In your Mailchimp subscriber list you may have come across the four set categories of All Subscribers, Unsubscribed, Cleaned and Transactional. These names aren’t altogether explanatory and I often get asked in Mailchimp training what each means so here is a brief outline:
These are the email addresses that you’re able to send to i.e. people that are subscribed to receive your EDM and that have not unsubscribed nor hard bounced (see below for more about bounced email addresses).
The email addresses in the All Subscribers category are those for which you are billed.
These are people that have unsubscribed from your campaigns. Typically they will have clicked the unsubscribe link at the end of a campaign that you’ve sent to the subscriber. You may of course also import email addresses that have unsubscribed from your list should you have a large number of email addresses that you manually need to unsubscribe (this means also applies to suppression lists).
Email addresses in the Unsubscribed category are not counted by Mailchimp when determining your subscriber amount for billing.
Cleaned subscribers are those where Mailchimp has determined that it isn’t possible to send campaigns to those email addresses. Importantly, the term Cleaned here refers to cleaned from your All Subscribers i.e. they are non-deliverable email addresses.
The email addresses in this section of a list have hard-bounced and therefore Mailchimp believes they can no longer deliver to these email addresses. Here is how the process works:
- You send your Mailchimp campaign.
- Those emails that can be delivered are delivered and those that aren’t come back as a hard-bounce or soft-bounce.
- A hard-bounce means that the receiving server has replied to Mailchimp that the receiving email address is not valid. Mailchimp moves the hard-bounced email address from the All Subscribers section of the list to the Cleaned section. As this subscriber is no longer in the All Subscribers section you’ll no longer be able to send campaigns to that person.
- A soft-bounce is where there is a temporary deliverability issue to an email address (e.g. the recipients mailbox being full or the campaign size exceeds the maximum size allowed by the receiving server). Mailchimp will try to deliver the campaign to soft-bounce email addresses for three days. If an email address continues to soft-bounce over numerous campaigns then the email address will be moved to the Cleaned list category.
The subscribers you see in this section are those that have been sent transactional emails via Mandrill. Transactional emails are one-to-one emails. As transactional email recipients haven’t necessarily agreed to receive your email marketing they are kept in this section of your list and not added to your All Subscribers section.