EU229: Should You Delete Unengaged Email Subscribers?


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As your business grows a large email list looks impressive. As entrepreneurs, we are always told a larger list is better. That is not always true. In episode 229, the guys go over why you may want to delete some of those email subscribers from your list.

This is a direct transcript. Please forgive any grammar or spelling errors.

Kevin: [00:00:00] You’ve grown your list so big, it’s almost like you feel like you’ve accomplished something

Jason: well, gurus that grow your list as big as you can get it, grow. It, it like as many people on your list, do whatever you have to do to get people on your list. I did believe that for a while, I started realizing that like the size of the list really isn’t what’s

Kevin: important ever wonder how the e-commerce brands you admire do it,

Jen: you’re listening to e-commerce uncensored with Kevin Monell and Jason Carusso.

Kevin: Hi everyone. And thank you for joining us. On another episode of e-commerce on censored. My name is Kevin Manel and I’m here with Jason Caruso. I’m Jason Caruso today. We’re going to talk about, [00:02:00] are we going to say something, Jay? No. Today we’re going to talk about something we’re going through actually with our clients and actually our, our own email list currently.

And I think it’s, you know, you said it before we got on the phone is like people, you know, keep that, that number of email subscribers, so close to their heart that sometimes yeah. Richard,

Jason: sorry, light on us. A little darker hair.

Kevin: Yeah. But yeah, like they, they look at that number of email subscribers and they almost take, and I’ve been there.

It’s like, you, you, you talk about, you’ve grown your list so big. It’s almost like you feel like you’ve accomplished something when in reality, a big portion of your list is completely unengaged and it doesn’t open your emails. Don’t don’t click, don’t buy. And they’re really just costing your money at that point.

And we want to talk about like the things that you can do to, to, to help clean your list and the importance of it. Yeah.

Jason: So, so [00:03:00] mainly bigger lists, let people with larger lists. You know, like Kevin said, we have a list of 70,000 people on our our business and our clients have big lists as well. And

Kevin: over a hundred thousand, yeah.

Over a hundred thousand.

Jason: One thing that, you know, I think it’s been, it’s been perpetrated, that’s the right word, portrayed it perpetrated by like these, these quote unquote gurus that, you know, grow your list as big as you can get it, grow. It, it like as many people on your list, do whatever you have to do to get people on your list.

And you know, I, I did believe that for a while. And then, and then about, I don’t know, seven years ago I had a baking blog. That had like I owned a baking blog that had, I dunno, 127,000 people on the email list. And I started realizing that like the size of the list really isn’t what’s important, right?

Like you can [00:04:00] have 127,000 people on your list, but if only 3000 of them are responding to your emails or opening your emails or clicking your emails, then effectively you have a 3000. Subscriber list. Right? Right. Exactly. You know what I mean? And it, and what you were alluding to, to alluding to was that like people fall in love with the number they fall in love with how many people on the list, but what we’re learning and we found is that really your number one goal of people on your email list should be to try and turn them into.

Right because buyers tend to interact a lot better.

Kevin: And, and, and, and speaking of the cost of the list and Trinity and I were looking at this yesterday, when we were talking about the journal and and the way Klayvio structures, their payment plans is like, they give you, you know, a certain amount of emails on your.

I think you have a [00:05:00] cap, but then you also have a certain amount of emails you can send and a sending cap. So not only do you have to increase your costs, when you grow your list, you have to increase your cost. If you’re going to send more emails and we love to send emails, and as we’re looking at this, you know, we’re looking at the size of the list.

And we have, like Jason said, like 60, 70,000 people that we can send to including customers and non-customers, and. We have, we can send 1.1 million emails a month. And we had we were, our, our, our number was like 500 and something thousand that we’ve sent already in our billing period ends on the 28th. So it was the ninth, right. We’re recording this on the ninth just to get that context. Right. So we have about 15 ish, 16 ish days before we close. And we’ve already sent 500,000 emails out of the one point.

Kevin: Right. And when you look at the number, you’re like, okay, we have, we can send 600,000 more emails.

That seems like a good number. But when you break it down to the amount of [00:06:00] subscribers we have, and the amount of people we’re going to send, that’s only 10 emails over the next 15 days and 15, 20 days actually more like 19 days. And you’re like, wow. Like we, like, we like to send an email every day almost.

So we’re like, wow, we’re going to where that’s going to catch up on us really quick. Even though that’s a big number.

