How you can use MailChimp star ratings for newsletter subscriber maintenance

This is what you see when you look at your email list on MailChimp. The actual email addresses are shown at the far left, but I cropped them out in this photo for privacy.

Did you ever notice that MailChimp gives your newsletter subscribers a star rating? The stars rank your subscribers according to their engagement with your newsletter. The higher the rating, the more engaged they are.

1 star is a negative rating. These are subscribers who unsubscribed or whose emails soft bounced repeatedly and were “cleaned.”* One stars show up in your list, but MailChimp doesn’t send them your newsletter.

2 stars equate to a zero engagement rating. These are new subscribers who haven’t had the chance to read your newsletter yet or are existing subscribers who never open your newsletter

3 stars is low engagement. Occasionally they’ll open your newsletter

4 stars is moderate engagement. They often open or click on content

5 stars is high engagement. These are your diehard fans

You can use this data to remove subscribers who don’t wish to receive your newsletter. Why would you want to do this?  When you get more than 2,000 subscribers, you pay for the service based on the number of subscribers, and the price goes up exponentially. Also, having a large number of people who aren’t engaged skews your open/click rates downward and you won’t get a true idea of how effective your newsletter is.

Don’t just start deleting 2 star subscribers! There’s one other piece of info you need: the date added, which is when a person subscribed or you added him/her to the list. Remember 2 stars also refers to brand new subscribers, so you only want to delete the two stars who have been on your list for a while. How long you keep them depends on you. You might keep them six months or a year or six newsletters worth.

If they haven’t opened or unsubscribed in a significant length of time there’s a good chance your newsletter is going into their spam folder, and they’re not receiving it. Basically, they’re dead to you.

Also important: there are two ways to remove a subscriber from your list. Delete and unsubscribe. You want to delete. If you unsubscribe them, MailChimp won’t allow them to be added to your list later. In the future, if the subscriber suddenly decides she loves your work, and this time really wants to read your newsletter, she won’t be able to re-subscribe.

How to delete subscribers:

  1. Logon to MailChimp. Click on LISTS.
  2. Find the email list you want (chances are, you only have one) and click on it.
  3. To find non-engaged subscribers, sort your list by star ranking. Click on  CONTACT RATING and MailChimp will order the list from high to low or low to high. It toggles between the two. You can order it by date the same way. Click on DATE ADDED, and you can toggle between newest and oldest.
  4. Check the box at the far left next to the email address. Scroll up to the header and click delete.

I have not figured out how to do delete an entire segment of subscribers without clicking each individual email. Deleting a segment only deletes the grouping, not the emails contained within it. They still remain in the main list.

Note: If you just sent out a campaign (newletter), MailChimp will make you wait one week before you can delete subscribers.

* When an email “bounces,” that means it’s undeliverable. A hard bounce means the email address is invalid. A soft bounce means the recipient didn’t get the newsletter. It could be the recipient’s inbox is full, his/her server is offline or your email message is too large to be delivered.

After a certain number of soft bounces, the email is considered a hard bounce, and MailChimp will “clean” it. This means they stop sending to that address. MC will make seven attempts to send if an email address had has no engagement and fifteen attempts if the email address had previous  engagement.

Coming Soon! ALIEN MATE

Read chapter one here

The rough draft, unofficial blurb

Not only did my Earth government fail to protect me from the syndicate that wants me dead, they convicted me of a crime and packed me onto a ship with other female felons and sent me to a frozen primitive wasteland of a planet to become an alien’s mate. Earth needs Dakon’s minerals; Dakon is desperate for females after a catastrophe killed them off. As soon as my appeal comes, I’m outta here. I have no desire to be some barbarian’s “mail order bride,” even if he is super tall, muscular, and the chief of his tribe. Besides, he doesn’t want me either. His disappointment is written all over his chiseled alien face. His people are desperate for women, and he doesn’t like me? Well, fine! Mr. Law-and-Order would be more than disappointed if he learned what my crime was. He’d banish me into the wilderness, because that’s what they do to lawbreakers on Dakon. To stay safe, I’ll keep quiet and make the best of things until I can get back to Earth. There’s no chance I’ll fall in love with Mr. Hard-Bodied Alien and want to stay on Dakon. No way.

Get notified of the release and get a surprise free book by subscribing to my newsletter.

♥ ♥ ♥

One more thing about MailChimp. Did you know they have  downloadable resource guides that give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the service? Yeah, I didn’t either. I stumbled across them after muddling through on my own for two years. MailChimp has great how-to info but they hide it. You can find the resource guides here.

Are there any MailChimp how-tos you’d like me to blog about? Post your suggestion in the comments.

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14 Responses to How you can use MailChimp star ratings for newsletter subscriber maintenance

  1. Excellent blog with great advice! Thank you so much. I’m going to share this around.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Laurie! I like to share things I’d learned the hard way so others don’t have to struggle through it.

  2. Sue Lyndon says:

    Great post, Cara, thank you! I’m working on cleaning up my list today.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      It’s a slow process–all the more reason to do it regularly. You can delete multiple names, but you have to click on them individually, first.

  3. Good idea, Cara. I recently bumped up to a new monthly fee level based on increased subscribers. It’s great to have more people on my mailing list, but I don’t want to pay for those who aren’t really interested.

    I did find a way to bulk unsubscribe in the MC knowledge base. Looks like you’d want to export your list to a spreadsheet, sort the list to find those you want to delete, select and copy the relevant mail addresses, and then follow the instructions under Bulk Unsubscribe at the link below. Thanks!

    https://us5.admin.mailchimp.com/lists/members/import/match?id=60213&import_id=361761&type=File

    • Cara Bristol says:

      MailChimp doesn’t make it easy when you have to open another program to do what you want to do, but if you had to delete a lot (say thousands), it would be worth it.

  4. Lea Kirk says:

    Thank you for sharing, Cara. 🙂 Now, do you by any chance know how to delete the “unsubscribed” and “cleaned”? They’re unhelpful and cluttering my list, like people passed out on the living room floor after a party. smh.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ve looked on MailChimp and can’t find a way to do that. It is annoying. I think those emails are kept so that they can’t be added again.

  5. Judy Hudson says:

    I find I have to delete one page at a time. (If you click the box on the top one and hold down the return key and click the box on the bottom all the boxes in between will light up too and you can delete them all at once.) Even so, I am getting too many and paying too much for the service. Amy Vasant seems to have a new newsletter sending plugin for your wordpress dashboard that would be less expensive overall than mailchimp’s first payment level.
    Judy Hudson
    Just label me, I’d rather be writing!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      The problem for me is I didn’t want to delete a whole page because there were emails in between that I wanted to keep. I guess you could click on the page box, then unclick individual emails if there weren’t too many.

  6. Thanks so much for explaining this!!

  7. Jenna Jaxon says:

    Excellent post! I had been wondering just what the term “clean” meant and the star system. Now I can go in next week and see what’s really going on. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You’re welcome. There’s a lot of good info on MailChimp–it’s just not intuitive. I’d always wondered why everyone who signed up automatically got 2 stars.

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