Bigger Isn’t Always Better: The Art of Email List Size

Hate to break it to you, but the size of your email distribution list doesn’t mean much if your recipients aren’t opening, clicking and engaging with your content.

Cleaning lists is an essential, and often overlooked part, of email marketing. Often, brands are working off lists they’ve been building for years. It’s very probable people have changed email addresses or filtered your brand emails into a folder they never open. These people have gotta go! It may sound better to say you’re emailing 100,000 people than it does to say you’re emailing 20,000 people, but if 80,000 people are consistently not opening your emails, why are you marketing to them? Or, to use an age-old phrase, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Don’t be that tree…market to a forest where there are people around to hear you.

An easy way to wrap your mind around this concept is to relate it to a traditional media buy. Say you’re looking to buy some print ads. You have the option of buying an ad in a free weekly magazine that distributes all over the Oklahoma City metro. There are 500 stores that distribute this weekly magazine, and each store gets 100 magazines every week, making your potential audience 50,000. This number sounds promising, right? 50,000 eyes looking at your ads! However, the magazine’s actual readership is very low. On average, only one magazine is picked up at each location meaning your chance of being seen has dropped to 500; just one percent of what you thought you were getting. It would be more beneficial to buy an ad with a magazine that has a distribution of 10,000 with 80 percent of those magazines being consumed by your target audience. Isn’t this worth reconsidering your methods?

CLEANING YOUR EMAIL LIST CAN SOUND SCARY, BUT IT’S THE BEST WAY TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE MARKETING TO PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT AND ENGAGE WITH YOUR BRAND.

Another reason it’s so important to clean stale emails from your list is to increase your sending reputation. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) defend their users against spam emails. If you have consistently low open and engagement rates, you might look like a spam marketer to an ISP. The higher your engagement rate, the better your reputation and the better your chance of ending up in a user’s primary inbox instead of their junk, spam or filtered inbox.

Some marketers say that you should be cleaning people from your email list if they haven’t engaged with your emails in six months, while others bump that as low as three months or even the last five sends. If they haven’t opened any of your emails in more than a year, chances are they never will. How aggressive you want to be with cleaning stale emails from your list is entirely up to you, but the important part is that you’re doing it.

There are a million ways to improve your digital marketing strategy, but your email strategy is only is as good as your list. Keep it clean and remember, bigger isn’t always better.

 


CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

 

Victoria Stahl

 

Digital Marketing Strategist