Is your email list overdue for a deep cleaning? Today we’re going over the basics of how to clean your list. Keep reading and you’ll be tidying up like Marie Kondo in no time!

What is List Cleaning?

Whether it’s called list cleaning, list scrubbing, list hygiene — it’s all basically the same thing: every so often you want to go in and remove unengaged subscribers from your list.

These are subscribers that have gone cold. They’re not opening. They’re not clicking. They’re not replying. They’re not doing anything except getting your emails to their inbox and ignoring them. To clean your list you want to go in, isolate those subscribers, and remove them from your email list. 

Why You Want to Clean Your List Regularly

#1: Save money

Your email service provider charges you based on the number of subscribers you have on your list. They don’t care how engaged those subscribers are. They’re taking up space on your list and so you’re paying for that subscriber, whether they’re opening your emails every week or they haven’t opened your emails in a year.

If you’re regularly cleaning your list, you can make sure that you’re only emailing and paying for the subscribers that most want to hear from you.

#2: Better email performance

Another good reason to clean your list regularly is to improve your deliverability and your sender reputation. Deleting inactive subscribers can help cut back on bounces and spam reports.

#3: Improve your open rates

Cleaning your list is a sure way to boost your email open rate. If you have a large chunk of subscribers that are just not engaged anymore, they’re going to be dragging on your open rates every time you hit send. 

#4: Increase subscriber engagement

Cleaning your list also gives you a chance to improve engagement with your subscribers. If a large portion of your list has gone cold, you can re-engage those people and use this as a time to reconnect with people that may have stopped reading your emails. You can even win some people back!

Quick client story — I had a client that I created a list scrub sequence for and she messaged me a couple months after it had been running. She told me that she had someone reach out — someone who had not been reading her emails — and actually booked a consult with her and became a paying client.

Your list cleaning emails don’t have to be purely transactional. These emails don’t have to be just about deleting people. These emails can really be about re-establishing that connection that they felt when they first signed up for your list. Because that’s the thing about email. People at some point said, “Yes, I want to hear from you.” Just because they haven’t been paying attention to you lately doesn’t mean that they are no longer interested, it doesn’t mean that they hate you, and it doesn’t mean that they could never be a client of yours.

So you don’t have to look at cleaning your list as like, oh my gosh. I’m going to lose all these people that I have worked so hard to get on my list. Cleaning your list can really be a chance to just engage deeper with these people. Reach out to them and check and see how are you doing? Are you still served by this content? Cleaning your list can really be a chance to be of service to your audience.

How to Scrub Your List

You don’t want to just find these cold subscribers and just delete them outright. You want to have this chance to re-engage with them. Here’s how to do it:

Send a series of re-engagement emails to warm up your cold subscribers. In these emails you want to remind people who you are, because if they haven’t seen you in a while they may have forgotten. 

You also want to remind them how they got on your list, so that they don’t just assume that you are sending them spam emails that they didn’t ever ask for. 

And you also want to tell them what’s in it for them if they stick around. What are the benefits of getting your emails? What are the things that you offer them? Who are you helping? Who are you serving? 

This is also a great chance to share if you’ve made a pivot in your business recently. Maybe people sign on for one thing and now you’re moving in another direction. Share with them that new direction and what they can expect going forward.

Then ask them if they still want to hear from you. Make that the call to action in these emails.

If people click yes, I still want to hear from you, great! They are warmed back up and they’re back on your main list.

And if they don’t click yes, that they want to keep hearing from you, after a couple weeks you can feel confident deleting them from your list.

How Often to Clean Your List

If you’re wondering how often you should clean your list, it can vary depending on your business, your audience, and your list size.

At a minimum, you want to do this at least once a year. You can definitely do it more often. Twice a year is a really great frequency. You could do it every quarter if you’d like. 

You can even have it automated. You can have it set up in the back end that anytime someone meets the conditions of being a cold subscriber, they get sent this re-engagement sequence. 

If you’re not sure if it’s time to clean your list, a good rule of thumb is to look at the percentage of your list that is considered cold. If 20 to 25% of your list is considered cold, it’s a good time to start cleaning. 

You can also clean your list whenever you see your open rates are steadily declining. For example, maybe you’re used to seeing your open rates around 35%, but the last month or two, they’ve been hovering around 25%. That’d be a good time to look at cleaning your list.

So if it’s time for you to clean your list now, you know what to do! 

Cleaning your list of just one way to improve your open rates. Get my free Open Rate Booster Checklist to learn 4 more ways to get those open rates up.

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