TL;DR: Gmail is phasing out inactive email accounts, making it increasingly essential for email marketers to take steps to maintain their sender reputation regularly. We’re sharing best practices to keep your list healthy and email deliverability humming.

On December 1st, 2023, Gmail began phasing out inactive email accounts—those that have not been logged into or used for over two years. This move aims to improve email deliverability overall, but it can also negatively impact those who aren’t following email marketing best practices. 

Regularly cleaning and updating your subscriber list is becoming increasingly crucial to maintain a healthy list and sender reputation. If you need help learning how to do this, keep reading. Flodesk’s Lifecycle Marketing Manager, Fer Villanueva, shares best practices to set your business up for email marketing success.

Fer Villanueva

Fer Villanueva, Flodesk’s Lifecycle Marketing Manager and email marketing expert

4 Ways to foster a healthy email list and sender reputation

Warm up your list

Warming up your email list is essential for maintaining a strong sender reputation and improving overall engagement. This gradual process helps establish your credibility as a sender and ensures your emails are less likely to be marked as spam. 

Here’s how to effectively warm up your list:

1. Start small with a familiar audience

Begin by sending emails to a small, engaged portion of your list—like your friends and family. If you’ve sent emails from Flodesk before, you can also look at Flodesk analytics to find out your top engaged subscribers for your warm-up segment. This first group of recipients is vital for establishing your sender reputation with email service providers like Gmail or Yahoo, so encourage recipients to open and click on your emails.

Once you’ve established this initial trust with email service providers, gradually increase the number of recipients you send emails to over time. This approach allows email service providers to recognize and trust your sending patterns, reducing the likelihood of your emails getting marked as spam. And by starting with a familiar audience who is likely to engage with your emails, you’ll set a strong foundation for expanding your reach to a broader audience.

Warm up your list

2. Next, segment subscribers and gradually increase your sending volume.

You’ll want to begin segmenting your list into smaller groups to continue this warming-up phase. For example, if you have a list of 5,000 subscribers, you could divide your list into small groups of 50 subscribers. Then, send an engaging email and monitor their response. The next day, incrementally increase the group size—maybe send an email to 100 subscribers, then 250 subscribers, then 500 subscribers, and so on until you warm up your entire list.

Continue this pattern of gradually increasing the number of recipients who receive each email. This will not only steadily build your sender reputation, but it will also provide you with insights to assess and tweak your content based on the engagement of each segment. By the time your email reaches your entire list, you’ll have warmed up email service providers to your sending habits and refined your messaging for maximum impact. Remember, patience and careful attention in this phase are crucial for lasting email marketing success.

Regularly clean your email list

Once you’ve warmed up your list, you’ll need to regularly clean it to keep it ‘healthy.’ This means consistently removing inactive or unengaged subscribers from your list, which improves deliverability and ensures your messages reach an audience who are genuinely interested in your content.

To help you get started, we’ve created this video tutorial featuring Flodesk Head of Community, Natalie Franke, to walk you through how you can easily clean your list in Flodesk.

Short on time? Follow Fer’s quick tips to clean your list:

1. Check for inactive users

Look for subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails in the last six months to a year. If they’re not engaging with your emails, they might not be interested in receiving them anymore.

2. Send a re-engagement email campaign

Before removing subscribers from your list, try sending a friendly series of emails to re-engage inactive subscribers. Ask whether they still want to be on your list or not (this really works!), and add your unsubscribe link to it. We recommend sending three emails in a re-engagement campaign to ensure the subscribers are truly disengaged. Learn the do’s and don’ts of writing re-engagement emails.

3. Remove unresponsive subscribers

If subscribers remain inactive after you’ve tried to re-engage them, consider removing them from your list. Keeping them on your list can hurt your ability to reach subscribers who are genuinely interested.

4. Regularly update your list

Make it a habit to clean your list every six months. This keeps your audience fresh, engaged, and healthy.

5. Consider using a specialized tool

If you want to go the extra mile to keep your list clean, you can use tools like ZeroBounce that automatically find and remove invalid email addresses from your list, so you don’t have to do it manually.

    Remember: A smaller, more active list is better than a big, unengaged one. It’s all about quality over quantity. By keeping your list clean, you ensure that your emails land in the inboxes of people who can’t wait to hear from you! 

    Engage subscribers with relevant content

    Send emails people love to get. The best way to keep your subscribers engaged is by delivering valuable, relevant content. This not only reduces the likelihood of them marking your emails as spam—it also strengthens your sender reputation.

    You can deliver hyper-relevant content by segmenting your list and asking new subscribers what kinds of content they’re interested in (and how often they want to hear about it) with Form Preferences. 

    Pro tip: Maintain a consistent sending schedule. Sporadic email blasts can trigger spam filters. Regular, predictable emails help build a positive sender reputation.

    Monitor subscriber feedback and engagement

    Engage with subscribers who reply to your emails. This two-way communication can strengthen your relationship with your audience and boost your sender reputation. It also opens up a direct line of communication for subscribers to share any complaints, allowing you to address issues promptly and maintain a positive sender reputation. 

    Additionally, you should pay close attention to open rates, click rates, and bounce rates. These metrics highlight how well your audience is responding to your emails. Adjust your strategy based on these insights to improve overall engagement (and subscribers’ brand experience).

    Ready, set, send

    By following these steps, you’ll safeguard your sender reputation and cultivate a squeaky-clean email list that you can nurture and grow all year long. 

    At Flodesk, we know just how important it is to be able to communicate with your community through email. We’ll continue sharing additional resources to help you navigate these changes with ease. Learn how to protect your business amid email compliance changes, and stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks. We’re here to help you every step of the way.