How to use ConvertKit subscriber scoring to revive your mailing list

Email Marketing Take Yourself Pro
11 min read
In this Article

More creators are turning to email newsletters for audience building.

By the end of 2021, nearly half a million creators were using ConvertKit for email marketing. But more impressively, that number was more than twice the figure for 2020, showing how rapidly people are adopting newsletters.

Despite creator enthusiasm, not every email subscriber is as engaged as we’d like. Sometimes, our content doesn’t match subscribers’ expectations, interests change, or people’s capacity for wading through their crowded inbox reduces. Regardless of the reason, some subscribers may seldom (or never) open your emails.

If you have a bloated mailing list and are tired of watching your engagement dwindle, it’s time to take action. We’ll highlight why you should be cleaning out your email list regularly and share how ConvertKit subscriber scoring makes the process easy for you.

But first, if you don’t have one already, let’s consider why you need to start a mailing list.

Why you should have a mailing list

There’s a reason why more creators and businesses are hopping on the email train: it’s highly beneficial for a multitude of reasons, including:

Own your audience

As a creator, growing an audience solely on social media platforms is like building on borrowed land. Social networks can go down (or out of style), your accounts could be deactivated, or your audience could break up with their social media accounts.

Blogs are slightly more advantageous because you own your domain, but you still have no direct communication line to your audience. You can only convey messages by sharing them publicly.

Email newsletters are unique compared to both of these options. With mailing lists, you can own your audience because you have valuable contact information that allows you to share more content or promotional material with them.

Connect more intimately

According to a HubSpot survey, many people subscribe to newsletters because they want to stay connected to the brand and receive any new updates first. With unique personal access to your audience, email makes it easier to connect more intimately.

Having a mailing list means you can share exclusive content (unless you share a link publicly), freebies, and even inspirational behind-the-scenes content. That level of transparency builds trust with your audience and fosters positive emotions about your brand.

Drive more conversions

With more brand trust comes an increased desire to support your business—which raises your revenue.

Successful email marketing also provides more opportunities to nurture prospective customers from interest to conversion. The more times your target audience sees your content and products on offer, the higher their chances of purchasing.

Considering that email marketing is one of the least expensive ways to market your brand, the return on investment is incredible. Unfortunately, your mailing list can lose value if you don’t practice proper list hygiene.

What email list hygiene is and why it matters

Email list hygiene refers to tidying your subscriber list from time to time. The process involves deleting or attempting to reconnect with cold (less engaged) subscribers to ensure maximum engagement from your list.

List hygiene may seem like a finicky thing to bother with, but it’s crucial to running a successful email list. Here’s why.

Improve open rates

Having a list with many unresponsive subscribers tanks your open rates. Because a large percentage of your list has grown cold, for one reason or another, they’ll rarely open your emails or click on the links within.

Poor open rates make it difficult to gauge the interest of your audience; they’re not opening the emails, so you can’t tell if they even like the content. Do they hate the subject line? Are they too busy? Have they lost interest in your content? It’s tough to know for certain if they won’t engage.

Low open rates also make it harder to find brand collaboration opportunities. The average open rate for ConvertKit creators in 2021 was between 20%-30%. Most brands would prefer to partner with creators with average or above average rates. So, if yours fall below average, it will be tough to find newsletter sponsorships.

Cleaning out subscribers with low or no engagement will boost your open rates dramatically.

Save costs

Email marketing might be low cost, but it’s rarely free, especially if you have a sizeable list. Most email marketing software (including ConvertKit) have tier-based payments that increase as you gain more subscribers.

A bloated list may mean paying more to keep less engaged subscribers on the list with a lower return on investment. On the other hand, list hygiene allows you to cut cold subscribers off and stay on less expensive plans until you’re truly ready to grow.

Focus on engaged subscribers

While your pruned list may be smaller, the quality of subscribers will be higher. List hygiene ensures that you end up with your most engaged subscribers, which makes email marketing more enjoyable (no one enjoys screaming into the void).

With more engaged subscribers, your metrics hold more meaning, and it’s easier to see when your message resonates with your audience. Essentially, you can spend more time fine-tuning your content for the subscribers who gain value from it.

Reconnect with cold subscribers

Cold subscribers aren’t all bad. Sometimes they’re audience members who’ve lost track of their inbox or are procrastinating opening because they want to savor your content. List hygiene doesn’t only imply deleting these subscribers. It also provides a chance to reconnect with them.

In ConvertKit, you can do this using cold subscriber re-engagement.

Select Cold Subscribers on your Subscribers page, select all of them using the checkboxes, and then tag them to identify them.

Next, create a Broadcast to inform them of the impending breakup and set up an automation to re-add them if they want to stay on your list or delete them if they decide not to. We have an automation template you can use if you don’t feel savvy enough to create one.

