How to Create a Suppression List in Mail Chimp

What Is a Suppression List?

A suppression list a general term for a list of emails that have unsubscribed from a provider's newsletter. Due to anti-spamming legislation, it's illegal for companies to continue to send unsolicited emails so it's important that suppression lists are constantly updated and cross-checked against email blast lists.

So when do I use them?

When we sell dedicated email blasts to sponsors, we're allowing them to send a promoted message to our list of newsletter subscribers. However, there is a chance that someone is subscribed to a DoXXX email list but has unsubscribed from the sponsor's emails. Just because the sponsor is paying to message to our users does not change the fact that those people have said they don't want to hear from that sponsor.

Sending email blasts to unsubscribed emails not only breaks anti-spam laws, it hurts us by annoying users and driving up "unsubscribes" on our own lists. For most dedicated email blasts, the sponsor will need to send their suppression list of unsubscribed emails a few days in advance so we can create a temporary copy of our dedicated blast list that removes these emails.

How to Create a Suppression List

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Steps for creating a suppression list:
  1. Create a new email list that will be used for only for the dedicated blast.
  2. Import all “suppression/exclusion” addresses sent by client (in csv format) 
    • If these are not in CSV format, save the spreadsheet this way. This is the easiest way to make sure all info is transferred over.
  3. Unsubscribe this full list of names.
    • You will basically watch as the number of subscribers climbs to the full list number then goes back down to zero when you unsubscribe them (this is the longest portion of the whole process.)
  4. Once the list number is back down to 0 add new list to the total
    • Click into main list (whatever you use as your full eblast list) 
    • Click Actions
    • Click copy list to---> send to the list you have created for the dedicated blast
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Dealing With Large Lists

When setting up a large list to send out remember the following:
mail chimp segment that worked.jpg
  • The whole process will TAKE HOURS (no, seriously)
  • Upload all lists at least one day in advance
  • When pulling from your main list, confirm that you are copying/pasting all info
    • This will be important for segmenting the list based on different categories
  • There is no way to only send to a certain number. If you need to reduce the list size, remember:
    • Bulk deleting will take a LONG time
    • Create a segment that uses subcategories to limit down until you come up with the approx. number you are wanting to send to
    • Once you get to that number, send only to the segmented group instead of worrying about deleting from the larger list
    • See the example segment for the Macallan list -->
    • Notice the segments are arbitrary (emails containing random letters), just make sure you get the number that was specified in the deal
    • You will have to wait 7 days to delete the dedicated list, but remember to do this so your MailChimp limits do not get raised

Other resources:

  • There is NOT a true way to solve a suppression list problem, but MailChimp does give their own method (please read the above, first, to learn the method that works best for us):
  • MailChimp's live chat support is very helpful for specific issues, but note that they're only online during normal business hours (don't expect them to solve your problems at 11:50pm the night of!)