Afraid of ‘Pruning’ Your Email List? Do This Instead

Should you ever delete email subscribers?

I raised a ruckus a few months back when I described how I “terminate” subscribers who show no signs of life.

It’s a controversial stance. Since email is essentially “free” to send, why wouldn’t you want to keep as many subscribers as possible?

The reason is **deliverability**.

Before anyone can read your emails, the message has to reach their inbox. And a surprising amount of email gets vaporized en route or shuffled off to the spam box underworld.

Blasting out emails that no one reads is not a “victimless offense.”

Believe me: The Big G and other email providers are watching to see how your subscribers respond to your missives.

This is true even if you’re using a service like MailChimp that supposedly protects your reputation as a sender. (Every email you send out has YOUR email address in the From field. Gmail, Yahoo and the rest look at that address when calculating whether a message is spam or not.)

Fact: The more emails you send that don’t get opened, the more likely it is that your future emails will get sucked into the spam black hole.

This isn’t a reason to panic, but it’s something you should be thinking about.

In the past, I’ve handled this by simply deleting everyone who hasn’t opened or clicked recently. If I’m emailing you daily, and you haven’t opened the last 50 messages I’ve sent, it’s a pretty safe bet that your interests have moved on.

Trouble is, email tracking is far from perfect. And I know I have a few loyal readers who go to great lengths to avoid triggering any kind of tracking mechanism.

So here’s a little experiment I’m trying now:

Instead of deleting subscribers, I’m splitting my list into two different segments.

The most interested and engaged subscribers will continue to get my daily emails.

And the least interested 20% of my list will only hear from me weekly.

This is easy to do in Drip, thanks to a feature called “lead scoring.”

When you join my list as a new subscriber, you get a certain number of points. And every time you take an action, like opening an email or clicking a link, your score increases.

If you stop responding, you start to lose points.

Eventually your score drops below a certain threshold, and you’ll move out of my daily email segment and into the weekly segment.

Later on, if you open a couple of the weekly emails, you’ll automatically move back onto the daily list.

This approach gives you the best of both worlds. I can communicate daily with my biggest fans, and I’m not blasting out unwanted emails to people who aren’t interested.

And the best part is, it happens automatically—the number of emails you get adjusts to your level of interest.

So far I’m liking this approach. My open rates are up and my unsubscribes are down.

I’ll keep you posted on my findings.

jonathan raymond - May 13, 2016

Hey Josh, have been considering that (I use Drip as well). Would you be willing to share the settings you’re using to do that?

    Josh Earl - May 13, 2016

    Hey Jonathan, sure thing. I have 2 different saved segments. One is called “Weekly RSS Subscribers,” and I used the “Lead” option (image attached).

    And the “Daily Tips Subscribers” segment excludes anyone who’s on one of my email courses, or who belongs to the weekly RSS segment.

    Make sense?

    jonathan raymond - May 13, 2016

    Thanks Josh, yep … that makes sense and I can translate that over to the general setup I’ve got. Appreciate the visuals 🙂

      Josh Earl - May 13, 2016

      You’re welcome! Glad it helped.

      Josh Earl
      *Email Copywriter*

      How to Create Email Courses That Sell

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