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It’s time to scrub your email list


A small email list of highly engaged subscribers is always more valuable than a large email list that never read your content.

In this post, we’ll explore why it’s so important to delete subscribers from your email list, how often you should be doing it and learn the most effective ways to do it.

Benefits of deleting email subscribers

  1. Cost – Each subscriber costs you money. You typically pay for every subscriber on your list. In the case of some services like Mailchimp, the cost can often be multiplied if you have the same subscriber in multiple audiences.

  2. Reporting – Improves accuracy of your engagement metrics (e.g if half your list isn’t even getting your emails then your stats are way off on what’s working and what isn’t)

  3. Deliverability – You increase the risk of your entire list being flagged by ISPs as spam! ISP’s flag bounced emails and all main email clients monitor bounce backs as a spam indicator. If you continue to email dead email addresses, then your list will become flagged as a potential spammer. This can lead to complaints and ultimately result in your list being suspended by your email service provider.

How often should I clean my list?

On average 25%-30% of your list will naturally churn (decline) every year. Unsubscribes will take up a portion of these numbers, but generally speaking, this is a relatively small percentage (or should be if you’re sending the right content!) The bulk of your churn is hidden below the surface in bounced emails and unengaged readers.

At LeadDigital, we recommend cleaning your email list every 3 months, but at a minimum once per year.

The good news is you can create a process that makes this cleaning take care of itself for the most part. It just takes a bit more planning.

How to clean your list!

  1. Remove any bouncing email addresses from your list. Most good email software is doing this for you automatically but it’s worth checking your settings to make sure this is the case.

  2. Remove email alias addresses in your list. These are emails that are formatted like: sales@ or support@ Typically they go to a group of recipients. ISPs know this and understand that not all recipients agreed to receive those emails. So they often either don’t deliver them at all or mark them as spam.

  3. Stop email blasting subscribers that don’t engage with your content. Exclude your “cold” segment from your email blasting schedule. This will have a big impact on your top-line numbers as that portion of your list has been diluting your stats all this time!

  4. Tag your cold subscribers. Run a report to identify the lowest engaged subscribers on your list.

  5. Create a “cold” segment in your email list. Pull the “cold” subscribers into a segment of their own. Call it “cold”. This will allow you to work on this element of your audience in isolation and remove them from your main list.

  6. Create a “cold” engagement sequence of emails with a clear call to action within the email. Something as simple as “click this link to keep getting our content on XYZ”. (Your email software needs to have the ability to automatically tag or remove tags based on clicks within an email for this to be effective)

  7. Send your cold sequence to your “cold” segment. Ideally, you should create a set of rules (if your email software allows for it) to automatically tag cold subscribers and move them into this “cold sequence” routinely. This type of automation can be a huge time saver and keeps your list in a great condition much more easily.

One final note of caution – Be careful how you measure engagement within your list. Specifically using open rates as a measure of interest in your content. Last month Apple launched its new email privacy features which have been playing havoc with open rate stats. Our recommendation is to use actual engagement (in other words, clicks) metrics as a more accurate measure of users interest.