Saturday, 4 October 2014

Why We Dropped 60% of Our Subscribers? (Part I)

Maybe you’re wondering if the name of this post is actually true. It is. On August 28, a little over a month ago, I dropped about 60 percent of the subscribers from the WhatCounts Weekly list.

Yes, I’m alive to tell about it.

Yes, I shed a tear when it happened.

Yes, you can do it, too.

Inactive Subscribers are the Worst

This is the story of how we sloughed off 18,000 subscribers from our mailing list. It starts, like any story, with a pretty decent beginning. Once upon a time, our mailing list was growing and healthy. Or so we thought. Turns out, fewer and fewer people were opening and loving on our weekly emails. Metrics were going down and so was my patience with our inactive subscribers.

I’m a big fan of practicing what you preach. And boy, have we preached re-engagement campaigns and getting rid of inactive subscribers a lot.

You guessed it – we moved forward with a killer, two-part re-engagement series to the subscribers who hadn’t opened or clicked inside our weekly emails in a year. I had high hopes for the response to this campaign. Basically, I wanted all our inactive subscribers to slap themselves on the forehead and reaffirm their devotion to us.

That didn’t happen. What did happen was two percent of the people we sent the emails to opened them and only .1% clicked. The rest really didn’t care.

I knew what needed to be done next, but the prospect of unsubscribing all those people from my list made my marketing heart break. But it had to be done. The positive aspect was that I didn’t delete these subscribers from our database entirely, or unsubscribe them from our other emails. They only got booted from our WhatCounts Weekly list.

Bye-Bye Inactives, Hello Engagement

For a month now, I’ve been holding my breath to see what would happen with our now squeaky-clean list. Would metrics remain the same (“they just couldn’t!”), would they droop lower (“impossible!”), or would they skyrocket (“yes, of course!”).

The truth is none of these things happened. Instead, the numbers have been creeping skyward at a steady pace since I got rid of the inactive subscribers. In fact, I’m happy to report the open rate is twice what it used to be: 12 percent now and 4-6 percent then. Additionally, CTOR has improved exponentially, which tells me the subscribers I now have on my list truly love the content in our emails.

The Future is Bright

I know you know it’s hard to drop people from your list. I’ve been there, shaking off the jitters as I waved goodbye to those 60 percent of subscribers. I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel: Our future of an engaged, happy list of people who love getting our email.

Keep your eye out for Part II of this post. I’m going to tell you how dropping 60% of our subscribers affected our deliverability. Don’t want to miss it!



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