Everything You Need to Know about Unsubscribed, Non-Subscribed, and Cleaned Contacts in Mailchimp!
“When you said you had a ‘few’ unsubscribes I didn’t think you meant a ‘few hundred’ !?”
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I recently spoke to a client who was complaining about wasting money on TV subscriptions she didn’t even watch. It’s a relatable situation – life gets hectic, and sometimes we forget to manage our expenses.
But did you know that the same thing could be happening with your Mailchimp audience?
Not only could you be overpaying for subscribers who aren’t even receiving your emails, but you could also be harming Mailchimp’s reputation as a sender, which could have an impact on future email deliveries.
Keep reading to learn what unsubscribed, non-subscribed, cleaned, and archived means, how Mailchimp charges based on your account type, and some tips for effectively managing your audience. and save money on your Mailchimp bill.
Mailchimp’s one goal
Here’s the deal, Mailchimp’s number one goal is to get your emails into people’s inboxes. To do so, it must maintain a stellar reputation as a sender.
Every email that is not delivered is a mark against Mailchimp’s reputation, and yours!
That’s why Mailchimp needs to avoid sending emails to people who don’t exist, have opted out, or don’t want to receive them.
And that’s why you have unsubscribed, non-subscribed, and cleaned email addresses – they’re all potential risks to Mailchimp’s reputation as a sender if you try and send to them.
The other thing you need to know is that Mailchimp charges based on the size of your database, but depending on what account you’re on, you may or may not be charged for certain types of contacts.
So, what should you do with your contacts and the unsubscribed, non-subscribed, and cleaned email addresses?
Firstly, before you make any rash decisions, it’s important to understand what each of these terms means to both you and Mailchimp.
Once you have a clear understanding, you can make an informed decision on how to manage your email list and protect your reputation as a sender, and not pay more than you should for Mailchimp.
The Subscribed, Unsubscribed, Non – subscribed, Cleaned, and Archived
Subscribed contacts are the live email addresses you can communicate with via email.
Unsubscribed contacts have opted out of your communication, so you can no longer send them emails. Mailchimp doesn’t want you sending emails to unsubscribed people because it causes them issues, and every time an email gets sent to someone who has stated they don’t want it, and they complain, it affects Mailchimp. That’s why every email you send with Mailchimp needs an unsubscribe link in it, so Mailchimp can manage unsubscribes for you.
But why does Mailchimp display unsubscribes to your audience? It’s because you can use this information for other purposes, such as retargeting or sending postcards through Mailchimp.
Non-subscribed contacts are essentially the same as unsubscribes in terms of technology. They appear in your audiences, but you cannot email them. Non-subscribed contacts are those who have most likely used an e-commerce store to which you are linked but did not agree to receive marketing communications when they checked out.
However, why does Mailchimp keep unsubscribes visible in your audience? To begin, if they decide to subscribe in the future, it’s a good idea to know their purchase information because you’ll most likely use it in future activity. Second, even if they are unsubscribed, you can send them a single “abandoned cart” email.
The cleaned – Where an unsubscribe is someone saying they don’t want to hear from you, someone whose address is ‘cleaned’ is someone saying they can’t hear you.
A cleaned email address is as far as Mailchimp’s concerned, a dead email address and one that cannot be contacted.
Archived – These are contacts who have been removed from your list by yourself.. When you archive a contact, you don’t lose any data even though the contact is removed from your audience. Archived contacts will not be charged and can be unarchived at any time.
Understanding these types of classification for your contacts is very helpful in your overall management of your Mailchimp account and the contacts there-in… but knowing how Mailchimp charges you is important, because in some instances, you’ll be charged for only certain types of contacts… so read on to keep your costs minimised.
How Mailchimp charges based on your account type
The first thing you need to understand is that there are fundamentally two types of Mailchimp Account… one that was created before May 2019, and one for accounts created after May 2019.
The accounts created before May 2019 (both free and paid) are known as “Legacy” accounts and were set up under some original terms of service. Mailchimp then updated how it operated and created a new terms of service for accounts created after May 2019. These “new” accounts are typically called Marketing Plans and come in 3 variants – Standard, Essentials and Premium.
First things first, let’s talk about how your bill is calculated. As a legacy user, your monthly bill is based on the maximum number of email subscribers you have across all your audiences during your billing period.
The good news is that you’re not charged for contacts in your database who are unsubscribed/non-subscribed or cleaned, but you will be charged for duplicate email addresses if they appear in different audiences within your account.
Mailchimp charges on a sliding scale, which means that the more subscribers you have, the more you’ll pay. But don’t worry, the levels are pretty comparable to the new account structures, so if you do decide to upgrade, chances are you won’t be paying a whole lot more.
