Why Deleting 1,000+ Of My Email Subscribers Was The Best Thing I Ever Did!


Deleting 1000 Email Subscribers

Lots of bloggers make out that it is so important to have a big email list (I’ve done it myself), but that isn’t always the case.  In this post I talk about why deleting email subscribers can actually be beneficial for your long term success and show you what happened when I pruned my list of over 1000.

Why Are Email Lists So Important?

An email list IS without doubt extremely important to your website.  That applies not only to bloggers, but eCommerce sites, small local businesses, huge multinational websites… just about every type of site really.

You see, email lists can be a powerful thing.  When someone signs up, you know that they are very interested in your website.  For that reason, they are your best customers/visitors.  You can then send them promotions, special offers, newsletters, coupons, eBooks, etc.  Anything that either helps you to make money or bring them back to your website (perhaps both) is a great thing to promote to your list.  That’s not to say that you should spam them every day of the week, but  you do have a select group of people that you know you can market too when you have something to say.

Think about some of the sites that you are signed up too.  They are always encouraging you to come back to their site with some promotion or news about a new product.  A great example to use is Amazon.  You have to have an account to buy things through Amazon, which requires your email address.  If you are like me, you will get countless emails about products that are related to the ones you have been looking at, special offers at the holiday seasons, items that you are watching, etc.  Amazon aren’t trying to spam you, they are just trying to encourage you back, which does work!

Email lists do work, so if you haven’t already got one, then you should probably have a go at setting one up.

So If Email Lists Are So Important, Why Delete Email Subscribers?

Email lists are very important, but the size of them isn’t the be-all and end-all.  There is a lot of information online stating that you just need to focus on growing your list as large as you can, but I tend to disagree with that.

Of course you need to grow your list, but you have to remember that some people will inevitably just not be that interested in any emails you send to them.  You could have a million people on your email list, but if 999,999 people don’t open any of them, then you are only reaching a tiny fraction.

You see, it’s not about how many people are on your list, it’s about how many “interested” people are on your list that really matters!

Why I Decided To Delete 1,000+ Of My Email Subscribers

I started my email list right when I first launched the Online Income Teacher back in July 2011.  Over the next couple of years, I managed to get over 2,000 people to subscribe to my list, which was amazing!  I never imagined that I’d get so many people that interested in what I was writing about, but as the site grew, so did the list.  I’ll admit that when I saw just how many people had subscribed, I got a bit carried away (maybe you are reading this and feel the same way I did towards your own list).

Whilst I had so many, after looking at my AWeber statistics, it was clear to see that I wasn’t getting the best interaction from them all.  I had some people that would seemingly always open, read and click on my email broadcasts, yet there were many that, after a time, were not opening any at all.

It got to the point that roughly half of my list was not engaging with my emails any more, so I decided to remove them.  This wasn’t a rash decision, I had thought about doing it for a few weeks.  I kept coming back to the fact that I was paying to have all these people on my list (AWeber charges a monthly fee depending on how many email subscribers you have), yet half was “dead weight” so to speak.  I found all the people who hadn’t opened an email for 6 months or more and deleted them.

Overnight, my list went from being 2,267 to only 1,206 email subscribers, but of those left, they were much more likely to click on and read my broadcasts.

How Deleting 1,000+ Email Subscribers Benefited Me

The next broadcast newsletter that I sent out received double the open rate and double the click rate than my previous one.  I have since sent out many more broadcasts and they are roughly at the same level (on average) than before I removed so many email subscribers.

The fact that these two statistics have gone up is great for business as they are two things that potential advertisers want to know about.  If a company wants to advertise on your email list (just be careful who you accept) they want to know, not only how many people you are sending it too, but how many will potentially open and then click on it.

Similarly, the better your open/click rate is, the more you can charge potential advertisers (though this is linked to how many overall email subscribers you have).

Maintaining Your Email List

Email Subscribers

Since cutting down my email list a few months ago, my email subscribers have continued to grow steadily and I hope to be back to the same level by the end of the year.  I have however continued to edit my list and get rid of any “dead weight” that aren’t opening any emails.

I have created a few rules that I try to stick by, which maybe you will find helpful when looking to prune your email list.

  1. Always delete people that have unsubscribed – For whatever reason, AWeber doesn’t delete people’s emails from your list when people unsubscribe (no emails get sent to them however).  They still count towards your monthly limit, so it is worth removing them otherwise you could end up paying more.
  2. Delete anybody that hasn’t opened an email in at least 3-6 months – I feel 6 months is a long enough period for people to stay on your list without them opening anything.  They may have gone on a long holiday, moved house or something, but 6 months is generally long enough.  You may prefer a shorter time period, but just give them some breathing space.  Maybe they are saving them up to read through all at once (I have had people do that).
  3. Don’t delete any new subscribers for at least 6 months – New email subscribers tend to need a bit more breathing space.  Give them a chance and they may come back to you.  You only need them to open one email and you could hook them for life.

These are just guidelines that I use.  You may prefer to go for a shorter/longer waiting period before removing someone.  Just make sure you spend some time each month reviewing your list and seeing whether it is worth removing some “dead weight”.  You may be surprised with the results!

Have you deleted email subscribers from your list before?  If so, how many?  Do you disagree with what I have said and wouldn’t dream of deleting anyone from your list?  We want to hear from you, so please get in touch below and share your views and opinions.

Images by ‘Mixy Lorenzo’ [Source] and ‘Peter Prehn’ [Source]  

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the founder and editor of OnlineIncomeTeacher. He is a Professional Blogger, SEO Consultant & Web Developer, running a number of sites from the UK. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.


    If Aweber charge the same, i would not brother deleting anyone.

    • It’s not about the money, it’s about keeping the interested people on your list. There is no point keeping the others on your list if none of them are opening up your emails.

      Like I say in the post, by improving your open rate/click rate, you can then charge more for ads as well.

  • guest

    Great tips! May need to take a look at my email list to see if I can trim it down a bit.

    • Hi,

      It is worth doing if you can. There is no point keeping people on your email list that aren’t opening any emails. There is no need to go crazy and get rid of everyone, but every few months it can be good to prune down your subscribers and keep all your engaging subscribers.