How To Avoid Paying For Subscribers Who Unsubscribe Your Mailing List

Kumar Gauraw

If you are using an Autoresponder service like Aweber or GetResponse, are you making sure you keep your mailing list clean? I ask because, sometimes, not cleaning your list may cost you money.
Keep Your Mailing List Clean - Remove People Who Unsubscribe - Save Money

Those who know me personally, know that I don’t pay much attention to fine prints. I don’t like to do house cleaning activities very often either.

Just by fluke I happened to see consistent emails from Aweber (which I store in a separate folder in my Gmail account) month after month this year so far saying they were able to charge my credit card successfully.

That got my attention pretty quick (who likes to see their money go away!) because I remember I pay them once a year and I didn’t expect any monthly charge from them.

I realized that they were charging for the next level because my account had outgrown my current subscription package according to them. But, I knew that my list wasn’t that big yet and I was thinking that I will be good with my current package for at least a few more months.

So, I called Aweber to find out what’s going on. And here is what I found out.

Unsubscribers Still Remain In Your Mailing List

This was an eye opener for me because this happened because of Snigdha’s (my wife) mailing list which she had stopped building at least 2 years ago.

As a background, my wife was very actively blogging until 2012. When our family situation and a unique situation with our other businesses demanded that she put her website on the back burner, she did that. Only now she is gearing up to re-boot her website with a renewed passion.

Her website, is under construction currently because our development team is re-energizing the website to make it ready for the launch soon.

So, while Snigdha wasn’t very active with her blog, she lost a lot of subscribers over those two years and also kept on getting new subscribers. That means, she had a few hundred people unsubscribed.

On the other hand, both my list and number of subscribers has also consistently grown.

The real problem is the way Aweber calculates what they should charge you for. So, here is the formula:

Gross Subscribers = People Subscribed + People Unsubscribed

And they bill you based on Gross Subscribers. Now, I had in total a few hundred people who were not engaging with me and polluting my account. Plus, even worse, I was paying for them as well.

Remove Unsubscribers Regularly From Your Mailing List

Aweber was kind enough to reverse some of the charges when they realized that it was because of my ignorance that I had been paying.

However, the lessons learnt is, just like we do cleaning up with broken links on our web pages to keep Google happy, it is a good idea to keep a housekeeping schedule to clean up your mailing list and keep your bank account happy.

You should definitely do this if you are on Aweber unless you are doing some kind of business intelligence on the unsubscriber’s data to fine tune your marketing strategy. But, I am not into slicing and dicing on that data. To me, once somebody has unsubscribed, I am done!

If you are like me, the best thing to do is to go to “Manage Subscribers” menu option, find the list of people who have unsubscribed and delete them all.

This can save you a few hundred dollars a year. Not a bad saving, isn’t it?

Is It Only Unique Situation To Aweber?

If you are using any other service, I would like to know how does your Autoresponder service provider treat your unsubscribers?

Do you need to clean your list manually? Do they also start charging you if you didn’t delete your unsubscribers manually?

I would love to know how other companies deal with this situation. Please share your experience and add value through your comments. Thank you kindly!

Kumar Gauraw

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Kumar Gauraw is a Personal Branding & Social Media strategist helping entrepreneurs and skilled professionals achieve personal and professional success by developing leadership and leveraging the power of the Internet, Blogging and Social Media.

29 Awesome Thoughts So Far, Add Yours Now...

  1. Hi Kumar,

    Yes indeed, you do need to keep cleaning your list, just as you mentioned, especially after all that you mentioned about Aweber, which even I didn’t know.

    Unsubscribers still remain on your list…wow! How would anyone know of that unless you are billed for it without knowing why, and good that you asked them and clarified about it.

    Well, I tried Aweber for a month, but gave up as it’s more for those who are into some business, marketing or have something to sell, and for that cost, I don’t think I was quite ready as yet. I am pretty happy with just a free WP plugin for a newsletter presently, and all the unsubscribers are easily removed with just a click, and even if not, it doesn’t really harm me or the blog.

    Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    • Hi Harleena,

      Yes, unless you are just learning about Autoresponders, you can easily miss these points they mention in their HELP page and therefore you end up paying for those who unsubscribers like I did 🙂

      I am glad you are able to manage the show without a service like this so far! You have done a great job of not even making it obvious to your visitors 🙂

      Smart move!


