Also, inform them of the different content you will be sending them, as well as the added value of subscribing to your newsletter. This way, you’ll avoid people subscribing without really being interested in your content.

Expectation management plays an important role in the number of subscriptions and unsubscriptions you will have, as it greatly reduces the risk of unsubscriptions and complaints.

This approach is complementary to the previous point since this information can also be present in your profile modification form.

Honor unsubscriptions

Bill C-28 (and soon Bill 64) requires you to provide an unsubscribe option to your emails. The best way is to include a link in your mailing that is clearly identified as a way to unsubscribe, as you can see in the example below.

It is also mandatory to put contact information in your email so that your contacts can respond to your mailing or call you. No matter how they will contact you, make sure you honor their request as quickly as possible.

Monitor Delivery Results and Manage Bounces

When you send messages to your contacts, keep a close eye on your email delivery rates and the actions taken as a result of your messages. You will then be able to better manage your soft bounces, hard bounces, replies, and inactive subscribers.

A soft bounce means that the email was returned as temporarily undeliverable. This could be caused by a busy server or a full inbox. Set a limit on how many soft bounces are acceptable for your list. For example, if you send emails every week and for 6 months the same address is returned as a soft bounce it might be time to remove them from your list and arrange for some other form of follow up to verify the correct email if possible.

A hard bounce means that the email was returned as permanently undeliverable. Most major ESPs have the capability to automatically identify email addresses that have bounced more than five times and to create a separate group list of these contacts. You can use this group to deactivate these email contacts and in turn, keep your list clean.

Managing your bad email addresses will help to give you a ‘Good Sender’ reputation, resulting in improved deliverability for all of your campaigns.

You will also want to monitor feedback or replies after each campaign you send out. Be sure to read all of your replies and quickly handle opt-out and profile update requests.

Finally, you’ll want to ensure you’re handling your inactive subscribers to improve the quality of your list. Let’s face it, all lists will have some opt-outs or inactive subscribers. People change jobs, change their email address, or simply receive too many emails to read everything in their inbox. Good list management includes removing or preferably re-engaging inactive subscribers.


Keeping a clean contact list is not rocket science… Recurring maintenance and proactive actions are necessary to prevent your list from getting out of control. Dialog Insight offers a database cleanup service for companies that want to start doing things right… the right solution to start from scratch.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how to keep your list clean and engaged!

Découvrez comment votre entreprise peut bénéficier de Dialog Insight.

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