Dump your Email Subscribers?! I know what you’re thinking…
No, I’m not insane. In fact, I do this every year.
In this post, I’ll tell you why I dumped 2,500 of my own email subscribers, how, and most importantly, why you need to do the same.
Your email subscriber is your most important lead
I always say the same thing, email subscribers are the most important prospect your business can have today. But, if that’s true, why are we even talking about dumping them?
Let’s start by looking at the reasons why…
Why you need to dump your email subscribers
Would you try to stop people from following you on Twitter? or from watching your TV commercial? Of course not.
There is no downside to having more Twitter followers, even when you know the majority of that audience completely missed or ignore your message.
But email marketing is different. Keeping a current and healthy list of active subscribers is key to your success. Deadbeat subscribers, on the other hand, can really affect your performance.
Here are 4 reasons why I clean my list to eliminate those deadbeats, every year…
1) Keep the value of your list up
It’s very simple, your email list is valuable because the people in it have expressed an interest in you, your company or what you offer. This is why they open your emails, click through to read your posts, etc.
But the reason a segment of your list stops opening your emails is because they are no longer interested in you.
If you do not eliminate those individuals that are no longer interested, the value of your entire list goes down. Now, instead of having a list of highly targeted prospects, you have a list of random people that were, at some point, interested.
2) Keep your reputation up
ISPs, spam monitors, and email security services are all keeping an eye on you. When your list shows undeliverable addresses, high spam complaints and unsubscribe rates and low open and click through rates, you can easily flag these groups.
This might affect your reputation and deliverability rate, and can even result in being blocked from ISPs or getting black-listed.
3) Real Performance
When you have a large percentage of subscribers ignoring your emails, this is reflected in your analytics. Metrics like open and click-through rates, conversion and even the lifetime value of your subscribers are probably below average.
The point, of course, is not that you want to be looking at pretty charts to boost your ego, but to look at the performance of email campaigns that are being sent to people that are interested in your business.
If you remove the people that are no longer interested, these metrics are going to reflect a more realistic performance.
If you’ve seen how other people claim to have much better results than you, this might be one of the reasons.
4) Keep your cost down
Email service providers usually charge a monthly fee based on tiers by number of subscribers in your list.
The following is the pricing table from Aweber, and as you can see, going from 10,000 to 10,001 subscribers represents a difference of $80 per month, or $960 per year.
Paying an additional $960 a year for people that are not opening your emails is a huge waste of money that you could allocate to other marketing efforts.
Don’t feel bad
One thing I learned early on is that it is virtually impossible to keep everybody interested and engaged all the time. Some people will stop paying attention over time for different reasons, they got busy, they finally learned whatever it is you teach, they solved whatever they needed to solve, maybe they purchased a product from you and they don’t need anything else, or maybe they just lost interest in what you do.
Believe me, if you’re a weight loss expert and I recently lost 100 pounds, my attention will inevitably start going elsewhere, and if I wasn’t able to drop a single pound, I will probably get discouraged and stop paying attention too.
This is natural and there is no reason to feel bad about it.
Why the “Unsubscribe” link is not enough
As you know, all emails you send out to your list include an unsubscribe link at the bottom, it’s not just good practice, it’s also part of the CAN-SPAM Act rules you must follow.
Having a person voluntarily unsubscribe from your list is a good thing, if s/he’s no longer interested, why should you try to retain that subscriber. You stop wasting time and don’t run the risk to annoy this person enough to get a spam complaint.
But the real problem is that the majority of people don’t take the time to unsubscribe from your list, it’s easier to delete the message every time you hit their inbox, or even mark it as spam and don’t deal with it.
This is why the best thing to do is to take the initiative for them and ask inactive subscribers if they want to stop getting your emails, and make it a rule to follow after a specific period of time, before they start damaging your reputation.
How to clean your email list
This is not just about deleting people, you are trying to accomplish two things here:
- Get a reaction from the people that have been inactive for some time but are still interested in you
- Remove the ones that are no longer interested in you or have become “undeliverable”
In other words, you can’t just grab a segment of your list and throw it in the trash.
Here is how to clean your list:
Step 1: Identify the inactive subscribers
Start by running a report of the people that have not opened any of your emails for a period of time.
You need to look at two pieces of information here:
- They subscribed before [date]
- They haven’t opened any emails since [date]
Make sure you understand how this works in your specific provider, you do not want to include a person that didn’t open any emails in the last six months and turns out is because he joined the list a couple of weeks ago.
Step 2: Create a Segment
Now that you have a list of people to potentially unsubscribe, save it as a segment. This will allow you to send an email campaign targeting this group.
Step 3: Send them an email
The email goes a little like this…
Again, the point here is not to simply delete people, this email filters people for you as it gets 3 different reactions:
- Most people will ignore it as they have been ignoring the rest of your emails
- Some will open by mistake, out of curiosity. Give them instructions on how to unsubscribe anyways
- Fewer will react because they want to stay subscribed to your list
The third group is the one you want to keep. Here is an example why:
Even though you will receive a number of positive responses like that, you shouldn’t set your expectations too high, after all, you’re sending a campaign to people that have been unresponsive for a while.
In other words, this will most likely be the lowest open rate you’ve ever seen…
It’s important that you allow enough time for people to react to your email campaign, I like waiting at least 24 hours.
Step 4: Run your report again
DO NOT go back and delete the subscribers in the segment you created on step 2. You have to run a new report with the same criteria…
- They subscribed before [date]
- They haven’t opened any emails since [date]
The people that opened the message will no longer be in the list, as well as the people that unsubscribed by themselves. The only subscribers left in this list are the ones that ignored your message.
Step 5: Delete
Now you can go ahead and delete. Just make sure you are deleting the correct list.
Would you keep a bunch of contacts with disconnected phone numbers in your address book?
Another way of keeping a healthier list is to get rid of the undeliverables.
An “undeliverable” simply means that the email is no longer reaching its destiny, this can happen for different reasons like a typo in the email address, the account was closed, the server is down or your emails have been blocked by the recipient.
Either way, this has a negative impact on your delivery rate and it can affect your sender’s reputation.
Look for the option to run a report of the undeliverables in your email service provider to delete them from your list. This is a process you can perform with more frequency.