How Do I Revive an Old Email List? [6 Simple Steps]

Written by Michael Cheney. Posted on 16th February 2021

Is your email list dead? You might ask yourself: How do I revive an old email list? There are six simple steps to revive an old email list, and bring it back from the dead...

Look. We all make mistakes.

And sometimes you let a list slide, life gets in the way.

Or perhaps you just find your email list has become unresponsive.

Maybe you just lost your entire email list overnight.

Whatever the reason - I got you covered.

We'll dive into the detailed breakdown of what you need to do in a sec, but first here's a Fast Summary for you;

How do I revive an old email list?

  1. Export your lists, then run them through a list cleaner
  2. Boost domain authority with authentication
  3. Use 'Boomerang Campaign', so people reply to your emails
  4. Give away freebies to win back trust
  5. Present a paid opportunity for subscribers to get more
  6. Send consistent mix of freebies and offers

Okay, that's the summary answer of WHAT to do. 

Now let's talk about the HOW to do it...

Step 1. Export Your Lists

Export Your Email ListI did this exercise recently and was blown away.

Firstly - don't worry if you haven't got thousands of leads to export or any backups you've run before.

You can still follow the advice here in a sec about list-cleaning (no matter what your list size).

I'd been forced to take some time away from my business, for health reasons, so came back to a pretty much dead email list.

So I, personally, have asked the question;

How do I revive an old email list?

It was fortunately a good friend of mine, Marlon Sanders, who told me to start digging around my business for exports of my mailing lists.

Sure - I still had some active email addresses on my autoresponder, but in my absence they had seriously dwindled.

So I did some searching around and found no fewer than 200,000 email addresses!

However, some of these emails were from 20 years ago, when I first started my internet business.

Pretty much the definition of "an old email list".

This is why you need to make sure you properly clean your email lists when you revive them.

You might think that you've already done that inside your autoresponder.

Or you might think that your autoresponder does this for you.

I've personally heard stories of entrepreneurs having thousands of leads deleted from their autoresponders, because the companies who operate them claim these are inactive leads.

But this isn't always the case (as I'll show you in a moment).

Clean Your Email List with NeverbounceThe best way to clean your list is to export it as a csv file and run it through Klean13 or NeverBounce.

I actually took the belt and braces approach and ran my 200,000 list through BOTH cleaning services.

It does cost some pennies to do this.

I think I paid around $2000 all-in (for 200,000 email addresses to be cleaned down to 160,000).

But it is money well-spent, because;

These list cleaning services get rid of inactive emails, bounce-emails, dead emails and even emails which are connected to individuals who have a history of complaining about receiving emails.

What you end up with is a super-clean list.

Now, don't get me wrong - you will still get some bounces, unopens and the other unwanted email results you normally see from a broadcast.

But this way reduces them as low as possible before you hit 'Send'.

Okay great - you now have a super-clean list, but it's not time to send a broadcast yet because you need to do this next step;

Step 2. Boost Your Domain Name's Authority

Authenticating Your Domain on GetresponseWhen you add your sending email address to an autoresponder you will normally be asked to verify the domain.

This is usually as simple as getting the autoresponder to send you a verification email.

You then click on this email and your account is verified.

This is the bare minimum you need to do so that the autoresponder will allow you to use your sending email address in your email broadcasts.

However, there is an extra step you can take, which will give your domain even more authority in the eyes of your subscribers and, more importantly;

In the eyes of the email service providers like Gmail, and so on.

And that is to authenticate your domain (the image shows how to do it on Getresponse - the autoresponder I personally use).

This is where the autoresponder will ask you to insert CNAME records on your domain.

They give you these specific pieces of text which get added to the record for your domain, behind the scenes.

This proves to the autoresponder that you are the rightful owner of the domain.

When you do this your autoresponder can actually start sending emails out as if they have come directly from your domain, rather than theirs.

This is huge.

Because it means your emails don't have to mention the autoresponder company name anywhere.

It also means your domain name can start building up its own credibility based on your email sending record.

Rather than you having to rely on the credibility of the autoresponder's domain.

Think about it;

Autoresponders send millions of emails a day from their servers.

The law of averages says some of that will be junk.

You don't want to be associated with this credibility score.

By authorizing your domain to be the sender of the emails, you are building your OWN credibility for your domain, away from the risk of being associated with the score of the autoresponder's servers.

Even if you don't fully understand all this - don't worry.

