• Posted in email
  • By Galen O'Hanlon
  • 1st October 2014

Why you should clean up your old email list

It's no good having heaps of subscribers if lots of them don't want to hear from you any more.
Here's why your email newsletter list needs attention. 

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We had high hopes for the Blackad email newsletter when we asked people to sign up two years ago. Then we got snowed with client work and the ‘send regular email updates’ entry on our to-do list dropped to the bottom and gradually fossilised. We wanted to start sending emails again, but we hate spam as much as you do. So we needed to be careful.


We took advice from this Mailchimp article on how to reconfirm a list. The nub? Permission goes stale after six months. So if you asked your customers to sign up to an email newsletter a while ago and haven’t contacted them since, make sure they still want to hear from you.

Sure, this process is going to deplete the numbers on your list, but it will also increase the list’s value. You’ll be sending emails to eager and friendly readers, rather than adding to the daily delete-delete-delete routine of their morning tour of the inbox. Cleansing your list also shows that you care about your readers as readers, rather than numbers in a stats dashboard. Last of all, it helps to stop your emails from getting marked as spam – too many spam reports, and you're in trouble,

So what about the clean-up process? We followed Mailchimp’s guidance on this one, but we cut out a few steps that didn’t apply to our case. Here’s how we did it:

The process

  • Step 1: We exported our old subscriber list from Mailchimp as a .csv file.
  • Step 2: We drafted a reconfirmation email, asking people to click on an opt in link if they still wanted emails from us. The link takes to them to a simple signup form for a new 'reconfirmation' list. This allowed us to ditch the stale list entirely.
  • Step 3: We sent the reconfirm email from Outlook, not Mailchimp. Why? Simplifying things a little, if you send this email from your email newsletter platform, it could contribute to you being blacklisted. No messing about, folks.
  • Step 4: We waited for the 'reconfirmation' list to fill up. After two days, we were all set.
  • Step 5: We started sending email newsletters again. Bosh!

What else did we do?

We wanted to invite contacts from our own address books too. So we sent them a one-off email asking them if they'd like to sign up for the newsletter – lots did. We also cross-checked this list against our exported list (Step 1) to remove any duplicates.

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