Email Marketing

We Deleted 37% of our Email List. Here’s Why.

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Targeted, strategic emails are an integral part of your digital marketing strategy – and when most people think of an email list, they think the higher the subscriber count, the better. But when a large percentage of your list hasn’t opened or clicked an email you sent them in the last six months, you should start to wonder what good they’re doing at all.

Spoiler alert: they aren’t doing any good at all.

After finding out that 47% of Vital’s general email list hadn’t opened ANY of the last 50 emails we sent to them, we set out to execute a re-engagement email campaign in an attempt to revive our quiet subscribers – and more importantly –  delete the ones who we couldn’t bring back. You may be asking yourself why we wanted to run this test in the first place. Fair question. Our answer? Deliverability.

MailChimp explains why high deliverability rates are, well…vital to your email content strategy.

“Deliverability is a way to measure the success at which an email marketer gets a campaign into subscribers’ inboxes. It involves anything that touches email delivery, like ISPs, MTAs, throttling, bounces, bulking, and spam issues. Senders affect their own deliverability, too—so if you create good content and maintain a clean list, your campaigns will be more likely to reach your subscribers.”

The last part is important. Without a high engagement rate, you run the risk of developing a lower deliverability rate – and emails from your domain have a higher chance of ending up in your subscribers’ spam folders, right next to the prince who wants to send you millions of dollars.

Emails that you get, but don’t necessarily want to receive is something us marketers call graymail. While there’s no way of clearly knowing if your email has turned into graymail, we think that we had that problem at Vital. Here’s how we tried to revive those subscribers.

Step One: Reach Out

To start, we looked at some preliminary segments within our general email list, which at the time was over 9,000 subscribers. As mentioned above, we (unfortunately) found that over 4,300 of our subscribers hadn’t opened any of the last 50 emails sent to them. We then segmented out those 4,300 subscribers and sent them the below email.

It looks like it’s been a while since you’ve looked at our content.

I respect your time and want to make sure you’re getting value from our content — if not, I’ll stop sending you further emails to lessen the load on your inbox. 

If you have two minutes, please reply to let me know if you’d still like to receive emails from us or not. If you’d like to see more of a certain type of content, please let me know as well! I’d love the feedback. 

If you’d no longer wish to receive our emails, click here to unsubscribe or click here to update your profile.

We noticed many unsubscribes and bounces from this first email, which was expected. If a subscriber responded to the first email, we removed them from our segment. If a user didn’t open the first email (which was most of them, likely due to the graymail issue) we then sent them a second, follow-up email.

It looks like it’s been a while since you’ve looked at our content. 

I respect your time and want to make sure you’re getting value from our content — if not, I’ll stop sending you further emails to lessen the load on your inbox. 

If you have two minutes, please reply to let me know if you’d still like to receive emails from us or not. If you’d like to see more of a certain type of content, please let me know as well! I’d love the feedback.

Again, if a user responded, we took them out of the running. If they didn’t open the email, we sent them the third – and final – email in the attempt of catching their attention.

We all get too much email from time to time. With that said, I’ll now unsubscribe you from any further Vital emails. If you’d like to re-subscribe, great! Head here to do just that.

Step Two: Reach Out…Again

Once the initial three emails were sent, we updated our segments within our re-engagement list and sent similar follow-up emails to users who opened, but didn’t respond or click through during our first round of emails. This round saw more bounces and unsubscribes, albeit much smaller percentages than the first round.

Our Results

Once the dust settled, we looked at how things shook out. Below are some high-level results from our re-engagement campaign.

  • We manually unsubscribed 37% of our general email list (3,477 of 9,100)
  • A total of 307 users manually unsubscribed themselves

After deleting so many inactive subscribers, we naturally saw our open and click rates improve. But that’s not a statistic to rely on, since the percentages are coming from two different amounts of subscribers. However, we were more interested in our deliverability rate, which has seen an improvement since we removed our inactive subscriber base.

When it comes to email lists, the size doesn’t necessarily correlate with engagement success. Like most things in life, quality rules over quantity.

While the results from our re-engagement email campaign were incredibly insightful, so too were the great responses we got from our readers.

Re-Engagement Email Responses

The actual responses from subscribers we targeted were easily the best part of the re-engagement email campaign. Our favorites are below:

  • “I catch most of it on twitter or linkedin, so I’m all set on the emails. I’ll unsubscribe from my end, but I appreciate the personal approach. I appreciate you reaching out this way though I can imagine you’ll end up with a full mailbox yourself with either replies or unsubscribe notifications.”
  • “Absolutely, I am quite new to content marketing, like your content. “
  • Will check in now and then and would like to receive emails (reminds me to take a peek).”
  • “Thanks for asking! That’s rare. :) I would like to continue receiving your emails. Not only are they helpful but I’m interested in working for vital and would like to stay up to date on your latest designer job postings.”
  • “Keep the good stuff coming… love what you guys are doing! I’ve been on vacation and in the midst of the end-of-school-year crunch over here at Phillips Exeter, so that’s probably why I’ve dropped off your radar. Nice touch with the email. Appreciate it.”
  • “Please keep sending me your emails, I took a break from the marketing world but now I’m back. Thanks!”

Contact us to learn more about our digital marketing services – including email marketing strategy.

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