In Behind the Scenes

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too)


Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

I deleted 1,500 email addresses off my list this week. AND IT FELT GOOD.

What? Am I crazy? Maybe. But maybe I’m crazy like a fox. Here’s why.

The Numbers Game

A lot of being an online business is numbers.

How many pageviews. How many social media followers. How many sales. How many people on your email list.

Generally, the more the better, right?

I used to subscribe to this mentality. It was a race to see how many people I could get to subscribe to my newsletter, which by the way is filled with curated links, a behind-the-scenes look from my perspective, awesome deals on items in my store and always — always — an exclusive free printable available for a limited time.

The number game isn’t as much of a challenge for me anymore. Last week I had nearly 7,000 subscribers. So why did my email only reach half of those people?

It became abundantly clear that my list was lugging around some dead weight.

Here are 3 reasons I decided to cut 1,500 people loose, and why you should, too, if your email list isn’t up to your standards.

Clicks Speak Volumes

At this point, I want people on my list who enjoy being there. Who look forward to opening up my emails and being part of the conversation.

The best part about sending out my newsletter is sifting through the responses afterward. It’s literally all worth it to know my words/art resonated with my readers.

A few examples from emails I received after my last broadcast:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to lift us all up.”
“Today it was as if you were speaking to me about my life.”

Having brag rights to thousands of email subscribers isn’t worth it if only a fraction are actually opening your hard-worked missives and clicking around.

But they all signed up! Surely they want my emails!

Maybe they just wanted your opt-in. Maybe they send newsletters to their spam folder to die. You won’t always know the reason your email went unopened, and it doesn’t really matter because they are not your audience.

Fans Over Followers

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

I want to know who I’m talking to. Are you here because you’re a fan of my work? Because you want to keep up on the latest project I’m working on? Because you want design tips and tricks? Because you want to be the first in line for my next freebie or coupon?

Yes? Well, hi! I’m so excited to have fans like you.

Now I know what we can talk about.

See how that works? People unsubscribe or disengage if they aren’t interested in what you’re saying. Don’t try to win these people back. Cut these people loose! They are not your audience.

It’s Expensive to Be Vain

I do not know about you, but this is a small side business for me. I do not have a ton of extra money to invest in things that do not make sense.

I use ConvertKit (highly recommend, and that’s an affiliate link because I love them). The plans are super reasonable, but like all email services, the bigger your list, the bigger the price tag for your plan.

If you’re sending emails to people who aren’t opening them, you are wasting not only time but money. Cold hard cash.

I like to invest my money in things like design tools and fonts and watercolor paper so I can create pretty things for you. Not in ridiculous vanity numbers that do not mean anything.

If you need another analogy, think of it like this: For every deadweight subscriber you leave on your list, you are throwing coins in an empty well. You’ll never see that money again, and your wishes will NOT come true.

What Are You Waiting For? Cull That List!

In ConvertKit, it is as simple as setting up segments. You can send another email blast (I do, just in case) to allow your “cold subscribers” to opt back in to your newsletter if they’re still interested.  Here’s a ConvertKit step-by-step in how to do this. By doing this, I reconnected with about 300 people, some of whom said they didn’t realize that my newsletters were going into their spam folders by accident.

MailChimp recommends a similar process.

Another thing to consider, in addition to deleting inactive subscribers, is reworking your opt-ins to really grab your target audience. I plan to experiment with this next, and I’ll relay my findings next month.

One Last Thing

Finally, before you go, I’d love to get your thoughts on email lists: What keeps you engaged in a newsletter? Why do you sign up to begin with? How many newsletters do you actually read, and whose are your favorites? Could be small businesses, bloggers, large corporations, politicians, all of the above! Share in the comments.

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

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  • BlueOrchys
    March 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    What clever tips ! I have so many emails in my mailbox ! Thanks for sharing your work and your ideas. I’m a new subscriber 🙂

    • Vanessa
      March 30, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Hi! Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sending out an email this weekend sometime — be on the lookout! 🙂

  • Cony G.C.
    April 1, 2016 at 6:10 am

    Hi! I’ve recently found your page & I think your work it’s beautiful…
    I like most newsletters, I am subscribed to a pair and a spare, yours, APT, & some others, I usually read them and enjoy the ones that have text in them, not very fond of the click “here to go types”, although if there’s sth that catches my eye I’ll go (yeah I am a sucker for nice things)
    I feel like this post has no sense, but I couldn’t go with you feeling like no one cares, it’s your job and your money, and no one wants to lose thoseresources.

    • Vanessa
      April 3, 2016 at 12:48 am

      Thanks for the feedback! I like to hear what people want to read in newsletters — I try to write what I’d like to read, but sometimes that doesn’t always match up. I tend to get longwinded. 😉 I’m also a sucker for the “shiny object” — just ask my husband, who has the misfortune of shopping with me, haha.

  • Tina Solorio
    April 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Vanessa, I really love your newsletter and look forward to it. I’m not a big responder but know that I appreciate the time and effort you put into finding the great things you find for us.

    • Vanessa
      April 12, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks, Tina! Nice to “meet” you, and I’ll keep churning out some great content for your inbox. 🙂

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    Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too)


    Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

    I deleted 1,500 email addresses off my list this week. AND IT FELT GOOD.

