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AP 0716: What Are The Best Ways to Engage with Inactive Email List Subscribers?

AP 0716: What Are The Best Ways to Engage with Inactive Email List Subscribers?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 716 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 716 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

We have a great question today from Marc, but before we get to that I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is FreshBooks. Actually, in case you don’t know this, FreshBooks just completely rebuilt their software from the ground up. I got a first hand look at the software. They got on a call with me, we went through it step by step, feature by feature. Oh my gosh, it’s some of the easiest to use accounting software that I’ve ever seen.

It’s incredibly easy from everything that tracks your income and your expenses, to incredibly easy invoicing, and just the way it kind of becomes its own CRM system with your customers so you can see exactly who bought what from you in the past, and the online payments, and allowing you to know what needs to be paid, or what’s overdue so you can resend information to those people so you can get paid. Seriously, it’s the best. You got to check this out, it’s brand new, and if you haven’t checked it out yet you’re going to thank me in the future because this is a really easy software to help you manage the financial parts of your business. To get a 30 day free trial all you have to do is go to and enter “Ask Pat” in the How Did You Hear About Us section. Totally unrestricted, just for you guys.

All right, now here’s today’s question from Mark.

Mark: Hello Pat. My name is Mark Hildebrand, I’m an online fitness coach from Team Beach Body. You can actually check me out at I help police officers and firefighters with their fitness. First I wanted to say thank you very much for everything you do. I mean, I wish often times that I could pay you back more than just going through your affiliate links. You’ve really helped me out so much. I’m sure that everybody out there feels the same. My question for you today is actually about the cold subscribers that you have on your email list. I signed up for ConvertKit, and I’ve been using it now for about three months and I love it. But there’s a little down section where you can actually look at your subscribers and see who your cold market, or your cold subscribers are.

Those are people that, I guess within the last 90 days, they haven’t opened one of your emails, or clicked on anything. One of the suggestions in there is to go through this and send those people an email just to make sure that they do want to continue to get correspondence from you. Then if they do not respond within a week, then you delete them. I want to know what the pros and cons are with this before I actually go through and take a look at my list, and see exactly who’s the cold, and delete those. I want to see what you think. Do you think we should keep them, or do you think we should just delete them if they aren’t opening up your emails, and aren’t clicking on your links. Thanks again Pat, I appreciate all you do. I’m actually going to be starting my own podcast because of you, and your tutorial online is amazing. Thank you brother, talk to you soon, bye.

Pat Flynn: Hey Mark, thank you so much for the question, I appreciate this. This is one of my favorite features of ConvertKit, and it’s pretty, it’s interesting that an email service provider would give you this information straight up in terms of who are the cold subscribers. When you think about it, email subscription services like this, they make money based on the number of people that are on your list. Here they are saying, “Hey, go ahead and delete the people that are cold on your list,” even though they know they would make more money if you didn’t do that. Just kudos to ConvertKit, this is why I love the company, why I love Nathan the CEO and the founder, and why I’m an advisor to the company, because they do things like this. That’s awesome.

For those of you who use ConvertKit, if you don’t know where this feature is, if you go to subscribers, and then you click on the down arrow on the left hand side at the top after where all the names, or before where all the names are. There’s things that you can look at. For example, all subscribers, confirmed subscribers, unconfirmed subscribers, people who’ve complained, bounce subscribers, which is actually where I would start with cleaning up. Bounce subscribers are people who’s email addresses just bounced back, meaning that those were not legit emails. I’m actually looking in here, I have a few of them that I can just easily delete right now. You can do a bulk action from there, and after you click all the subscribers you can do a bulk action and just simply delete those really easily. That’s where I would start, and that’s going to save you some money, it’s going to save you some click through rates, and open rates with some of the emails that you send out. It’s going to make them much nicer and more true.

