I’ve been building my email newsletter list for about two years. It slowly grew to reach 2000 subscribers. That’s small to a lot of people, but it had surpassed my goal so I was happy with it.
Around 1-3% of your email list will become paying customers. For me, that meant approximately 20-60 people out of 2000 would purchase one of my website packages. That would keep me booked solid for more than a year.
Except that didn’t happen.
As my number of subscribers increased, my other newsletter metrics went down. Fewer people were opening and clicking the links in my emails, and more emails were bouncing back as undeliverable.
Although I had 2000 people on my list, less than a third of them were actually seeing my emails.
Someone suggested deleting my email list.
At first, I thought they were crazy. Why would I throw two years of work out the window?
Then I got over myself and saw that deleting my email list was exactly the right thing to do.
It would remove the inactive subscribers who weren’t opening my emails and leave the people who actually wanted to get my emails and potentially work with me.
Quality over quantity.
Signs you have a stale list
Before we get into how to delete your email list, let’s make sure you actually need to.
You have a stale or inactive list if:
- you have poor metrics (low open rate, low click through rate, high bounce/undeliverable rate, low conversion rate)
- you haven’t emailed your list in 3-6 months
- you switched focus in your business and your list includes people who signed up before the switch
Does that sound like you? Welcome to the club! Keep reading to find out how I deleted my email list to improve my metrics.
How I deleted my email list
Send a re-engagement campaign
One of the reasons my list got stale is because I wasn’t consistently sending out emails. Subscribers received my autoresponder sequence in regular intervals, but after that they only received emails haphazardly.
I scheduled a sequence of emails to go out five days in a row. The purpose was to:
- remind people who I am and why they signed up
- encourage people who were no longer interested to unsubscribe
- give me fresh data on who wasn’t opening or reading my emails
The re-engagement sequence was similar to a launch sequence. It started with actionable, helpful info that lead into a couple of sales pitch emails.
Contrary to a launch sequence, my goal wasn’t to get sales, but to get uninterested people to unsubscribe. Any sales I got out of it would be an extra bonus.
Segment inactive subscribers
I waited about one week after the last email in the re-engagement sequence was sent out to check my stats. Then I created a list segment of everyone who hadn’t opened any of my emails in the last three months (including the re-engagement campaign).
How you segment your list depends on which newsletter service you use. Here are instructions for the most popular email marketing services:
I sent an additional email to the inactive segment asking them to unsubscribe. The email said something like:
“You signed up for XYZ a while ago. If you’re no longer interested in receiving emails about XYZ, click here to unsubscribe and you won’t hear from me again.”
Sounds crazy, right?
But here’s the thing. I don’t want people who aren’t interested in my emails or services to be on my list. It’s not serving them or me, and they’re taking up valuable space from people who are interested.
At this point, inactive subscribers had received six emails over two weeks. If they hadn’t opened any of those or any of my regular emails in the past three months, I was more than ready to let them go.
It’s normal for newsletter subscribers to not open every single email from you. But to skip every single email for three months, including a highly targeted re-engagement campaign? They’re dead weight.
I exported the inactive list segment and saved it in case I want to target those people in the future with Facebook ads. Then I deleted the entire segment from my list.
2000 became 632.
The results of deleting my list
At first glance, losing 1368 subscribers seems like a huge loss. But is it really a loss when those people weren’t opening or reading my emails?
Hell no. They were already long gone.
My newsletter metrics have vastly improved since removing the inactive people from my list.
My open and click through rates more than doubled, and my bounce/undeliverable rate went back down to 0. My monthly AWeber bill is a lot smaller too since I no longer have to pay for 1000+ inactive subscribers.
Most importantly, my conversion rate (the number of email subscribers who buy something from me) has gone from 0.4% back up to the normal 1-3%.
Now I can focus all of my energy on people who want to hear from me instead of wasting time and energy on people who don’t give a shit.
How to keep your email list from going stale
Once you’ve cleaned up your email list it’s important to keep it from going stale again.
While there will always be a bit of ebb and flow, there are some things you can do to help keep your list active and engaged—and buying from you.