  2. Hi Kumar,

    Such an informative post.
    You have explained it in a great way. As you said it’ necessary to check our subscibers list. There may be many people who just subscribe us only for a while and we keep thinking that they are listening what we are sending them. But in real sense they just annoy our mails like nothing.

    It may cost many bloggers ans currently there may be many bloggers who don’t even check the list of the people who have unsubscribed them. As you have suggested it’s really important to know about them so that bloggers can save some dollars.

    Thanks for the share.
    Have a great weekend.:)


    • Glad you found this post informative! Well, I have been by the same ignorance you spoke about 🙂

      Partially because I didn’t know they will charge me for it although I check my list and clean it often.

      Have a great weekend!


  3. Hi Kumar,

    I’m puzzled. Really. Puzzled. Never heard of such a practice. I really cannot believe it… I guess I should add one more reason to the article from my blog mentioned below…

    • Yeah! Well, you should check the one you are using and just make sure that your service doesn’t have this practice.

      If Aweber is the one doing this, I see why it is a questionable practice.

      But, I am curious to see how other companies deal with unsubscribers.

  4. Hey Kumar,

    Every time I go into my Aweber account to write my new broadcast I check my unsubscribes and I delete them then. I also will check at least once a month and delete any subscribers who have not opened their emails in over three months.

    Around the first of this year I was hit with just hundreds of subscribers on a daily basis but of course since they didn’t do the double opt-in they immediately went to unsubscribe. Since I check my account twice a week anyway I wasn’t too worried about it because it was like one of those spam bot attacks. But then my billing cycle came around and they charged me for the overage because it hit before my next clean up.

    They were very nice about it and credited my account and even said they would delete those unsubscribes for me if I wanted. I have a pretty good handle on that but now am more aware of when my renewal date is.

    I consider myself to have a small list because I keep it pretty cleaned up. I don’t want to pay for anyone who doesn’t really want to be on my list. I think if your list is pretty active and you have good communication with them then having a small list is fine.

    I’m sure there are plenty of other companies that do this same thing because it’s a numbers thing for them. I don’t like how they charge for the overage but I do like their service so I’ll continue to stick with them. They’re just way too easy to use and I need easy.

    Great share and you’re right, we need to keep this all cleaned up.


    • That’s true Adrienne. Why fix something which isn’t broken

      Well, I am not changing either. But, this is something Aweber would have more promptly warned me about before silently starting to charge my credit card. That is the part I think, should have been done a little differently on their part. It just seems a bit deceiving.

    • Hey Adrienne!!

      Thanks for sharing this article on your website! It’s super helpful. I went through and removed the unsubscribed individuals.

      Also, I took your advice and went through to see who hasn’t opened an email since March of this year. (I hope I did that right. I selected show me No Opens since March 2014?) I didn’t delete them yet, but just wanted to take a look at them.

      Anyhoo, my question to you or Kumar is: Those individuals who display as No Opens, is it taking into consideration those people who may subscribe to email newsletter services such as In other words, how does Aweber account for those people who may be using a service such as to read their newsletters? Hope that makes sense?

      • Hello Jennifer,

        Thank you for dropping by. You have raised a very good question and I would have clarified about this even if you didn’t mention about because there is a major flaw in the way Aweber and any other email service calculates open rates.

        Let me start with saying that Aweber’s OPEN rate is inaccurate and you should never judge your subscribers based on what Aweber reports.


        These companies put an invisible image in your email broadcast which must be loaded in the browser of the viewer for Aweber to count OPEN.

        Now, services like Google, have algorithms to stop images from being loaded and as a result, those tracking images may never get loaded and thus Aweber fails count that OPEN even if your subscriber might have opened the mail.

        Therefore, the only way for you to know for sure is to make sure your subscribers click on a link and you should only count the click rates.

        Never delete subscribers based on OPEN REPORT because it is wrong!

        I hope this helps?


  5. Hello Kumar,

    This is an interesting tip: imagine actively paying for someone who sees no good in your work and wonders why he/she should remain on your list.

    I’ll definitely remember and keep an eye. The entry is sincerely appreciated.


