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Clean email lists to eliminate bounces and engage subscribers


Email list cleaning
Priya NainNov 30, 2021 10:33:01 AM9 min read

7 Email List Cleaning Tips For Better Engagement (And Tools To Get Started)

Would you like a huge garden with hundreds of weeds & rough patches or would you like a garden that's small but well maintained? I think most of us would go for a small but well-maintained one. Because we know it's the quality that matters.

The same goes for your email list. It might be small but should consist of an engaged audience. If it's not cleaned properly, it can become disorganized, full of inactive members or spam emails, and plummet your engagement and ROI.

Cleaning your email list means getting rid of any email IDs that are invalid, no longer active, or are disposable addresses. 

Why Should You Clean Your Email List, Regularly? 

Cleaning your list will have 3 main benefits:

  • More emails land in the inbox and stay out of the spam folder: 

When your list has no suspicious, dead, or unengaged email IDs, you get:

  1. Fewer bounces. Most of the email IDs would be real after scrubbing your list
  2. Fewer spam complaints. People who engage with your emails remember signing up and hence don't report them as spam. Unlike an unengaged audience. 
  3. Better open and click rate. Your absolute number of emails sent might reduce but the percentage of emails opened vs sent will increase. That will give a good signal to inbox service providers that your emails are valuable to people. 

All these factors will improve your sender's reputation and hence increase your deliverability, which is the percentage of emails that go into the inbox rather than the spam folder. 

  • Get a true picture of the engagement level of your list: 

When your list is full of unengaged, inactive audiences it's tough to know if your email marketing efforts are getting the right results or not. Your numbers will be low even if your message is resonating with the interested audience. 

If your smaller but cleaner list is acting on your messages, your email marketing statistics will be more reliable. You will be able to build a future strategy based on accurate assumptions and data. 

Reframing email marketing strategies will help you improve click-through rates, and open rates and reduce the risks of unsubscribed rates. While rebooting your email marketing campaigns, test your audience behavior by providing them with only quality emails that passed multiple QA metrics which will give you a true picture of the engagement level of your list 

  • Reduce your ESP cost

Most email service providers charge based on the number of subscribers or the number of emails you send. In an unclean list, there would be subscribers that will be counted by the ESP while billing you but those will never open your emails so will never get you any ROI. It's better to remove junk emails to keep the cost of ESP in check. 

You can clean your list at regular intervals - such as once in 6 months or every quarter. Or you can clean it whenever you notice a jump in the email bounce rate. 

5 tried and tested tips to keep your email list clean

 1. Re-engagement campaigns

Re-engagement campaigns are emails you send to subscribers that have been inactive (haven't opened any email) for a while. You can define the duration for being inactive according to the type of business and audience you have. 

It's an email that checks in with the subscriber if they are still interested in receiving your emails,  for the last time before removing them from the list. You can get them to reconnect with you by incentivizing them with a free workshop or discount. 

Here's an example of a re-engagement email sent by The Hustle when we didn't open any of their emails for at least 3 months: 

The hustle re-engagement email

 2. Resend to unopened

Part of keeping the list clean is to have an engaged audience. This can be achieved by giving unopened subscribers a chance to see your message again. After 24 hours, you can segment the audience that didn't open the original email and send the same content to them again by just tweaking the subject line. 

It can sometimes cause unsubscribes, but people interested to hear from you will appreciate it and you will stay on top of their minds. 

3. Make it easy to unsubscribe

If there is no one-click, easy way to unsubscribe from your emails then a disinterested audience will simply stay on the list or worse, mark your emails as spam. 

Instead of you making efforts to remove the unengaged audience, manually once in a while, let them unsubscribe themselves.

Here's how you can make it easy to unsubscribe:

  • Unsubscribe link should be clearly visible in the footer.
  • It should not lead to any further steps. Make it one-click unsubscription. 

4. Remove spammy email addresses

If you don't have double opt-in enabled on your signup form, people might subscribe to your website for a free coupon or PDF with invalid, catch-all, or role-based email addresses. 

Sometimes, harmful programs, known as spambots, might your website to hack it. To do that, they might push fake signups onto your contact list. These are obviously not real people. So, need to be removed.

Use a double opt-in so you don't get many spammy email addresses and secondly, even if you do get remove those addresses as soon as you spot them. Keep an eye out for any unusual spike in your signup numbers to spot spammy email addresses. And you can also use email list cleaning software to keep a clean list on autopilot 


 5.  Remove duplicate email addresses

People might subscribe multiple times to your newsletter, or you might end up creating duplicates when exporting lists from your files to your email service provider. This will lead to duplicate contacts and an email being sent multiple times to the same person. 

