A couple of months ago I deleted 700+ people from my email list. Just straight up a bye, bye, bye. Not because I didn't like them or didn't want them to get my emails — not at all! I deleted them because they were "cold subscribers". They weren't opening my emails or clicking on anything for months. What kept me not deleting people for so long was the fact that I saw my subscriber number as a vanity metric I wanted to protect. I have a subscriber goal I'm trying to hit this year, and by deleting people, I obviously set the goal WAY back. But, enough was enough and who wants to send emails to people who don’t want them anyway?! So, let’s get into the story of it all and how you can clear out your email list to just be the people who want to hear from you.
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A couple of months ago, email marketing was something I was starting to dread a little. I had this new podcast, which made me want to send more frequent emails, but I was always disappointed by the click rate or open rate. And this honestly left me completely unmotivated when it came to email marketing.
I started talking with a business friend and we were looking at my emails, specifically the sequences for my launch. I told her how annoyed I was by my extremely low open rates, and she agreed — those open rates were NOT pretty! She asked me about the last time I “cleared my list.” And the truth was, I didn’t know! It had definitely been a long time since I did a big clear out (if ever!). So, a couple of weeks later I decided to strategically and intentionally clear out my email list!
I sent a re-engagement email to the people who weren’t opening or clicking my emails, (which we will get into soon). After a week, I deleted the people who didn’t respond by saying they wanted to stay on the list. That equaled about 700 people being swiped from my list in one click; voluntarily by me! Deleting that many people meant I wasn’t going to hit my email list goal for the year. And that if someone in the business world were to ask me how many email subscribers I had, it would be a smaller number. But, I realized that it doesn’t matter how many subscribers I had because “email subscribers” is only a vanity metric, and what matters in ENGAGED subscribers.
So, friend, you’ve got to clear out your list every now and then and this blog post (and podcast episode) is going to show you how to do it. I’ve talked before on here about my email marketing story. I started with just an opt-in and a two-part introductory sequence. I set that up knowing I would not be sending regular emails for a while. But, I didn’t want to wait to start growing a list until I could guarantee consistent emails. Because the truth was, I had workbooks and guides and things I wanted to create and so putting it off for that felt silly.
I did it my way with a freebie and an introductory sequence. From that, I gained around 400 people. When I decided that I would start emailing regularly, I did a re-engagement email with that list, and only about 30 of them opted-out. So, then I had my base list and started emailing them semi-regularly (with many seasons of not emailing regularly, because hello, I’m human.) Then, I created more and more freebies, some of which were irrelevant to what I actually sell. Big mistake there!
This leads us to why I had so many subscribers who didn’t open anything. I had one opt-in specifically that did really well. It ranked high on Google for a bunch of searches and was getting many new sign-ups on my email list daily. But, it was people who were never going to buy from me. So, when they started getting other emails from me about what I sell, they were either deleting without opening or opening without clicking.
I eventually made that freebie one where you could download it without subscribing to my list because I still wanted to provide it to add value without adding all of those people on my list who were going to eventually be cold subscribers. So, a quick lesson: Make your opt-ins relevant to what you sell if you want to have an engaged list.
Now, let’s chat about open rates and click rates.
“Open rates” is what percentage of your audience opens the email. You can look up industry standards for what is ‘good’ here. However, “click rates” are much more important than “open rates.” Several people will open an email in order to delete it, which is not the same as actually reading it. So, paying attention to click rates is important.
Both of mine were low by the standards I was hoping they would be for my list size.
Average email benchmarks for all industries from Campaign Monitor for 2019
- Average open rate: 17.92%
- Average click-through rate: 2.69%
- Average unsubscribe rate: 0.17%
Steps to filter, re-engage, and delete your cold subscribers:
1. Segment them.
I created a filter (a segment) in my email marketing platform and selected the people ConvertKit called Cold Subscribers.
ConvertKit defines Cold Subscribers as anyone who hasn't opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and has been subscribed for at least 30 days.
When I filtered to that setting, it was A LOT of people. It can also be insightful to review the names and profiles on your email marketing platform of the unengaged users. You may be able to identify why they are not engaged; opted for an old freebie, subscribed with two different email addresses, or maybe it’s an invalid email address! This step is an opportunity for you to figure out what’s going on with your unengaged subscribers.
2. Craft an email to send to the Cold Subscribers
I sent an email to the Cold Subscribers to re-engage them. I will call this the break-up email. But, you’re not going to break up with them out of the blue. You want to give them a chance to stay with you if they aren’t ready for a break up yet. I like to be cute and cheeky with this email. The one I sent was witty and, most importantly, short.
“Stay subscribed or say goodbye?” was the subject line I used so that anyone who actually did care to stay on would know exactly what it was about.
(Tune in to the podcast version of this blog post to hear example emails!)
3. Evaluate the results (about a week after is enough time) and then delete those who didn’t engage.
I got to see with that email that the open rate was low, which reaffirmed that the Cold Subscribers are causing the low open rates. 19 people opened it and actually did click the unsubscribe button and the rest didn’t open or didn’t engage, which resulted in them being DELETED. In total, the people who didn’t engage plus the 19 who chose to unsubscribe was right around 700 people!
You also want to identify WHY your subscribers are choosing not to open your emails. Did they opt-in for an old freebie that has nothing to do with your current business? Are you emailing too often? Have people changed their email addresses? Are your subject lines catchy or dull? Are you attempting to SELL in every email instead of offering value? Consider all of these variables and try to determine why people may not be opening your emails.
(Hear examples of emails to send to your Cold Subscribers on the podcast episode of this blog post!)
Quick tip to create more engaged subscribers:
Give your cold subscribers an option to only get certain emails from you. This gives them the option to be removed from some of your emails, but not all of them.
You should always be filtering messages the best you can. For example, someone who is a 1:1 client or a past template buyer will not ever get emails pitching the templates because they are filtered out.
If you aren’t emailing your subscribers regularly right now. Let’s chat….
If you haven’t been consistently showing up and emailing your current subscribers, then it would be difficult for your subscribers to make a decision whether or not they want to stay subscribed to your list. It makes sense that they are unengaged if you are only sending an email every 2-3 months.
In this case, you want to re-engage them by simply starting to send consistent emails before you go and unsubscribe everyone. As an example, in the first email you send after a hiatus, you can add a caveat about how you haven’t emailed them in a while. Make it funny if you want to or use this as an opportunity to update your subscribers on what has been going on in your life and business. Then, move into a short email that adds value to their life. THIS DOES NOT NEED TO BE A SALES EMAIL. If your subscribers have not received an email from you in months, use this opportunity to connect and provide value to them, NOT sell.
So friend, if you haven’t cleared out your email list this year (or ever) then I highly recommend you go through these steps. At the least, get into your email marketing platform and evaluate your cold subscribers. The number might shock you.
“A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.”
- Ramsay Leimenstoll
Links Mentioned in This Episode:
- Overall Averages for Open and Click Rates
- Interesting Email Marketing Statistics
- Recommended Email Marketing Softwares: ConvertKit or FloDesk (Use these links to get a free 14-day trial of ConvertKit or 50% off your FloDesk Subscription!)
P.S. Are you on MY email list?! I’d love to have you on board! Opt-in below for a FREE guide to creating lead magnets to grow your email list!