03.30.20167 min read

The Art of Tidying Up Your Email List

“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

Minimalism is all the rage these days. Just ask Marie Kondo, whose fresh and unabashed guide to home organization, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," has become a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller and amassed a cult-like following. Rather than give a laundry list of items to throw away, she encourages us to focus on what we want to keep—the things that bring us joy.

And while the famous decluttering guru might be referring to the home, her tips can easily be applied to something seemingly unrelated: your email list. Read on to discover the benefits of tidying up your email list. 

A healthy list is non-negotiable

Want to succeed with email marketing? List cleanup is non-negotiable.

A healthy, well-maintained email list is the foundation for any successful email marketing program. If you’re spending the time and effort on your campaigns, you want to make sure you get results.

Unfortunately, the average email list depreciates over time. This is due to a combination of things: bounces, unsubscribes, email address changes. And if you’re not bringing in subscribers at the same rate as they leave, it can feel like your business is taking a hit.

Think quality > quantity

A big list certainly seems impressive. There are dozens of blog posts and case studies out there touting strategies to go from zero to 10,000 subscribers in no time. But not all of these list-building tactics are legit—buying an email list, for example, might get you subscribers, but it won’t get you the results you’re looking for.

Why? Because these subscribers never opted-in to receive your emails. They don’t know who you are and they most likely have no interest in buying what you’re selling—be prepared for your emails to go straight to the spam folder. Plus, if you’re using a reputable email service provider, purchased lists are totally off limits.

Wouldn’t you rather have a smaller, curated list of ideal subscribers who are super excited to read your emails? This would certainly bring joy to your email list—and your open rates.

Commit yourself to letting go

Letting go of clutter is hard to do. The same can be said for your subscribers. Cleaning up your list means having to part with subscribers that you spent time and money to acquire.

Keeping your goal in mind is a great way to stay focused. Are you sending to attain more sales? Readers? Connections? The people on your list should be the ones who help you achieve that goal.

Keep in mind that not only will a clean list mean more attentive readers, but your deliverability and open rates will improve, too. Talk about a win-win!

Imagine your ideal subscriber

For us, the ideal subscriber is someone who looks forward to seeing your latest newsletter hit their inbox, engages with your newsletters, clicks through to your offers, and shares your emails with friends. While these are the people you want to see on your list, you might find that there are different characteristics and traits among your specific audience.

Having a visual ideal for the type of people you want to send to plays a huge part in how you plan your email strategy. These personas will make sure your content, cadence, and promotional strategy are all in check.

A good way to identify these subscribers is by sending out a survey. Ask questions about the type of content they’d like to receive and how frequently, as well as what they expect from your emails. With the feedback you receive, you can learn a lot about your list.

Identify your inactive subscribers

Inactive subscribers are people who signed up for your email list but haven’t opened any of your emails in a long time—or possibly ever. And we always seem to make excuses for keeping these people on our lists.

There are lots of reasons why these perfectly valid subscribers go dark: They no longer need your products or services, they don’t have time to check all of their emails, or maybe they just aren’t interested. Sometimes people sign up for a one-time incentive offer but have no intentions on purchasing from you again.

Fortunately, your inactive subscribers aren’t too hard to spot. Simply take a look at your subscriber stats to see who opens your emails and who doesn’t. People who open but don’t click aren’t necessarily a lost cause—they’re showing some interest in your brand, but maybe the content doesn’t completely resonate. It might be a good option to segment them out from those who don’t engage at all, and follow up with more targeted content.

Cleaning up your list from inactives isn’t easy. It’s hard to part with your subscribers. Before you remove these people from your list, try running a reactivation campaign to give them a second chance and increase engagement. If they still aren’t opening your emails, it’s time to let go.

Spark some joy

When it comes to list cleanup, think of it like this: You’re choosing which subscribers to keep, not which to discard.

Keep your list healthy and maintained by delighting your subscribers with relevant content. After all, these are your ride-or-die subscribers. You should be showing them as much attention (if not more) than your prospects.

Need some ideas for reigniting the spark with your subscribers? Try employing one of these tactics:

1. Send subscribers a special promo code or discount offer

unnamed

2. Share helpful tips or hacks for using your product or service (bonus points for GIFs)

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.57.57 PM

unnamed

3. Ask for feedback with a customer survey

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 1.00.08 PM

4. Reward customers who frequently purchase from you with a loyalty program

unnamed-3

So fresh, so clean

There’s nothing better than the feeling of a clean email list. Have you employed some of these tactics in your email marketing strategy? What kind of results did you see? 

This article was written by Olivia Dello Buono from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

green paper airplane

Did you like this article? Get articles like this delivered weekly to your inbox, gratis.

close button

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

5 Reasons to Subscribe:

1. Weekly tips to dominate sales and marketing

At our core, we're focused on helping you become a sales and marketing machine. We tap into the genius of the best salesfolks and marketers out there to give you daily tips to grow your leads, make more sales, and keep more customers.

2. Expert small business resources that cost you zero dollars

Want to go deep? We have you covered with free guides, webinars, and tools on a range of topics from marketing automation, CRM, and digital marketing to building sales and marketing strategies from the ground up. All for free. All for you.

3. We're focused 100 percent on small business success

We exist for one reason: helping small businesses succeed. We give you the ideas and insights you need to blow the competition out of the water. We serve business owners who are hungry to put in the hard work to grow their business and own the market.

4. We do the work for you

Running a small business is a 110 percent endeavor. You don't have time to surf Internet for the best small business insights and ideas out there. We'll do that for you with the best original content from our team and from industry experts and small business owners.

5. But wait, there's more!

Small business success means more than just sales and marketing, so we also hit on a range of topics to help your small business thrive, including personal and business growth, customer service, and business management.

6. Righteous GIFs

OK, we said five reasons, but we like to overdeliver...and GIFs. We really like GIFs. You're bound to see some righteous ones.

GIF of Ferris Bueler principal's assistant

P.S. We'll never give out your information. We'll only use it to send you awesome content and resources, if you're cool with that.