How to Clean Bounced, Spam, and Unsubscribed Contacts from the HubSpot CRM

As you start using the HubSpot CRM and entering all your business information in the system, it’s very important to always have the most accurate data. The number of contacts that have bounced, marked you as spam, or unsubscribed, usually grows overtime. These are the people who are no longer a part of your marketing efforts, so they should not be in your system and giving you a misleading number of contacts. 

Removing these contacts from your HubSpot CRM will help your database be clean and improve email deliverability, reporting, and domain reputation. Moreover, you won’t have to pay for additional contacts if you are not yet on the Marketing Contacts plan.

In this blog we will teach you how to export these contacts from HubSpot and narrow down the possible contacts to remove into a final list that is safe to delete.

 

Preparing to Clean Bounced, Spam, and Unsubscribed Contacts

HubSpot advises two options for cleaning up unsubscribers and contacts with hard bounce emails:

You are best suited for making this choice, to know what people at which companies you might want to keep in HubSpot. You can look at which people might have notes and history about sales conversations. You may want to find new email addresses for some of these people instead of deleting them. Continue reading to learn how to use the delete contacts option.

Exporting all bounces, unsubscribes, and spam report people from the CRM

The first step is to export all bounces, unsubscribers, and spam reports systemwide at once. See how  to grab them all

  1. In your HubSpot account, navigate to Marketing > Email.
  2. In the left sidebar menu, click the Email bounced tools dropdown menu and select Export unsubscribes and bounces.
  3. Review the email address set to receive the export file.
  4. To include global bounces (recommended), select the Include global bounce and unsubscribes checkbox.
  5. Click Export.


**Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to delete contacts that explicitly are not interested in hearing from you. This process will narrow down your export significantly and show you only records that are safe to go.

If the portal has multiple active subscription types:

Export Unsubscribed contacts separately (in step 4 above, in the dialog box, click X next to Unsubscribed contacts to remove them from your Included contacts)

Then, export all contacts who have unsubscribed from emails. This export includes contacts who unsubscribed from any of your email subscription types, along with contacts who opted out of all emails. Since some of these contacts could be eligible to receive other marketing emails in the future, you'll need to filter this list before deleting your ineligible contacts.

  • In the left sidebar menu, click the Email bounced tools dropdown menu and select Export unsubscribes and bounces.
  • Confirm the email address set to receive the export file.
  • In the dialog box, click X next to Bounced contacts and Contacts that reported spam to remove them from your Included contacts.
  • Click Export.

 

Organize the Columns in the Export File

You'll receive an email with a download link to the exported CSV file. You will need to clean the spreadsheet to narrow down these records a little bit. The following columns will be included in the export:

  • Portal Bounce: if the contact hard bounced on a marketing email sent from your account, you'll see the bounce reason in this column.
  • Portal Spam Report: if the contact marked a marketing email from your account as spam, or they moved the email from their inbox into their junk folder, you'll see a value of TRUE in this column.
  • Global Bounce: if the contact hard bounced for permanent reasons on marketing emails sent from three or more HubSpot accounts, you'll see the bounce reason in this column. This column will only be included if you selected the Include global unsubscribes and bounces checkbox.
  • Portal Unsubscribe: if a contact unsubscribed from all marketing emails sent from your account, you'll see a value of TRUE in this column. Contacts who opted out of a specific email subscription type but didn't opt out of all emails from you will have a value of FALSE in this column.
  • Email subscription types: if a contact opted out of a specific email subscription type, you'll see a value of TRUE in the corresponding column. By default, all accounts have a Marketing Information email subscription type and blog subscription emails for each blog in your account.

First, make a tab in the spreadsheet to copy the people you will want to delete based on these rules. Name this tab “To Delete” or something similar.

Rules for the Bounced Reason on the exported spreadsheet of bounced/spam/unsubscribes

When you do the export from the link above, you want to first delete anyone that is globally bounced or bounced in the portal due to address unknown or mailbox full. Here’s how to do that.

1. First, sort the first column, Portal Bounce and cut and paste the people with these values to the delete sheet (paste the whole row of their info):
  • MAILBOX_FULL
  • UNKNOWN_USER
  • Blank space (Please note: if you see a blank field in the Global Bounce or Portal Bounce column, this means the email address hard bounced for a permanent reason, but the categorization type is not available. )
2. Then, sort the second column, Portal Unsubscribe, and cut and paste the people with these values to the delete sheet:
  • TRUE

3. Then sort by the third column, Portal Spam report and cut and paste the people with this value to the delete sheet:
  • TRUE
4. Then sort by the fourth column, global bounce, and cut and paste the people with these values  to the delete sheet:
  • HUBSPOT_GLOBAL_BOUNCE
  • ISP_MISCONFIGURATION
  • MAILBOX_FULL
  • UNKNOWN_USER
  • Blank space

Find definitions of all the bounce reasons here.

The leftover values in the spreadsheet are related to being caught in enterprise spam filters, which are less controllable. We recommend leaving those contacts because you may finally get accepted if their spam policy becomes more lax or they communicated with you enough to mark you as a friendly sender.

Import the contacts to be deleted or reviewed into HubSpot

  • Save your new "to delete" tab as a separate CSV file.
  • Import this file (only map the recipients field to Email address, don't map other fields) and create a new list of these imported contacts.
    • Please note: importing a list with a large number of contacts that previously hard bounced may result in a warning email from the Email Deliverability team about the quality of these contacts. This is an automated process and will not have any negative impact on your account.

Create lists to sort the contacts

After importing, navigate to Contacts>Lists, create an active list filtering by Imports, and choose the name of your import. Name this list Master List to Delete.

imports

Once you have a master list in HubSpot, click Actions on top right and export a spreadsheet of all contact record information from these contacts in case someone is mistakenly deleted. Keep a copy for backup.

Now, create two more lists:

  • One with filters for belonging to the master list, and last activity date is known. Save and name it Contacts to Delete - Has Activity.
  • Create another list with filters for belonging to the master list and last activity date is unknown. Save and name it Contacts to Delete - No Activity.
  • Add any additional filter that might be relevant for your business to exclude certain contacts from an unwanted deletion. For example, you may have a Membership property, and you want to make sure that people with that value stay in the CRM regardless. Then make sure to add a filter to exclude those from the two active lists (with and without activity).

Analyzing Your Active Lists

  • People from list of contacts to delete with No Activity (last activity date is unknown): These are the safe ones to delete in bulk.
    • If this is the first time the portal has been cleaned out, there could be exceptions to this rule, for example, new salespeople were recently hired and imported their old list. You may want to find alternate email addresses for those recently imported people who bounced. 
  • People from list of contacts to delete with activity (last activity date is known): You can decide to delete the contacts or find new emails for these contacts (or keep and create an opt out list). If you are considering deleting, handle those contacts manually and make decisions on a case by case basis. 

Maintaining the Clean HubSpot Database

After one big cleanup is done, continue managing this task ongoing:

  • Try going into the reporting for each marketing email sent, to cleanup bounced people. Create a list of the bounces, unsubscribes, spam reports, then go to that list and see who to delete from the CRM or find new email addresses for those recently imported people who bounced (starting by looking to see if they have activity).
  • Try setting a monthly time recurring on your calendar or project management system to do another global bounce exporting, review, and deletion, a similar process as the big clean up.

Conclusion

If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy: 

 If you need help to audit your HubSpot portal and clean your data, feel free to book a call below with a HubSpot expert:

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