How to Handle Inactive Email Subscribers – Weekly Loop #21


Weekly Loop #21

How to Handle Inactive Email Subscribers


“You have 14,000 subscribers that have never opened an email and have been on your list for over 2 years?”

“Well I didn’t want to just stop sending to them. Maybe they’ll open one someday.”

“Well they’re costing you an extra $100 per month.”

“But it doesn’t cost any extra to send to them…”

It’s amazing the rationale some businesses use for not removing customers from their email list. Above is an exchange I recently had with the owner of a yoga business who was looking for help improving their email marketing.

This isn’t meant to pick on that business. I’ve come across similar situations with businesses many times before. It’s such a little thing but is so frustrating to hear small businesses spend money to keep inactive subscribers when it could be spent it numerous more productive ways to grow the business.

In the scenario of the yoga products company, with an AOV of $33 and a profit margin of 60%, making those inactive Mailchimp subscribers profitable would mean not only changing their behavior of not opening 50+ consecutive emails, but then also converting at least 3 of them into customers just to break even. It could happen, but it’s certainly not a bet I would take.

Perhaps the problem comes from so much focus on building email lists. I’ve written about the importance of collecting emails in order to build direct connections with your audience and many studies point to email marketing as the lowest cost form of marketing. In turn, businesses tout the size of their email list and point to the growth as a sign of success. With that mindset, it’s tough to simply remove subscribers at will when so much “progress” relies on that number.

Rather than looking at it as a negative, focus on how removing inactive subscribers will improve open and click rates. And with less dead weight, your data will actually become more valuable as it’s not watered down by those that never open.

Removing subscribers doesn’t need to come as a surprise to them. Set criteria carefully, then setup a short campaign to reengage them at the right time. If they don’t respond, be explicit about your plans to remove them. If they open/click any of the emails, they’ll automatically be kept on your list. And if they don’t, it’s time to say goodbye and move on.

There’s no sense keeping subscribers who never open your emails. They cost money and water down your email stats. Use a re-engagement try entice them to say, then move on. Need help setting it up? Get in touch


Recommended Links


Each week, we share articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, books and more related to ecommerce. 

Have a suggestion of something to include? Leave a comment below or contact us!



Looking to add subscription revenue to your business? Check out this ecommercefuel podcast with LemonStand’s Ross Paul

How to Succeed at the Subscription Revenue Model
Andrew Youderian | eCommerceFuel

We dive right in to talk about which businesses can benefit from this model, billing issues people run into, and how to make sure you retain as many customers as possible. Tune in to hear it all now!
You’ll learn:

Which business categories are well suited for the subscription model
Who typically signs up for subscription services
The biggest drivers of churn and how to combat them1


Here’s a new option businesses looking to raise capital. Clearbank takes a portion of sales, simlar to PayPal’s loan options.

Clearbanc raises $70M to give startups ad money for a rev share
Josh Constine | eCommerce – TechCrunch

For fast-growing businesses reliably earning sales from their marketing spend, Clearbanc offers funding from $5,000 to $10 million in exchange for a steady revenue share of their earnings until it’s paid back plus a 6 percent fee. Clearbanc picks what merchants qualify by developing tech that scans their Stripe, Facebook ads, and other accounts to assess financial health and momentum. It’s already doled out $100 million this year.2



An inside look at Printful, one of the largest print-on-demand services, and their rise from a small design biz to a 500+ person startup

Behind The Scenes: What It’s Really Like To Work For Latvia’s Fastest-Growing Startup
October 12, 2018 | ArcticStartup

Printful started out as a small business designing and printing inspiring quotes. Since the company’s launch in 2012, Printful has transformed into a global drop-shipping and print-on-demand service with a 500+ person team across the USA and Europe.
Printful has also created the appearance of an enticing and contemporary work environment, but you know what they say – don’t judge a book by its cover. So I decided that in order to understand what it’s really like to work at Printful, I would spend one day in their office in Riga.3



Cryptokitties on t-shirts. File can be provably scarce, but can’t shirts be reproduced with a copied image? Problem?

The Dawning of the Age of Crypto Collectibles…and the T-shirt to Prove it
Jeremy Epstein | Never Stop Marketing…

Cryptocollectibles like this cat are mostly just presented as pixels — i.e the artwork — right now. The image itself could easily be copied — i.e screenshot — but the rights to that cat via my private key are what make it so unique.

As the owner, only I can use it in apps like CryptoGoods Swag, as collateral in debt agreements, list it for sale on a marketplace like Rare Bits, etc.

I think this is what a lot of folks have trouble grasping today.4


Here’s one company’s attempt at using autmented reality in a marketing promotion. What do you think?

Sneaker marketplace GOAT announces an AR-centric Black Friday giveaway
Anthony Ha | eCommerce – TechCrunch

All participants will receive 100 tickets, but you can earn bonus tickets by visiting locations on an interactive GOAT map, which will highlight spots around the world that are tied to all-time great athletes and to sneaker history. Those locations really are global, and they include “Sneaker Street” in Hong Kong, San Francisco’s Moscone Center (where the iPhone debuted) and the location of Muhammad Ali’s historic victory over George Foreman in the Democratic Republic of Congo.5



Get inspiration for your ecommerce shop from this list of 50 great Shopify stores.

50 Successful Shopify Stores & What You Can Learn from Them
A Better Lemonade Stand | A Better Lemonade Stand

The definition of success is quite subjective, but from our point of view, we determine successful ecommerce businesses as ones where the founder, co-founders, or teams are hustling hard to make their dream work, and working at their store day after day to create and sell the best products they possibly can. Sure, some of the stores you’ll see on here are big-name brands that are raking in huge amounts of sales and revenue year after year, but that’s not all that matters. Other successful Shopify stores on this list started from the ground up and their founders worked hard to get them to where they are today.6



Anytime you think Amazon’s numbers are mind-boggling, remember that Alibaba dwarfs them. Here’s the latest example.

Alibaba sets new Singles’ Day record with $31B in sales, but growth is slowing
Rita Liao | eCommerce – TechCrunch

Alibaba scored another blockbuster Singles’ Day after customers around the world shopped in stores and online on the tenth edition of its November 11 shopping festival. That puts this year’s gross merchandise volume – a measure for the dollar value of total transactions – at a staggering $30.8 billion, although the company recorded its lowest-ever annual growth rate for the event.7


Wil Facebook’s marketplace ever prove a real ecommerce powerhouse and competitor to established marketplaces?

Facebook’s E-Commerce Dream
Marketplace Pulse | Marketplace Pulse

But it all feels clumsy and unpolished. The browsing experience on Facebook Marketplace is limited to search, and there is no curation or reliable recommendations. On the website version at, for example, the only filter available is price range, otherwise leaving all the marketplace items to be browsed as an endless list. The core functionality of performing a transaction is there, but not much else.8


Another take on the problems with shopping on Amazon, which we’ve highlighted in recnet posts.

My Problem with Amazon
Frictionless Commerce | Conversion Ideas

But Amazon isn’t perfect. There are too many vendors listing the same product on its platform, which creates a poor buyer experience.





Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.