In Defense of Deleting Email Subscribers

Deleting Inactive SubscribersWhy would you want to delete an email subscriber from your list?

You spent hours and possibly hundreds of dollars to build your online reputation and email list, so why would you even consider deleting even one of your subscribers?

The Radicati Group, a California based Technology Market Research Firm, forecasted that 269 billion emails will be sent daily in 2017. To curb this onslaught of information, email providers are continuously advancing their techniques in filtering unwanted and questionable emails. Gmail’s filter for social updates and promotions is a good example of this.

What does this have to do with you, the business owner?

This means that fewer—or none—of the emails you’re sending are actually reaching your subscriber’s inbox.

The ones that miraculously make the cut are often buried in the avalanche of other emails, which means your emails must be awesome or super important that they’d actually want to read it.

Why Deleting Inactive Subscribers is a Necessary Sacrifice

Sending emails to people who don’t receive or read your emails is a huge waste of money. It does nothing to build your online authority, much less sell your products.

Constant Contact’s monthly price for up to 2500 subscribers is $45 ($540), anything beyond that up to 5000 subscribers cost $65 ($780). If you have over 3000 subscribers, a huge chunk of which don’t reply or even open your emails, it makes sense to prune your list to save $240 a year.

Cost isn’t the only deciding factor here.

Inactive and disengaged email subscribers affect your email’s deliverability rate. The more subscribers don’t open your email, the more email providers like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo sense that you’re not a ‘reputable sender’ and that your email is most likely spam.

So inactive subscribers aren’t just costing you more money, they’re also ruining your chances of getting your message through the inbox of other leads. Yikes.

How to Choose Who to Delete

In the age of multiple email barriers and information overload, it’s important to identify subscribers worth cutting from your email list. The success of your email marketing campaign depends on it.

Here’s how you can choose who to unsubscribe.

The Obvious Targets

These are the emails subscribers you don’t have a chance of re-engaging or connecting with, or people who didn’t want to be on your list in the first place.

  • Purchased email leads
  • Frequently bouncing email leads
  • Previously unsubscribed but still on the system leads

You might be hesitant to delete purchased leads. But if they already went through at least one full email campaign, and they’re not responding, that just means they’re not interested. Or maybe the list was burned out in the first place.

Remember, purchased leads are sold multiple times so it’s possible these once legit leads got tired of receiving too many promotional emails.

The Lowest Open Rate or Inactive Subscribers

Find all the email subscribers who have been on your list for at least one year. Then check the last time they opened on of your emails.

Have they opened anything you have sent in the last three to six months? If you send at least two emails a week, and they haven’t opened any of these emails, that means they are not interested in your content.

Create a separate list for these people, so you can put them in a targeted campaign that turns inactive contacts into warm subscribers.

Low Engagement Rate Subscribers

These people open your emails, but don’t click on any of your links. They might’ve been interested in your blog posts, products, or services before, but not anymore. Whatever the case you’re not getting any traffic or conversions from them.

Don’t delete these subscribers straight away. Put them into a separate list then send them a re-engagement campaign to find what it would take to win back their engagement.

Rebuilding Your Email List

Here you can try to reactivate two types of cold leads – the ones who haven’t opened any of your mails, and the ones who open it but don’t reply or click on any of your links.

For the Non-Openers

Send them a simple email saying you’ll unsubscribe them from your list.

SUBJECT: I’m removing you from my email list (unless you read this one)

“Hi (Name),

I’m emailing you this message because you subscribed to my list some time ago, but haven’t opened any of my emails in the last three to six months.

That’s okay, I understand that you receive a lot of emails. I don’t want to keep sending you information if you’re no longer interested.

So if you don’t read or open this email, please know that I am unsubscribing you to my email list.  

If you were just curious, and accidentally opened this email, please take a few seconds to unsubscribe if you’re no longer interested in hearing from me. The unsubscribe link is at the bottom of this email.

Thank you.”

The above message is polite and straight to the point. And in most situations, the subscriber doesn’t have to do anything. If they haven’t opened any of your emails in a while, and they don’t open this one, you’ll just unsubscribe them from your end.

Wait three days up to one week before you start deleting inactive subscribers or non-openers. Some people might be away on vacation or business, so they may not have access to email.

Those who respond or open your email should be kept on your list, or at least on an engagement campaign to recapture their interest.

For Low Engagement Subscribers

Re-engagement campaigns come in different forms. You could send them a new eBook or freebie, a discount, or a poll to see what kind of information interests them. The end goal is to see what it would take to rev up their interest in your brand.

Need inspiration on what to send your disengaged subscribers? Check out these examples from,, and MyEmma .com.


Yes, deleting inactive subscribers feel counter-intuitive. But if these subscribers are inactive, disengaged, or bouncing, emailing them like you always have will accomplish nothing.

It’s better to have a smaller list of active subscribers where you can build your authority and convert more leads into paying customers.

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