Scrub, Segment, Send: An Inside Look at Email Marketing Lists

If you currently use email marketing for your business, you know that the number of email subscribers is an important metric. Some email experts even claim the number of email subscribers is the most important measure of success to email marketing. “Email connects people in a personal; environment – their inbox – and serves as a direct line of communication to potential hotel guests.” The more people who sign up to receive your hotel’s emails, the more opportunities you have to get in front of individuals, potentially impacting their hotel reservations and subsequently generating more revenue for the hotel property. Although the number of email subscribers is an important measure to successful email marketing, large email lists could lead to your downfall if not managed properly.

The Importance of Scrubbing Email Lists

Email list scrubbing, also known as pruning, is the act of deleting inactive subscribers. Think of it as tending to a backyard garden. You may not want to trim down the branches on some trees and bushes, but in the long run, you know they will thrive because of it. It is the same way with email. Deleting email addresses may sound a little painful for some individuals, but it is important to routinely scrub email lists at least once per quarter. Here are a few reasons why email list scrubbing is important:

  • Size doesn’t always matter. What is the point of having a huge list of email addresses if only a fraction of your subscribers open your emails? Inactive users are proving their disinterest to you if they have not opened your past three or more emails. Do yourself a favor and prune!
  • Save money. Hanging on to all of the inactive email addresses is weighing you down. Depending on how many email addresses you scrub off your list, you will not only be freeing yourself from inactive users, but you could potentially lower your total number of subscribers enough to drop you down into a lower payment bracket (depending on your email platform). To get a better visual of the money you could potentially save by scrubbing your email lists, check out MailChimp and Constant Contact for their pricing structures.
  • More accurate reporting. When users do not open your emails, your open rates decrease. If you take the time to scrub inactive email addresses off of your list, you will get a more accurate depiction of what your open rates really are. Plus, you will be able to better determine which emails are the most successful, knowing you are sending your emails out to a healthy list of active users.
  • Email addresses depreciate. Just like anything in life, email addresses depreciate over time. People change jobs, delete accounts, or sometimes just abandon email accounts entirely. Cleaning your email list of inactive users will decrease the bounce rate, the number of unsubscribers, and spam complaints.
  • Maintain sender reputation. The more bounces you receive with each email sent, the more likely you may be considered spam by the email platform you are using (i.e. MailChimp or Constant Contact). The email service provider presumes responsible email senders are regularly pruning their lists; if you don’t want to be considered spam, start scrubbing!

To Scrub or Not to Scrub

When you attempt to deliver an email to an address on your list that is no longer active, the email registers as a bounced email since it is was undeliverable and bounced emails can negatively impact your sender reputation. Since spammers do not want to allocate the time or resources to prune their email lists they usually have high bounce rates, which leads email platforms to consider these accounts spammy. Therefore, you want to scrub so you are not considered spam!

Industry leaders in email marketing, like MailChimp and Constant Contact advise users to consider what they deem low activity (usually no activity from the recipient for the past 3-5 emails that were sent). You do not want to remove someone after only one bounce because the bounce may have been unintentional. What if their email provider was having technical difficulties that day and there was a problem with receiving emails? Or perhaps they went on vacation and their inbox can no longer accept any more emails? You do not want to remove someone after one failed attempt because you never know the circumstances. Once you have determined the exact criteria for removing email addresses from your list, you will want to remove those emails and create a separate segmented group for them.


Creating a separate email list for all of the email addresses that have met your “inactive criteria” does not mean you will never email these individuals again. It simply means you do not want to email them as often. Segmenting email lists is a best practice within email marketing. For instance, if you have a loyal customer list of people who consistently open and interact with your emails, you can send them a special offer to thank them or you could send out an email offering discounted rooms during need date periods. Creating a separate email list for your hotels’ group sales team is also a great idea to help showcase meetings and event promotions on property. There are many ways to get creative with email list segmentation; stay tuned next week to learn how segmenting emails lists can enhance your hotel’s pay-per-click efforts.

Scrub and Segment…Now What?

Now that you have scrubbed and segmented your email lists, it is time to create your next email campaign. Before sending, take a look at some of Blue Magnet’s email marketing best practices.

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