“How big is your list?”
It’s one of those awful questions we ask email list builders when trying to assess how successful they are. And when it comes to asking it, I’m just as guilty as anybody else.
But I’ve come to a startling realisation.
The size of your list doesn’t matter nearly as much as the engagement with your list.
We can collect 100 email addresses fairly easily, but if they’re not actively engaged with our content, it’s a waste of time.
I know this first hand. A few months ago I re-discovered a ‘buyers only’ email list of 1,000 – 2,000 customers.
It was an old list I downloaded from Aweber, and forgot to re-upload when switched CRM.
The fact is, I hadn’t emailed these subscribers for around 3 years and that list was almost worthless. I did try to revive some life back into it, and had marginal success, but nowhere near the level you’d expect for a list of that size.
And the number of unsubscribes was brutal.
I realised I gained something valuable from the experience.
While it seems almost fashionable to slate people who unsubscribe from your email list, it’s occasionally a good thing for us.
I know, I know, an unsubscriber is despised almost as much as the dreaded ‘freebie seeker’.
But hear me out, ok?
Unsubscribers are not the scourge of society
I’m not advocating or suggesting that you intentionally send emails that irritate your subscribers.
But you betcha, under the right circumstances they’re a good thing for us.
Unsubscribers let us make our lists:
- More targeted
- Increase engagement
- Reduce costs
They help us to make our lists more targeted, more efficient and cheaper to run.
Recognising why people are unsubscribing can make you stronger.
People usually only unsubscribe for a few reasons:
- Too many emails
- Not enough emails
- Not relevant content
And each one of these is just a symptom, so there is a cure.
If you’re emailing every day and notice your unsubscribe rate is creeping up, then reduce the frequency of your emails. People might not want to hear from you every day.
If you’re not emailing very often, yet seeing a high unsubscribe rate, increase the frequently. People might not remember who are you are, and think its spam.
The sweet spot for most companies seems to be one email per week.
And to make sure that your subscribers are receiving content that’s relevant to their needs, you can segment your list.
This requires using something a little bit more sophisticated than Aweber, but thankfully most autoresponders are capable of behavioural response.
Here’s one way to do it. Let’s pretend your in the mobile phone niche.
On a Monday you send out an email about Apple. On the Tuesday you send one about Android.
You set your autoresponder / CRM to automatically tag anyone who opens the first email as ‘Apple Fans’. And anyone who opens the second email as ‘Android Fans’.
You can now email JUST Apple related info to Apple fans, and Android related info to the Android fans.
This will increase your open rate, increase your engagement rate and reduce your unsubscribe rate.
So the next time you lose email subscribers, thank them for making your business just a little bit stronger.