Cleaning and managing your list is a very important aspect of email marketing, and one which can be overlooked by most.

As you start out, you find yourself reaching for milestones, like your first 10, 100, and 1,000 subscribers. These goals are terrific and will often help to keep you focused on the work in front of you.

What if we told you there is another key aspect to list health that has nothing to do with growth in numbers?

An engaged list is more important than a large list.

If you see that your open rates, click rates and replies have fallen then it may be time to clean up your list. Especially if you have been building it over a sustained period of time.

Here's why you should focus on quality over quantity:

  • Improved deliverability: If your list is made up of engaged subscribers then email providers will recognize your reputation. This means your emails are more likely to land in your subscribers inboxes rather than in the spam folder.

  • Engagement: Removing inactive subscribers from your list will likely push your open and click rates up. This gives you better clarity on which strategies and content work for your audience.

  • Value: You could pay less for a better list! Cleaning your list might drop you into a lower pricing tier while still providing that more engaged list. That's a win-win.

Why you shouldn't fear seeing your total go down

Have you ever opted in to an email list that you were once interested in just to later on unsubscribe? This is normal behavior and will likely happen to some of your subscribers over time.

If you have some subscribers who have stopped engaging with your content then it's time to let them go.

When should you clean your list?

Now that we've gone over the benefits and importance of cleaning your list, let's take a look at when and how often you should do it. There are a few times where you should definitely take the opportunity to do this.

  • When you import a list: If you're importing a new list or you're migrating your existing list to ConvertKit from another provider then it makes sense to clean your list at this point. You can move forward knowing that your new starting point is from the most engaged point.

  • Sending volume: If you send a lot of regular emails, like a daily newsletter for example, then you'll want to prune your list down more often than not. Otherwise you won't get a true insight from your open rates into what is working for you and what isn't.

  • Sudden growth: Most lists grow via regular traffic on a consistent basis. However on some occasions you could see a sudden influx of subscribers. If this is from a viral piece of content then awesome! It's always good to check the quality of these subscribers, because in some cases the sign-ups can be from a spam attack on your form or landing page. Make sure you have your double opt in turned on to avoid this scenario, and if you see a lot of email addresses which look irregular or make no sense at all then you'll need to remove them.

How to clean your list

We've covered the why and the when for cleaning your list. Now lets look at the how.

Firstly you want to start with cold subscribers. Each subscriber in your list has a status categorizing them based on their most recent activity (or lack thereof).

For cleaning and managing your list, we're going to focus on cold subscribers.

Cold subscribers count as confirmed subscribers on your list, which means they count toward your list total and your overall monthly cost. Additionally, they work against your total engagement, so giving them the opportunity to reengage with your content is a great first step.

If you are on a paid ConvertKit plan, you have access to this template, which easily automates the reengagement campaign for you.

All you have to do is customize it to fit your voice and specific needs:

To access this automation and add it to your account, click on the image.

A few notes if you copy the workflow:

  • There are a few notes of help text in the Sequences. DELETE THEM. 😬

  • Add in your own topic, goals, and name to the Sequence emails.

  • Replace the links with your own Link Triggers. You can use the Tags that will be added to your account from the workflow.

👉 When wording these emails, you should write in your own voice. A brief email restating what they opted in for and what new content you have planned is perfect.

Also, be sure let them know that if they do not take action on this then they will be removed from your list and will no longer receive your content.

In the template you can see a week delay after the sequence, which is a good window of time to allow for subscribers to reengage, or not.

At the end of the delay in your automation, those who have not taken action will be tagged and you can then proceed to delete all the subscribers that have that tag. Now you have a fully engaged list which will lead to better open and click rates over time!

Place your cold subscribers into this automation every 30-60 days and your list will remain in a healthy state.

How to clean your list as a free plan user

Within this broadcast, there is the option for subscribers to click if they'd like to keep receiving your emails. Highlight this line and then add a link trigger from the options, selecting a tag as well, to remind yourself to keep these particular subscribers on your list:

Then on the following page you'll select to send this broadcast to your cold subscribers:

After a period of time, (usually about a week after sending), go into the broadcast and tag all of the recipients:

The reason we do this is because a subscriber could open the email but not click, which would change their cold subscriber status. If they've not clicked then you'll need to remove them as promised in the email.

From here you can create a new segment, select all tagged recipients, and then add an exclusion for those who clicked. This will leave you with the subscribers that need to be removed from your list!

How to Target Engaged Subscribers

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