What is Email Hygiene and how can it help my business?

Each year we are moving further into a digital world. The days of physical advertising are fading and it’s all about digital marketing. One of the best and easiest ways that people choose what companies they want to see more from is by joining mailing lists.

Mailing lists can be a great way of keeping your customers updated on what you’re doing, what sales you’re having; but sometimes these emails don’t seem to make much of a difference.

Email hygiene if of the utmost importance when it comes to cultivating and maintaining your email audience. This article is going to explain what exactly email hygiene it and how it can be applied to help your business and your email statistics.

What is Email Hygiene?

Email Hygiene is largely about clearing any inactive emails from your mailing list that for one reason or another aren’t engaging with your businesses emails. This can be for a variety of reasons and isn’t necessarily indicative of the general opinion towards your company.

There are multiple reasons why an account may be inactive, including but not limited to:

  • Misspelled email – When signing up for your mailing list someone may have simply misspelled their email, causing your emails to become undeliverable.
  • No longer in use – A person may have just moved away from using that email so there would be no interaction in their inbox
  • They changed their mind – People’s mind change. What they’re interested in, what disposable income they have, these are all subject to change. Not everyone takes the time to go through and remove any mailing subscriptions they’re not interested in, so simply delete them, affecting your statistics.

Email hygiene is staying on top of all these inactive users and periodically removing them to increase your statistics.

How is it helpful for a business?

Email hygiene is helpful because it increases your mailing statistics. You may not know exactly what that means or why it’s important, so here is a more detailed explanation.

There are three statistics that are the most important when it comes to these mailing lists:

  • Open Rates
  • Bounce Rates
  • Spam Report Rates

All of these are important but for different reasons.

Open rates refer to how many people open your email instead of immediately deleting it. This is the main way of knowing how much people are engaging with your content. If you have high open rates then your reputation will also increase, as high engagement is a marker of a good business.

Bounce rates are how many times your emails are undeliverable. This isn’t necessarily your fault, it can be for some of the reasons outlined earlier, but also could be users blocking your email because they no longer want it. Regardless of the reason why, high bounce rates decrease your reputation and appearance of authenticity as it may appear that you’re using fake accounts to increase your rates – it’s irrelevant as to whether this is true.

Finally, spam report rates are simply how many people say that your emails are spam. If this happens too often it can make the algorithm see all your emails as spam, sending them to the spam/trash folder immediately. This would then decrease your open rate, as less people will see the emails. 69% of email recipients report emails as spam based on the subject line alone, so there will always be some people reporting you as spam, but it’s important to always try and actively limit it.

This is why email hygiene is important. If you keep only relevant and interested parties in your mailing list you limit the amount of bounce rates and spam reports, and increase your open rates.

If your open rates are low, but your bounce and spam rates are high, it’s likely indicative that it’s time to exercise some email hygiene.

Email Hygiene best practices

There is no specific ‘correct’ answer for how to best go about using email hygiene. There are numerous factors which effect the best way forward for you and your business specifically.

Larger companies who send out more email will need to employ email hygiene more often, as they are likely having more sign ups, so more inactive users. These companies may need to do email hygiene every couple of weeks.

Smaller companies won’t need to do it as often. If you are only sending a monthly update email, your statistics are likely to be better, although you won’t have much engagement. Decide based on how many subscribers you have and how often you email out when is the best time to delete inactive email accounts.

While the time period between each bout of email hygiene is dependent on the company what is non-negoatioable is consistency. There is no point in only doing this once. For it to be an effective practice you’ll need to consistently be checking these lists every period. This could be once a month, once every three months; again it is dependent, but you should keep on top of it before it gets out of hand.

A way to help yourself with this is having an easy way for people to unsubscribe from the mailing list. You may be inclined to make it harder to leave so you can have a large amount of recipients, but it is much better to have a smaller base of active engagers than a larger group of people who may get tired and report you as spam.


Email Hygiene is crucial when maintaining and cultivating your reputation online. Having an active userbase who open and read your emails is what makes a company thrive and increases your revenue.

Going through and deleting inactive users increases your mailing statistics, making your company seem better to email companies, who are then less likely to accuse you of being spam.

Consistently going through your mailing list is incredibly important to make sure that your statistics don’t drop due to an increase in bounced emails or spam reports.

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