March 3, 2022  

When you spring clean your ConvertKit email list you prepare for new growth.

We are less than 3 weeks away from spring equinox – the first day of spring – here in the Northern Hemisphere. I have learnt not to get too excited about warmer days here in southern Alberta until closer to the end of May because we can still get plenty of spring snowstorms. However, the spring equinox does bring an element of hope and excitement as we look forward to new growth.

Yet, just like gardeners, we have to prepare for new growth in our businesses—including our email lists.

In my last blog post, we talked about the importance of completing a spring clean of your email list to remove those unengaged or cold subscribers. If you missed it, you can read the article here.

To recap, the 5 benefits to cleaning up your email list are:

  1. It improves your numbers.
  2. It increases engagement.
  3. It improves your sender reputation.
  4. It increases deliverability.
  5. It lowers the cost of your email marketing system.

I promised to walk you through the process of cleaning your email list in a way that gives your subscribers a second chance to stay on your list—and that is exactly what we are going to do today!

Please note that the examples shown below are from ConvertKit. However, the steps can be applied to any email marketing system you use. The specific terminology may differ but the steps themselves will be the same.

As I mentioned in my last email, before we go ahead and delete the unengaged subscribers, we need to give these people an opportunity to re-engage. Not only to give people a second chance but also because your email marketing system may not be registering every subscriber that opens your emails. (If they have disengaged the pixel tracking that your email marketing system uses for tracking these stats.)


Quick Note –> I recommend that you clean your ConvertKit email list only if you are consistently communicating with your list and you have sent at least 5 emails within the last 90 days. If it has been a long time since you’ve sent an email to your list, you need to get back into a consistent routine to re-engage and re-establish those relationships first.


The 5-step process for cleaning up your email list

Clean up your ConvertKit email list with this 5-Step process:

1. Create a tag for your cold subscribers.

Before you make any changes, you will want to identify your cold subscribers and create a tag “Cold Subscriber” to apply to them.

–> If you are using ConvertKit, you can quickly view the cold subscribers as they are automatically categorized based on their most recent activity. ConvertKit defines a cold subscriber as:

  • One who has been active for more than 90 days and hasn’t opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days, or
  • One who has been active for fewer than 90 days and hasn’t opened or clicked an email in the last 30 days.

Convert kit email cold subscribers

–> If the email marketing system you use does not automatically categorize your cold subscribers, you will need to create a segment with the relevant criteria. This will enable you to identify those who have not opened or clicked on an email in the last 90 days, or have not opened or clicked on any of the last 5 emails, (or your preferred criteria).

2. Set up a link trigger automation.

In step 3, you are going to write some re-engagement emails that give your subscribers a choice to:

  1. Stay on your email list, or
  2. Unsubscribe from your email list.

Therefore, we need to set up a link trigger automation, which just means that when someone clicks on a link within your email, it will trigger an action to happen automatically.

So, in this case, we want to set up a link trigger for people who want to stay on your email list. In order to create the link trigger, we need to have a URL that they can click on. I recommend creating a simple standalone page, similar to a thank you page that you are sending people to when they opt-in for a free offer. Make sure that the copy on this page shows excitement that they have decided to stay on your list!

Once you have this confirmation page set up, you can create the link trigger with the action of adding a new tag “Warmed Subscriber” and removing the previous tag “Cold Subscriber”.

In ConvertKit, you will do this in the Rules section under Automate. Create a new rule; select the trigger: Clicks a link. Name the trigger and add the actions, then choose Save Rule. It should look similar to this example below:

convertkit email list rules section under automate

3. Write your re-engagement emails.

Now it is time to write those 3 re-engagement emails. The purpose of these emails is to give your cold subscribers a chance to re-engage with you and make the choice to stay on your list.

You want to make sure that both the subject line and email copy is very clear on what action your subscriber needs to take – where they need to click if they want to stay or if they want to unsubscribe from your list.

As you will be sending up to 3 re-engagement emails, it is also important to reference these other emails. You don’t want someone to mark your email as spam because they keep receiving these emails when they don’t understand that they can simply “click here to unsubscribe” and not receive any other emails from you.

To add in that link trigger from step 2, highlight the words that you want to hyperlink, select the link icon 🔗, click on Link Triggers and find the correct link trigger from the drop-down menu. Once selected, click Add Link. Remember, this link trigger is for staying on your list.

convertkit link triggers

You can also add an unsubscribe link directly within your email, in most email marketing systems, using the system’s unsubscribe url. For ConvertKit, this will look like: { { unsubscribe_url } } (without the space between the brackets).

The schedule of these emails should be based on the frequency of your regular newsletter-type emails. So, if you are sending out a weekly newsletter then you will want to space these emails out every 5-7 days. If you send out a newsletter once a month, you will want to send these emails out every couple of weeks instead. Remember to exclude the “Cold Subscriber” tag from any regular newsletters that may be sent during this time so that they don’t feel bombarded with emails.

4. Delete any remaining cold subscribers.

You have prepped and sent out the re-engagement emails. It is now time to take action and delete those that are still tagged as “Cold Subscribers”. I completely understand your hesitation. But remember, these people have not opened or clicked on any emails for 90 days = 3 months, and they have not responded to your re-engagement emails. Do you really want to keep them on your list if they clearly are not interested in engaging with you?

To give you more peace of mind, before you delete anybody it is recommended to go through the list of “Cold Subscribers” and spot check a few subscribers randomly to make sure that they haven’t opened or clicked on any of your emails in the last 90 days. Double check their email history, and if you are finding subscribers who have opened or clicked on recent emails, you will want to figure out why they are still tagged as a “Cold Subscriber” before you proceed.

Once you have completed your spot check, export and save a copy of this list of “Cold Subscribers” so that you have a backup copy of these email addresses. Because once they are deleted from your email marketing system you no longer have any record of that subscriber. To export, select all of the cold subscribers > select Bulk Action, and then Export.

Once you have the exported file in your inbox, you can go ahead and delete these subscribers. Following the same steps above, you will select Delete instead of Export.

convertkit bulk actions

Now you can breathe again. Remind yourself of the 5 benefits of cleaning up your email list if you need to. 😀 You are better off without these people who are not interested in your business. You don’t need them!

5. Get your pricing plan reduced, if applicable.

Most email marketing systems do not automatically downgrade your plan, so if by deleting these cold subscribers you drop down to a lower tier you will want to contact the support team right away. Save on your next month’s invoice!

There you have it – the 5 step process to clean your ConvertKit email list:

  1. Create a tag for your cold subscribers.
  2. Set up a link trigger automation.
  3. Write your re-engagement emails.
  4. Delete any remaining cold subscribers.
  5. Get your pricing plan reduced, if applicable.

To keep your list fresh and engaged, it can be beneficial to make this an annual task for your business … why not add this as a task reminder every spring to give your list a little spring cleanup? Or, or book a quick teatime chat with Natashia to learn how we can do it for you.

About the author 

Natashia Tiel

Empowering Coaches & Course Creators with All-in-One Digital Marketing & Kajabi support to propel their business to new heights. Our mission is help you stand out online, build authentic connections and create a lasting impact in this world – without the marketing or tech overwhelm.

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