Why A Clean Email List is Key for Your E-Commerce Store's Sales

Why A Clean Email List is Key for Your E-Commerce Store’s Sales

Having a clean email list is key in improving your email deliverability and getting more sales for your e-commerce store. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to calculate that an email list of 10,000 with over 50% engagement is over 10x more valuable that a 100,000 subscriber list with only 1% engagement.

Even if you’re not practicing proper list hygiene now it’s likely that email marketing is still bringing in a significant portion of you’re store’s revenue at a great ROI, which is why you’ve probably ignored it till now. But what e-commerce store owner or marketer can say no to more growth and more sales?

With this post I’ll deliver you just that. I’ll cover why you need to clean your list, what actually is a clean list, how you know if you have one, and steps you can take to start cleaning it.

Why to Clean Your Email List

Gmail and other inbox service providers (ISPs) want to see evidence that your subscribers love reading your emails. The less engaged your list, the lower your sending reputation – which results in a higher probability that ESPs will deliver emails to new subscribers to spam and significantly lower (if not erase) your chance of making a sale.

There are 3 situations which will lower your sending reputation:

  1. Multiple unopened emails left in your subscribers inboxes
  2. Your subscribers delete your email before opening them
  3. Your subscriber marks your email as spam

While it’s impossible to completely avoid this happening, the more steps you take to lower the frequency of these situations the better your deliverability and sales will be.

And while an unkept email list is limiting your sales potential its also increases the cost of your email marketing. Most ESPs will charge you either based on how many subscribers you have or how many emails you’re sending.

On average 70% of your email list is inactive (or unengaged) – meaning if you’re paying $100/month for your ESP, $70 of that is being completely wasted as it’s not contributing to generating you sales!

What is an engaged subscriber?

An engaged subscriber is a client who opens your emails and engages with your brand on a regular basis. Depending on the frequency of emails sent will determine how you define “regular”. i.e if you send 5 emails per month, you may measure on a 3 month basis, where as if you send 2 emails a year, you may measure on a 1 year basis.

ISP measures how active a subscriber is by using these positive and negative attributes.

positivenegative chart

Depending on these factors, ISP’s will determine whether or not your email will be delivered. Having more attributes from the positive factors, will increase deliverability and higher response rates. Whereas using more of the negative attributes will increase your spam rate and decrease trust with the ISP.

Is my email list clean?

As mentioned above – how you determine your email list engagement depends on how often your sending and the product you sell. However if the majority of your list hasn’t opened an email in over 3 months you can safely say your email list is not clean.

For emails that you’re adding or that you haven’t emailed in a long time you need to review how you got the emails.

1) Ensure emails you have aren’t purchased

Please please don’t do this! There are companies that sell pre-made client email addresses that apparently have buyers in your target market. However the only thing they’re selling is a one-way ticket to the spam folder!

2) Ensure you collected subscribers who actually want your emails

Contests and sweepstakes are a great way to quickly build your email list. However you want to ensure that what you’re offering in exchange for your customers’ emails is relevant to what your store offers. If you sell hiking gear and your contest offers an iPad – you’ll have anyone and everyone signing up regardless of whether or not they’re interested in hiking. Offer hiking boots or other products you have in your store instead as you’ll know entrants who sign up will also be interested in purchasing your products whether or not they won the contest.

3) Verify the emails

If your store is collecting emails from an online or in-store contest, e.g. ‘the chance to win a $50 voucher for signing up’, it is likely that some of these emails will be invalid with typos or entirely fake. When you email a large amount of invalid emails, your emails can be blocked by the email gateway. This lowers your deliverability and your site’s reputation.

A great way to avoid this is to use a verification system, such as hunter.io, to filter the fake emails out.

hunter.io email verification

How to clean your email list

List cleaning shouldn’t be hard, that’s why we’ve made it easy peasy in SmartrMail with Smart Segments. It only takes a few steps and you can easily maintain your list hygiene.

Say you are sending 8 emails per month, you would measure your subscribers engagement over a 2 month period. Clients who haven’t opened your emails in 2 months would be determined as inactive.

how to delete email lists

In the screen shot above we’ve used Smart Segments to create a segment of “un-engaged subscribers” through all subscribers. This filters out who hasn’t opened your emails in a certain amount of time depending on your email frequency. i.e. “Has not opened emails in (60 days)” with “subscriber added (60 days) ago”.

Once the segment is created you can export a CSV so you can keep your emails for your records or social custom audiences – and then easily delete them from SmartrMail so you pay less for email marketing, improve your deliverability, and get more sales.


Cleaning out your client email list is a must for your business. By improving your list hygiene you’ll improve your sending reputation, deliverability, and most importantly it will increase your chance of making sales!

If you haven’t kept up your email list hygiene, you can easily get started with SmartrMail. Any surprising numbers? Let us know in the comments 🙂

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