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When to Worry About Your Email Marketing List

A client is currently fretting about her email marketing list. Are the right people on the list? Why are people unsubscribing? And who are some of these people, anyway?


The questions are completely legit. We already answered them, but if I were to provide a comprehensive answer, I’d start with this:


Look at quality over quantity.


This is as true in marketing as it is in life. As I wrote earlier this year about social media success, size really doesn’t matter.


Let’s say Brand A “only” has 1,000 followers on Instagram, and 500 of them actively like, comment or click on posts. Compare that to Brand B, which has 10,000 followers on Instagram, but only 500 are actively engaged with the content.


I’d much rather have 50% engagement than 5%, wouldn’t you? See – size doesn’t matter.


Keeping this in mind, let’s dig into the elements that may impact your email marketing list.


Subscribed v. unsubscribed


In general, you want to see list growth, which means you need more people to subscribe than unsubscribe over time.


It’s really not a big deal if one or two people unsubscribe each month. They are not reading your email, which is dragging down your open rate. It might feel like a slap in the face (especially if you know the people who unsubscribe), but don’t take it personally. It’s them, not you.


When to worry


If a lot of people unsubscribe every time you send out a newsletter (or other mass email), it could mean your content is not useful/helpful, you are not clear about what will be in your emails when people subscribe or you are sending out too many emails.


In any case, you need to stop what you’re doing and re-evaluate.


Strangers v. friends


When you’re looking through your email list and you don’t recognize a lot of the names, that’s a good sign. People heard about you, visited your website, liked what they saw and subscribed to your email list.


You seriously get a gold star for that.


When to worry


Friends probably make up most of your email list when you start out. That’s normal. If your list never grows beyond friends to include friends of friends or people you don’t know at all, you are limiting your brand’s growth.


I suggest you work with a marketing agency on a strategy to grow your email list.


Hard v. soft bounces


A bounced email means it couldn’t be delivered. Soft bounces happen for a slew of reasons: a server is temporarily down, the email is too large or the email is inactive.


Hard bounces happen for one of two reasons: the email no longer exists (aka, the person has left that company), or the recipient’s server has completely blocked delivery.


It’s not unusual to get a few bounces each time you email your list. It happens to me with each newsletter I send.


When to worry


If the same email address is constantly getting a soft bounce, delete the email. There’s something going on that’s out of your control.


You should also worry if your bounce rate is consistently higher than 2%. People (or bots) might be subscribing with fake emails. If you bought a list, it might be garbage.


In any case, keep your email list clean. If you consistently have a high bounce rate, your deliverability rate could plummet (meaning it ends up in spam). Worst case scenario: the email marketing platform you use could suspend or shut down your account.


If you’re struggling with any of the above issues, give us a holler. We’ll find out what’s happening with your email marketing list and help you chart a new strategy.


Image by Onlineprinters via Unsplash 

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