Email List Hygiene: Remove four kinds of bad addresses to improve deliverability

Your email database is the foundation of your email marketing. Haphazardly adding names can invite irrelevant subscribers and invalid email addresses — which weaken your foundation.

“People make typos all the time… You want to keep that address out of your list because it’s not going to help you. And no amount of deliverability tweaking later is going to help you if the initial email address is bad.”

There are four types of bad email addresses removed from the database. Take a look to see if your list has any of these:

Role Accounts

These email addresses are maintained by a website or company for specific purpose. Examples include:

  • info@example.com
  • admin@example.com
  • press@example.com
  • abuse@example.com

These addresses are often maintained by a group, not an individual. So if you send an email to one of these addresses, it will not likely be relevant to all the owners and can make your message susceptible to being deleted or marked as spam.

Furthermore, these addresses are often publicly available on websites, which means they’re easily picked up by spammers. Email services are aware of this trend and monitor emails sent to role accounts. Emailing a high number of role accounts in your campaigns will likely harm your reputation among email services.

Syntax Errors and Typos

These invalid addresses are genuine mistakes. People frequently mistype their email address. Even if they are asked to write the address twice, it is very easy for someone to type it incorrectly the first time and copy-and-paste the mistake into the second form field.

How bad could this problem be?

“I saw 500 different ways yahoo.com was entered into our address book,”

The problem with these addresses is that they are often from people who are legitimately trying to subscribe to your newsletter — and they never receive it. This can create a bad impression with your brand. Furthermore, email services do not like receiving a high-volume of emails sent to invalid accounts and can mark-down your reputation in response.

Fake Addresses

These addresses are entered by people who do not want to give a valid email address. For whatever reason, they wanted to complete the signup process without providing a personal email. Instead, they made something up, such as:

  • nope@gmail.com
  • null@void.com
  • asdf@yahoo.com
  • nowaybuddy@getlost.com

One reason you might receive a high number of fake addresses is by requiring people to provide an address to complete an unrelated task, such as to enter a contest. The person is not interested in a newsletter or promotions — they just want to enter the contest, so they invent a fake address.

Clients mainly collect email addresses from people subscribing totheir newsletters — but they still see these bogus addresses in their database. Even though this does not make sense, it happens.

As mentioned above, sending emails to a high number of invalid addresses can tarnish your reputation.

Spam Traps

Email services and other companies create these addresses and publish them online as bait for spammers. Then they wait for someone to find the addresses and start sending unsolicited emails. This helps the companies identify spam.

Emailing one or more spam traps can hurt your reputation. The trouble, though, is these emails can find their way into legitimate company’s lists via:

  • Poor sources — such as a purchased lists from a disreputable company
  • Poisoning — a malicious competitor or an upset customer can identify a spam trap and sign it up for your emails.

Some spam traps are obvious, such as abuse@example.com, but most are kept secret. Otherwise, they would not be effective. This can make them difficult to identify. However, they’re not likely to be active, responsive subscribers, so you should be targeting them for removal based on inactivity anyway.

By: Marketing Sherpa

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Dan Gartlan
Dan Gartlan helps companies of all kinds drive their business initiatives and achieve their goals with strategic marketing programs that deliver results. As President of Stevens & Tate Marketing, he has over 20 years experience across various industries, and continues to share his expertise to build brands nationwide.