The Issue
I manage the Atlassian newsletter. I’ve read that there’s an industry-wide average of 30% obsolete email addresses every year. That is, about 30% of the email addresses you have in your database become inactive due to people leaving the company, companies going under, or for whatever reason.
In the last four years, our newsletter list has grown big, but we suspected that many of the email addresses were obsolete. Thus, we made the decision to do an email purge of people who have not opened or clicked-through our recent newsletters.
Innovation
Yes, we’re really taking people off our email newsletter list. That’s not usually done; most companies want to hold onto their subscribers come hell or high water. By purging our list of inactive emails, we’re saving money with our email vendor, we’re cutting carbon cost, and we’re better able to focus on the interests of people who are still subscribed and active. Besides, if they’re not reading it, why even send it?
Technique
We compiled a list of the aforementioned inactive subscribers based off of multiple months of no newsletter click-throughs or opens. This data comes directly from our email vendor’s tracking for each newsletter sent. Before cutting the inactive subscribers loose, we decided to reach out to these people one last time to ask if they were interested in getting the newsletter or not with this email:

Atlassian, Inc.
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Result
As suspected, a large portion of our purge list did not open or click on the above email. In fact, 93% of the people fell into this inactivity bucket which means we will take them off or our newsletter list. I am giving a week or so for people to respond to the above email, but before our December newsletter goes out, we will purge the list to make it more lean.
Aftermath
I was most surprised to see that there were a fair amount of people that wanted to stay on the list — people who have not opened or clicked the newsletter in numerous consecutive months. A few of these people reached out to me, and I’m trying to figure out why they appeared inactive, yet want to remain on the list. It is possible they read the text-only version and don’t click on any links, rendering emails untrackable. The text-only versions, however, only include the newsletter article titles which isn’t too exciting. At any rate, we caught a few tweets which lauded us for our reach-out email (above) which made us feel warm and fuzzy inside:

Twitter _ mhawkins1970_ Impressed with the atlassi ...
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Twitter / Gil Yehuda: Bravo RT @barconati: Human ...
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