You know that feeling you get when you finally get around to cleaning out your closet and in the process, find a fabulous pair of shoes you forgot you had? (Don’t worry. This is not another Sex and the City reference.) That’s how I felt when I recently cleaned out Spring Insight’s email list.
Are there any other benefits to updating your email list besides the feeling of accomplishment you get when you cut the dead weight? Yes! If you are sending messages to a cluttered list, you are not only wasting your own time (and money), but you could actually be damaging your brand. Internet Service Providers, spam monitors, and email security services all set thresholds for what constitutes an acceptable email campaign. Too many undeliverables can draw unwanted attention from these groups, which could lead to your account being suspended or other penalties. Not good.
So, how do you know if your list needs to be purged?
First, if you aren’t keeping track of your email stats, drop what you are doing and start NOW. But I know I’m preaching to the choir here since you are already using dashboards to track your stats, right?
The three stats we watch most closely on our campaigns are:
- Open rates – the percentage of users who are opening our emails
- Click through rates – the percentage of users who then click on links to our products and services
- Conversion rates – how often do those who click through make a purchase?
Your competition probably keeps a tight lid on their stats, but you can compare your rates with the averages for your industry, according to Mailchimp (that’s the program we use at Spring Insight to send emails).
At Spring Insight, I noticed my newsletter open rate continuing to drop over the past year. In June 2015 we were as high as 39%, last month we were down to as low as 15%. What an unpleasant feeling! Finally, I got fed up with seeing those crummy stats and decided the time had come. We needed to cut.
Here’s what we did:
- We looked to see who on our list was opening our emails. Most email programs allow you to see how long it’s been since your subscribers last opened an email. You can choose a specific timeframe to look at. In our case, we went way back. We chose to focus on subscribers that had not opened any of the last 10 emails (that’s about 6 months worth of newsletters). We found 253 email addresses who hadn’t touched a Spring Insight newsletter in months.
- We downloaded the list of inactive subscribers and saved them in Mailchimp as a separate list.
- We sent a short, clever email to these inactive subscribers giving them a chance to opt back in. We wanted to make the opt-in process as easy as possible for those still wanting to receive our emails. Here’s the text of our quick and painless email:
Subject: Was it something I said?
Hey! What happened?
For a few months, you haven’t been opening my emails.
I’m guessing this means one of three things:
- You signed up to receive all of my website strategy and online marketing tidbits of wisdom. But then…you’ve just been too busy to read them.
- You signed up to receive all of my brilliant insights, but you forgot to add me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to your address book. So my sage words ended up in your spam folder like some kind of advance fee lottery scam.
- You are just not that into me.
If you’re no longer interested in hearing what I have to say, just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll simply lose your email address and forget we ever met.
If you ARE interested, please click here to stay on the email list.
Finally, if you’re really too busy to read free advice about how to increase your online presence, you might want to look into how Spring Insight’s marketing support could give you back some of your time.
- The confirmation link took them to a landing page built through Instapage (you could also build this within your WordPress site fairly easily) and let our subscribers know we were excited to see them stay. Yay! Two subscribers chose to click on the page, which left us free to scrub 251 inactive subscribers from our list (and snub them at all upcoming networking events…I kid, I kid).
- Here comes the incredible part: Since we did this simple cleaning process, our open rate has jumped nearly 20%, which puts us far above industry averages. And I can rest assured knowing that my emails are reaching an audience that is better engaged and more likely to actually pay attention to my brilliant advice.
Not bad for less than a day’s work, huh?
Cleaning out your email list is not the most glamorous or exciting task, but the payoff is undeniable. In fact, I’ve created a reminder to check for inactive subscribers every six months.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community