Clean up your contact lists to improve email deliverability

Last updated: January 31, 2020

Each contact in your database should be organized based on why they expressed interest in receiving marketing emails from you. You can refer to this data to ensure that your marketing email content is right for your audience.

Email engagement also improves your inbox placement rates. Email senders with high rates of opens and clicks look more trustworthy to email security filters. And most email accounts, including Gmail, automatically filter out emails that recipients aren't opening or clicking

If you send an email from HubSpot that results in a high rate of negative engagement (e.g. bounces, spam reports), your email account will be placed in a suspension state. To resolve the issue, create lists to segment your contacts based on their interests and original source. Then suppress or delete any outdated or unengaged contacts from your account.

Please note: if you have questions about your contact lists after reviewing these recommendations, reach out directly to your Customer Success Manager or start a conversation on the HubSpot Email Deliverability Forum on the Community.

Best practices for adding and maintaining contact lists

Segment your contacts

To clean up your contact lists, use any of the following contact properties to get more context about their original source and why they're engaging with your business. 

  • Create date
  • Last email date
  • Recent conversion date
  • Last form submission
  • Last email opened
  • Last email clicked
  • Last reply
  • Last date purchased
  • Last activity date 
If any of the above properties are unknown or more than one year old, refer to best practices about confirming opt-in consent.

Low quality contact sources

Any contacts from the following source types should be removed from your database, as emailing unengaged or unknowing contacts can damage your email sending reputation:

  • Event attendees from a conference or trade show
  • Guessed emails based on the company format
  • Rented, borrowed, leased, appended or purchased lists 

Please note: purchased lists should be deleted from HubSpot immediately or imported as an opt-out list to ensure they're automatically dropped from all marketing emails.

Here are some important points to consider when looking at contacts from these sources:

  • Many of these sources contain spam traps, which are emails deliberately planted to help email service providers identify spammers. 
  • Reaching out to contacts from these other sources is also a direct violation of our Acceptable Use Policy and may violate privacy or data laws in your jurisdiction.
  • A spam complaint rate of 0.1% on a single email is a red flag that will increase your chances of bouncing or landing in the spam folder.
  • Even a lack of enthusiasm among your recipients can do damage to your sending reputation, as a marketing email with an open rate lower than 15% sends a message to email service providers that the sender is sending spam.