To Clean or NOT to Clean – The Official Case Study of List Cleaning 101

We are an email service provider – and like most service providers, we charge by the number of contacts you have in your account.

We get many new users looking to switch from their current providers due to low open rates or low engagement, EXPECTING that we’ll do a better job solely based on our reputation.

While we love to welcome new users to the Sendlane family, we keep our reputation top notch by doing things a specific way.

Let me explain…

When a new user comes to us looking to import a list of subscribers into their Sendlane account, the first question we ask that potential client is… “Can you segment your account for subscribers that have been active within the last 120 days?”

This generally causes their heads to turn sideways and well… they’re very confused.

Why would we even need that information?

Here’s the Reason

Most email service providers aka “Autoresponder Companies”, don’t ask their users to “clean their lists.”

It’s not a common practice and we understand why – money.
If we ask you to clean your list and that list drops from 30,000 subscribers to 2,000 subscribers – we would have to charge you significantly less, right?

Here at Sendlane, we want to build a long-term relationship with you and help you be as successful as possible in your email marketing efforts. That’s exactly why we encourage all Sendlane users to clean their lists.

Enter Client, “John”

So instead of just telling you to clean your list, we wanted to show you a strong case study of a recent “cleaning” we did for a client so you can better understand the “why” behind this practice.

To keep things anonymous, we’ll call this client, “John.”

John had autoresponder accounts in two different places, dating back to 2001 – and he’d NEVER cleaned his list. Not once.

When he began moving his contacts over to Sendlane, one of the first questions we asked him during our compliance approval process was – “What is your current open and engagement rate?”

He told us that this rate was 3% (this is considered horrible in industry standards by the way.)

So instead of just turning him away, we decided to dig further into the case.

Soon we found out – John’s list (that he had been mailing for over 15 years) had now grown to a very large, bloated size.

So we started with the first step – Let’s help you segment your lists on your current platform.

Second, we asked him to provide us with the inactive list segment just to prove to him that the list was definitely no longer active.

Here’s All the Stats:

List size: 23,847

Here’s the email we helped John write and send:

Case Study of List Cleaning - Email Example

We used the Sendlane Throttle feature due to the age and inactivity of the list to slowly trickle the emails out.

Throttle Schedule:

Case Study of List Cleaning - Throttle Schedule

After 6 days, we went back to review…

Email stats:

Open Rate: 6% – 1,326 Raw

Click Rate: 19% – 254 Raw

Now you’re probably thinking, WOW not bad when you look at the open rates. But let’s dig deeper, let’s take a look at the stats:


We marked out areas for privacy, but I want you to look closely at this and go back to the above email that was sent.

We asked the subscribers who wanted to continue receiving emails from John to click on “Don’t Let Me Go.”

And of those 23,847 of which 1,326 opened…  177 said they wanted to stay on.

End result – 23,670 people were NOT interested in hearing from John again.

That left 177 ACTIVE users on the platform.

Now – you may have to read this a few times to let that sink in.

23,670 out of 23,847 did NOT want to hear from John again.


Now Let’s Break This Out to Dollars and Cents:

John had 23,857 contacts in his list – that means he would need a 25,000 user plan with Sendlane. That plan costs $149 per month.

After we cleaned the account, there were only 177 people left that WANTED To hear from John again. This meant John could downgrade his Sendlane account to a 500 user plan and only pay $9 per month.

That’s a savings of $140 per month or $1,680 a year!

Now, John’s list was substantially larger than this, but this was broken down into smaller numbers to show you the power of cleaning or scrubbing your list.

We could have let John continue on with his low, 3% open rates and continue to let him pay us an extra $140 a month.

But, that’s not really our style.

By assisting John with this task, not only is he happier, but his open rates have soared to 25-30% because he is now ONLY emailing the people that WANT to hear from him.

So the Question of the Day is – Why Aren’t YOU Cleaning Your List?

Depending on how active you are in building your list, we recommend cleaning your list every 90 to 120 days and maintaining an average OPEN rate of at least 10% at a minimum to ensure you see the best possible results from your email marketing!

NOTE: This case study was 100% factual and from an actual user on Sendlane. Everyone’s results WILL differ.

Not a member of Sendlane yet? Get started with your free trial today!

Jimmy Kim
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Jimmy Kim

CEO at Sendlane
Based out of San Diego, California, Jimmy has been a digital marketer for the past 8+ years. Before his ventures online, Jimmy rose from the ranks, started off by washing cars at a local dealership and eventually ended up being one of the youngest General Managers in the country by the age of 25. After being burnt out working 80+ hours a week, he eventually turned to Internet Marketing. He found a passion in email marketing and in 2013 helped create Sendlane as one of the co-founders. Today, he leads the entire Sendlane team.
Jimmy Kim
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