Your big email list isn’t monetizing? Heather Dopson explains why.


Special thanks to Heather Dopson and Sarah Sal for their insights!

A mutual friend accumulated a list of 50,000 email subscribers. But when he mailed them, he generated only $80 in revenue. Was his offer not good enough, had his list gone stale, or is email now dead?. Consider the following advice Heather Dopson from Infusionsoft offered:

  • When was the last time you emailed your list?
  • Do you have that list in a nurture sequence?
  • Are they segmented by interest?
  • Is it a clean list (ie: they’re fresh, active, double opt-in, opened from you recently)?

Nurture is an often overlooked piece of the life cycle marketing sequence. Statistically, double opt-in lists perform better than single opt-in. A word of caution: be wary of emailing lists that are old. If the email addresses are old/unused they can become spam traps signaling your ISP & your marketing software that you’re spamming- landing you in hot water.

Consider a 2 year old list with no contact unusable- it’s disheartening to hear after curating a lot of contacts, but ethical CRM companies would not let you import this list anyways. 

Since the above-mentioned list was mailed already, start scrubbing it. Start a new, segmented list with the people who purchased. Then, look at who opened the email & any action they took (did they click a link?) and put those into a list.

Anyone requesting to be removed & emails that bounced should be removed immediately. Yahoo released many inactive email addresses last year, so be wary of emailing any Yahoo addresses you haven’t had recent contact with. 

You could send an email to the list with a nice note (not marketing / selling) quickly explaining why you fell out of touch, what your plans are, and why you’re reactivating the list. Ask them to opt-in if they’d like to remain on your list. 

If I received an email from someone from whom I haven’t heard from in quite some time & their first communication was “buy this” I would remove myself from their list  & never offer my email address to them again. Not everyone will be so harsh, but I’m a hard-liner.

Sarah Sal also brought up some good advice from Perry Marshall on how to avoid/deal with a dead list: 

  1. Write an email as a one to one style communication.
  2. Apologize for for having being silent and out of touch, as Heather stated.
  3. Re-introduce yourself.
  4. Offer them a white paper or a report while asking if they want to re-optin again (the report is a bribe for joining a new list).

In any marketing medium if you are not often in the loop, people will forget you, when people rarely send me an email i forget who they are and think: “why contact me?”.

It might pay off to use FB custom audiences and upload the list. In 2 years, some may change email addresses- so expect bounce back, a low open rate, or even people deleting your email without viewing. This may impact the email delivery to your list, so using Facebook might increase the chances they see your message.

Before mailing a problem list again, Heather highly suggests doing a good scrub of the contacts.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.

He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Evening News.

He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as the London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70-mile ultramarathon.

Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.

You can contact him at