Should I purge users who are on the FREE tier and DO NOT subscribe to emails?

More of a philosophical question here than a technical question.

I have about 1100 members total and 100 of them are on the free plan and UNSUBSCRIBED to the news letter. What’s the point of having these people signed up? None of the content reaches them and I can’t market to them b/c they’ve shut emails off (right? am I missing something there?)

Any point in keeping them on my roster? Curious what people think.

Depends a bit on how your site is built, but I can imagine that they might not want emails, but read members-only content on your Ghost site directly?


That’s a really good question. Are the visiting the website?

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There’s VERY little content for free members.

That’s an even better question. I didn’t know I could check that. Let me go poke around

Yeah, as I said – depends on how your site it built.

But generally, this would be a constellation where it would make sense to keep them.

Interesting followup - is there a way to know who TURNED OFF the newsletter and who was auto unsubscribed due to bounced emails? I have a certain # of people who just typed in their email wrong.

If they typed it wrong in the first place, their accounts don’t show up at all.

Are you 100% sure? I have a few accounts which are clearly mistyped (Beth Smith with an email of kind of thing). And they stay in the DB of free users even after Beth Smith comes back and registers correctly. When I look up the mistyped Beth Smith it just shows “email bounced”

Yep. At least for a typical Ghost workflow, if Ghost sends a magic link but the user doesn’t click it, the user doesn’t show up in the members list until they do. You can confirm that for yourself by signing out and ‘subscribing’ a new user but not clicking the link.

So… if you user made a typo that made the email undeliverable, they wouldn’t show up in your members list, because they couldn’t click the link.

UNLESS: You imported members from somewhere that doesn’t do a magic-link-type process OR you have an alternate sign-up process that creates members through the API without email verification. Or something similar. I tested what happens if the user tries to change their address, but it sends a confirmation email and doesn’t change the email shown until the user confirms the new address. So… if none of those things happened, I’m stumped.

I had a client with about a thousand members who were not subscribed to email and hadn’t been on the site in six months. I’m all in favor of keeping members who might plausibly still be ‘in the funnel’ for doing something that could be monetized, but sometimes you’ve got to say “huh, these people are costing me money and I have no meaningful way of interacting with them.”

yeah that second part is what I am thinking on. But I am not near my cap yet (it just auto-bumped me up) so maybe I give them a little time…thank for helping me talk this out.

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One of the sorta-frustrating things about owning a site with some free and some member-only content, is that there is no way (that I know of) of telling if someone has been on the site unless they log in. The “last seen” date in Ghost is obviously when they last logged in, or read something while logged in.

I’ve debated this question with myself for some time, and have gone back and forth on it.

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Yeah, on the one hand it like a free tier – and converting someone who’s already on your site and signed up is easier than getting a total stranger on board. On the other hand, free members who unsubscribe are pretty much NOT engaged and not interested in engaging. So what’s the point?

I just sent an e-mail asking if they are dead.

A few opened, replied and continue in our lists. Not a marketing tip but you can see similar approaches in top companies.

You are looking for audience, if they don’t care could be good leave them alone.

Ask yourself how much are you wasting on it and if they can really engage or not because their genuine (or not) interest in your website/brand.


I definitely have folks on the list whose emails are off because of alleged spam or bounces. AFAIK there is no way to find them. I have asked Ghost about this and they have said it would be a good filter, but so far I don’t think they have one (it’s been a minute since I asked).

I have no paywall or members-only content, so I prefer these folks are not on my list. I have previously sent them an email (with a fun subject line), as follows:


Hello friend,

Just wanted to let you know I’ll be removing you from our database, as you aren’t subscribed for our daily email and, according to my records, aren’t currently a member.

If you think this is in error, please let me know.

That said, I would love to have your support in our second year of business.

We’re going strong but we won’t hit our next goal without your help.

We have lots of great reporting in the works, from data and crime trends to updates on the recall and BPD’s new cameras, among many other subjects.

Stay connected with a one-time payment and support independent, original reporting you won’t find anywhere else.

The main benefit is that some of them always come back and say, I didn’t realize I wasn’t getting the emails anymore, sign me back up. I also think that, when most people unsubscribe, they just don’t want to be connected anymore.

I suppose it’s POSSIBLE that they want to be able to log in but, at least on my site, there is really no benefit to logging in for FREE tier folks. Only paying tier can comment and there is otherwise no paywall.

The downsides of leaving them on the list are pretty small. It may push you into a new Ghost payment tier AND it would reduce your open rates. IMO it’s worth doing every few months or so just to clean up the list, especially if you use it as an opportunity to connect with them once before removing them. That’s my philosophy! :)