The best part? Billing is automatically calculated and changed each month, so you only pay for what you use and don’t need to pay attention to it. This is one of the perks of being a legacy user – you don’t have to continuously check your account levels.
So if you’re on a legacy account, your billing will automatically adjust and you don’t need to do anything to change things.
Standard, Essentials and Premium users
if you’re on a standard, essentials or premium plan, the biggest single thing you need to know is the difference between a contact and a subscriber.
Your monthly Mailchimp bill is based on the maximum number of email contacts you have across all your audiences during your billing period. You’re charged for unsubscribed/non-subscribed contacts, but not for those who are ‘cleaned.’
Also, duplicate email addresses appearing in different audiences within your account are charged.
Mailchimp charges up to the set subscriber limit, and you select the limit you have. If you go over this limit, you’ll be charged for extra blocks of subscribers. Unfortunately, unlike the Legacy plan, there is no sliding scale. So, you need to keep a regular eye on your total contact count to avoid paying more than you should.
To avoid paying more than you should, you need to check each month if you’re on the right level and upgrade/downgrade accordingly. Mailchimp makes it easy to work out the best route for you, so the onus is on you.
How to make sure you’re not paying too much
So how can you make sure you’re not paying too much? Well since it’s all tied to the total number of subscribers you have, there are a few other things you should be looking to do.
You’re charged based on contacts, not subscribers, so you need to regularly archive unsubscribed and non-subscribed contacts so you aren’t paying for them. Archiving them means that if they do resubscribe in the future, you won’t lose their information.
From Friday, March 10 2023, Mailchimp will only allow:
- Contact limit – Up to 500 contacts which is a decrease from the previous limit of 2,000 contacts.
- Monthly send limit – Up to 1,000 email sends which is a decrease from the previous limit
- Daily send limit – Up to 500 email sends
Account holders who exceed 500 contacts in the future will need to upgrade to a paid plan or archive enough contacts to have 500 or fewer contacts to continue sending emails
…but free legacy accounts (set up prior to May 2019) which were set up with a free allowance of up to 2000 can maintain this.
Other money saving tips
- Avoid having multiple audiences
- One of the big “don’t do it” in our book is having multiple audiences.
- This is covered extensively in this article on why you should have one audience in Mailchimp, but from a cost point of view, multiple audiences potentially means email subscribers appearing more than once in your system – and those multiple subscribers count against your account and may cause you to go above your set band.
- There are multiple reasons why removing these people is a good idea – one main one being they are costing you money!
- Also, be careful when creating temporary audiences or importing data that you won’t need. Every time you do this, your “subscriber count” will jump, and it will cost you more for that specific month.
Mailchimp is a great system for email marketing and one of the key benefits is that they handle lots of the heavy lifting – managing unsubscribed emails and emails that don’t exist – without you having to get involved.
The one thing you do need to do regularly though is review your non-subscribers and unsubscribed.
If you’re using the data for postcards or targeting, you can keep them, but otherwise I’d recommend you archive them – it’ll save you money if you’re on a standard/essentials plan, it’ll reduce your subscriber count if you’re trying to keep under the 500 limit on a free plan – and even if you’re on a legacy plan, it’s just good practice to keep things tidy.
…and don’t worry about cleaned emails, they may look a bit messy, but there not doing you any harm at all and are actually protecting you (and Mailchimp) from bad email practice.
Just like those TV subscriptions you keep paying for which you know you should probably cancel, if you don’t archive your unsubscribes, it’s likely your paying money for things you don’t need.
And remember, if and (when!) costs go up, it’s a motivator to do things better, to get more from the platform, and grow your business.
Ultimately, you are the one who can improve the return you get on your investment in Mailchimp by being better at email marketing. So go out there, and make the most of it.
If you want someone to help you with your Mailchimp account, whether it's setting it up, reviving it or just keeping it ticking over, don't be shy.
Cheesy as it sounds, Liz is the biz when it comes to Marketing. She's worked in Marketing for around 20 years when she went to uni and studied Multimedia Technology…That's where her love affair for all things Marketing began. Since then she has worked for household names such as Wickes, The Rank Group, Nuffield Health, Snappy Snaps and Marriot. Not to mention a great variety of B2B and B2c businesses and agencies.
Here at Chimp Answers she deals with all things Marketing focusing on the Content and Copywriting side of things such as Blog posts, Emails and landing pages. Liz is Certified in Direct-Response Copywriting, Google Digital Marketing Fundamentals,Hubspot Inbound Marketing,Hubspot Social Media and of course, Mailchimp Foundations.
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