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Maintain an Active Email List by Trimming Inactive Subscribers

Everyone always says the money is in the list, right?

For years, I was enamored by folks talking about how large their lists were. People would boast lists of 10,000 or 100,000 or more.

A large list isn’t always better than a small list.

In fact, it’s been said that having just 1,000 raving fans is all you need to build a sustainable business.

Not 10,000 or 100,000 – “just” 1,000 true fans.

Is your list 10,000 true fans or a collection of 10,000 emails of people who might like you? Of people who aren’t sure how they got on the list?

Your goal should be getting a list of those 1,000 true fans and trimming the rest. The ones who aren’t true fans are simply costing you money and getting in the way.

If you have a two thousand member list, it’ll cost you $15/mo on MailChimp (to send unlimited emails), $29/month on AWeber, $60/month on Constant Contact, and $59/mo on Campaign Monitor. That’s hundreds of dollars a year, which gets to be expensive if all you’re doing is sending a few blog posts and hoping it generates some revenue.

The tip that many experts don’t tell you is that you need to keep your list tidy. Active. Valuable.

Trim it of the folks who are indifferent!

Being able to say you have a large list might boost your ego but it can do little to move your blog’s bottom line, which is what matters.

The easiest way to maintain an active email list is to get rid of the folks who aren’t even opening your emails. A subscriber that doesn’t open any of your emails is not a subscriber, they’re dead weight and that dead weight is costing you money and messing up your statistics.

You need to cull your newsletter subscribe list.

How to Trim your Newsletter Subscriber List

Culling your list is a two step process.

First, you need to make sure they really aren’t opening any of your emails. Sometimes a loyal subscriber is reading your emails, but it’s just not being reported back to your email provider. To solve this problem, I create a segment of Inactive Subscribers, send them a quick email that asks them to reply if they want to remain on the list.

For the segment of Inactive Subscribers, I simply search for people who haven’t opened an email in three months.

Then I send them this simple email:

Subject: One quick question…
Do you wish to continue getting emails from Microblogger? I noticed you haven’t opened any in a while and I wanted to make sure you still wanted them. If you do, please reply and I’ll make sure you still get them.


If someone replies, I make sure they keep getting emails.

Step two is pretty simple. After a week, I delete those inactive email addresses from my list. If they don’t open the emails, there is zero chance they want to keep getting them. I can do both of us a favor by removing them from the list. Right before I remove them, I send them this brief email too.

Subject: You’ve been unsubscribed
I noticed you weren’t interested in receiving anymore emails from me so I unsubscribed you from the list. If this was a mistake, you can resubscribe here:
[link to subscription page]


That’s it!

It might hurt to just delete a bunch of emails, addresses you worked so hard to get in the first place, but remember that these people aren’t even opening your emails. They’re not really subscribed… they just inflate your numbers and your monthly bill.

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In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog ( that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

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