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Sending your email campaigns to good data is one major cornerstone to build the foundation of a successful email marketing – and you can directly influence it. But acquiring high-value contacts and keeping your email list clean is not always straightforward. In this article I will provide you with measures you can undertake to allow only ‘real’ contacts to enter your email marketing list and how to maintain a good list.

Why is it important to have a quality email list? 

A good email list can help you to increase your email marketing KPIs (e.g. click rate, conversions, revenue attributed to email campaigns) and to maintain or to improve your reputation as a sender. Moreover, it can even prevent you from facing deliverability issues (e.g. high bounces, lower click rate, less revenue) and thus directly impact the success of your email marketing.

Data acquisition - Point of sign-up 

The subscription form where you acquire data for your email marketing is the first point you should pay attention to when it comes to the quality of your email list. There are some practices around on the internet that can harm your database, such as email list bombing attacks, or real persons that simply enter a fake email address. The below methods can help you to prevent such things from happening as far as possible:

Implement a captcha to all your registration forms
Today captchas work with minimal user action where only one click is necessary but there are also captchas available that require no user action at all. No matter which reputable captcha service you use, implementing a captcha can protect you from email list bombing attacks and spambot attacks.

Implement email validation upon sign-up
There are several providers of email validation tools around on the internet. The paid service they offer is live email validation when the user enters the email address or a check if the email address exists when the user tries to submit the subscription form. Using a tool like this can reduce the number of fake email addresses getting into your database to a best possible minimum. It also helps to exclude typo domains, such as, or, and temporary email addresses that only exist for a couple of hours or days. Both types of email addresses can do harm to your deliverability.  

Use double opt-in
Another measure of protecting your database from malicious data or not existing email addresses is to set up a double opt-in process. A double opt-in (DOI) requires the contact to click a confirmation link in a confirmation email that is sent to his/her email address right after the sign-up. This reduces the likelihood of sending your email campaigns to bad data.
N.B. There is a recent increase in email list bombing attacks that target companies which include the contact’s first name or surname in the salutation of the confirmation email. It is therefore recommendable to avoid using the first name or surname in confirmation emails wherever possible.

Email list maintenance 

To keep your existing email marketing list as clean as possible you should pay attention to the following: 

Exclude hard bounces immediately and soft bounces after a certain number of occurrences
Both is done automatically in your Emarsys account. 

Send less email volume to your inactive contacts (in comparison to your active contacts)
We all know that it can be tempting to send certain email campaigns, such as campaigns for big sales, to your whole email list including all the inactive contacts. But this strategy is not promising in the long-term since mailbox providers thoroughly analyse and keep record of your sending behaviour. This is one major pillar that builds your reputation as a sender. To avoid gambling with your reputation or to improve your reputation you should limit the sends to inactive contacts, also to avoid hitting spam traps which can severely harm your delivery rates and thus the success of your email marketing. I recommend reading this related article on how to handle your inactive contacts in a careful manner.
To determine whether contacts are active or inactive, you may, besides the usual engagement indicators, also include other data, such as website visits, abandoned shopping carts or social media interactions with your brand.

If you suspect to have bad data in your database but the above methods didn’t help you can also consider requesting an email list clean-up from providers offering this service. This is a paid service and it’s unlikely that, whatever company you choose, 100% of the not existing email addresses are identified but it can still help you to delete a good amount of bad data from your email marketing list. 

What else is important?

Regardless of the above methods and measures, it is vital to set clear expectations upon registration that the contact will sign up for a newsletter or regular email campaigns. Also, make it easy for the contact to immediately understand why it’s necessary to provide a real email address, e.g. for receiving a confirmation email, a shipping notification, a receipt etc. For the sake of a quality email marketing list, it pays off to be transparent and inform the user about the emails he/she will receive and what type of content can be expected. Pre-ticked newsletter checkboxes as well as hidden or intransparent subscription processes which sign-up users without their explicit consent should be seen as long outdated methods that don’t add any value to your email marketing. Vice versa, applying such methods can ruin your reputation and put the success of your email marketing at risk.

What’s next?

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You can ask questions and provide suggestions for helpful email deliverability topics in the Q&A area Q&A – SAP Emarsys Email Deliverability.

And if you’d like to find out more SAP Emarsys, you can visit the community page: SAP Emarsys CX.