Duplicate data means that your open rate and click rate percentages are low or not true. It will reduce the sender's reputation. Different records might have different subscriber data and preferences. That will create confusion while personalizing the experience for subscribers.

If you use SendX to handle your list and send emails, it will automatically take care of removing any duplicates while sending the emails. This will ensure that you don't overpay for duplicates emails sent and your list that gets the email stays clean. 

Affordable tools to help you clean your email list

The checklist while cleaning an email list isn't short. You need to remove duplicates, spam traps, unengaged audiences, disposable email addresses, and much more. 

To help you save time and effort that's better utilized on focusing on your customers and business, you can use the list-cleaning tools & services available at affordable rates. 

Here are some that we recommended from the experience of using them or seeing our customers use them regularly: 

neverbounce email list cleaning tool

NeverBounce allows you to customize and download your cleaned email list based on categories such as 'bounced', 'invalid', 'clean' addresses. They claim that each email is ​​verified from 75 different locations of the world to ensure maximum accuracy. 

They don't charge anything extra for removing duplicates or bad syntax emails. Offer a set of APIs in 8 programming languages for easy integration with your tools. 

For up to 10K emails, they charge $80. The total pricing goes down as the overall volume goes up. Before you pay anything, you can analyze any list at no cost to see if cleaning is needed. 


Top businesses like Pizza Hut, Volvo, Samsung, etc. have used ListWise to clean their email lists. ListWise fixes the simple & obvious typos in email addresses. This ensures that valid emails are not removed just because of a typo. 

The real-time API allows email address verification at the same time when the email is typed in the subscription form. 

To get started and test the tool, you can test 100 emails for free. After that pricing starts from $7 for 500 emails or you can take a monthly subscription for $86 for cleaning 50K emails. 

emaillistverify list cleaning tool

It detects valid, invalid, disposable, and catch-all email addresses with 90% accuracy. 

It helps you verify emails before they enter your database. You can use its real-time API and integrate it with your signup forms on your website or app. It offers seamless integration with email service providers such as Mailchimp, AWeber, or ActiveCampaign. 

Pricing starts from $4 for 1000 emails. That's $0.0040 / email. The cost per email reduces as the number of emails goes up. For example, You will pay only $0.0017 / email for 100K emails. 

They also offer monthly subscriptions starting from $139 for verifying 5000 emails per day. 

Clearout for list cleaning

Clearout offers 20+ validation checks such as greylisting, blacklisting verification, gibberish check, duplicate removals, disposable email verification, etc.

You can either copy & paste your email list directly into the Clearout dashboard or import it from the ESP/CRM you might be using. 

It boasts of 98% accuracy rate ensuring that your valid emails addresses don't get removed. For security purposes, they don't store any of your lists. 

Pricing starts from $21 for 3000 email addresses. They also offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. 


You can use Hunter to both find and verify email addresses.

Hunter’s Email Verifier makes multiple checks to ensure the email addresses on your list are valid. It looks at the format, domain information, and email server response, and compares every email address with its own database.

You can use Hunter to verify a single email address or a list of email addresses. The software also offers an API you can use to verify email addresses through a simple API call.

You can verify up to 50 email addresses for free every month. Paid plans start at $49/month for 1,000 verifications.


Bouncer offers robust email validation services, claiming an impressive deliverability accuracy rate of 99.5%.
Its primary aim is to protect your sender reputation by ensuring that only valid emails are incorporated into your database.

With Bouncer’s real-time API, you can effortlessly embed the service into your website’s signup forms or mobile application, guaranteeing that every email address is validated as it’s captured. Bouncer provides flawless compatibility with leading email service providers such as Mailchimp, AWeber, and ActiveCampaign.

With pricing that is as affordable as it is scalable, Bouncer begins at just $5 for a batch of 1000 emails, which translates to $0.0050 per email. Furthermore, Bouncer’s pricing model becomes more cost-effective as the volume of emails increases - for instance, the cost for 100K emails would only be $0.0018 per email.

Wrap Up

If you haven't cleaned your list in a while, it's time to take action, especially before you plan your next strategy. Follow the 5 tips we discussed above and use one of the tools mentioned to help you clean the list. 

Work with an engaged audience that responds to your message. Remove any spammy emails to ensure good placement in the inboxes. Work with a high-quality but small list rather than a big but unengaged audience. 

If you are looking at an email marketing service that will provide you with double opt-in, removal of duplicates, and manage your senders' reputation, checkout SendX. It's trusted by 3000+ companies because of its high deliverability, ease of use, and affordability. Get a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.

The Ultimate Email List Management Guide


Priya Nain

A writer, content marketer, and editor with 4+ years of experience helping SaaS companies get users, and engage them. Nice girl, rarely mean.