Let’s take a quick survey. Raise your hand if any of the following are true about your contact list…

  • There are contacts in there that I’ve never made contact with.
  • There are contacts in there I’ve ignored for months or even years.
  • I’m not sure where some of the contacts came from in the first place.
  • If I’m measuring a bounce rate, it’s consistently high.
  • If I’m measuring open- and click-through rates, they’re consistently low.
  • I don’t know how to scrub my contact list.

Did you raise your hand in response to one, or even more, of the statements above? It wouldn’t surprise us. (You can put your hand down now.) Contact lists can be a beast to keep up with. They’re like having a puppy – once you’ve got one, you have to remember to feed it so it grows nice and strong. But you’ve also got to keep it clean and free of fleas. That’s where managing your contact list can get a little confusing.


We call this “scrubbing” your contact list. Basically, you’re cleaning up a database by removing any incorrect, inconsistent or unused items within. In regard to your contact list, we’re talking mostly about your contacts’ email addresses. But also think about the other ways you keep in touch – like by phone or even physical mailing address.

Why should I scrub my contact list?

Less-than-fun Fact: Did you know that if you repeatedly try to email people who don’t engage with your communications, you actually tarnish your company’s “domain reputation”? That means email service providers will start putting your “From” address on the naughty list and considering you untrustworthy. Eventually, this can lead to your emails getting marked as SPAM.

So keeping your contact list clean and up-to-date will help you stay off that naughty list. More importantly, it’ll help you foster more meaningful relationships with your target customers because you’ll have a much better idea of who you’re talking to and how to influence their buying decisions.

When should I scrub my contact list?

Barron Marketing Solutions recommends a quarterly deep clean. And we think that’s right on the money. Waiting longer than every 3 months to keep in touch is risky. It increases the likelihood that you’ll miss out on updated contact information, and it also increases the likelihood you’ll be marked as SPAM.

How do I scrub my contact list?

It depends on your process for getting in touch with your contacts. Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, an email service provider and a text service provider? If not, scrubbing your list is going to be a very tedious job. You’ll be managing unsubscribes by hand and updating contact information manually as you’re able to get in touch.

If you do have the help of these service providers (which you should if you’re serious about staying in touch and growing your business), here are the contacts to identify and “scrub” out of there:

  • Invalid and blocked email addresses
  • Unsubscribes
  • Duplicate names and email addresses
  • Contacts that have been unresponsive for an extended period of time
  • Any obvious typos or incorrect items
Getting Re-engaged

Deleting the bad eggs isn’t the only action you can take. Identify contacts who fall somewhere in the middle – maybe they open about half the emails you send but aren’t clicking through, for example. For these folks, send a permission pass. A permission pass is an email that explicitly tells the consumer why you’re making contact. It lets him or her know you want to keep in touch but also that you don’t want to overstay your welcome in their inbox. This email will offer them the opportunity to opt in or out of future emails.

If someone stays opted in, now’s the time to target them with a specific re-engagement campaign. Make these people their own unique segment, and come up with a few emails that you think will make a difference in getting them engaged with your brand. These could include informative blog posts, a reminder about your location and hours of operation, seasonal tips or a special offer. If they still fail to engage with this campaign, it’s best to remove them from your list.

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