Partners Support Log In
Martin Cogburn


    Back to Top

    List Management

    About List Management?

    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    List management is what you need to do to make sure that the list you spent so much time and money building stays in tip-top shape. A list that's in good shape gets better delivery to the inbox, and better delivery is better results.

    What do we mean by 'good shape'? We mean that when you mail to the list you get a very low (< 1%) bounce rate, very low complaint rates (< 0.1%), and a nice, high, open rate. Below is what you’ll need to do to manage your list properly.

    Bounce Management

    First of all, you need to make sure that when you send email, you're capturing returned emails (bounces) and, depending on the error, either removing the contact (if the email address is invalid) or giving the send to that contact a few more tries ONLY if it's a temporary error (like 'mailbox full').

    If you've been using reputable email service providers (ESPs) since you started building your list and you've been mailing it regularly, you really don't need to worry about this one at all. All the good ESPs manage your bounces for you automatically. However... if you've been mailing the list from your own servers or been using some less-reputable ESP, then you may have a problem. Also, since many people change their email addresses every year, if it's been awhile since you've mailed the list, you'll definitely see high bounces.

    If you think you may have a bounce problem, please contact the abuse desk BEFORE you mail to your list. We can help you out by taking a look at your list, cleaning it up, and then mailing a very small portion of the list to see how it goes before you do something wild like mail the whole thing and lose your account due to a crazy high bounce rate. Contact the abuse desk at

    Complaint Management

    Like bounce management, any ESP worth their salt is signed up with all the major ISPs to receive notification when someone complains about your email. We automatically remove those email addresses instantly from your list. So, IF you've been using a reputable email vendor AND you've been mailing consistently AND the people you're mailing actually asked to hear from you, you won't have a complaint problem.

    If, on the other hand, you have been mailing on your own or haven't mailed in awhile, you may have a serious problem. This is the kind of thing that ruins lists forever.

    Again, if you haven't been using a top-tier ESP or haven't emailed your list in 6 months or longer please get in touch with the abuse desk before mailing:

    Role-Address Pruning

    Role addresses start with a company role like sales@, info@, spam@, marketing@ or admin@, etc. These are bad addresses to mail because they're often used as 'junk mail' addresses or are forwarded to many people... most of whom have never heard of you and didn't ask to receive your mail. A good practice is to regularly search your list for these role addresses and unsubscribe them.

    Pruning Inactives

    Another good practice is to remove contacts that haven't responded in a long time. For example, if you haven't gotten an open or a click from a contact in 6 or 9 months, even though you mail them weekly, it's probably smart to boot them. They're worth very little if they're not engaged, and they may potentially mark your emails as spam somewhere down the line.

    Also, some ISPs, notably, will turn old, inactive mailboxes into spam traps to catch folks who haven't been managing their lists well. You'll never have a problem if you've been using a good ESP because we'll remove addresses automatically when they bounce, but if you've not been watching your bounces you're a sitting duck for spam trap issues. Pruning your inactive contacts is a good way to clean up your act.

    Confirming Permission

    If you're not using confirmed (or 'double') opt-in on your list, consider doing so. As you'll learn on the page devoted to double-opt in, the practice creates cleaner, better performing, more responsive lists. One reason many folks have opted not to use confirmed opt-in is because at most ESPs it's an all-or-nothing proposition. That is, if you use a confirmed opt-in process, then you just can't mail to anyone who fails to confirm their subscription.

    We're a little slicker than all that over here. We let you choose a confirmed opt-in process without making it mandatory. That is, we will mail to both your confirmed AND unconfirmed opt-ins... but we'll mail each on a separate set of IPs. You'll reap the rewards (better delivery) of confirmed opt-in for those contacts who are confirmed, but not miss the opportunity that does exist with your unconfirmed contacts. Of course, this all happens automatically in the background. You don't have to think about it at all.

    BUT, what you could and should do is occasionally send a permission confirmation email to your unconfirmed list to give them the opportunity to confirm their subscription (so we can mail them from the cleaner IP range).

    You can do that easily by selecting a group of contacts, and clicking Double Opt-in icon in the Action Bar.


    The preferred method of removing unengaged contacts from your list is to run a re-engagement campaign. This makes it easy for you to maintain a consistent and clean contact database, allowing for optimal delivery rates. If you’d like us to give you a hand in setting one up, please contact our abuse desk at

    Articles in this section

    Created - Updated
    Have more questions? Submit a request