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Why You Should Remove Inactive Subscribers from Your Email List

Why You Should Remove Inactive Subscribers from Your Email List

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Email marketing is all about engagement: how many people open and click through your emails. If you manage to get them to reply or forward your messages, you know you’re sending great content. But every list has inactive subscribers, as well, and managing them is key to better email marketing metrics. So, what do you do about inactive subscribers? Do you hold on to them, hoping they’ll eventually engage? Here’s why that’s not a good idea in the long run and why you’re better off removing them from your list.

What are inactive subscribers?

First, let’s try to understand what inactive subscribers are.

Not all the people in your list will open all your emails. In fact, the average open rate – according to an extensive study by MailChimp – is 21.33%. What about the rest? Some will open certain emails from you in the next three months. Others may only open one, while a few will not open any of your messages. These are your inactive subscribers: people who stay on your list, but never engage with your content. 

Why some subscribers become inactive

It’s only natural to ask yourself: why do these people stay on my list if they never click on any of my emails? Also, why did they subscribe in the first place? The answers can vary:

  • some people joined your mailing list to receive access to a freebie (such as a content offer) or a discount coupon. They weren’t interested in your brand beyond that, and the only reason they remain on your list is because they’re waiting for another offer.
  • the fact that certain subscribers have never engaged with you causes your emails to land in their spam folder – where they go unnoticed. In this vicious circle, those people will fail to see your messages and your messages will continue to land in the junk pile.
  • another reason why subscribers have stopped engaging with you is that your content may have become irrelevant to them. For instance, a marketer may have joined your list to get a free e-book. In the meantime, they’ve changed careers, so what you’re sending is no longer of interest to them. As a result, they’ll stop opening your emails, but will postpone unsubscribing, thinking they may one day find your content useful again.
  • lastly, those email accounts that never react to your communication may have been abandoned. If those subscribers have switched to a different email service provider, they’re very unlikely to ever click on your emails again.

As you can see, determining why people make certain decisions can be challenging. Human psychology is often hard to grasp, but what matters in this case is deciding what to do next: do you remove inactive subscribers or strive to engage them? 

Running a re-engagement campaign

Some marketers have a hard time letting go of subscribers, so they’ll plan a re-engagement campaign to entice inactive users to click. Before removing inactive accounts, you can try the same approach. 

Here are two ideas you could implement:

  • isolate inactive subscribers so you can target your campaign specifically to them. Once you’ve segmented your list, run a promo they would find irresistible – a great discount, free shipping, or a “how to” guide. Also, make sure your subject line clearly reflects the benefit you’re offering.
  • simply send an email asking them whether they’d like to remain on your mailing list. As in the first suggestion, double-check that your subject line conveys your message without doubt. 

Removing inactive subscribers boosts your email deliverability

Your re-engagement campaign may yield positive results, but of course, you won’t manage to get everyone to click – and that’s alright. At the end of the day, your goal is to connect with people who genuinely care about your brand

Allow your email to gather reactions for a few days, then study your reports. Next, further isolate subscribers who still haven’t clicked and acknowledge it’s time to let them go.

Why? Because low engagement affects your sender reputation. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use your reputation (or sender score) as a guide to decide where your emails should go: the inbox, the spam folder, or nowhere at all. So, when people refuse to engage with your content, that’s a bad signal you send as an email marketer. 

On the other hand, an active list constantly builds your sender reputation and fosters better email deliverability. The more people click, the higher the chances that you land in the inbox.

Dormant accounts will bounce or may be turned into spam traps

Another reason why you should part with unengaged accounts relates to an even riskier scenario. Eventually, those emails may:

  • bounce 
  • or get you mistaken for a spammer. 

Why dormant emails can end up bouncing

If you’ve experienced a high number of bounces on Yahoo emails lately, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When a user doesn’t log into their account for more than three months, Yahoo disables that account. If the user still doesn’t log into their account to reactivate it, Yahoo simply deletes it. For you, as an email marketer, that means your bounce rate will go up and tarnish your reputation. 

Abandoned emails can become spam traps

ISPs and blacklist providers are constantly keeping an eye on spam senders and use sophisticated methods to combat spam. One of them consists in repurposing abandoned email addresses and turn them into spam traps. Their role is to lure in spammers and block future emails from them. So, if you keep any abandoned addresses in your database, you may soon discover your sender score went down or that you got blacklisted. 

Email list validation: the fastest and safest way to deal with dormant accounts – and more

Thankfully, no email marketer has to go through such trouble. On the contrary: dealing with dormant accounts should be easy-breezy. 

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First things first: run your database through an email list validation service. Not only will it detect dormant addresses, but the more reliable services on the market will even remove spam traps.

On top of that, email list validation is a great way to weed out other risky email addresses, such as abuse emails (people who mark you as spam), catch-all emails (which are prone to bounces) or temporary emails (they will bounce, too). 

As soon as you prune your list and send your next email, you’ll see significant improvements in your reports. 

  • open and click-through rates will increase
  • you’ll have a better chance to connect with your subscribers
  • your conversion rate will see a boost. 

Ready to wrap up?

Building a powerful email list takes time and effort. Every new subscriber makes you happy – it’s a confirmation that you’re doing a good job. So, removing certain people from your database may feel difficult, but it’s for the best. Sending emails also comes with costs, and you want to spend your resources as wisely as possible. 

To increase your email marketing metrics and boost your results, let go of inactive subscribers today. Also, pay attention to your bounce rate and make sure to weed out all other risky contacts. Maintaining good email hygiene will improve your sender reputation and result in higher open and click-rates, which is any marketer’s goal. 

Corina Leslie is the PR Manager for email validation company ZeroBounce, an Inc. 5000 honoree. Most often, you can find her on the ZeroBounce blog, where she shares her tips and interviews experts on digital marketing and PR.

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