Thursday, August 23, 2007

List Fatigue: Time for a cull?

List fatigue is something all email marketers have to face. It's a familiar scenario: your first newsletter is a wow. Good open rate, nice comments, everyone is happy. But over time, open rates tend to decline, and, even though your CTRs may be strong there's still the nagging feeling that the majority of people just aren't bothering to open any more.

This body of emails can be a dead weight, skewing your stats and even affecting your sender reputation in the eyes of ISPs. Not only that, but if your email hosting service charges per address, it's costing you money.

Instinctively, no-one likes to reduce their list, but a cull might be in order.

Newer addresses are generally more responsive, but then again some long-standing subscribers may still be your best customers or advocates. So what to do? First, try to identify:

1) all those who joined the list prior to a specific date, say, 6 months ago
2) all those who haven't opened your emails in the last 6 months

Now, consider removing any addresses which fall into both groups. For more recent subscribers in group (2), try sending them a one-off email to re-engage them (hint: the subject line will need some thinking about!) For those subscribers in group (1) but not in group (2), send them a note thanking them for their continued readership and an incentive to refer a friend.

The result: a trimmed-down list, some appreciative readers and with any luck an injection of new blood too.

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