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It’s Time to Clean Up That Email List | Putting Mailchimp’s Star Rating to Work

It’s Time to Clean Up That Email List | Putting Mailchimp’s Star Rating to Work
July 20, 2017 Amelia Castellanos

iOS MailIs your Email Open Rate and Click-through Rate below Industry standard?  In the Clothing and Apparel market segment, Industry Averages are 18% Open rate and 2% Click-Through rate.  If you are well below these Benchmarks you may be battling more than a non-optimized Subject Line or Delivery Day and Time.

Many of our clients with 6 digit newsletter databases face this same issue and the major culprit? SPAM 😩

Your Bounce Rate and Unsubscribe Rate may be low but just because you have Successful delivery to the inbox does not mean you’re not landing in the black hole of junk mail.

With multiple major ESPs (Email Service Providers) there are a number of triggers for SPAM routing that you may not even think about on a daily basis but it could be costing you thousands in lost conversion.

Common Mistakes:

  1. Sloppy HTML
  2. Blacklisted IP Address
  3. Generic Recipient Info
  4. Non-Optimized Images and Email Content


Because it is difficult pinpoint that any one of the above common mistakes is actually the culprit of your underperforming list, we recommend clients start with a simple and often time, much needed CLEAN UP.

Filtering out old, inactive and disinterested users is a healthy habit to adopt.  How often you do this depends on the frequency of your email marketing but twice a year, before campaign launches or big promotional periods is a great place to start.

How can you filter out these users?  We like to utilize Mailchimp’s Member Star Rating as this is an automatically updated rating algorithm used on your list subscribers indicating their level of engagement with your mailers.

How does Mailchimp’s Member Rating work?






One of Mailchimp’s best features is its’ “Member Rating”. This rating is useful if you want to send a newsletter to a particular customer segmentation based on engagement level. It also helps you clean up your list.

Mailchimp uses a number of factors in order to rate each member of your mailing list. This includes a particular person’s open and click activity, soft and hard bounce history, unsubscribe and resubscribe rates as well as other engagement metrics. Each time you send a campaign, the rating is then recalculated following the delivery of that most recent campaign.

How is it calculated?


  • 1 star: Since a 0 star doesn’t exist, this is the worst rating a user can get. This score is given to a user who either unsubscribed and resubscribed or has soft bounced in the past (remember that hard bounces are automatically removed from the list).
  • 2 stars: If it’s a new subscriber or if the user simply has no activity, this is the score he or she will get. This score also includes subscribers who had previously had a great score but that are now inactive.
  • 3 stars: The recipient have limited activity on your campaigns. He barely ever opens or clicks in your campaign.
  • 4 stars: The recipient is more active. He or she will open or click on your campaign materials most of the time.
  • 5 stars: This subscriber has a lot of engaging activity. These are your most active subscribers.

Clean Up Your List

Let’s just say it: 1-star subscribers are not worth your time. Most brands want to keep them just in case someone, just one time, might click on your link.

Why would you want to delete 1-star subscribers?

  • To avoid being marked as Spam by email services such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and other corporate spam filters
  • To lower your costs by reducing your list size
  • To remove inactive subscribers
  • To better your open and click-through rates
  • To reduce your bounces and spam abuse complaints

Since 2-star subscribers also includes new subscribers, we wouldn’t delete them right away. If you want to clean up your 2-stars, try to use these segment settings or create an entirely new list:

Mailchimp Customer Segmentation

Users Not engaging?

Mailchimp wants to provide you with an accurate rating in real-time. This means it must not only give points to active users, but decrease a rating if a user no longer engages with your e-mails. Mailchimp continually adjusts your ratings after each campaign. However, Mailchimp also takes into account another important factor: Sending Frequency.

Why does sending frequency matter? Simply put,  if you send material at a high frequency you decrease the value of each single e-mail. In other words, monthly newsletters have a higher “value” than daily email that is often ignored.

Sending Frequency works like this:

Send FrequencyDecrement Frequency
Once a month or lessEvery 2 emails
Up to once a weekEvery 3 emails
Up to twice a weekEvery 4 emails
More than twice a weekEvery 5 emails

Targeting Your Best Subscribers for The Best Results

1-star and 2-star subscribers will mess up your results. Since they are inactive and do not clink on your campaign, they decrease your statistics.

To increase your open and click-through rate, try segmenting your next campaign by sending your materials to subscribers with a minimum of a 3-star rating. Your audience will be around 40% less than your full list but you will avoid sending an email to someone that won’t open it anyway.

Since the goal of sending a newsletter is engagement, send your next newsletter in two batches. The first will be segmented with a member rating greater than a 2-star rating and the second batch to members with a rating less than 2-stars. You will certainly notice a big difference in the open and click-through rate.

Winning Back 2-star and 3-star Subscribers

Sending emails to inactive subscribers is not only costly, but can worsen your reputation.Your marketing department might be a little reluctant to deleting people from your list, but it is very important.

Before you delete someone permanently, try to send a win-back campaign in order to make them become a 3-star subscriber.

Segment to 1-star and 2-star subscribers and send them a really good incentive. A 50% off coupon, a trial extension, something funny to say goodbye, or even a simple letter asking them if them still want to receive your newsletter. If your offer is really appealing for them, they will click on the link and improve their rating.

Don’t forget to choose your subject line very carefully! Without opening your campaign, the user won’t see your offer.


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