Think Your Email List Might Be Crappy? Yeah, Us Too.

And This Is What We Did About It.

Think Your Email List Might Be Crappy? Yeah, Us Too. And This Is What We Did About It

Have you ever written an article or drafted an email that you thought for sure would be a hit with everyone in your database? You spent hours creating it, spent real time and resources crafting it, and even agonized over the subject line or title.  Then you get this:

Why we decided to do this.

Plain and simple: Lack of engagement. Here are some numbers from three previous email sends (February, April, and May) that promoted our content:

List size on first send: 1,595
List size after third send: 1,549

Open rate: 25.52%
Click-through rate: 4.90%

Inquiries from these email send (forms filled out): 0
Closed Deals: tbd

Pretty bad, right?

These emails were sent to nearly our entire database. We don’t have a large list (a little over 1,500) so to see numbers like these – it was, in a word, embarrassing.

I knew we had to do something. We were too broad and, as a result, not providing enough value. Our database was slowly eroding because our emails were probably more annoying than helpful. I suddenly remembered a Hubspot article I read back in December 2015, Why We Unsubscribed 250K People From HubSpot’s Marketing Blog & Started Sending Less Email., It talks about how even the great Hubspot in the sky was having engagement issues with their email.

Graymail is kind of like spam’s risk-taking but law-abiding cousin. It’s not against the law like spam is, but it’s also not as pure as spam’s straight-edged cousin “ham” (which is apparently what they call email that people actually want to receive). I guess that’s why some people call graymail “bacn” (bacon). Email deliverability experts can be so clever, huh?

We work hard to create great content.

But the numbers don’t lie. It’s obvious our emails don’t scream, “Open Me! I’m something written just for you and it could just change your life”. Instead, our emails meekly nudge people and mumble, “I’m hoping not to bother you, but maybe, just maybe, there’s something in here that could be of some use – I guess.”

So, we’re embarking on a re-engagement campaign. Will it work? It has to be better than the alternative.

First: We Identified Our Segments

We had to identify who we had in our database. Since engagement was low to begin with, we decided to create an email and would give our database a choice. Pick a segment or get kicked off our list. The four segments we asked people to choose from were:

  • Real Estate Professional
  • Business to Business
  • Business to Consumer
  • Please, get me off your email list!

I also wanted to put it out there that if someone didn’t choose a category, we would remove them from our list. This may not happen right away (they may get one more follow-up email) but getting an email from us and treating it just like another piece of junk mail is a waste of their time – and ours.

Second: We Set Up Where We Wanted Those Segments to Go

We created a simple place for people who actually made a choice. These landing pages would let them know what going to happen next. It will also give them a chance to ask a question right there, since I had their attention. Once they hit that landing page, we know what segment they are in, and that is when the magic happens.

Third: When Someone Makes a Choice, Automation Takes Over

When a contact self-selects their segment, it will set off a cascade of events in our marketing automation software. First, it places them into a list where they would only receive content important to them in the future. Now this doesn’t mean this we would have to send multiple emails because our system handles content delivery dynamically, but I’ll save details about that in another post. Additionally, if we already have great content (like previous blog posts) that they’d benefit from, our automation software will place the contact on a schedule to receive already-existing content and drive them to the parts of our site most beneficial to them.

We then will give our contacts time to see if what we had to say is worth anything to them. Some will want a constant flow while other, even though they like what we are sending, will not want to hear from us each month. The great thing is once this is in place we will be better equipped to make those adjustments.

We decided we who take the hit, knowing we would probably lose a good chunk of our existing database.

I’m guessing we will lose 80% of our database.

But was it really ours to begin with? Were we really delivering value to them? Probably not.

And if we aren’t delivering value, then what were we stuffing into their inboxes? (Any number of words that describe waste could be placed here.) Our intent was not to send bad content, but if they aren’t opening it, reading it, and clicking through, then it might as well be spam or, worse, invisible. Part of me is looking forward to posting the results. The other part of me is terrified that when it’s all said and done, the only people that we will be sending emails to will be our staff and our families. (Even if that happens, we’ll post the results, anyway.)

That being said, the second option is a far better result. It’s better than spewing useless content at people who don’t want it.

About the Author

michael aldea go left marketing imageJan Michael Aldea is a jack of all trades finally making good at being well rounded. His background in marketing, consulting, business coaching & training, real estate, fitness, parenthood, marriage, and life makes Michael ill equipped to be in a cubicle, but very equipped to help transform people and companies one (sometimes humorously awkward) step at a time. He is the president and director of business development for Go Left Marketing based out of Charlotte, NC.

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