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:
- Write an email as a one to one style communication.
- Apologize for for having being silent and out of touch, as Heather stated.
- Re-introduce yourself.
- 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.
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.