I want to issue you a warning. Your email list is slowly dying. While this may sound a bit over dramatic, it's true. In fact, HubSpot found that email marketing databases naturally decay by a rate of about 22.5% every year.
Email addresses have become less important to a lot of people. Why? Because most people do email marketing the wrong way. Most email campaigns aren't focused around engagement-based segmentation. Instead, they’re just blasting their entire list with the same offer, all of the time. When email marketing is done this way you not only lose a lot of money, you force your subscriber base to discard their email address and go get new ones.
The top reason email lists decay is because the list becomes unengaged. Unengaged subscribers are more likely to mark your message as spam than engaged subscribers. Why? Because it’s an awkward relationship. You haven’t really had a real relationship with them, yet you still continue to call them, or text them, or contact them and they're not really that interested. It's awkward.
Below we’ll review why subscribers become unengaged and what you can do to fix it.
There are a few reasons why subscribers become unengaged. The first reason is email frequency, and that goes both ways. Some emails are sent too frequently, some are not sent enough. How often are you emailing your list? Are they forgetting about you?
Here’s an indicator: If someone subscribes today and you're not welcoming them, setting expectations and communicating with them least three to five times a week, then there's a good chance they will forget about you before the relationship even begins. Little communication with your subscribers is just as bad as mailing your list too often.
Sending emails too often is just as bad. During the holiday season retailers increase their email sends by almost 39%! Why? Retailers realize that they get a high ROI on email, it has a low cost structure and think that that means they should send as many emails as humanly possible. What that really does is cause people to become unengaged.
Email frequency is the number one reason that subscribers become unengaged.
You’re So Boring
Boring or outdated content will also cause subscribers to become unengaged. Not only that but you will lose credibility and authority in the eyes of your audience if you talk about old things. If I were to publish a blog post right now about this new phone that's come out called the iPhone, what would you think? Would you want to read any more of my content?
You’re Not Taking the Relationship Seriously
Before you send another email to your subscriber list, think about having a real conversation with this person. What would you say/not say? Is your relationship strong enough to ask them to get married (buy something) or are you going on your first date? Be respectful stand out from the pack while everyone else mass broadcasts to their list with no real relationship and limited brand equity.
Make each email you send part of a series. Start with indoctrination, ascension, and engagement, then move on to other phases that traditional email marketers don't do.
They’re Just Not That Into You
Have you ever watched a subscriber grab your “free tool” and then quickly unsubscribe? Sometimes subscribers become unengaged because they never intended to engage in the first place. They just wanted the free lead magnet. They just wanted the coupon. They just wanted whatever bribe you offered.
One way to reduce the chances of this happening is to indoctrinate them appropriately from the beginning. When a subscriber first enters your database you have to set their expectations.
"Hey, this is who I am, what I stand for, and this is what I’m doing. This is the benefit of knowing me. Congratulations, you know me! Over the next few days I'm going to prove to you how awesome it is, and you're going to experience how awesome it is to know me."
There is some playfulness here but you get the idea.
It's your job to take people who only wanted the freebie and engage with them, fascinate them, “wow” them. Have them feeling like they’re so glad they met you and they can’t believe that all of this started because you sent them a “free report”.
Changed Email Address
17% of Americans create new email addresses every six months. This may seem like something you have no control over, but you must take some responsibility here. If you have a great relationship with your list, when they change email addresses they'll update their contact preferences with you, but only if you have a great relationship with your subscriber base.
This is an interesting one. There's a lot of crossover in most markets. Most people are on multiple email lists. It's okay for your subscriber to be on multiple lists, IF you do email marketing the right way.
Assuming that you're marketing to them the correct way, you're building relationships, you're engaging with them, you’re actually doing a better job than your competitor. In fact, the other brand is emailing so poorly that you look that much better!
But if that’s not the case and you're acting just like your competitor, now they have a very transactional decision to make. Who emailed me last at the second I decided I receive too much email? Who engaged with me first? Who do I gravitate towards more, this brand or this brand? It becomes transactional. If you allow your competitor to engage and build that relationship, then your subscriber is going to be slow to leave that relationship and enter one with you because a relationship's already formed.
You may be noticing a common theme here: relationships. When you look behind the curtain of email marketing and look past promotions, offers, and coupons — email marketing is about building relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.