Clean Up Your Email List by Sarah Malcolm


Email lists are alive. They are born, grow, and mature with a content marketing strategy. We’re proponents of building and nurturing email lists, but email lists can’t be neglected. Smart management delivers results. For that, you need to prune the dead subscribers.

Advocating for a Clean Email List

Email messages get clicks days after ‘send,’ which is longer than a disappearing social media post. They are is an effective way to communicate between your brand and audience. However, a list overflowing with subscribers not interested in your content skews the list’s effectiveness. Emphasize quality over quantity, both in the content your deliver and the number of recipients.

Lists require active curating. Focus your content on engaged readers and not trying to please a wide and diverse list. Spend your time watering the relationships with readers who care about the brand. An email list purge keeps the open rate high, bounce rate low, and your address being flagged as spam.

Another reason to clean the list? Inactive subscribers cost money. In detailing her experience trimming an email list, Linda Formichelli says, “When we reduced our list to 1,200 dedicated readers, we saved the $75 per month we were paying for hosting of a list of 7,000-plus unengaged subscribers.”

How to clean your email subscribers

The first easy step is to remove all blocked or bounced email addresses, but these are likely a small portion of your subscriber list.

The real elbow grease begins by separating active subscribers from inactive subscribers. In some form, the active subscriber shows engagement with the emails. How you define “active” is up to you: someone who’s opened an email in the last 60 days, or someone who purchased a product in the last year. The definition doesn’t matter.

Remove inactive subscribers from your regular email schedule and create a separate email list. Now you have options. A) Let them know they’re being unsubscribed and ask them to opt back in, or B) Do something different to get them to re-engage with your program. Target inactives with a special campaigns. Set a time frame for the campaign, and if they’re still inactive, say sayonara.

Don’t be afraid if your list drops from several thousand to one thousand. Remember, it’s quality engagement, not quantity engagement. Writing quality email copy keeps your readership opening those messages. Make the email list work for you, rather than blasting messages into the ether.

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