“Warning: the following contains real-life examples of data hygiene with your email subscriber list and subscription center practices. Some marketers may find these actions disturbing. Intended for mature audiences only.”
In business and marketing alike, big numbers are typically better. We all want more leads, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and subscribers. I have frequently seen these numbers even used as advertising points. I’m sure you have seen someone on LinkedIn who has “Over 6k Connections,” or a blog with “100,000 subscribers.” But are these astronomical numbers true indicators of marketing savvy and long-term success?
In the coming paragraphs, I am going to pull back the curtain on the Right On Interactive marketing team and share how less can be more when it comes to your subscriber list.
Setting the Stage
ROI has about 9,000 email subscribers which means that these contacts have opted into our communications voluntarily. Our team has several automated campaigns that are ongoing, but a couple months ago, we chose to focus some time and effort on one specific campaign that had been struggling. This particular campaign is our weekly newsletter that includes newly published content, product enhancement notifications, and general announcements.
After running this campaign to roughly 7,200 of our 9,000 subscribers over a period of several months, we had seen our open and click through rates plummet below 10%. Something had to change.
What do We Have?
Even the tightest data controls and regulations can erode over time, and managing an active subscriber list is no different. Using ROI’s segment builder to run dozens of queries, our team collected data on our data (riveting stuff, right?). By identifying duplicates and plain old junk contacts (there were a couple “celebrity contacts” including Pete Rose and Michael Jackson), we were immediately able to delete nearly 1,200 records, or 1/6th of our total subscription list.
To take this a step further we completed both automated and manual appending by running queries to identify contacts who did not have certain fields populated in our system such as city, state, phone number, and company to name a few.
Having the confidence to delete over 16% of your subscriber list is one thing. To cut an additional 75% off of this number is borderline insane, but that is exactly what our team did by identifying one additional line of criteria.
Deliverability is a hot topic these days, and it can directly affect email engagement. For this reason, our team made the decision only send our weekly newsletter to anyone who has opened an email in the previous 45 days, which cut our list to a number just above 1,500 (from an original 9,000).
If you have followed my math, our marketing team cut approximately 7,500 “opted in” communications from our weekly newsletter send. Obviously, we knew that we would experience a higher percentage of opens, clicks, etc., but the gross numbers were shocking.
In the previous month prior to slashing our list, we were averaging 408.5 unique email opens per newsletter send. In the month following the cuts, our total unique opens actually increased to 424.5! If you would have told me that we would cut our list so dramatically and still be even close to the total number of opens, I would have been ecstatic.
Moral of the Story
Bigger is not always better. After this exercise and subsequent results, our team is convinced that our email campaign engagements will only continue to increase as we further cut through the noise of unqualified leads and contacts.
For more on cutting through the noise of unqualified leads, check out our Sales and Marketing Alignment Worksheet!