Email List Cleaning - your list needs a bath!

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Email List Cleaning: Why you need to clean your list

Do you currently have a large email list, but meh open rates?

Well, I have news for you, and fair warning, this is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

She’s just not into you, and you’re *literally* paying for it.

Whether you call it a list cleaning, pruning, win-back, or re-engagement, if you have subscribers on your email list that haven’t engaged with you recently, they are detrimental to your email marketing strategy. Before you get upset, it is not your fault! Some studies show that in just 28 days, 4.5% of your subscribers can become unresponsive. (omnisend.com)

In this blog, you will learn the importance of list cleaning, how to create a series, and best practices. Also, I threw in my own email list cleaning series as a swipe file with a bonus training. Applying this to your business can be scary, but I promise it’s necessary to maintain a healthy email list.

Email List Cleaning Affects Email Deliverability Rates

Email List Cleaning - Engagement Metrics Dashboard on ConvertKit
Engagement Metrics Dashboard on ConvertKit

One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is chasing vanity numbers. We pursue likes and follows as a means for measuring our success instead of conversion rates. I would argue that when it comes to email marketing, the size of your list is a vanity number.

The metrics that matter are your open rates and click-through rates. You can have a list of 200 email addresses with a 50% average open rate or a list of 2,000 with a 5% open rate. Both have 100 people opening emails. But, the list of 2,000 email addresses cost the owner more in fees monthly. Additionally, the entrepreneur is more likely to have spam complaints and deliverability issues.

The habits of your subscribers affect your email deliverability. If your subscribers ignore your emails or mark them as spam, it will affect your sender reputation. Without intervention, your future emails will start landing in spam folders. And, since email list churn (or subscribers who bounce, report you as spam, or never even open your emails) can eat through up to 30% of your list each year, it’s important to stay on top of things. (content.myemma.com)

How to Create an Email List Cleaning Series

Email List Cleaning - Re-engagement email series on ConvertKit
Re-engagement email series on ConvertKit

The best solution for you to stay on top of your email list is to create an email list cleaning series. Scrubbing your list helps you identify active subscribers who are marked cold/inactive subscribers. It also enables you to purge your list of inactive subscribers and bad email addresses. And the best perk is that you will see a boost in your engagement metrics.

The email campaign should consist of 3-5 re-engagement emails.

The key to this series is to create engaging emails with direct calls to action. Keep the following in mind when creating your re-engagement email campaign:

  1. Don’t hide what you are doing. Your ‘heck-yes’ humans want to stay on your list, so you can’t be cryptic.
  2. Be direct in what you need them to do. If they need to click a link to stay subscribed, tell them explicitly.
  3. Bless and release. Let them know it’s okay to unsubscribe and that you will always be rooting for them.

If you are still struggling with creating a series, use mine for inspiration. (Click here to swipe my email series)

Email List Cleaning Best Practices

Email List Cleaning - Email automation dashboard on ConvertKit
Email automation dashboard on ConvertKit

Depending on your email service provider, you can create an automation that tags and sends the series. ActiveCampaign has a prebuilt engagement automation template for its members.

I don’t like automating this process. I have a quarterly event scheduled in my calendar reminding me to scrub my list. Don’t get me wrong; the series is pre-built. However, I review my list of cold subscribers, add a few filters, and have those remaining tagged and sent through the automation afterward. 

That little bit of control has helped me, on two occasions, identify segments that were ‘stuck.’ It turned out that they weren’t receiving my broadcasts because I tagged them incorrectly.

Regardless of if you choose to automate your campaign or run it manually, you should have it set so that subscribers do not go more than 90-120 days without opening or clicking through an email. Also, use multiple emails with different headlines. After the last email is sent, wait about a week before removing the inactive emails. 


You need to be scrubbing your email list to save money and your sender reputation. If you don’t already have a series you are using and don’t want to be staring at “the blinking cursor of death,” then swipe my series by clicking here. Steal it or use it for inspiration.

Either way, set up your list cleaning series today. #noexcuses

Key Takeaways

  • Inactive Subscribers affect your deliverability and cost you money.
  • A re-engagement campaign ran at regular intervals is a necessity for your business. (Swipe my emails to schedule one today)

What's Up Buttercup?
I'm Alexandria

Long story short, I understand what it’s like to try a million different complicated strategies with tech that never seems to do what you want. That’s why I help creative lady entrepreneurs launch their digital offers with simple strategies that don’t complicate or overwhelm your life or business.

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