A few months ago, I wiped out abidemi.tv’s mailing list. In fact, I didn’t wipe it out – I took a sledgehammer and hammered at it to an inch of its life.
The result? A list in the few 100s, about 50% of its original size.
Your email list is probably one of your most useful business tools. That’s because it’s made up of people who’ve given you permission to be contacted.
That means they’re interested in what you have to say.
It doesn’t matter if they signed up to your list via your free ebook, free download or insert-whatever-incentive-you-want-here. The fact is: they’ve actively opted into your list, which effectively means that they want to hear from you.
The problem is, they haven’t heard from you – not in a while, anyway.
Or maybe they have been hearing from you, but they’re not ‘biting’ – the click-through rates for your newsletter really suck.
In abidemi.tv’s case, I was concerned about the engagement levels in general.
But I knew that the abidemi.tv mailing list still had some straggling Abidemi Sanusi book fans.
These were people who had no intention of being writers or buying any of my products, which was fine for them but not for me. Ultimately, I run a business, and like everyone else reading this, I rather like having a roof over my head and food to eat.
The other issue was also business-related. It’s taken me a while to figure out and know my ideal customer (and if you want to know why this is so important, read this post about why knowing your ideal customer can literally make or break your freelancing business).
These customers were not reflected in mailing list, which was why the engagement levels were low. I was engaging with the wrong customers.
I had to do something. So I:
- manually went through the mailing list and set up an automation that unsubscribed anyone that hadn’t engaged with the newsletter content in a 90-day period
- redesigned the website. If you look at the homepage and top level navigation, it’s clear who the website is for
- sent an email to subscribers asking them to confirm their topic interest (book writing, freelancing or business writing)
- set up an automation that basically unsubscribes anyone from the mailing list who doesn’t engage (click on links, reply to emails etc) in a 60-day period. They’re sent a reminder and if actively resubscribe, then fab. If not, they’re unsubscribed
- make sure that people double opt-in (give permission for me to add them to the mailing list)
- sent the subscribers a survey asking them about their writing interests (and for those who
complainedresponded that it was the ‘most unscientific survey they’d ever done’, thank you. It was meant to be lean and fast, something I pulled together to get quick insights, not a UN life-saving field study)
By the end of the exercise, I had a much smaller, but much more engaged list.
‘If I did that, there wouldn’t be anyone left.’
This is a perfectly normal reaction. However, if you haven’t cleaned up your list in a while, there’s a strong possibility that you’re marketing to people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, which means that you’re wasting your time and resources on the wrong prospects – they’re never going to ‘bite’ (which was the case with abidemi.tv, and why it had to change – fast).
If you’re still not convinced of the need to clean up your list, how about this?:
- Cleaning out your list makes it focused. Think about it, the people who decide to stay with you are those who want to hear from you, which can only result in good sales for you, provided you keep in touch with them through your newsletter
- A smaller mailing list drives down your costs. Most email newsletter companies charge by volume, so the smaller your list, the lower your costs, but the higher your returns, because you’re marketing to the people who want to hear from you, which means they’ll be more likely to buy whatever you have to offer
How do I clean up my list?
You can do what I did, or, in the first instance, send your subscribers an email telling your readers that you want to keep your newsletter relevant. And that if they want to keep on getting your newsletter, they needn’t do nothing. Those that want to unsubscribe should do so, now. And give them simple instructions on how they can do this.
Don’t be discouraged if half of your list unsubscribes. It just means that you have a clean, ready-made list of people who value what you have to offer, and consequently, are more willing to buy from you.
I call that a win.
But, of course, you have a responsibility to ensure that you keep them updated with a regular newsletter.
So, are you ready to take a hammer to your mailing list and start growing your business?
Also published on Medium.