Jason: Well also, you know, don’t forget. Yeah. You’re sending the different segments, so you can send multiple emails a day too. So it’s not

Kevin: just, you know, right. And I think that’s why I think that’s kinda why Klaviyo’s sets it up like that because they want you to have the engage.

They want you to see that cap and they want you to kind of do these kinds of things at some point to, to, you know, make sure your list is engaged and not just spamming emails all day long. Well, I mean,

Jason: the thing is. A clean list helps in a lot of different ways. It’s not just like one way,

Kevin: right? Like financially for sure.

Jason: Yeah. No, no. I’m saying like, like a clean list. Yeah. Right. A clean list, [00:07:00] you know, it helps open rates. It hope it helps click through rates. It helps not being looked at at these internet service providers as spam. I mean, there’s a lot of things that go into and you know, it’s funny because. We, we deal with a lot of clients who are so like, worried like, well, why am I going to delete these people?

Just because they didn’t buy, well, maybe they’ll buy in two years from now or three years from now. And you know, the truth of the matter is, is like most people don’t buy. It’s just a fact. So the ones that you do get by. Continue selling them things like we’ve gone through this with our, our wildlife photography business, right?

Like things started like teetering, teetering off a little bit with the magazine itself. And then we introduced another product and we virtually, or we literally sent out like launch emails to our buyers and then we sent them out to our non-buyers [00:08:00] and. I think we’ve Kevin and correct me if I’m wrong.

We probably made $2,000 from our non-subscribers and we’ve probably made a hundred plus thousand just from our buyers. Right. And it’s like, I don’t need a guru to tell me. How to do that math. Right? Like, I don’t need someone to tell me, oh, well, if you know over time, if you extrapolated over three years, like, okay, fine.

Okay. But how much money are you spending to keep those people on your list? And a lot of clients that we work with get like fall in love with these people who are not buying when really you should be falling in love with the people.

Kevin: Yeah, I think the whole rule should go, not just with people who aren’t clicking or opening your emails.

I think it goes for your customers too, because your goal is to, like you said, get your customers to keep buying and buying and buying and you know, some customers just buy once and then that’s it. [00:09:00] They fall out of love with your product. They’re not really interested in your other products, so they become unengaged as well.

So I don’t think, I don’t see there’s anything wrong with, you know, sunsetting, some of these customers as well after a certain time,

Jason: I would probably be a little bit slower to do that personally, because if they purchase the lawns, it could be, they’re just going through some, like a tough time. Whereas like people who haven’t like I, for me, I think.

You know, cleaning out people who haven’t opened up an email in a year, get rid of them. Like, I don’t even think, like, I know we’re doing this campaign for one of our clients. We have like this sunset campaign, which for me personally, like I’d said one year. Like if they haven’t opened it in a year, I’ll send them one more email and I get rid of them because all they’re doing is costing me money.

That’s it, they’re worthless. And I don’t mean worthless as people, but they’re worthless. They’re worthless to the business, you know what I mean? So, and you know, oftentimes those are people that are putting in spam, their own spam emails. So it’s not really even [00:10:00] going to their real email. So, you know, and again, that also hurts your numbers.

So you start sending emails to people who haven’t opened it in a year. No, there are red flags. And you said signals that get, get passed along to these internet service providers. And once they kind of labeled you as an unsafe sender, then all of your emails are going to start going into spam. So there is like you know, there’s a strong case for keeping your list clean.

And we haven’t, we, we are doing that now. But we had,

Kevin: we took a lot of pride in, in growing our lists that big and we kind of like, Hmm. I’m going to delete 20,000 people from my list. Cause I think that’s probably the number of people that we’re sending to that are completely unengaged. And like you said, is as soon as these like major providers, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, all these notice that you’re not opening in Gmail, especially because they have that promotions tab.

I don’t know if Yahoo has it, but they have that promotions tab where all these. You know, business emails go into, they’ll just [00:11:00] drop them into there eventually. And then eventually they won’t even go there they’ll go right to the spam because it just it’s like, it wants to be the best. Platform that it can be to provide you with the best service it can.

So it’s automatically going to be like, okay, you’re not open area’s best experience. Like they want you to stay on their platform. We use Gmail for our business because we’ve tried other ones and they just, the spam just gets nuts.

So they want to provide you with that service. So as soon as they see, you’re not opening, you’re not clicking.

They’re like, no, you’re not interested in this product anymore. You know, you don’t need to see it. So, and that’s gonna, like, that’s not only going to happen to that person. That doesn’t open. It’s going to start trickling down to your more engaged people, even like, it’s going to notice that, and then you have these other people that you’re sending to that may be engaged that may be interested, that Gmail is going to recognize and say, you know, there’s so many of these other people that are also getting your email that are just, you know, not interested so that it’s going to slowly trickle down.


