Spam Court: Guilty of Sending to Inactive Subscribers?

Image of court announcer in spam court discussing inactive subscribers

Spam in 2017: Anything you send that your recipient doesn’t care about. And that includes sending to inactive subscribers.

At Klaviyo, we’re taking a stand to redefine what marketers consider spam. If you take a look into the inbox of literally anyone with an inbox, you’ll see messages that are irrelevant or inappropriate that don’t quite meet the legal definition of spam. We can and should do so much better for our, customers, our subscribers, and maybe even ourselves.

We created Spam Court as a satirical look at some of the worst modern spamming offenses.


 First up for trial, sending to inactive subscribers.

“I haven’t even opened an email from you in 2.5 years!”

No one likes to be ghosted, in real life or online. When you have been ghosted by a subscriber it is a clear indicator that they’re no longer interested in having a relationship with your brand. Take the hint. Have some dignity. Clean your main list of any subscriber who hasn’t engaged or purchased in a while.

While it may seem counterintuitive to proactively unsubscribe folks, the end result can help improve your email deliverability by boosting your open rate, improving subscriber engagement, and having fewer messages marked as spam.

Identify inactive subscribers

So what exactly qualifies as an inactive subscriber? Here are a few examples:

  • A newsletter subscriber that joined your list over six months ago but has never opened an email AND has never purchased
  • A newsletter subscriber that joined your list over six months ago but hasn’t opened an email AND hasn’t purchased in the last six months
  • An inactive contact that first engaged over six months ago but hasn’t ever opened an email AND has never purchased
  • Hard bounces (if your email service provider does not do this automatically)
  • Soft Bounces

Once you have identified your inactive subscribers you generally have the option to delete those contacts permanently from your account or suppress those contacts permanently from your list. If you’re using Klaviyo, check out our guide to list cleaning.

Run a Reactivation Campaign

If you are concerned about the effects of taking subscribers off your list, try running a reactivation campaign first., Pipedrive, a sales management tool, ran an impressive reactivation campaign. Their goals for the campaign were fairly straightforward:

  1. Turn inactive leads into active ones
  2. Keep the list clean for better deliverability
  3. Reduce the costs

After the campaign, Pipedrive was able to unsubscribe 83,000 inactive users, have 9,000 reactivate, and reduce their costs.

Stay out of Spam Court and in your subscriber’s inbox by regularly cleaning your list.

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