When you start doing email marketing, what are you proud of? I would guess, you like to see your email list is growing bigger and bigger. But after some time, you have to return to the question – does your email list size matter? Generally no. Quality certainly does. Ask yourself one very important question, is your list engaging with your emails?
What is the point of having X number of contacts if open rate is only 2%? Some days ago, The Direct Marketing Association released the Q2 2011 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks Results on key email metrics. Compiled from more than 7 billion emails, the quarterly analysis shows average open rate is 22.2 percent and average click rate is 5.2 percent. Of course, each email marketing campaign is unique and sometimes metrics do not matter. However, it is a great way to compare and measure your email marketing campaigns against averages.
The quarterly report shows a 4.8 percent decrease in average open rates and a 0.7 percent decrease in average click rates from Q1 2011. The reason of the decreases is not that marketers make worse campaigns. It is rather the fact email lists have grown up to a giant size and a huge part of lists are no more active; therefore, metrics decrease. If so, it is time to review your email list, get rid of inactive contacts and increase the value of your list. Smaller, but qualitative and targeted email list can be more fruitful than huge email list whose audience is less interested in the content.
What indicates the lack of quality in your email list?
- Low open rate. You send emails to inactive email addresses, recipients do not recognize the sender or the subject line is not eye-catching at all.
- Low click-through rate. The content of email is not attractive enough to read it and act according to call to action by clicking on links.
- High unsubscribe rate. The content is not only uninteresting but even annoying or totally irrelevant to what people have subscribed for.
- High bounce rate, a lot of spam reports and abuse reports. Your email list contains a lot of non-existing addresses, people have not subscribed for your list or are totally disappointed.
The reason why your email list is missing quality can be you did not follow the best email marketing practices.
- Bought email list or use 3rd party list.
- Did not ask permission to your contacts for sending them newsletters.
- Did not choose the right place to gather subscribers. For example, in a forum where almost nobody is interested in your specific business.
- Used material bonuses to motivate people for subscribing. If you do that, use relevant bonuses, for example, offer free consultation before buying your product, not a ticket to the cinema. It will show whether a person is really interested in your issue.
- Got subscribers using tricky methods. For example, when a person registers for something, there is already checked the option he wants to receive newsletters, and of course the check box and explanation are so tiny that nobody pays attention to that. It is better to enlarge this check box and invitation to subscribe, move it to a visible place and let people to choose. Therefore you will be sure about their interest.
In short, all the time you have been focusing on your email list quantity and the quality have suffered.
What indicates qualitative email list?
- Permission given by subscribers to send them email newsletters; therefore, you know you have targeted audience.
- Double opt-in that ensures a person really wants to sign up, email exists and subscription is not by mistake.
- Entering email twice in order to be sure there are no spelling mistakes in email addresses.
What can you do to increase the value of your email lists?
- Rule No 1 – clean your email list from non-existing and inactive contacts.
- Rule No 2 – make re-engagement campaigns for inactive ones in order to interest them again in your issue.
- Rule No 3 – know the time to say “goodbye”, meaning if certain contacts do not want to engage in your issue, let them go and unsubscribe them manually.
Big cleaning day – what to start with?
- Use database cleaning from non-existing addresses (Mailigen offers the service).
- Make a re-engagement campaign for inactive ones, for example, asking for re-permission, sending a survey in order to find out their interests, or offering a special promotional benefit (see our article on re-engagement campaigns). From now, you should treat them differently.
- Use autoresponders for inactive contacts. It is a great way to save your time by sending reminding emails at a fixed intervals if a person do not open emails or do not click on any links (check our article about Mailigen autoresponders).
- If re-engagement campaigns do not success, let inactive ones go and exclude them from your list.
- Use surveys for active contacts to get their feedback and than act according to the results. Do not miss a moment people get dissatisfied with your activities (read our article about online surveys).
- If you have a large list, use surveys to segment your active contacts and offer them various email content regarding their interests.
- If your business is periodic nature, for example, maternity clothing, bridal issue, make sure on a regular basis people are still in the topic. Remember: opt-ins are not forever.
- Instead of spending energy on inactive contacts, focus more on active ones to get them satisfied with you.
Just do not rush with inconsiderate cleaning. If a person does not buy your product after receiving your first email, that does not mean he will not do this after the seventh. Maybe he will not buy at all. But maybe instead of it he always forwards your emails to his friends and share the information on social networks (see our article on Mailigen social sharing).