Jason: So Kevin, why don’t we talk about some of [00:12:00] the strategies, strategies that we’re using to sunset these unengaged.

Kevin: Yeah, I th I think there’s two different, like we talked about those two different segments of people. There’s the customers that are unengaged and there’s just email subscribers who aren’t engaged.

And I think you, you do you do that kind of differently. And let me

Jason: just cut you off real quick. Cause I don’t, I don’t mean to, but you should also look at, you should also look at your business as a whole, like. The engagement could be reflect, you know, could be reflecting the fact that you only have one product.

Like one of our clients that we’re talking about, they have one product for the most part. So maybe a customer who buys their product, there’s nothing else to buy, so they are not opening up emails anymore. So, you know, you have to also take some of that into, into account too. Like for example, with With our wildlife photography business, right.

We’ve only had one product up [00:13:00] until recently. So if you’re a company who can introduce new products rapidly, then maybe this, the sunsetting of your email list. Isn’t I don’t want to say as important, but maybe you should think about it a little bit more because you know, we did sell a lot of this new product in our wildlife photography business.

We did sell a lot of it to people who. Didn’t buy something from us in the past, right? Like we’ve had people who just bought the course and they never bought the journal. Right. It’s still a smaller number. But the point I’m trying to make is that if you have one product, you should also think about that as well.

And maybe that’s why people aren’t opening. Now if you’re sending, and this is what I mean is like, if you’re sending blog emails to them and you’re sending value emails to them and they’re still not opening, okay. Now look, these people are probably never going to buy from me so we can talk. We can start doing what Kevin is about to explain, but I just wanted to say that, [00:14:00] like, you know, I don’t want to come on here and say like, there’s only one way to do this.

And there’s only little, this is the way to do it. Right. There are other things that you have to account for. And one of those things is do you, are you introducing new products often? And if you’re not, maybe that’s why people are unengaged. If you’re sending out

Jason: blog emails or value emails, and people are still not opening, okay, now you may be able to say these people aren’t going to be buyers.

Now, one other thing that I would say is like, I would download the people that you’re. And keep them somewhere. And then maybe like a year from now, you could try them again. Like you can start uploading them slowly if you want it to. But it still does, not, that does not mean that we don’t want to keep this list

Kevin: clean.

I don’t know. I mean, for, for the way Klayvio works, like you can just suppress people and they won’t, you know, they won’t go against your numbers. Right. You’re

Jason: [00:15:00] suppressed. Right. But if you suppress them and then. You w you can’t unsuppressed them.

Kevin: You can, they can resubscribe so they can, yeah. I guess you wouldn’t be able to re upload them manually.

They’d have to actually resubscribe to your list at some point before if they became a customer, they would resubscribe. So, yeah, that, that, that is I didn’t think about it that way. Sure. And to your point, Like customers, I would consider more of like, if you looked at them, your customers and you found a segment of people who haven’t opened in say six months or clicked in six months, like I would treat them more like I would send them offers like a few different offers, like a few different products, like in different categories.

See if you can get them engaged for some of the other things that you can offer, or maybe provide them a different offer that you’ve like maybe an exclusive offer. That’s only for them. And things like that to try to get them more back engaged. But after a while, if you can see that they’re still not clicking it, customers, if they’re not buying, they’re not [00:16:00] buying again, then I would put them, set them aside and be like, okay, maybe it’s time to bring them back six months from now.

Let’s try to reengage them another time at some point. But like I would stop sending them shit.

Jason: Yeah. I mean, you just don’t want, you don’t want, you know, your domain to be looked at as, you know, unfavorable, right?

Kevin: Guys, sorry. No, I was going to just going to get into like the subscribers, Dan gray, unengaged subscribers.

That’s a little bit of a different story. Cause you don’t want to, like, these are the people who haven’t bought from you. And I don’t think that just sending them products and sending them offers is the way to re-engage them necessarily right off the bat. I would suggest like a, you know, a nice plain text email that you could really personalize to them.

Well, that’s another thing.

Jason: Test test plain text emails to these people as well. So maybe send them like a graphical email and then send them a plain text email, because sometimes it’s the image in the email that gets caught up in spam and maybe so try different things. And I think these are some of the [00:17:00] strategies that you should talk about that word we’re doing, but that’s a good point is like try different forms of emails because it may just be you’re creative

Kevin: getting caught up, right? Yeah. Cause these service providers like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo, they, they recognize images. They recognize like even read anything in the email. Right. And just sees images. And if your subject line has been for the longest time, like these. By this

Jason: exactly save a thousand dollars, save a million dollars,

Kevin: you know, her capitals and exclamation points.

