Email List Cleaning – Give Your Email Marketing a Fresh Start

Fresh start, Email Marketing.

Sending out an email to your list of subscribers can feel like a little adventure.

You carefully select the subject line, brainstorm the content and work hard to make your call to action that extra bit more appealing.

But then, the numbers roll in and… it’s not what you expected.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, we’re going to show you:

  • how to scrub your email list and why you should do it in the first place,
  • how to remove invalid and hard bounce email addresses from your database
  • how to prevent the most common bad email list practices and
  • how to transform your email broadcasts from adventurous to boring – because you’ll be hitting the mark every time.

Excited? So are we.

First off: why clean your email list?

Among many reasons why your emails can fail, an email list that needs cleaning is a big one.

Email lists naturally decline with time. Some studies show that in just 28 days, 4.5% of your subscribers can become unresponsive. You can imagine how this can quickly snowball and turn a profitable email list into one that even Neil Patel couldn’t resurrect.

Your list may also have spam traps (stale emails become ones), fake emails generated by bots, etc.

The big issue with email is always going to be deliverability. It’s a quite complex topic and consists of many components like the sender’s reputation, domain reputation, etc. A full guide to email deliverability you can find here.

As you may know, every domain has its own domain reputation.

When you send an email from your domain, the inbox of your recipient (their ISP) acts as a bouncer.

It has one job and one job only: to only let in the cool emails and throw out those stirring trouble.
If your domain’s reputation is good, you get in, otherwise, you stay out.

What is an ISP?

An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. There are many different kinds, but the one you should know about are email service providers like Google, Yahoo or Outlook. People who use them want one very simple thing: ZERO spam emails. So, it is very important for these companies that they let no spam email slip through their filters – and they’re very good at it.

This can be good news or bad news, depending on your current reputation. But what this really means is that your domain reputation is not a fixed thing. It is an ever changing number based on a number of different factors.

How many subscribers open your emails, how many click on your links, how many save your emails… and how many emails never get delivered, get labeled as spam or simply get deleted (ouch, that hurts).

Obviously, you want to maximize the first part and minimize the second. But how?

While there are many ways to improve your email marketing, cleaning your email list should be priority number one if you already have an established email list – especially if you’ve never done it before.

As good as best email marketing practices are, if your emails are ending up in spam, great subject lines aren’t going to mean much. Clean email list first!

When should you clean your email list?

Right now. We’re not joking.

It is simple to do and easy to set up, as we will explain in the rest of this article.

But as a general rule, you should clean your email list at regular intervals AND also if you notice a sudden drop in your open rates.

While a drop in response can be caused by many different factors, the quality of your email list is easy to rule out with a simple check.

How often should you scrub your email list?

The more subscribers you are getting, the more often you should be checking. But even if your list is relatively stable, you should be doing it at least a few times per year – we recommend doing it 4 times, once per quarter. We find that it’s easy to schedule and that it works for most people.

However, if you’re getting a ton of new subscribers, a monthly check would be more appropriate.

How to clean your email list of bad subscribers

There are two steps of cleaning your list:

  1. You should unsubscribe (not delete, or remove) inactive customers so they wouldn’t spoil your overall metrics, including deliverability, and burn your email credits. This can be made by creating a segment and unsubscribing it.
  2. You should use an email hygiene tool for detecting spam traps and fake emails.

These both steps are important when cleaning your email list. Don’t worry, you won’t need to drop a ton of money on this. Email list cleaning services are cheap and provide great accuracy. In the next section of this article, we’ll take a look at a few of them available on the market.

Tools for email list cleaning

So, you don’t want to waste time. Let’s get to the point.

There are a large number of online services providing email cleaning or email scrubbing.

However, not all of them come with the features you might want.

For example, some of them don’t actually clean your email list of bad subscribers – they only point them out. You still need to do the manual work of actually removing them.

Instead, we’ll take a look at a few one-stop-shop services that we have found to be useful.

4 best email list cleaning services

After much time spent comparing dozens of list scrubbing services, five seemed to come up again and again. These are the best tools for email list cleaning we’ve found. We will compare them and see how they stack up against one another.


Mailgun is a very sophisticated email tool with a wide range of features. This platform applies artificial intelligence which constantly learns to validate email addresses. It has custom grammar checks for Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail emails, quick response time, and many other features.

We find this tool the most comprehensive and with the best value for money.



Xverify is a trusted solution for email checking. It offers built-in fraud protection, it boasts a 98% success rate and is fully mobile-friendly. It also has a handy built-it auto-correction feature, which can recognize common spelling mistakes and correct them on the fly.

It is especially recommended to European users, as it is fully GDPR compliant and has intelligent email verification built for Europe specifically.

Xverify offers “pay-as-you-go” rates that go down with the number of emails on your list.

All in all, Xverify is a good service that can definitely give you a clean email list.



DataValidation is an email verification service trusted by companies such as Netgear, IEEE and Orange.

It offers a number of features, among them:

  • Email list monitoring service
  • Email verification API
  • Native integrations
  • Free list archiving

They also offer an AutoPilot service, which constantly monitors your email list. As they say: “Monitor the quality of all of your email lists periodically. Determine when to verify your email list and always keep it fresh and clean.”

This can actually be done for free monthly for up to 100,000 emails.

It also boasts one of the more impressive deliverability rates in the industry: they guarantee 99% deliverability, which is really impressive.



ZeroBounce promotes itself as an award-winning email cleaning service.

It is definitely one that is worth taking a look at. Not just a service, but a system, it includes services such as:

  • Removal of Invalid Email Addresses
  • Spam Trap and Abuse Email Verifier
  • A.I. Email Scoring and Catch-All Validation System
  • Real-time Email Validation API

They offer three payment modules: freemium, pay-as-you-go and subscription. These cater to many different needs, from a small email list of a few hundred to megalists with millions of subscribers. This last group also gets additional benefits with their enterprise option.

This tool supports 46 API integrations, among which most of you should find the ones you need.


Email list cleaning services comparison

Here’s a quick overview and comparison to help you decide which service you want to use.

Mailgun Xverify Data Validation ZeroBounce
Price (per 10,000 emails) $35 $72 $50 $65
Freemium Yes (5000 emails for free for 3 months) No Yes (up to 500 emails) Yes (100 free email validation credits)
Accuracy 99.99% 98% 99% 98%
API integration Yes Yes Yes Yes

In our opinion, the best email list cleaning service for most users is Mailgun, but it does have strong competitors. And just because it is the best for the average user, doesn’t mean it will be the best for you – so make sure to check them against your specific needs.

Wrap Up

Once your list is free of unwanted intruders, you can again focus on improving communication with your audience.

Consider starting applying email segmentation and marketing automation more actively.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments below – and tell us about your experiences with email list cleaning services.

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This article was originally published by our friends at Omnisend.

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