It’s been a few weeks, but I’m back in action!
And with this summer’s Inspiration Article hiatus behind us (happily I can now recommend LOTS of places to eat in the beautiful city of Porto) I thought we’d look at a sticky subject which a couple of clients recently brought up :
As in, your business’ email lists. Gotta keep ‘em clean and healthy!
Ok let’s face it this ain’t a sexy topic, BUT:
Good old email is still, yes STILL undervalued as a marketing channel – at least compared with its younger, shinier, shoutier social media siblings.
(Those crazy kids. When will they grow up? etc)
When I talk to clients it seems the average biz favours one of two tactics when it comes to list cleaning, aka the unsubscribing of inactive emails:
They either avoid deleting any subscribers, even those who’ve not so much as glanced at one of their emails for a decade, and have quite possibly even ‘moved on to a better place’…
They take an axe to their list whenever the mood strikes, slashing away at vast chunks of email addresses whose owners may have had the nerve to open, enjoy and even have their lives improved by the sender’s valuable ‘free content’ – but all without ever opening their wallets to make a purchase.
“Away with them! Freeloading space-wasters clogging up my… space. Release the hounds!” cries Johnny Biz-Owner in their best Mr Burns from The Simpsons voice.
The problem with this ‘all or nothing’ situation?
There’s often not a lot more than idle whims or head-in-the-sand assumptions behind either ‘strategy’.
(I’ve even heard rumours of marketers who’ve deleted Wyoming-sized sections of their email lists just because they woke up hungover and couldn’t find a cat to kick – but that’s a story for another time.)
Here’s my take on email list cleaning:
It’s important to remember that sometimes, a half-curious subscriber’s conversion into a happy customer can take a wee while.
Sometimes it takes a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time…
And of course, sometimes it doesn’t happen, ever. Can’t win ‘em all.
But… I’ve spoken with biz-owners who’ve had subscribers fork out for their first product or service after YEARS of being on the list in question.
Wouldn’t have happened if they’d been axed earlier, for the sin of not buying fast enough.
So were these businesses lazy, or lucky?
Neither. They just understood that good marketing is often about timing.
Not everyone who signs up to your list today is ready to buy today.
Or tomorrow. Or even next month.
That doesn’t mean you can’t help them.
Because, while the alpha gurus of online marketing will tell you to “ditch those timewasters, bro”, that’s often just impatient muscle-flexing masquerading as action-taking.
Feels good to unsubscribe people, right? That’ll show ‘em who’s in charge! Seeya!
I get it. We entrepreneurs need to exercise our egos now and then…
But don’t let that feeling fool you that peeps in your audience who haven’t bought from you YET are all ‘dead leads’ (bro).
Today might not be the right time for them. That’s their call. It’s possible to respect that and still do business with them later.
If you have a (genuine) deadline, go ahead and email ‘em a reminder. If not, don’t just assume they’re not a potential future customer.
Of course you want them to be ready today, but maybe there’s a good reason why they’re not. Yet.
So what about when they ARE ready to make a buying decision?
That’s where email marketing really comes into its own. It’s the best way to show up again and again, and reinforce your unique value with authority content.
The fact that you’ve shown up in your prospect’s inbox on the reg for weeks, months, even years, demonstrating you know your shizz by helping, sharing, guiding, inspiring – and sure, even ‘just’ entertaining – means they’re far more likely to choose your product / service when they DO need help badly enough to reach for their wallet.
This won’t ever work for 100% of people who opt-in for your free email content. It’s the same story for me, you and John Q. Emailguru.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on people who don’t meet some arbitrary Average Time To Conversion deadline.
Yes, you should still scrub your email list, at least a couple times a year (these days I do it quarterly). Having too many inactive subscribers can impact your deliverability.
But consider that sometimes, people who opted-in and didn’t buy in 30 days are more than just a dent in your conversion stats or a needle in your entrepreneurial ego…
Some of ’em may be people who need your help in the future.
So be sure to demonstrate your authority in your field clearly, and often. Email is PERFECT for this.
Make sure your core message is consistent and compelling: it’s ‘that thing you do’ which is essentially YOU. So talk about it…
Build it into all your marketing messages now and future, to communicate with honesty and integrity exactly why your ideal customer should choose you.
Do this right – and stay patient with folks who don’t open all or even half your emails – and people will remember you (and what you do) even when everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
Yes, you’ll sometimes have to adapt and pivot when challenged (yeah thanks 2020, you’ve been wonderful!)
But by focusing on your core message, you give your tactics – WHERE, WHEN and HOW you spread your message – the flexibility to support your strategy – WHAT your message is and WHY it’s important.
So before you send your next email, and definitely before you next take an axe to your email list, think carefully about:
WHAT makes you or your offer different, even unique…
…WHY that’s useful to the people you help…
…and HOW you can express it in a way that’s clear and compelling.
(Tip: try doing it in 25 words max. Restrictions can improve ideas!)