Get the cold subscriber automation template

Increase deliverability

Although ConvertKit emails have a 99.8% deliverability rate, it doesn’t hurt to work at keeping that number high. Negative recipient actions such as deletion or simply not opening your email can send a poor signal to email clients and lower your deliverability in the long run.

In contrast, when subscribers frequently open your new emails, email clients like Gmail even mark your newsletters as “Important.” So warming up cold subscribers or deleting them altogether may boost your deliverability, making you more likely to be seen even in the busiest of inboxes.

Basic email list hygiene involves removing or attempting to reconnect with cold subscribers, but you can go the extra mile by warming up even lukewarm subscribers. ConvertKit’s subscriber scoring feature helps creators do this.

What is subscriber scoring?

Subscriber scoring is a Creator Pro feature that allows users to view their list in order of subscriber engagement. Subscribers are scored by their opens, clicks, and purchases and rated on a scale of 1-5.

How does subscriber scoring work in ConvertKit?

Users on a Creator Pro plan can view their subscriber engagement scores in two ways: Distribution and Timeline views.

Under Subscribers, click on Engagement.

Toggle the dropdown arrow to reveal the two formats—Distribution and Timeline.

In the Distribution view, subscriber scoring is plotted on a simple graph with the star ratings on the X axis and the number of subscribers on the Y axis.

Here’s what each ConvertKit subscriber scoring star rating means:

1 – Subscribers who have not engaged with your content in the last 9 months
2 – Subscribers who have engaged in the last 9 months
3 – Subscribers who have engaged in the last 6 months
4 – Subscribers who have engaged in the past 90 days
5 – Subscribers who have engaged in the past 30 days or purchased a product

When you hover over each star point, you get precise information about how many subscribers have that rating and what percentage of your list they make up. ConvertKit also offers a recommendation to improve your list hygiene.

Healthy mailing lists should have more subscribers in the green (4 stars and up) than in the red (3 stars and under).

In the Timeline view, users can view what percentage of their list is rated at a certain level and on which date they were rated. It looks like this:

The darker green portions represent subscribers with a higher rating, while the lighter green parts are those with lower ratings. You can also adjust the date range to view data in another time period.

Although subscriber scoring is a Creator Pro feature, users with a Creator plan can still take a peek at their subscriber scores on the left of their dashboards.

If you’re on the Creator Pro plan, you can enjoy additional benefits, such as getting to segment your lists by engagement score.

What are the benefits of subscriber scoring?

There are two main benefits of subscriber scoring.

Provides valuable feedback

Subscriber scoring shows you how engaged your list is with your content. This can be insightful because it shows you whether your message is resonating with subscribers. It’s normal to have some cold subscribers, but if most or half of your subscribers are cold, it’s for one of two reasons:

  • Your message likely isn’t landing: This may happen when your landing pages don’t accurately convey what readers can expect from your newsletters. It may also be because your message is inconsistent or you’re overselling to your list, and they feel disconnected from your content. Evaluate your landing pages and messaging and consider polling users to see what they’d prefer seeing from you. It may also be wise to ease up on the selling.
  • You need to qualify your subscribers better: Be sure potential subscribers really want in (and reduce bot subscribers!) by using a double opt-in. This means newsletter subscribers aren’t confirmed until they click a link in your subscription confirmation email. This ensures that everyone who subscribes is at least interested in your content when they sign up.

Helps you segment your list for success

Cold and engaged subscribers need different things from you. For example, while the latter may need a reminder to try your content again, engaged subscribers may be open to receiving more frequent communication. Knowing where each subscriber falls using subscriber scoring can help you serve your audience better.

You may decide to send a survey to your most engaged readers to find out what content they enjoy most. It’s also a good idea to reward active subscribers with freebies and more exclusive content.

Segmenting your list using subscriber scoring is easy. While creating a Segment, filter by Engagement Score.

You can then set the targeted star range. For example, subscribers scoring between 1-3 stars or those between 3-5 stars.

“Subscriber provides context on the people that our work resonates with most. Having detailed breakdowns of a reader's interaction with what we send out gives us a very good sense of how to serve them better, from subject matter, format, length and frequency — we get a massive amount of insight from the creator pro dashboard. In short, it helps you optimize for the super-fan, and by doing so — find more of them.”

– Jack Butcher, Visualize Value

Know your subscribers (and use that knowledge) with subscriber scoring

There are several facets to knowing your audience—and they’re all important. ConvertKit’s subscriber scoring feature allows creators to discover which audience members are connecting the most with their content and which ones might prefer to be set free.

Once you’ve identified cold subscribers, you can try to reconnect or delete them from your mailing list. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be boosting engagement and prioritizing customers who will jump at the chance to support you.

If you still haven’t built a mailing list, now’s your chance. Sign up for a ConvertKit Creator Pro account today.

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Afoma Umesi

Afoma Umesi is a freelance writer for software companies and businesses in the marketing industry. When she's not tapping away at her keyboard, you'll find her reading a good book or experimenting in the kitchen.

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