Finding an email list cleaning services is absolutely tough. The selection and prices are all over the place and depending on what you need, you may end up either overpaying or underpaying for a service that just doesn’t cut the mustard.
I wrote a cartoon that offers you a history of email list hygiene with a clear perspective on why we have list hygiene companies and why it’s so important to clean email list.
Email list cleaning has two objectives: Validation & Verification.
Email list validation comprises of the removal of spamtraps, bounces, complainers, litigators, duplicates, disposables, departmentals, botclickers, false positives, slow responses, format errors, unicode characters and checks the mail exchange record for numerous warning signs to prepare the list for verification.
Email list verification is the final removal of bounces (hard, transient or soft), vacation emails, challenge responses, replies from list servers, feedback reports, mail block relay, forwarders and false positives.
So which process is the most important? Well, it really depends on your list. There are several kinds of lists:
Optin lists are databases of people who requested your information. When you send an email to these people, they trust you and want to receive your information. Rarely do spam fighters fill out forms to track optin lists so validation isn’t really required when cleaning an optin list. All you would need is to do verification. And you only need to do this if you neglected the list. In example, let’s say you have not mailed to your list for 3 months. You simply cannot upload your list into a white listed ESP without having some sort of return path that can harm your reputation so email list verification for older optin lists is a must.
Rented, traded or purchased lists are gorilla style email marketing and often frowned upon by the industry, especially spam fighters. If the recipient did not request information from you, then most likely, they will complain or report you to your ISP/ESP or worse, a spam fighter. With any third party list, you definitely will want to clean it with validation and verification. But don’t get into a hurry by uploading the cleaned list into an ESP. Just because the list has been cleaned doesn’t mean it’s 100% perfect. You will need to find options to clean that data before you upload it into white listed ESP’s. Perhaps setting up your own email server would be key to finalize your cleanliness.
Harvested lists are emails that have been “scraped” from the Internet. It’s a common spam technique that is absolutely risky and not worth the effort. Yet, spammers still to this day repeat this technique. It’s really common to see B2B email lists mended together from the Internet and other lists where it finally shows up at an email list hygiene company. Unfortunately, we cannot tell if a client has harvested a list or not so we cannot deny the business. We have thorough screening in place but sometimes miss some of these files because of the volume we do. If you have acquired a list this way, we frown upon cleaning it. These lists are the reason why we have a war between email marketers and spam fighters.