How to Clean Up Your Email List, Re-engage Subscribers, and Boost Sales

September 2, 2014 Monika Jansen

How to clean up your email list, re-engage subscribers, and boost sales

If you’ve been meaning to clean up your email list but never seem to find time to get to it, here’s an incentive: Internet service providers (ISPs) and mail servers judge your emails by their open and engagement rates. The worse those rates are, the worse your deliverability rate will be.

That’s right, your newsletter could be marked as spam or junk, even if it’s not. That stinks, but you want to learn more than just how to clean up your email list. You’ll also want to take steps to re-engage subscribers – they did subscribe to receive messages from you, after all! Take the time to do this now, and you could enjoy higher sales tomorrow.

Identify who really is inactive

This is not as straightforward as it sounds. You really don’t know who has read your entire email, parts of it, or clicked it open by accident. Additionally, people can quickly mark it as read and save it for later, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to open it.

Instead, look at the following metrics: Who has never opened an email or clicked a link? Who has never visited your website? Who has never taken action on your website? Who has never interacted with you on social media? Those are the people who are not responding to your messages and actively engaging with your brand.

Ask how they want to communicate with you

You’ll probably find that some people don’t open your emails, but they do engage on social media or read and share your blog posts. Obviously, they are engaged with you, but email is the wrong channel. Send an email reminding them to visit your subscription or preference center and choose how they want to be communicated with, and how often. This ensures you won’t be accidentally eliminating someone who really likes you.

Offer incentives to re-engage

Before you clean up your list, offer a freebie, special promotion, or limited-time discount to those who meet your definition of inactive. Because they might not have responded to or opened your “communication preferences” email, also remind them of other places to engage with you, like on Instagram or in your blog, and what kind of content they can expect to receive there.

Clean up your list bit by bit

Every month, comb through your email list and remove all of those who have been inactive for a certain length of time. Start with no activity ever, then move to 12 months, then 11 months and so on. Track deliverability rates (how many emails are going through) and, of course, engagement rates as you go.

Do all four of these steps, and your deliverability and engagement rates will most likely go up – as well as your sales volume. Have you cleaned up your email list in the past? How did it help improve your sales?

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Image courtesy of iStockPhoto

Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at

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