And all these things are like little spam signals that these providers get that will automatically trigger the spam filters and just throw them in. So it might not even be the fact that they’re not engaged. It’s just like the things that you’re doing and your subject lines, the type of emails you’re sending a plain text, email.

Is more likely to get passed because it seems like it’s more of a personalized approach. You can put you know, the person’s name in it. You can speak, you can make it feel like you’re engaging them directly. And [00:18:00] it’s more likely to catch someone’s attention ever.

Jason: Yeah.

And the other thing is that, you know, you should be sending your emails at all different times because we find that like, we can send an email on Friday morning or even Monday morning or Tuesday morning, and then send to the same people Wednesday morning. And for some reason on Wednesday, they bought, but on Tuesday they didn’t.

So maybe they were doing something. So don’t just delete people. If they haven’t opened, you know, in a period of time, if you’re not staggering emails sends, you know, cause I know some people like to do it at the same time. Every, you know, every time they send an email and most people are not sending them enough.

So, you know I would definitely make sure that you have staggered email sends because that will also affect who’s opening it. And when they’re opening it, I mean, a different person is sitting at their computer Saturday morning, [00:20:00] then the person at their computer. Right.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah. Right on. I mean, yeah. I would also like have them do something that’s not necessarily clicking through to your website to buy something, like ask them a question, try to get them to even respond to your email if they can, if you can get them to reply to an email, that’s all of a sudden going to trigger these providers to be like, okay, this person’s engaged with this.

I should put more priority on this.

Jason: Well, that’s a whole nother podcast talking about getting people like the importance of getting people to respond to your emails. That’s something that we get a lot of. We get a lot of people responding to our emails. So it’s, it helps. I mean, our, you know, our Klayvio account has regularly 40% plus open rates.

Yeah. You know, so you, a lot of that is because we ask questions and people respond to our emails. And so that’s another thing, you know, that’s a whole nother topic, but. You know, it would help in the beginning to get people to respond to emails, because then they are [00:21:00] looked at a little bit differently. So

Kevin: you can even tell him, you can even tell him and be like, Hey, listen, this is your last email from us. Like we noticed that you’re really not interested. Like we love having you here, but we’re just, we’re really not going to, you’re not going to hear from us again. And if you, if you want to click over here and you can be subscribed, but this is basically the last time we’re going to send.

I think that’s okay too.

Jason: Yeah. So what are you doing Kevin for our client right now? The sunset series or w what, what are the kinds of

Kevin: things you do? No, it’s funny. We, we it took a little bit to get the right segment for us because. When you, when I, when I thought about it, it’s like, you want to take, we could just easily take a segment of people who haven’t opened in six months, let’s say, but then when you think about it, you’re like, well, maybe this person just joined our list like the other day and just hasn’t had a chance to, or even within the last 30 days.

And haven’t had had it has an open anything yet

Jason: saying, you’re saying if you said, if you, because I just want to clarify in Klaviyo, you’re making a sale. A segment and that you’re saying, [00:22:00] okay, anybody who hasn’t opened up an email in six months put them in a segment. But what you’re saying right now is like, that would also include people who just subscribed like two days ago.

Right. And they’ll be in that list of people. So you may want to put like a condition on there that says and has. So anybody who hasn’t opened up an email in the last six months, but they’ve subscribed before six

Kevin: month period. Yeah. That was a little tricky to find, figure out exactly how to, how to pick that up, pick those people up.

And what I did was I actually did a first active prior to 2021 and received 20 plus emails, but has not opened. After 2021. So they were, they were on our list. They joined our list previous to 2021, and they basically have not opened any email in the entire year, which is [00:23:00] like now eight months or nine months.

And then also this, this specific list was people who haven’t purchased. So it came out to like seven, 8,000 people. So that was a little bit of it. Cause when he did, when I did open it, hasn’t opened in the last six months and I just left it at that. The number was massive, but we also just ran a huge email capture campaign, a giveaway campaign, which acquired like seven, 8,000 people.

So I’m like, wait, I don’t want to. I don’t want to affect those people. I don’t want to drop those people off. They peep those people might just be coming acclimated to our emails and things like that. So I don’t want to like, get rid of them yet. And you just have done

Jason: somebody who hasn’t opened up an email since January 1st, 2021. And they’ve subscribed before that. Right. Like, because that’s all you really had to do. And they just had to subscribe before the 1st of January and they haven’t opened up an email from them. [00:24:00]

Kevin: There’s a reason why I didn’t do that. And I can’t tell you what it is right now. I don’t know, really know why, but Kim and I, like we went back and forth.

