Benefits of keeping email list clean

Keeping list clean have multiple benefits for everyone involved, one of the rare good deeds.


Every subscriber costs you money. Even the ones haven't opened your email in months.

Either you use MailChimp or Convertkilt, or any other ESP (Email Service Provider) mostly charge by the size of your list. Most have two types of cost -

  1. Count of Subscribers
  2. Emails sent to those subscribers

Cleaning can help you with both.

Email Deliverability

This one is a biggie.

It does not just cost low; this also helps you with more emails landing in the inbox, isn't this like killing two birds with a single shot.

Google spam filters monitor your subscriber engagement with your brand. The active list keeps your brand engagement percentage high in the eyes of Google, helping more inbox landings.

You can't trick spam filters or promotion filter, but email cleaning can help with landing more emails in the inbox.

Revenue Per Email Subscriber

We calculate revenue per subscriber as

  • Total Revenue From Email / Total Active Subscribers.

So eventually cleaning will help you with both -

  • Higher revenue, as more people see the emails.
  • Less active subscribers, as you cleaned the rotten apples from the basket.

All sounds good, can this be done on autopilot?. Yeah. Possible. As you are capturing on automation, you can also clean on automation. $Outbound Link - Capture Email$

Email List Cleaning Process

For cleaning in the right process, we need two things -

  1. Audience Segmentation
  2. Automated Campaigns


Audience Segmentation

We will use the RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) model to segment the audience.

For a quick overview,

RFM Model

Recency stands for time recency of interaction subscriber had with the brand.

Frequency stands for the frequency of interactions over a period of time.

Monetary stands for monetary value you attribute to interaction, thereby assigning a monetary value to the subscriber.

Let's say our interaction is a purchase. We can cut our list based on

Recency based audiences -

  • Purchased in last 1 month.
  • Purchased in last 6 months.
  • Purchased in last 12 months.

Frequency based audience -

  • 1 Purchase Audience
  • 2-5 Purchase Audience
  • 5+ Purchase Audience

Monetary based audience -

  • Users total purchase worth $100
  • Users total purchase worth $100-$500
  • Users total purchase worth $500+

Now you can mix and match like -

  • 2-5 Purchases in last 6 month totalling under $500

Then you can give them fancy names like Power users, passive users, active users, dormant users etc. Everyone has their own name given to these segments.

Coming back to audience cleaning, we will be segmenting our audience on recency of simple interaction based on open or click email

Recency Based Audience

$Graphic of 4 Audiences$

  1. Active Audience (Opened or clicked brand emails in the last 6 months)
  2. Passive Audience (Opened or clicked brand emails in last 6-9 months)
  3. Inactive Audience (Opened or clicked brand emails in last 9-12 months)
  4. Dormant Audience (No email opened or clicked in last 1 year)

Eventually, we want to move them to active audiences or drop them from our list. Customer can also unsubscribe at any point, ending the whole process for all. (Scenario we don't want to happen, better to dump than getting dumped. Right!)

6 months to 1 year is a reasonable period for most brands, but feel free to customise the time limits based on your business prospecting cycle.

To be 100% sure, first you can segment your audiences and then adjust time frames based on performance reports.

Mostly 1 year is a too conservative time frame to drop from the list for open or click interaction. For subscriber without purchase I can go till 3 years granted they are regularly consuming the content.

Segmentation in ESP

Every ESP (Email Service Provider) with basic segmentation capabilities will allow you to a segment on recency. For this article, we are using Klaviyo, but similar logic will apply in other platforms as well.

Passive, Reactivation and Re-Permission Campaigns

Once you are ready with the segmented audiences, we need to have 3 campaigns for 3 audiences, objective to move them to an active audience.

$graphic with campaigns name$

  1. Win Back Campaigns targeting Passive Segment

    3 Email Series

  2. Reactivation Campaigns targeting Inactive Segment

    3 Email Series

  3. Re-permission Campaigns targeting Dormant Segment

    2 Emails + Removal from future communications

Win Back Campaigns

Win Back #1

We should start with the text emails. They are very good to have a one on one talk with your subscriber. Feel they connected and counted.

  • Seriousness of the communication to the subscriber
  • Easy landing in inbox.
  • High readability chances

Examples -

Simple Text Passive Emails

Looking like too vanila for your taste, you can try these as passive emails with a single CTA.

Passive Emails

we miss you

Reactivation Campaigns

Reactivation #1

For the first email in this flow, we should start with the some offer or discount.

quick reminder handy

You can offer a second trial of the product for these users.

Take More Time Reactivation

Reactivation #2

We need to highlight the product offers and restate the product offering. We can showcase the updates or new arrival in the product.

Reactivation Emails

Reactivation #3

In the last attempt to reactivate, we can go for the simple Yes / No technique. It's mostly emails with Two CTAs

Reactivation Emails

Passive Emails

Reactivation Emails

Re-permission Campaigns

These are campaigns where customer is sort of Re-Subscribing to your email list.

Common Messaging -

We are removing you from our email list in X days, if you still want to recieve our emails, then revert to us. Otherwise there is no requirement for any action.

Re-permission #1:

We can still offer some discounts before we go. You can try some last minute discount before taking the customer off.

Text with one cta

Re-permission #2:

In last email for the company, we are just asking for they to take action to resubscribe. Otherwise we have already sort of unsubscribed them from our lists.

Subject Line: Our Final Goodbye!

CTA: "I still want it."

CTA: "Subscribe Me Again"

Text with one cta

Text with one cta

Last time

Bonus [Resubscribe Email]

#Pro Tip: Run welcome series again on the subscribers those were dormant. It's more like a

Welcome Again

For people resubscribing, we should run a welcome series again. Keep them excited on the journey and introduce to brand again.

Welcome Back

Action Time

As you can see, keeping email list clean is less work then we all think.

We just need to set it up and keep it running. Some minor tweaks might be required, but more or less it will run on it own.

Action Plan -

  1. Segment your non performing audience. Start with a single segment of people who havn't opened in last one year.
  2. Setup a two email flow for them.
  3. Make it live.

Instead of doing for win back or reactivation, in next one day of reading this article if you setup Re-permission campaigns, it will be substantial monetary benefits to you and your company.

Once you have seen results, you can start with passive or more sophisticated segmentation and flows.

Your Turn

Have you ever re-subscribed? I have. Which one or did you stay subscribed?

What segment you think is most useful for cleaning?