Email marketing best practices often include cleaning up your lists, but a lot of advice about list clean up focuses on removing emails that have bounced or unsubscribed. What about your inactive email addresses? These may be customers who once clicked on everything in your emails, but now don't even open them. Or they may have always been a passive recipient. Either way, inactive subscribers who don't interact with your emails can impact your ROI.

Many organizations have had success sending out a "break up" email to see which inactive subscribers are still interested in receiving their emails. If they are interested, they will confirm their preferences. If they are no longer interested, they can be removed from marketing lists.

But first, how do you identify these inactive subscribers? You can do this by creating a marketing list of leads or contacts that have not clicked or opened your emails in some time.

If you have a specific mailing list you would like to clean up, you could simply copy that list and then remove members. If you want to clean up your entire database, you could create a new marketing list containing all of your active leads or contacts. In my example below, I searched for all contacts where the status equals active.

Then you will want to click on Manage Members and select the option to "Remove using Advanced Find."

You will then want to remove any contact that has clicked or opened an email in the timeframe you are looking for. In this example, anyone who had clicked or opened an email in the last six months was removed.

Once you click Find and then choose to remove every result returned by the query, you are left with a marketing list of only inactive subscribers.

Now you are ready to send your break up email. But what should it contain? While one of the goals of the email is to remove anyone from your lists who no longer wants to receive your emails, you also want to incentivize them to stay in touch with you. The email should serve as a reminder that they need to get reacquainted with your brand.

Below is an example email from our fictional company, Tomato Gardens, that we can send to our inactive subscribers.

We want to reward anyone who would like to keep receiving our emails, but to access the coupon, they will first be taken to a subscription page to confirm their preferences. Upon submission, they will be redirected to a landing page that contains the coupon.

The people who click on the unsubscribe link will be globally unsubscribed so they will be excluded from all future emails and will not affect our email statistics. Now we can accurately gauge our message performance since we will only be sending emails to active subscribers.

Written by Julie Patrick, ClickDimensions Marketing Success Manager