I have been building my subscriber list for a few years now. It's had wear and tear, much of it because of my abuse. I switched focus, lost focus, tried different paths, different brands...all of the things new business owners tend to do when they're finding their way.
There are a ton of reasons people stay on your subscriber list. Many stay even when they're no longer getting value. Maybe it's because they like you as a person, though they don't have interest in your topic. Or maybe they forgot to disconnect at some point. Instead they just delete everything you send.
Perhaps, they find a few tidbits of information you've sent for free they could appreciate, but now that you're asking them to invest they are offended. The point is - my audience members came in for different reasons and stayed for different reasons.
The danger in this is at some point, you may find yourself with a huge list of people that DON'T CARE A THING ABOUT YOUR OFFER.
Signs of a list that needs to be downsized? You have dead silence when you're sending out market survey questions. You actually look at your metrics and find that your open rate is not only low, it's in the red. No one shows up for your special events that are only for your subscribers.
When these things are happening although you have list quantity, it's a good chance you have a list that needs to be downsized.
Recently I did a downsizing of my list. It gave me a sense of freedom I never thought I'd have. At first, I was afraid (♪ I was petrified ♫...I love that song...short digression...ok, back on track now). Seriously though, when you work hard to build a good sized list it can be very intimidating to even think about minimizing it or tearing it apart.
But I had to do it.
Ever heard of the law of the vacuum? Catherine Ponder talked about it in the book, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. It says something like, "Make room for the thing you desire by letting go of that which you do not appreciate or use. Give it away with a giving, charitable heart, and let the Universe compensate you." In other words, when you let go and make space you have more room to receive what's really meant for you.
I knew that downsizing my list would put me in a different place, giving me the freedom to really talk directly to an interested audience of people who want what I have to share. No more wondering "do they care?" or "is anybody listening?" And for them - the ones who were purged voluntarily from my list - I gave them back freedom, freedom to read and receive information they truly would find useful and immediately applicable.
So how did I do it? I'll break it down for you:
First, I used my email marketing service, Mailchimp (shout out - "eep eep"), to evaluate my list. They have some pretty decent analytics and along with a tool called Hairball, it was pretty easy to create a small list, or segment of people who were rated below a 3 rating. These ratings give you an idea of how often your emails are opened or clicked by the user, along with a few other stats. Your service may have a different way to show you this information.
The key is to figure out who is least active in your list over a period of time. By the way, I did not include users who were fairly new and still building a rating. Since they recently added themselves to the list, I assumed they have an interest in my content.
Second, I sent out an email to the folks in that group about 14 days before the purge date (you can adapt this to your comfort level). The subject line read something like "Only open this if you want to keep getting my emails!". I wanted to make it super easy for those who didn't open them anyway to take little to no action. Only the genuinely interested people would reply back to say "leave me on the list". And yes, I had several who read the email explaining my "Spring Cleaning List Purge" and they asked to stay on.
Great! That separated those who were missing in action, but still interested so I wouldn't remove them from the active list.
Third, on the date I'd set for myself I exported the segmented list (minus the ones who wanted to stay) and did a mass unsubscribe. I will admit, I was pretty nervous but after I clicked enter I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It was like, "now I get to talk to people who really care to connect with me and to get the full benefit of my sharing".
Here was another added benefit I didn't think about until later. You know how many email service providers charge you based on your total count of subscribers? Well, I was able to reduce my own email marketing fees because of the reduced count. Cha-ching!
Now mind you, I would be fine paying more for a more responsive, targeted list. It was just a good reality check to realize that I was actually paying to keep people on my list who never really wanted the info anyway.
So that's my story...and I hope it connects with you in some way. Does it make you think about downsizing your own list? Don't you think that having 100 or 200 or 500 people who really connect with your message is better than having thousands who don't get it and won't take action at all?
As a business owner, we have choices to make for the good of our customers and ourselves. I chose to downsize for peace of mind and it was one of the best decisions I've made so far in my business.
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About the Author: Tanya Smith is a creative online business strategist and coach specializing in showing independent service providers how to simplify, save time & stand out with simple strategies that engage more quality leads and clients. Her company Be Promotable provides fresh actionable strategies and virtual resources to promote business owners as power players in their market. Get free tools to simplify and stand out online at: www.tanyasmithonline.com