How to Clean a List That Fails a Health Check

Why A List Can Get Blocked

A list will get blocked by Klaviyo's abuse prevention system if it contains known spam traps, or otherwise a high percentage of “bad” email addresses.

A "spam trap" is an email address put forth into the world by inbox and blacklist providers to catch malicious senders. A spam trap will look like a real email address, but it won't actually belong to anyone. This means a spam trap will never subscribe, or opt-in, to any lists -- this is where the trap comes in: if you do end up with spam traps on your list, you're either scraping the web for emails, purchasing lists, or otherwise not engaging in list hygiene best practices.

"Bad” email addresses are either not real email addresses or are email addresses with suspicious subscription activity. These are email addresses that either don’t open or are almost guaranteed to “mark as spam” or “unsubscribe.”

Spam traps and "bad" both email addresses don’t open emails, so a sure way to filter these addresses out is to engage in regular list cleaning and remove recipients who you keep sending to but they never open.

Remove “Bad” Email Addresses From Your List

The best and most clear cut way to prevent your list from being blocked is to create a sub-segment of your list with engagement criteria.

Create a segment from a list

To create an engaged segment from a list, create a new segment with the following criteria:

Is in [name of list]

   AND

Has received at least one email in the last 120 days

   AND

Has opened an email at least once in the last 120 days

   OR

Has clicked an email at least once in the last 120 days

 

This will only include people on your list who have opened or clicked an email in the last 4 months. You can tweak the timing thresholds, but do not choose a time period greater than 180 days. Inbox providers penalize senders when they observe a high percentage of recipients have been received emails for the last 6 months but have not engaged within this 6 month period.

Create an engaged segment from an existing segment

To create an engaged segment from a segment, create a new segment by choosing “Create Similar Segment” from the drop down in the top right of the segment you’d like to work with. This will take you to the Create a Segment page where your original criteria are copied, but where you can add additional criteria.

Next, add the following engagement criteria:

Has received at least one email in the last 120 days

AND

Has opened an email at least once in the last 120 days

OR

Has clicked an email at least once in the last 120 days

This will create a new segment that only includes people from your original segment who have opened or clicked an email in the last 4 months. You can tweak the timing thresholds but do not choose a time period greater than 180 days. Inbox providers penalize customers who have received emails and have not engaged within 6 months. 

A Smart Strategy for Quality Performance

In general, a smart way to run your email marketing program is to have a Welcome Series flow that will send a few emails to people who newly subscribe. Why is this important?

  • A Welcomes Series demonstrates to subscribers that you are interested in building a relationship with them and it also gives them the opportunity to solidify their relationship with you by engaging with your email
  • Once new subscribers do open an email, they will immediately get included in segments that have engagement criteria

Your Welcome Series should have at least 2 messages in it, and these messages should be sent within 3 days of a new subscriber opting in. After this series completes, two additional sending practices become important:

  • Don't stop at a Welcome Series -- automate personalized and targeted touch points with your subscribers and customers based on other behaviors, such as website and eCommerce store activity
  • Build your regular campaign sending strategy around segmentation, so you can cater your content to groups of recipients based on what you know about them

Focusing on the above will keep your lists clean and your click rates, open rates, and revenue from email very strong. This will also weed out spam traps and other suspicious emails that would otherwise stick around despite never engaging with your business.

If you are sending to an uploaded list, you must first make sure that these are all opted-in subscribers. If they are, you should have strong open and click rates; those recipients that engage will all be in your segments that contain engagement criteria.

If you focus on adding engaged subscribers and sending to them, your performance and revenue is destined to improve over time and you won't run into any issues with poor list health.

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