  6. Hi Kumar,
    You have posted very informative article. You are explained this concept very good way.
    I think so many people got lot of experience from your this post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Keep it up 🙂

  7. Hi Kumar,
    I completely moved away from AWeber just last week for an option I think is more price friendly. A few campaigns I have created with the new option too saw a more than 50% jump on open rate.

    I don’t know yet if my new platform has this issue but I’ll keep an eye on it.

    BTW, I just wrote a review about INinbox, the new option. Link at the bottom of this comment

    • I will definitely check them out Enstine. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Hi Kumar,

    I have several lists and it was a housekeeping mess! When dealing with several lists, one has to keep it clean otherwise, we are just wasting time, effort and money.

    My offline business list is one that I don’t clean up much because that business is one which people come to me often and sometimes after a year for a consultation.

    Then there is those split lists! Gosh those I pay close attention to because they go into different sales funnels. If I let that one go, I would be in a big mess!

    So many people (me included sometimes) do not unsubscribe. That’s the problem. So we do need to keep our eye on our that one and keep it fresh at least once a month.


  9. How wow this is new to me! I think that is definitely a down fall to the service and they should offer some type of option to automatically delete unsubscribers. What’s the point of keeping them if they are not receiving your messages anyway!

    I agree with you on the clean part of things. Give me the fun stuff, not the clean up because I have to stuff haha!

    This is good for users to know for sure.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Hello Gauraw,

    To be honest most of things listed in the post are really new to me as I’m really noob in building mailing list thing or anything related to it.

    Have a great weekend.


  11. Hello Kumar,
    I recently come to know about you and after reading your post i must say that these are quite innovative and different from as usual crowd. To be frank i was unaware about mailing list and these procedures before reading this article but after looking at this i will surely go for a good mailing list management.
    thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Helo kumar,
    I was eager to know about this issue as i was facing it from a few days and after i have gone through your article my issues are mostly solved . I must say that it was quite innovative thing.
    Thanks for sharing this healthy information.

  13. Good reminder Kumar! Always feels good to release bad matches – aka dead weight lol – to feel energetically lighter, and to save some bucks too 😉 Thanks for the helpful share!

    • Hi Ryan,

      The sad thing is, I really paid for that dead weight for several months before I could realize I was 🙂

      How ignorant of me!


  14. Hi Kumar,
    This post is filled with valuable information so, thank you for sharing what you found. I came here from Adrienne’s blog first because who wants too pay extra money for people who have unsubscribed from your list?

    I went right over to AWeber, and immediately deleted the unsubscribers. Luckily, I only had three. Thanks to you, a lot of people will be saving money especially if they have AWeber.

    I did read where they tell you that they do charge for unsubscribers. Like you said, reading the fine print is not one of my favorite things to do, either .

    You bring up a valid point that everyone will benefit from and that is, what other companies that you deal with charge you for things you don’t know about?.

    Excellent post!

    • Hi Gery,

      Glad to know my post helped you clean up your list a bit.

      A lot of us do not read those fine prints and I did speak to Aweber and they did promise that they will consider moving this declaration on a more prominently displayed section.

      I hope that will help some more people.


  15. Yes indeed, I have noticed the same thing a month before, when I got an email from my mailing service telling me that I need to upgrade my account, as I have hit the subscribers limit.
    May I ask you what is the share of the unsubscribed people compared to the total list?

  16. Thank you Kumar!

    A while back I became aware of the exact same potentially costly situation that you are describing! I use Aweber as well.

    And just like you pointed out, if you don’t know the specific formula that your paid autoresponder service uses, you might end up paying for. So it’s best just like advises, to simply inquire asap.

    That way there are no surprises! Great post Kumar, extremely practical and helpful!

    • Mark,

      Funny thing is, I didn’t inquire until I noticed that I already paid for those unsubscribes for several months.

      But I hope a lot of Aweber users are now aware because of this post. I am glad it added value.


  17. I came over to your site by way of Adrienne Smith. She mentioned this article in one of her Thankful Thursdays and I’m so thankful that I read this post!

    I went and cleaned up my unsubscribers from my email list, however, that didn’t bring me underneath the cut-point. I appreciate you writing this article, though. It’s such a big help!! I learned something new and will definitely keep an eye out for this!

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