Should You Send Emails To Inactive Subscribers?

Andrew Donovan
2 min readMar 14, 2022

Marketers can often hold two conflicting and (seemingly) opposite truths in their head at once.

Here’s an example from my own head:

  • Truth A: You should send a re-engagement email to inactive subscribers and remove contacts who no longer want to be on your list.
  • Truth B: You should keep inactive subscribers on your list because one day…maybe…they may purchase from you.

Both of these things are true.

While you should provide an out for inactive subscribers — not only because you don’t want to annoy them, but because you want to keep a high deliverability rate — there is a case to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.

Here’s a great example that was posted by a connection on LinkedIn:

(Read the full article here)

Instinctually, I found this to be true because I’ve sat on email lists for YEARS with barely a pulse, and then one day, I’ve made a purchase thanks to the right email coming through at the right time.

In fact, our organisation recently closed a client looking for a new website after being on our list FOR FOUR YEARS.

They reached out after reading a generic company newsletter, which makes it even more mind-blowing. It’s not like it was a targeted campaign. It was, as the article above describes it, a “full list send”.

The cost to keep them on our list for four years is almost nothing. The benefit is a $50,000 marketing action plan.

When using email marketing, it’s up to you, the sender, to decide the value of each contact.

If you’ve been sending 4 emails a month for years, and a subscriber has never opened an email in the past year, that person should probably be scrubbed from your list…though it’s not black and white.

The point I’m trying to drive home here is that there is nuance, and a distinction, between an inactive contact and a completely dead contact.

Capisce? 🤌

P.S. Here are my notes from a webinar I attended…

Last week, I attended a Litmus Talks webinar about personalisation in email. The notes I made from the presentation are available to you by clicking here.

Originally published at on March 14, 2022.

Andrew Donovan

I’m the lead email marketing specialist for a boutique marketing agency in Ontario, Canada.