Now, cold subscribers like you said, people who haven’t opened an email in 90 days, I would be careful about just deleting them all straight away. You don’t want to do that. You do want to send them however, an email or two. You can actually segment these subscribers out, and just send them an email specifically. You can actually do that directly from this action here. You would tag them as being a cold subscriber, and then you would send an email to that particular tag. It would be a way for you to make sure that they are truly cold subscribers. If you send an email, and people still don’t open it, do you delete them? Not yet. I would give yourself three emails. I would do a three email sequence to make sure that people still want to be on your list.

The first email would be just a gentle nudge. Something not aggressive, and that way people who are on that cold subscriber list, they’re going to see hopefully a subject line that you put in there that is related to that. For example, “Haven’t heard from you in awhile,” or, “Are you still there?” Those are good subject lines to just get people to open, because that’s what you want people to do. You want people to take some sort of action here so you know that they’re still there.

Then the second one, you want to be a little bit more aggressive. Then the third one and final one, which you would send, again, just to your cold subscribers. I would re-tag them as, “Cold subscribers level two, cold subscribers level three.” You don’t want to send an email to the original cold subscribers, and some of them have already opened that first email that you sent. Every time you do this you want to make sure that you send a new tag, or create a new tag for the new cold subscribers. Hopefully you’ll see the numbers decrease over time as you send these emails out. The last one, you just want to make a little bit more aggressive. Again, I wouldn’t . . . You can obviously draw the line wherever you want. The more aggressive you are, the more likely it is you are to capture people’s attention. You have nothing to lose in sort of that third round of emails that you send to your final group of cold subscribers there.

This is a good practice to do, I’d say every three to four months. You don’t need to do it everyday, or every week. Every three to four months, cleaning out your list this way. It’s going to help keep those numbers where they’re more realistic for you. I think that’s an important thing to do, and that’s how I would recommend going about doing that. Again, I would not just delete your cold subscribers straight away. I would focus on three separate emails that they would get, one after another. Making sure that you don’t resend sort of the second email to the people who have taken action on the first one.

I think this is important to do because sometimes people don’t just open emails, and they still want to get on your list. This simple action of having them open the email is what you want them to do. Those subject lines are going to be really important, and I think you’ll find that overtime that’s going to do you a lot of good to continue to do this. Again, like I said, love how ConvertKit just makes it really easy for us to do this.

Do you need ConvertKit to do this? No. You can do this with AWeber, you can do this with other email service providers. You’ll kind of have to hack your way into segmenting those lists based on when the last time people opened an email, and then send emails to that particular segment. It’s going to be a little bit more difficult, but it can be done. Whatever email service provider you use, just make sure that you are always sending great content. That’s why people are on your list, they want to hear from you, they want to hear great stuff, and make sure you utilize that list for what you created it for.

If you haven’t yet discovered this, I want to give it to you. It’s for free. That’s my book, That’s not the name of the book, that’s the URL of the book, “Email the Smart Way.” Email the Smart Way was created because there’s a lot of people out there, there’s a lot of tools, a lot of books out there to help you grow your email list. But not much information on what do you do with that list afterwards? What kind of emails do you send out? Well, Email the Smart Way will tell you exactly that. It’s 10 different kinds of emails that you can send that are kind of unique, that will help you learn more about your audience. It will help you promote more of your stuff, and it’s totally free. Check it out,

I also want to thank Fresh Books one more time for their sponsorship of this episode. You can actually check them out for 30 days for free at Just make sure you enter “Ask Pat, in the How Did You Hear About Us Section. Once again, thank you Marc for the question today. I hope this has been helpful, and I want to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show.

Thank you so much and for those of you who are listening who think you have a question that you’d like to get potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to and you can ask right there on that page. Thank you so much, I appreciate you.

Here’s a quote to finish off the day for you from Arthur Rubinstein. He says, “I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” Like I tell my kids, “You get what you give, what you give the world, the world gives back to you.”

Keep going guys, keep giving. Cheers, and I’ll see you on the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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