I’ve been going through a re-engagement exercise with an old list of subscribers recently.
They’re on an old list and they’ve become very unresponsive.
Those of you who have large email lists will know that the larger your list gets, the more it costs to host all those subscribers.
Simply put, the ROI on these subscribers is now too low for me, so if – after a concerted campaign of re-engagement – they’re just not interested … well, it’s time to say goodbye!
So, as part of my re-engagement campaign, I sent out a survey to find out why these subscribers weren’t opening my emails.
The Results Were Surprising!
The most revealing thing about this survey is that ‘it’s not personal’ … 0% didn’t like my stuff (that was a relief!) or were too polite to tell me.
Although as an email marketer you always get ‘bewildered’ people who swear blind that they didn’t subscribe to your list – and are unable to find the ‘unsubscribe’ link that is at the bottom of every single email you ever send out – the biggest problem seems to be that most people just get too many emails (24.1%).
After that it’s a case of being too busy … then the number of offers made becomes a problem, and relevance is also an issue.
So What Do You Want?
So, having worked out why these disengaged subscribers don’t open my emails, I set about asking them what information they would like to be receiving from me.
Now, most popular on the list was ‘How To’ information … and that’s really handy, because ‘How To’ guides are what I enjoy producing most.
‘What’s working online now’ was also a popular category, followed closely by ‘Marketing Updates’ and ‘YouTube Videos.
So what do we conclude from that?
Well, most subscribers seem to want useful stuff, and they don’t seem to bother about the occasional offer.
Interesting that ‘Fun Stuff’ and ‘SMS Texts’ barely ranked.
There were two written responses that summed up the overall feeling of these disengaged subscribers.
The response I got time and time again was, that the problem wasn’t me, it’s just the sheer number of emails received:
I even got a visual illustration of how bad the problem is … this graphic says it all really!
So, having figured out what’s bugging my reluctant subscribers, it’s worth finding out how active subscribers feel about things.
After all, the aim of this entire exercise is to send my subscribers what they want to receive, to build a better relationship with them over time.
So the first question I asked was related to what they wanted to see more of.
It’s really interesting to see that they want more email updates!
That’s precisely what the disengaged group didn’t want!
So, I wonder if it’s a case of ‘if they like you, they want more of you, if they don’t care for you, they want less of you’?
Most interesting for me was the request for more coaching webinars.
I actually love delivering coaching webinars, and I haven’t done it for a while, so this is music to my ears.
Look how little appetite there is for SMS texts, social media updates, direct mail and YouTube videos – I’m quite surprised by those results.
So let’s find out what this group wants less of.
Right at the top of the list is that my engaged subscribers want fewer affiliate offers.
At 33.3% that’s not as high as I would expect, but it’s a definite rejection of receiving too many offers of that type.
I have massively reduced the number of affiliate offers that I send out these days, and as I move forwards, I will almost exclusively be promoting only my own content with just a handful of high quality affiliate offers from only people or products which I rate very highly and use myself.
I’ve been out of the JV reciprocity game for a long time now, but I intend to make those rules even tighter in future.
I think that the remainder of those results isn’t massively clear – though it is very informative that there isn’t a huge appetite for social media among my subscribers (on this list – I do have social media fans on other lists!).
Although this is my list of subscribers, I’m pretty sure we can all draw some useful conclusions from this exercise.
1) It’s always really useful and informative to survey your subscribers and they seem to like the opportunity to send feedback.
2) Subscribers don’t seem to mind some commercial offers, but they don’t want them all the time and they need to be receiving some quality content.
3) ‘How To’ information delivered via webinar is most popular.
4) Social media (certainly among my subscribers on this list) does not seem to be that popular.
5) It’s not personal when people don’t open my emails but I need to try really hard to make sure that my emails are worth opening every time.
The Really Big Lesson
This is really painful to admit, especially as I’ve had a list of subscribers reaching – at its peak – almost 25,000 people.
But, if you don’t develop great relationships with your subscribers, it’s just a vanity game.
So, I have now reduced my subscriber list massively in size to just those who really want to hear what I say.
I’ve been getting open rates as high as 43.40% since beginning that process, so it really is worth it.
I’ve also met so many people who make a great living from very engaged lists of fewer than 500 subscribers, so engagement and relationship not size really is the key issue here!
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