As with the section in the book, this is going to be pretty short and straightforward. 

People who don’t open or interact with your emails hurt your overall deliverability, to the point where even people who do interact with your emails will start to see fewer of them. Weed them out ruthlessly. You are protecting your relationship with the subscribers who do want to hear from you.

Find anyone who hasn’t opened a certain number of your recent emails or who hasn’t clicked on anything in a certain number of emails. Once you’ve identified them, what do you do with them?

You give them a chance to stay, and then you boot them, without remorse.

Your “Do you want to stay” email should say a few things: 

  1. You’ve noticed (or your mailing list service has told you, or however you want to phrase it) that the subscriber hasn’t been opening your emails
  2. You don’t want to send emails to people who aren’t interested
  3. You will unsubscribe them unless they click on a link (which you can set up just to go to a dummy page on your site that says “Your click has been recorded” or something) or send you a reply

Anyone who clicks will register as an open. Tag these people for later so you don’t send them anymore “Do you want to stay?” emails. Subscribers who don’t interact get unsubscribed after whatever period of time you set out in the email. No exceptions and no regrets. You need subscribers who want to be on your list, and who show it by opening, clicking, and replying. You do not need to pay your mailing list service for dead weight that isn’t interested in you.

Whatever sales you lose from removing the few people who might have come around and begun opening your emails again is more than offset by the net gain in open and click rates, and the subsequent positive effects on your reputation as a sender. 

They can always rejoin or follow you elsewhere if they want to. To that end, however, you need to give them a line back to you. So make sure that your goodbye email, or the page they land on when they unsubscribe, or whatever your last communication with them is, gives them a link to rejoin, and links to follow you elsewhere (I use Bookbub and Amazon). 

Then toss ’em. Period.

Respond to some final questions, you’re almost done:

  • Do you purge regularly?
  • Why or why not?
  • If not, what do you think will happen if you do?

12 Responses

  1. Do you purge regularly?
    one a quarter I look at poorly opened addresses.

    Why or why not?
    Why? They are costing me money. I look at a 25% open rate + 20% click over six months. I mail every two weeks. So this give me an idea if they should get a final email

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I show about 25% click a survey I send and want to stay. Then you watch them for click rate. if they click they stay after three mailing. Id not I deleted them

  2. I have no newsletter, but I will purge given what I’ve learned.

    Tammi – in an earlier lesson four week 4, you mentioned we would get to, in the last lesson, “templating” to keep us from sitting down to a blank page. Did I miss that or misunderstand?

  3. Do you purge regularly?
    Why or why not?
    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?

    Sorry I am not this advanced as my list is small and I have only just started sending emails.

  4. Do you purge regularly?
    Have never purged – didn’t think I needed to – always thought that if people wanted to unsubscribe they could go ahead and do so.

    Why or why not?
    I didn’t know that your deliverability was connected to your open rates – but now that I do – I will definitely set up a plan to purge if they don’t reply within a certain amount of time.

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I just never thought of it – I thought that as long as the unsubscribe button is there – it’s okay . There are many times that I don’t open a newsletter because I just don’t have the time – especially if the subject heading doesn’t seem “important” or “useful” to me.

  5. Do you purge regularly?

    Never – primarily because my list is so small it would be almost non-existent.

    Why or why not?

    As above. But I’m coming around to the idea it’s a good idea. There’s no point in carrying dead weight.

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?

    Nothing bad. If I’ve got people who’ve never opened what are they doing on the list? Chop ’em.

  6. Do you purge regularly? Why or why not? I’ve never purged in four-and-a-half years. All my sign-ups were organic, people who read a book and clicked the link in the back to sign up, so I thought they must be interested, why get rid of them? Also, I know from my own email behaviour that a lot of people read in the preview pane, which doesn’t register as an open, so I was happy to let it go.

    Now I’m coming round to the idea of purging, because of the damage to my sender reputation and the cost. I don’t want to pay for people who aren’t interested anymore and I don’t want my emails to people who are interested to end up in spam because of the dead weight on my list.

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do? I’m hoping that my open and click rates go up and it costs me less! I hope I don’t get rid of too many people who actually are interested, but if I lose a few good subs with the bad I think it will still be worth it.

  7. Do you purge regularly?
    Why or why not?
    That’s work I would assign to an admin, if I could afford an admin. But I’m already swamped just keeping up with things the way they are.
    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I’d probably get a leaner, more focused list.

  8. Do you purge regularly?
    I have been as I approached MailChimp’s upper limit for free accounts. I’m in the process of switching to Mailerlite so I’ll need to let the changes bed in before I do another purge.

    Why or why not?
    I didn’t for a long time in the hopes that all the dead weight would click into a random email and suddenly become engaged again. I gave up on that hope this year, and I’ve been purging regularly since then. I don’t think I’ve been aggressive enough, but my plan is to establish a more regular email routine for a few months and then look more closely at the non-engaged subscribers.

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I suspect that I’ll cut up to half my list. I’m trying to convince myself that my actual open numbers won’t change, only the percentages.

  9. Do you purge regularly?
    Why or why not?
    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?

    This is an easy one for me. I will purge, and it won’t make a difference at all except my list will shrink.
    While traveling, I had a email list to friends and family (and friends of friends, etc.) who received a daily email from me while I traveled. When it got to be close to a hundred recipients, I used mail chimp. The first mail chimp emails were for a three-month trip backpacking through EUrope. After a month and a half, I checked open rates and found that:
    About 10% opened every email.
    Another 10% opened almost every email.
    About half the remainder opened occasional emails
    All the rest hadn’t opened an email in a month.
    These were people who asked me to email them. I didn’t search anyone out.
    I sent out an email to the non-openers asking if they still wanted to be on the list. No answers.
    After a week I sent out another email saying if they didn’t reply I would just remove them from the list. No reply.
    So I removed them. Never received a complaint or an email asking if I was still traveling or what.
    So I have no problem purging my list.

  10. Do you purge regularly?
    No? I think the last time I purged was when I moved from ML to AC. That was a year ago.

    Why or why not?
    Because it’s scary. What if I get it wrong? What if I make people upset with me? Silly reasons.

    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I’m afraid I’ll boot someone who shouldn’t have been booted. BUT! That’s because my last purge was just for unopens. I didn’t do the steps you listed above. If I do those, I’ll have no regrets.

    HUGE question for you:
    Now that I’ve moved back to ML, I want my reputation to be amazing. How should I go about this? Send to a few thousand subscribers at a time? If so, is that in the same day, same week, or what’s the frequency I should stagger my sends so that I can build my sender reputation and keep out of spam/dungeons.

    I was thinking of sending everyone on my list the reader magnet I now have (that wasn’t available until now) with a super clicky subject line that gets them to open. Then, they’ll get the freebie (cookie) and click. Double awesome!

    Again, should I do this in waves? Like, the first 2k on Monday, second 2K on Tuesday, third 2K on Wednesday, etc until the entire list has been sent the cookie email?

  11. Do you purge regularly?
    I used to… before a provider switch.
    Why or why not?
    I need to begin again. I was taking a bit of a break from purging to stabilize after dealing with some email provider issues.
    If not, what do you think will happen if you do?
    I very much dislike paying for dead weight on my list. If someone isn’t opening, it does not benefit my site at all.

Leave a Reply