    What? Am I crazy? Maybe. But maybe I’m crazy like a fox. Here’s why.

    The Numbers Game

    A lot of being an online business is numbers.

    How many pageviews. How many social media followers. How many sales. How many people on your email list.

    Generally, the more the better, right?

    I used to subscribe to this mentality. It was a race to see how many people I could get to subscribe to my newsletter, which by the way is filled with curated links, a behind-the-scenes look from my perspective, awesome deals on items in my store and always — always — an exclusive free printable available for a limited time.

    The number game isn’t as much of a challenge for me anymore. Last week I had nearly 7,000 subscribers. So why did my email only reach half of those people?

    It became abundantly clear that my list was lugging around some dead weight.

    Here are 3 reasons I decided to cut 1,500 people loose, and why you should, too, if your email list isn’t up to your standards.

    Clicks Speak Volumes

    At this point, I want people on my list who enjoy being there. Who look forward to opening up my emails and being part of the conversation.

    The best part about sending out my newsletter is sifting through the responses afterward. It’s literally all worth it to know my words/art resonated with my readers.

    A few examples from emails I received after my last broadcast:

    “Thank you so much for taking the time to lift us all up.”
    “Today it was as if you were speaking to me about my life.”

    Having brag rights to thousands of email subscribers isn’t worth it if only a fraction are actually opening your hard-worked missives and clicking around.

    But they all signed up! Surely they want my emails!

    Maybe they just wanted your opt-in. Maybe they send newsletters to their spam folder to die. You won’t always know the reason your email went unopened, and it doesn’t really matter because they are not your audience.

    Fans Over Followers

    Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

    I want to know who I’m talking to. Are you here because you’re a fan of my work? Because you want to keep up on the latest project I’m working on? Because you want design tips and tricks? Because you want to be the first in line for my next freebie or coupon?

    Yes? Well, hi! I’m so excited to have fans like you.

    Now I know what we can talk about.

    See how that works? People unsubscribe or disengage if they aren’t interested in what you’re saying. Don’t try to win these people back. Cut these people loose! They are not your audience.

    It’s Expensive to Be Vain

    I do not know about you, but this is a small side business for me. I do not have a ton of extra money to invest in things that do not make sense.

    I use ConvertKit (highly recommend, and that’s an affiliate link because I love them). The plans are super reasonable, but like all email services, the bigger your list, the bigger the price tag for your plan.

    If you’re sending emails to people who aren’t opening them, you are wasting not only time but money. Cold hard cash.

    I like to invest my money in things like design tools and fonts and watercolor paper so I can create pretty things for you. Not in ridiculous vanity numbers that do not mean anything.

    If you need another analogy, think of it like this: For every deadweight subscriber you leave on your list, you are throwing coins in an empty well. You’ll never see that money again, and your wishes will NOT come true.

    What Are You Waiting For? Cull That List!

    In ConvertKit, it is as simple as setting up segments. You can send another email blast (I do, just in case) to allow your “cold subscribers” to opt back in to your newsletter if they’re still interested.  Here’s a ConvertKit step-by-step in how to do this. By doing this, I reconnected with about 300 people, some of whom said they didn’t realize that my newsletters were going into their spam folders by accident.

    MailChimp recommends a similar process.

    Another thing to consider, in addition to deleting inactive subscribers, is reworking your opt-ins to really grab your target audience. I plan to experiment with this next, and I’ll relay my findings next month.

    One Last Thing

    Finally, before you go, I’d love to get your thoughts on email lists: What keeps you engaged in a newsletter? Why do you sign up to begin with? How many newsletters do you actually read, and whose are your favorites? Could be small businesses, bloggers, large corporations, politicians, all of the above! Share in the comments.

    Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel
    1. BlueOrchys says:

      What clever tips ! I have so many emails in my mailbox ! Thanks for sharing your work and your ideas. I’m a new subscriber 🙂

      1. Vanessa says:

        Hi! Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sending out an email this weekend sometime — be on the lookout! 🙂

    2. Cony G.C. says:

      Hi! I’ve recently found your page & I think your work it’s beautiful…
      I like most newsletters, I am subscribed to a pair and a spare, yours, APT, & some others, I usually read them and enjoy the ones that have text in them, not very fond of the click “here to go types”, although if there’s sth that catches my eye I’ll go (yeah I am a sucker for nice things)
      I feel like this post has no sense, but I couldn’t go with you feeling like no one cares, it’s your job and your money, and no one wants to lose thoseresources.

      1. Vanessa says:

        Thanks for the feedback! I like to hear what people want to read in newsletters — I try to write what I’d like to read, but sometimes that doesn’t always match up. I tend to get longwinded. 😉 I’m also a sucker for the “shiny object” — just ask my husband, who has the misfortune of shopping with me, haha.

    3. Tina Solorio says:

      Vanessa, I really love your newsletter and look forward to it. I’m not a big responder but know that I appreciate the time and effort you put into finding the great things you find for us.

      1. Vanessa says:

        Thanks, Tina! Nice to “meet” you, and I’ll keep churning out some great content for your inbox. 🙂

    Comments are closed.