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Every email marketer knows that you need to suppress email addresses from future campaigns if they have previously opted out of receiving marketing emails. But suppression files have many more uses for the savvy email marketer. Let’s dive into three ways to use suppression files to drive campaign strategy and performance beyond that legally required unsubscribe file. 

Current Customers

While driving new customer growth is vital to increasing revenue, current customers are extremely valuable in virtually any business model. Whether you are upselling or cross-selling products or services or driving repeat purchases over time, returning customers form the foundation of many businesses. After you’ve gone to the effort (and cost) of acquiring a new customer, you want to keep them satisfied and engaged with your brand, so they stick around and generate more revenue. Do you know what may annoy current customers more than maybe anything else? Seeing introductory offers from your brand that they don’t qualify for. We’ve likely all had the experience of seeing a special offer from a brand we purchase from and then when we try to take advantage of it, find out that it’s only for entirely new customers. (Happened to me more than once over the holidays!)

While you can’t guarantee that a current customer will never see an aggressive acquisition offer, you can reduce the likelihood by making sure you aren’t actively sending these offers to them in your email campaigns. The best way to accomplish this is to have a suppression file of current customers that you use before sending out any acquisition email campaigns. 

On the affiliate marketing side, the same strategy often applies. Once you have a customer, you can market to them yourself through your own internal email program. Most (but not all) affiliate programs are designed to drive net new customer acquisition. You can keep your affiliates focused on those prospective customers by having them suppress your current customer list from all of their mailings. 


Many experienced emailers will tell you, “Never remove anyone from your campaigns until they unsubscribe.” There is a good argument behind that philosophy if you dig into research that shows people sometimes buy from a brand without ever opening an email. Just seeing the email in their inbox can trigger a purchase at some point. 

However, there are good reasons to consider suppressing non-responders (especially high-frequency non-responders) from at least some campaigns. Lower engagement rates for your campaigns could lead to a lower sender score/reputation, which then could impact deliverability for all of your campaigns. With inboxing being a challenge for every email marketer, practices that can improve deliverability are well worth considering.

Exclusive Offers

Here’s where you can start playing four-dimensional chess in your email marketing program. OK, maybe it’s not that next level, but it’s still an area where you can really dial in your strategy and tactics. Let’s say you have a group of recipients who have already taken advantage of a special offer in the past. You may not want the same people cashing in on a deal that is supposed to be a one-time opportunity or train them to expect that special offer to keep coming their way. So, suppressing them from future mailings of that special offer may make a lot of sense. Or imagine you have a group of recipients that you have been trying to convert, but after multiple attempts, just don’t seem interested. When that happens it may be time to suppress them from those offers and send them something new. 

There are other uses for suppression files as well, such as where de-targeting a group from a larger campaign list may be more straightforward than trying to target everyone else. The point is to remember that suppression files can be used for a wide range of purposes beyond compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act.

If you’d like to read a more in-depth look at Email Suppression Lists, check out another article on our blog: What is a Suppression List?

And if you’d like more articles like this covering things like Email Marketing, AI, and other industry-related topics, check out our full Blog Here.

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