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You built up your list of subscribers. Now it’s time to remove a bunch of them.

Cleaning your email list can improve three key metrics: deliverability, open rates and click rates. The better these metrics, the more successful your email marketing campaign will be.

That’s because a smaller list of engaged subscribers — people who actively read and interact with your content and brand — are more valuable than a larger list of subscribers who never open your content.

In fact, lists with numerous inactive email addresses typically have higher rates of bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribes than ones that don’t.

Plus, when you continue to send emails to people who don’t open them, internet service providers — like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo — penalize you. Do this often enough, and your emails may end up in their spam folder, which decreases deliverability to people who actually want to read your content.

So how often should you clean your email list? It’ll vary from list to list, but a good rule of thumb is every six months — and definitely not longer than a year.

But wait! Before you delete, do this . . .

Try a re-engagement campaign to win back inactive subscribers before you clean your email list. It’s a lot less work to reach out to a current subscriber than it is to add a new one. Fourteen percent of subscribers who receive win-back emails open them, according to a survey conducted by ReturnPath, an email deliverability company. That number jumps up to 45 percent for subsequent messages.

(Check out examples of successful re-engagement campaigns here.)

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The great news: AWeber just launched an Open Automations tool. You can tag subscribers who don’t open your messages, and then automatically trigger a re-engagement campaign.

Get a full rundown on how to use Open Automations in this video from AWeber’s Product Marketing Manager, Tom Tate:

How to clean your email list

If your inactive subscribers still aren’t biting after a re-engagement campaign, it’s time to say goodbye. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to delete inactive subscribers for all AWeber customers.

(Not an AWeber customer yet? Create your FREE account today!)

1. Hover over the Subscribers tab and click Manage Subscribers.
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2. Click the Select Field drop-down menu.
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3. Click No Opens from the select field options.
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4. Now, click the blank field to the right of No Opens and choose the date you’d like to search by. This will allow you to find all your subscribers who have not opened a message since that date. For instance, if you want to see who hasn’t opened your message in the last 30 days, choose a date 30 days ago.
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Be sure to include another search term by clicking the + button. Choose Date Added, and
date is before. Then pick the same date. This will ensure that newer subscribers who may not have gotten to your messages yet won’t be lumped together with the rest of the long-time inactives.
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5. Click the Search button, then scroll down to see the list of subscribers who haven’t opened your messages since the date you chose.

6. To delete these subscribers, check the Erase box in the upper left of the list of subscribers to mark them all to be deleted, then click Delete to remove them from your list permanently.
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7. If you have multiple pages of subscribers, you can repeat this process to remove them all.

Make a mistake? Don’t worry: AWeber’s award-winning customer service team can restore deleted addresses within 30 days. But you should always download your original list into a CSV ahead of time just to keep a record.

Start cleaning out your email list today. Log into your AWeber account now.

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