Just trust me when I tell you;

You need to do this. 😉

Okay, onto the next step we go...

Step 3. Start a Boomerang Engagement Campaign

Boomerang Campaign Encourages Email RepliesThis is simple.

What you're trying to achieve with a Boomerang Campaign is to get people to reply to your emails.

When people hit reply on your email broadcast, and actually take the time to send you something, you have to read it.

This is pure gold.

You are getting direct feedback from your prospects and customers.

Why would you want to hide away from this behind a "Do Not Reply" email address?

That would be crazy!

So it helps you build up key knowledge and insights about your audience, which is critical for your business.

But it also helps your rating with the email service providers.

Gmail, for example, will SEE your subscribers replying.

This counts as engagement (rather than an email just being ignored).

If you get lots of people replying to your emails, you will be seen as more important, by Gmail and other email service providers.

This way, you are less-likely to go to the Spam, Trash or Promotions filters.

Gmail Looks Favorably on Responsive EmailsYou will be seen as a genuine sender of emails which get engagement.

But it's not just for this reason you should do it.

Because you can take the information people send you, to better serve your subscribers.

The best way to revive an old email list is to ask people what they want.

Ask for their opinion.

Make them feel valued and important - because they are!

You can use a simple tool like SurveyMonkey to do this.

Or even just get people to reply to your emails and you answer them in person.

The way we set it up in my business, is to have all replies create a new ticket on our Zendesk Helpdesk.

This way - I can monitor all the replies and be sure my response gets through to them, rather than lost in their email filters.

Use a personal story, just be transparent.

And make sure you read my guide on how to increase open rates for emails. 

Tell people WHY you've not been in touch with them for so long, or what happened, and ask them to tell you what they would like from you.

Then take their suggestions and run with it, so you can...

Step 4. How Do I Revive and Old Email List with Free Gifts?

Deliver Value with Free GiftsYou've exported your list, cleaned it, emailed it using story, asked them to tell you what they want, and now you give it to them;

For free.

(at least in part)

Let's just say you run a website about camper vans.

Your email list is dead, so you are trying to revive the old email list by asking them what they would like from you.

They replied in their hundreds and the most-popular response was;

"How do I choose the best camper van?"

So you write a free guide on how to choose the best camper van.

You over-deliver with outstanding free stuff.

You give them what they want.

They will love you.

But you need to be careful, not to give away the farm, of course.

Help them - yes.

But don't torpedoe your chances of ever making a sale again.

This is a business, after all!

So do all you can to help them out and give them what they want, for free, and then...


Step 5. Present Paid Opportunity for More

Paid Opportunity for MoreOnce you've over-delivered with free content, training and advice you are in a perfect position to make a paid offer.

In our little camper van example here, this could be a more detailed video series on how to choose the best camper van.

Or perhaps you might offer up your time to walk people through the process.

Maybe you could offer people the chance to send you their target camper van, and you give them your personal verdict on it, via email.

Either way -

What you are doing here is continuing to add value.

This is your chance to harvest for all the groundwork you have put in to get to this point.

The Journey of Value we discussed in the last step, should probably take a few weeks, at least.

You don't want to go straight from freebie into paid offer, especially with an old email list you are trying to revive.

But what happens after this?

Step 6. Maintain Momentum with Mix of Freebies and Offers

Send Emails with Freebies and OffersAfter you've successfully revived your old email list it's time to;

Make sure this never happens again! 😀

Keep sending emails regularly.

Make sure you are using as many engagement-boosting tactics as you can.

Spice things up with freebies, contests, paid offers, special deals, personal stories, news items, videos, blog posts and more.

Think of your regular email broadcasts like a soap opera;

Your subscribers want to be entertained (not just informed).

Whenever anything happens in your life - email your list about it.

There should never be a shortage of things to talk about unless you are dead yourself. 🙂

Keep delivering value, keep selling, and, for heaven's sake;

Make sure you keep the door open for people to REPLY to your emails and interact with you.

You will get to know your subscribers so much better.

They will love you for it.

You will get much higher open rates, click through rates and sales as a result.


You asked;

How do I revive an old email list?

And I gave you the answers. In short;

Step 1. Export
Step 2. Authority
Step 3. Boomerang
Step 4. Value
Step 5. Paid Opportunity
Step 6. Momentum

If you got value from this article, be sure to grab this free training on how to turn your emails into money;


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