Best practices for managing inactive users

Alex Dunne
Alex Dunne Vanilla Flower
edited March 4 in Talk Community #1

Hi everyone!

I'm doing some research and looking for best practices on how other communities manage inactive users.

Our Community is a closed B2B SAAS Community and some of the metrics we track are:

  • Overall Community numbers
  • % of passive users (what we define as users who log in and "lurk" but don't actively post or comment)
  • % of active users (what we define as users who like, post, comment etc.)

I recently ran a report of anyone who has been inactive for more than 6 months and it's a bigger number than I'd like. We haven't put in place a policy around removing users yet so I'm thinking the best course of action would be to:

  1. Run a "we miss you" campaign and remove anyone who we get a bounce back email from
  2. Run the report again a period of time later (1 month? 2?) and if those people still haven't logged back in, remove them (unfortunately our total numbers would go down but our active and passive % will go way up…).

I wanted to get advice from what others are doing before I put anything in place - how do you deal with inactive users? Do you utilize any integrations to help manage this? Any and all advice is appreciated, thank you!



  • Kirstie Macfarlane
    Kirstie Macfarlane HLV Staff
    edited March 4 #2

    Hi @Alex Dunne - thanks for your question!

    Firstly I would like to clarify that for many communities, passive users are not seen as a completely negative thing (or at least not so far as to remove them). For example, if you run a support community, and a lot of your users simply log in and search their questions, every answer they find means one less support ticket being opened!

    However I completely understand that an active user is much more valuable.

    You mentioned running a "We miss you campaign" to see if any emails are inactive. Do you regularly send out emails to encourage users back into your community? Even just something like a "Community Corner" in a regular outreach you have?

    We like to run regular email campaigns (I'm sure you've received some!) via Catalyst, and we're also leveraging our new Email Digest feature to send some of the more popular weekly posts to our users in order to encourage them back into the community.

    Looking forward to what others have to share!

    Here are some additional posts you may find interesting:

    #TipTuesday - Fueling User-Generated Content in Your Community

    We're spilling our secrets for reviving online communities and driving engagement [ recording ]

    Seeking ideas for a catchy day-of-the-week outreach program

  • Alex Dunne
    Alex Dunne Vanilla Flower

    Thanks @Kirstie Macfarlane , all of this is great and definitely something for me to delve further into. The reason we're keen on removing inactive users (we define it slightly differently - we're happy with our passive users but don't want a huge number of fully inactive users) is that we have a lot of proprietorial material in there and we like to keep that locked down so we're trying to find the best way to figure out how and when to remove those people. Looking forward to seeing what other people are doing!

  • LiselotteP
    LiselotteP Vanilla Ice Cream
    edited March 5 #4


    I do two things:

    • User management: anyone that has not logged in for +1 year goes into an 'Alumni' role. This is means they are no longer what we consider an active part of our user base. They can still view content, but it gives me clean numbers in the dashboard.
    • We miss you emails: every 2 weeks, I'll PM users that have not logged in for the past x weeks with a we miss you email template, which includes 3 top discussions from the last month that they've missed.

    Hope that helps!


  • Alex Dunne
    Alex Dunne Vanilla Flower

    Thanks @LiselotteP ! This is super helpful. We were also considering moving users into an Alumnae role rather than outright deleting to avoid the issue of the [deleted user] showing up on posts because it looks awful.

  • LiselotteP
    LiselotteP Vanilla Ice Cream
    edited March 13 #6

    @s_andrews, tagging you since I saw you just talked about this on another thread!

    Edit: apologies, saw that you linked to this already!

  • s_andrews
    s_andrews Vanilla Ice Cream
    edited March 13 #7

    Thanks @LiselotteP

    I'll repost and some of my blue-sky thoughts 😀

    One of the items that was on our list of things we'd like is to delete users after x years of inactivity (On a 20yr old forum with 2m registered that's massive!).

    But I hadn't considered what our forum would look like with so many Deleted_user's everywhere.

    So we might go back to our data people with the 'Alumnae' idea - keeping the username.

    Problem is that one of the reasons a company might want to do this in the first place is for good data-retention practice - to remove email addresses you don't need to hold.

    One thought I had which would be a bit of an ask from HL, but maybe a smaller community could do manually if they REALLY want to make sure they're not holding data they don't have to - manually keep a hash of the email instead of the real email address.

    For example. If you put into a SHA-256 generator you get:


    If you stored that in some way and deleted the email address, you can never figure out what the original email address was from the code, but if someone comes along later wanting their account back emailing from, you can run it through a generator and see if code matches.