Understanding list cleaning in Klaviyo

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You will learn 

Learn how to clean your lists and maintain strong deliverability by identifying and suppressing unengaged profiles. Cleaning unengaged or inactive profiles from your list improves a number of aspects about the quality of your list. This is crucial to maintaining good deliverability. The process for cleaning your list involves two steps:

    1. Creating a segment of unengaged profiles
    2. Suppressing or deleting these unengaged profiles
In addition to this guide, review our best practices for creating an engaged main list, which includes some guidelines around creating an inactive subscribers list and engaging with unengaged customers.

Why list cleaning is important

List cleaning is key to maintaining good deliverability and making sure your emails land in recipients' inboxes. List cleaning allows you to accomplish the following:

  • Reduce unsubscribe rates and increase open and click rates
  • Increase your deliverability scores with email providers
    Most major email service providers (like Google and Yahoo) track how recipients interact with emails from your domain — how many emails are marked as spam, how many are opened, etc. ESPs use this information to determine whether your emails are classified as spam. Having lots of unengaged people on your list hurts your efforts to reach those that actually do want to receive your emails.
  • Retain and engage customers
    By knowing when people start to disengage with your brand, you can know when to send targeted campaigns to re-engage them.
  • Personalize content based on your best customers
    By knowing that your list is full of real, active, and interested potential customers, you can start to personalize content around those people.

Identifying unengaged profiles in your account

Identify your unengaged customers by creating a segment that captures customers who are receiving your emails, but not opening or clicking them.

Unengaged segment in Klaviyo

In this example segment, we only include Klaviyo email event data. If you integrated your prior ESP (e.g., Mailchimp) or manually imported historical open and click data, you should add conditions to your segment to filter on this data as well.

Let's look at each of the conditions in this segment.

  • Received 10 emails over all time
    10 received emails is a good baseline to start with for this condition. However, you can modify this number depending on how often you send to your customers and the type of products you sell. If you send daily, make this number higher. You can clone this segment multiple times, increasing the number of received emails by 1 each time to test what number is right for you. In general, this threshold should be high enough to capture the bulk of your unengaged profiles but not so high that you only capture the very least engaged profiles. For example, the screenshot below shows 5 similar unengaged segments. The number of profiles in the segment dips when I set the number of received emails to 14. As such, 13 is the threshold I should use.

List of segments in Klaviyo

  • Opened and click email zero times in the last 365 days

    These two conditions capture customers that have not opened or clicked your emails in the last year. By connecting these conditions with an AND connector, you're finding your least engaged customers. Moreover, we advise using 365 days as your timeframe. If you instead use over all time, this could leave some customers out of this segment who should be suppressed. For example, if you have used Klaviyo for three years, someone could have opened and clicked an email right after subscribing to your emails and then not engage in the following two years; they would still not appear as unengaged. The 365 day timeframe accounts for this by including individuals who were unengaged in the last year, without having too restrictive of a timeframe for removing contacts.

    If you think a 365 day timeframe is not the best window of time to gauge your customers’ engagement, you can also test different timeframes to see what works best for you based on your customers' buying and engagement habits as well as how often you send emails.

  • Someone is not suppressed
    This condition is for convenience. If you suppress the profiles that you find in this segment, this condition removes those profiles from the segment. That way, you can use this segment going forward to monitor how many new unengaged customers you have.

After you've created this unengaged segment, the next step is to suppress or delete these profiles from your account.

Suppress or delete unengaged profiles from Klaviyo

Suppressing profiles keeps their data inside of Klaviyo, but no emails may be sent to suppressed profiles. Meanwhile, deleting profiles from Klaviyo removes their data completely. Because of this, it is almost always better to suppress your unengaged profiles. Keep in mind that:

  • Suppressed profiles do not count towards your monthly payment plan limits
  • Suppressing profiles maintains all of their associated data in your account
  • Suppressed profiles can become unsuppressed if they re-engage (e.g., signing up to your newsletter)

Suppress contacts from receiving emails

Once you create a segment of those you want to suppress, export this segment as a CSV file. Please note that you only need to export and upload the email address column in your CSV. Removing additional columns will quicken the upload process.

Next, find your suppression list by navigating to the Profiles tab and clicking Suppressed Profiles in the upper right. Then, click Upload File and select your CSV.

When you suppress a group of people, their profiles will remain in your account, but you are unable to email them. 

Delete contacts permanently from your account

If you want to permanently remove a list/segment of contacts from your account, navigate to Account > Settings > Profile Maintenance.

Here, you will see a Remove Profiles section where you can choose a list or segment from a dropdown menu. Select this list or segment and then click Delete People. A popup will appear prompting you to confirm this decision; if you wish to proceed, click OK.

When you delete people, these profiles will be completely erased and no history will be kept — this is permanent. Be absolutely certain you want to delete these profiles, because this action cannot be reverted.

Delete profile tool in Klaviyo

Cleaning soft bounces

If your emails frequently bounce or go unopened, email clients will eventually start sending your emails to the spam folder. As a result, it is important to regularly clean out profiles that keep bouncing. While Klaviyo automatically suppresses profiles that soft bounce seven consecutive times, it's a best practice to exclude emails that soft bounce more than four times from your campaigns.

There are two types of bounces:

  • Hard Bounces: A hard bounce occurs when the email cannot be delivered due to a permanent reason — for example, including a misspelled or fake email. Klaviyo will automatically remove emails that hard bounce, and then suppress them from future sends.
  • Soft Bounces: A soft bounce is always caused by a temporary reason, such as a full inbox or a recipient email server being down momentarily. Klaviyo will automatically suppress an address that soft bounces more than seven times in a row.

To create a segment that identifies chronic soft bounced emails, use the following conditions:

Segment of profiles that had a soft bounces in Klaviyo

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