Delete or Unsubscribe for mail list?

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I checked our bounced emails report.  Do you want me to “unsubscribe” or “delete” them?  I’ve just “unsubscribed” a couple and then realised “delete” is also an option.  What’s the difference?

Also if a contact says “this address has been cleaned” there is no delete of unsubscribe option.  Why is that and what does it mean?

Cleaning mail lists 

This is a great question because list hygiene is an important (but frequently ignored) part of being a responsible direct marketer.  List hygiene is all about keeping your list up to date, as far as this is possible.  Now people move jobs all the time and so being 100% up to date is unrealistic – but each time you send out an EDM (electronic direct mail message) there will be people whose emails bounce or they choose to unsubscribe.

  • The unsubscribe option means they stay on the list as a historic record (they were once subscribed and now are not).
  • Delete is only suitable when someone has died
  • When they change jobs and their email address has moved domains, I don’t delete them, if they re-subscribe, I update their email address so you retain a complete record of their subscription (it’s just a new address for the same person)
Basically, if there’s the possibility that they might re-join your list in the future, it’s better to leave them on the list.  Similarly, if they change jobs and get a different email address, it’s best to leave them on the list and at a future date, change their email address.
So by leaving them on the list we have a “more perfect” record of history for that subscriber on your list.

Cleaned email addresses

Now, “Cleaned” means something different (in the language of MailChimp)
Cleaned contacts have addresses that have hard bounced, or repeatedly soft bounced, and are considered invalid.
So they have been permanently deactivated and in order to protect the spam sending record of emails sent through the MailChimp servers, they have chosen to not allow you to send to the ever again.   This is a defensive action on the part of MailChimp.  They have a lot of mail servers who send out the messages you book through their service.  Each time a recipient marks one of your EMDs as ‘spam’ this sends a negative message about that server and MailChimp act to protect their reputation in this way.
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