The “Delete” button is quite possibly every email marketer’s worst fear. Nestled right next to the equally dreaded “Spam” button at the top of every customer’s inbox, this button takes away any chance of engagement or conversion. It’s true, every business must learn to cope with the fluidity of subscriber lists, but remaining idle may actually be costing you. Like everything in life, your email list needs some occasional maintenance. See it as a form of self-care for your business—a way of keeping it in shape.

Email lists aren’t just about growth – we take a chance on each subscriber we choose to send our carefully crafted emails to and keep our risks as calculated as possible.

Why trim when you can grow?

Trimming your list will actually lead to growth
Most inbox services have become more sophisticated and can track email recipients’ engagement with a certain sender’s emails. If your emails are increasingly being dumped into the dreaded “Trash,” your emails run the risk of going straight to Spam.

Taking chances costs money
Keeping your email list weighed down by unengaged, uninterested subscribers ends up costing you more. Most email service providers charge per subscriber, so keep the feeling mutual and cut ‘em loose.

The devil is in the data
Don’t let uninterested subscribers skew the numbers of your valuable marketing data. By keeping them in the mix, it’s harder to tell what’s working in your emails and what’s not. Data is valuable. Don’t let it go to waste.

Okay, I’ve got the scissors. Where do I cut?

1. Sift and scan
Before you take the plunge and start hacking away at your list, take a careful look through your list. Keep an eye out for typos or any addresses with missing or incorrect punctuation. Without the right spelling and punctuation, an email address is basically useless.

2. Cut the fat
Plop your list into a spreadsheet and eliminate duplicates. Easy.

3. Keep them separated
Work through your list to find which subscribers are “active” and which are “inactive.” The general rule of thumb for this is that a subscriber is “inactive” if they haven’t engaged with your emails in 90 days. This time frame can be adjusted to your needs. When labeling subscribers as “inactive,” it’s a good idea to keep in mind purchases that were made outside of the emails. It’s good to keep those folks around.

4. Segment
Segmented lists are a fantastic tool for trying new things and keeping your data controlled. Keep your “active” and “inactive” lists separate to ensure you didn’t do all that work for naught.

5. Test and let the inactives rest
Start sending your emails to only your “active” subscribers and see what happens.

6. Decisions, decisions
As for those pesky inactive subscribers, you have a few options:
-Keep them in a list for future testing purposes.
-Slowly send them emails and hope they wake up on their own. Maybe all they needed was a little space.
-The feeling’s mutual: “Delete.”

7. Rinse and repeat
While there’s no rule of thumb for how often you should trim your email list, find out what works for you. Once you settle on a length of time, commit to a schedule and stick to it.