Why I Deleted Thousands of Email Subscribers

I just deleted a little over 8,000 subscribers to just one of my email lists.


Because according to my Aweber stats, they hadn’t opened up an email from me in the last two years.

deleteTo me, it became pointless to have these subscribers on my list if they were not opening my emails anymore.

I have a aggressive goal of trying to get a 20% open rate on the emails I send out and if I can’t hit that number, I start looking to clean up that list by removing dead emails.

In fact, I am getting ready to delete another 5,000 subscribers who have not opened up an email from for a long time.

I don’t need to rub my ego by having a massive email list because it is pointless if people are not reading my emails.

There are generally three (3) key metrics that impact your email marketing campaigns.

1. The “From” field
2. The “Subject Line”
3. The “Body” copy

The name in the “from” field will dictate whether a reader will see your email of value or importance.

The “subject line” will dictate your open rate.

The “body” copy will dictate whether the reader clicks through any links in your email.

If certain readers are not opening my emails over a two year period, there can only be two reasons.

1. My emails are going to their junk/spam folder and they are never seeing it.

2. As soon as they see my name in the from field, this disengage because I have lost that relationship.

The reality is, if you build email lists for marketing purposes, a subscriber (lead) has a certain life span.

It is “dog eat dog world” and with people suffering from information overload every single day, it is tough to stay on everyone’s radar.

I made a last ditch effort by emailing these subscribers and asking them to resubscribe.

The results from those 8,000+ emails sent:

64 opens
12 clicks
3 resubscribes

Enough said.

This validated my conclusion that this part of this list was indeed “dead.”

Not only will this increase the open rate on this list (which I am certain that sophisticated email providers like Gmail monitor), it will save me money at Aweber.

In fact, I will now make it a priority to clean up each of my lists at the beginning of each new year.

How often do you clean up your email lists?

Comment below.


  1. You are your own boss and I appreciate the chance to sway your thinking. Its only in the last year I have focused on the internet again after an absence of 3 years while I pursued ineffective paths. Well I’m back and I value the lifetime deal I originally signed up to. I also value your words Gauher as a trusted authority along with Eben P, Ryan D, and Jeff W.
    If there are some like me who would not have opened your emails for possibly years it just may not be the right time for them but instead of deleting them perhaps they could go into an archive thats resurrected every year or so to see if they are ready. Anyway.
    live happy 🙂

  2. Hello Gauher,

    You are right on the point of deleting those who are not looking into your emails. I would do it anyway. However, sometimes people have problems with their banks; therefore, stopping them from doing one single transaction of business on online. ( I am included in this category, but I believe still that I should hold onto your emails and your advices because a lot of good encouragement and tips are in them.

    Thank you, and I am very impressed by your zeal and patience.

  3. darrell

    Gauher, I also use email clients that do not display graphics. The stats are not accurate in this regard. I do open most of your emails and have purchased most of your products. Don’t delete me from your email lists just because aweber says I don’t open your emails… They lie!!! I do open them. I think I would be a bit cautious about deleting older contacts based on stats alone. My two cents…

  4. Hi Gauher, cool post! At the face of it, it looks like you got big balls to delete that many subscribers, lol. But it actually makes perfect sense, why would keep them and pay for them if they don’t even read your emails or even care about the value you bring to the table.

    I like that you got them to resubscribe to confirm maybe what you already knew, that’s smart. Thanks for breaking down the metrics too, will really help me.

  5. I’ve purged my list that way a few times myself. Thanks for sharing your perspective. The only caveat to that is, as I’m sure you know, the AW open stats are not really accurate – if fact they may be off by quite a lot. They count ‘opens’ based on an image pixel firing when someone opens the email but due to all the different browsers out there and individual settings it’s really difficult to say with any confidence how many really opened and how many don’t. The better stats you mentioned are the clicks and resubscribes. Resubscribing to a list is notoriously very poor for most marketers. But before I delete emails I test the list like giving away something for free and see how many clicked and downloaded the free gift. Those emails I would keep in a separate list because they are still active. You are 100% correct though in the fact that they are ‘leads’ and they do a limited life span. People change their minds about what they are interested in and move on to other things faster than, as marketers, we would like.

  6. javed akhter

    AOA MR.GAUHER CHAUDHRY You are right if someone not opens your best emails,he must be deleted.While you are doing useful job.May Allah help you. Javed Akhter

  7. steve

    i think i agree with on this score.its insane to be doing something and not getting the intended result,keep it up cheers

  8. Nishal S.

    Good ways to help keep costs down especially if it’s non-responsive data – which could’ve been subscribed to list for various reasons, or emails are now going to dormant or inactive email account.

    I haven’t purged too many subscribers, though I have a smaller 8k name list. I do send email promotions to the list and then the best performing campaigns go to the non-openers of those same campaigns and recently entire database of non-openers to revive contacts.

    I can then create a new segment of active openers/clickers who are from the ‘revive’ campaigns and start sending them offers.

    I think I go through my lists monthly and resend prior high performing offers back to the non-openers for list revival. I’ve also been testing sending on different days and times than normal and that has helped with response.

    There are services you can use to ‘clean’ your email data, which will check and update bad emails, remove spam or inactive accounts which all help increase delivery and response of your list.

    I’ve also seen importing into a new system that may not double opt-in (icontact, get response) and sending to the non-openers gets good feedback. Possibly because of using new IPs and other factors of being on a ‘different’ ISP system than what has been in place for some time.

    One year seems too long to clean up or revive a list.. Monthly and quarterly are what I do, but I use email more as a marketing channel than other methods.

  9. Al

    Hmm I would love to do this, I am on an old aweber account and they don’t tell me whom opens.

    Going from $79 a month to $400 is it worth it you think to get this info ?

  10. SA

    I wouldn’t have deleted them until setting up a retargeting campaignto see if you could have reactivated some of those folks. Did you think about that?

  11. Firas Kadhum

    @Lex, I use “eM Client” for Windows (I can manage multiple accounts from one interface); however, this is pretty much standard default behavior of most email clients (not downloading pics, unless you click on button that says download images).

  12. Not only is it a GREAT idea to routinely clean up and get rid of the “dead wood”/tire-kicking” subscribers, deleting (actually removing them from your account) can save one a TON of money, as your monthly costs are calculated based on the number of people on one’s lists.

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