Cleaning and managing your list is a very important aspect of email marketing—one which is overlooked by many.
As you start out, you find yourself reaching for milestones, like your first 10, 100, and 1,000 subscribers. These goals are terrific and can help 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 migrating your existing one to ConvertKit, it's a good opportunity to clean your list. You can move forward knowing that your new starting point has the most engaged subscribers.
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. 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, 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 automatically clean your list
We've covered the why and the when for cleaning your list. Now lets look at the how.
Firstly, you'll 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 contribute to 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 re-engagement campaign for you.
How to use this automated list cleaning template
This simple automation comes with a delay step and a two-email sequence. Although you can use this straight away without any modifications, it's best to modify this template to match your own voice.
Some tips on using this automation:
Make sure you PUBLISH your sequence emails. If the emails aren't published then they won't send. Before you do that...
....Change the content of the 'Re-engagement Sequence' to fit the style of emails you usually send to your audience. This automation works by removing the 'cold subscriber' status from any subscriber who opens an email. What is a type of email your audience would be clamoring to open? If you can replace one of the stock emails with a 'must read' email at the start of the 'Re Engagement sequence,' that is ideal.
Do the delays match your audience needs? Check to make sure the delays make sense for your business.
Subscribers receive all emails in the sequence: Keep the re-engagement sequence short. A subscriber will receive ALL of the emails in that sequence even if they open the first email and are no longer a cold subscriber. That is why this sequence only comes with two emails.
When you are ready, set the automation as 'live'. That's the final step and you are good to go!
But, wait! What if you're not on a paid plan and don't have access to Automations? Good question! We've got you covered too—just keep reading!
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.