We were on the phone for like an hour and a half, just tweaking it a little bit here or there. And it was just like, we were, we were trying to get the number to a decent sized number. And we finally ended up on this kind of segment. So what we did was we basically sent them, we sent them an offer, which.

It’s not really what we recommended for the, for the non-customers. Maybe it would have been better to create like a more engaging kind of letter to them. First, what we did was we sent them an offer. We created a an exclusive product that’s not available to anybody else. And we said that we made, we made, it, made it, made it very, like we didn’t even put the product in the email.

We made it. Curiosity-driven we just said in the email exclusive offer, open up to see. So we kind of like had that call to action. Like they had to open up to see it and you know, it’s, we’re not seeing any numbers that are any different, like, so to your [00:25:00] point is like, if they haven’t opened in six months, just get rid of them.

Like, not even don’t even send them anything because they’re not going to change. And the, and the providers aren’t going to change. So it’s not like you’re going to all of a sudden sneak. No. And they’re

Jason: likely they set up a spam folder email, or like, I dunno, man. Like for me, like sometimes when I see an email from a company, like I’m too lazy to unsubscribe, I just delete the email.

So like every time it comes to just delete it and it comes all the time, I delete it. I like Russell Brunson. I’m on his email list, like three or four, my, my emails. And I delete them. And I don’t know why don’t, I just don’t subscribe. So, you know, there’s some of that too, but yeah, I mean, don’t be afraid.

I mean, the moral of this story is like, Don’t like, don’t be afraid to get rid of people. Like don’t fall in love with the size of the list. I know in our, in our, our society size means a lot, but in this case,

You know, honestly it actually hurts you more than it helps you because if they’re not buying, you know, like people like, well, you know, what about like [00:26:00] branding purposes?

And like, nah, nah, like that’s not really what emails doing. Like email is like really? It’s just like a sales channel.

Kevin: You know, and then, and then just to, just to finish up what we were saying about this flow that we’re doing, it’s like we have these, this exclusive offer. And then, like I said, we just sent him a final letter.

We said, I think the subject was like, sorry to see you go. And then it was just like a nice personalized note to these people that said, this is the last email you’re going to get from us. It just seems like you’re really not that interested. I mean, we said it nicely, it wasn’t like, you’re not interested to get the F out.

We said it really nicely, obviously. And then we were like, we’re here if we need, if you need it. We’re always available and click this link. If you’d like to resubscribe and we put a link on the bottom and then they can take some to a landing page on the website that has just an opt-in form that they can resubscribe.

And those people can come right back on. And then at the end of the flow, we just mark them as people who are going to be suppressed. And that’s basically it. Yeah. So we’ll see. I mean,

Jason: really [00:27:00] like in that, in that case, there’s no right or wrong. It’s just like, try to get them re re-engaged and if you can’t then get rid of them.

Yeah. I know that this might sound like crazy to some people, but I see. No, I see nothing there there’s no benefit to having a huge list of, you know, unengaged people. I, there there’s no, I can’t, I can’t think of any. Any reason.

Kevin: I mean, if you think about your own behavior, like you just said, like, for me, I’m the same way.

I’m like, I always say to myself, I’m like, I come into my, I sit down on my computer and I have a hundred emails every morning and I’m like, dude, I’m just going to go through and unsubscribe. And instead of doing that, I just like shift, select. 150 emails at a time and like to go through every once in a while, I’ll say, I’ll take a minute and all of a sudden subscribe, but like, I just don’t do it.

Yeah. Just think about your own behavior. That’s what everybody else is doing the same exact thing. Right. So clean that list, keep your [00:28:00] reputation, clean your list, keep your reputation high. Especially with these email providers. It’s really important to keep those open rates and those click-through rates high.

Jason: Yeah. I mean, and, and especially. Like machine learning is happening. Like, you know, it’s really easy that easy for them to figure out who, who has emails that people want and who has people who have emails that people don’t want. So. Totally.

Kevin: All right, guys, thank you so much for listening as always, you can check us out at e-commerce and we’ll talk to you guys real soon.

Jason: Later.

Don’t forget to please leave a comment below or review us on iTunes or Stitcher.

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The post EU229: Should You Delete Unengaged Email Subscribers? appeared first on eCommerce Uncensored.

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