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(Serhat Beyazkaya, SmartMessage Product Marketing Manager) The hard bounce is the most common reason of delivery fails email marketers face every day. It is the situation where the email cannot be delivered permanently due to several reasons. A non-existent domain name or email address can cause such issues.  Blocking of deliveries by recipient’s server may be another. Whatever the reason is, an undelivered email means missing the target and losing the chance of engagement.

Email list hygiene is the extraction of “hard bounce” subscribers regularly to increase your delivery success. Subscribers who did not read your emails for a long time should not stay in your list, also invalid addresses (due to reasons like misspelling) should be cleared out. This routine is also critical for keeping an active and error-free list just as ISPs request.

What is an ISP (Internet Service Provider)?

As the definition speaks for itself, ISPs are the companies that provide the Internet connection for end-users and organizations. In the digital marketing world, e-mail inbox providing brands like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo etc. are also mentioned as ISPs.

You can ease the list hygiene process by taking these three actions:

  1. Spelling control of email addresses before importing lists into the system
  2. Extraction of hard bounce subscribers from the list
  3. Extraction of subscribers that did not read any of your emails in the last 3 months

Another important aspect is that if there is not active integration of your user database (like your CRM system) with your e-mail service provider, the subscription permissions may not be up-to-date. Unsubscribed users should be extracted even manually like users with invalid addresses. Otherwise, you will be sending emails to subscribers that do not want to receive your emails. They will most probably mark your emails as spam and ISPs will add your IP to the blacklist. The automatization of such processes via integration will minimize human errors and save your time spent on operational actions.

In cases where you did not subscribe users with Double Opt-in or collect user info via handwritten forms (e.g. in stores) there may be spelling mistakes. These addresses should be picked and extracted from the lists or the better they should be corrected. This situation of list pollution brings the risk of being marked as a spam sender by ISPs, a terrible issue for the email marketers that will avoid them reaching even their regular subscribers.

You should check out the following when controlling email address spelling:

  • Does the domain include extensions like com, us, gov, edu etc?
  • Are domains shortened or displayed as they are?
  • Are the e-mail addresses filled with GSM numbers?
  • Are repetitive email addresses added one after the other?

You can take these actions at least quarterly to keep your lists clean; it will help you manage your data more efficient while providing you the chance to analyze your read and click rates better.

For more actionable email marketing tips, please don’t hesitate to contact us.