Back in March I did a bit of spring cleaning - in my email list. Sad as it was, when I looked at my open rates and audience stats, I found that there were roughly 60 people hanging around that had not opened any of my emails in the last several months - or at all. And I knew: it was time to break up.


Breaking up with contacts is hard to do but it's easier when we accept that cold subscribers are inevitable. Most freebies or other downloadable resources require an email address in exchange for the information. And most people have a “junk address” that they use for just such an occasion. I use a Yahoo address any time I’m signing up to something new. It’s an email landfill, essentially, and I rarely check it unless I know something important is being sent there.

So, it’s no wonder that a certain percentage of the people who sign up for your newsletter or get added to your list because they make a donation or attend an event, might never open and read your messages.

It’s nobody’s fault, really. It’s not a comment on your writing or marketing efforts. It’s just a fact of email life.

Junk addresses and sophisticated spam filters mean that some people may never have seen your messages in the first place. Letting cold subscribers go is sort of like breaking up with someone who didn’t know they were in a relationship - they won’t be offended because they won’t even notice.

Who does notice? Outlook, Google, and other providers who either trust or mistrust your IP based on your track record. Therefore, the very best thing you can do for your list, is to delete cold subscribers on a regular basis. I went into detail about how and why in my March 2021 blog post Deliverance: Free Your Cold Subscribers for Better Email Open Rates.

So, rather than leave those 60 cold subscribers on my list in the hopes that someday, some way, they’ll miraculously discover the treasure trove that is B-mail, I unsubscribed them. And, the effects have been immediate. Check out this screenshot of my pre- and post- cleanup stats:

My open rate went from an average of 38% to an average of 48% from February to May. So far in June, that average is nearly 60% - kind of unheard of in the land of email marketing. Also, the click rate has risen during this timeframe (another indicator of good engagement).

Dropping the dead weight not only changes stats, it improves the deliverability of future messages to the people who ARE likely to read them.

So, get to it. Let your cold subscribers go. Say “it’s not you, or me” to bad addresses and non-readers. Stop writing for people who clearly aren’t interested - and focus on the subscribers who DO want to hear from you.

Because email is the most direct and personal way to have a conversation with your organization’s audience and to bring them closer to your mission. 

Your list is a business asset. Take good care of it. Because, sooner or later, you're going to need to ask for money and the better the list, the better the results. 

If you need help, I've got the experience you need to create a squeaky-clean, engaged, and growing list. Drop me a line.

Keep Up the Good Work,

P.S. Last week's message about the NIO conference is responsible for the record-high open rate. However, the week before, this message about board orientation - which included a free orientation slide deck - had a relatively low (35%) open rate. Likely because it was sent the Tuesday after a long holiday weekend. So, in some cases, timing can have a big effect on who sees and opens your campaigns.

You can unsubscribe all you want, we're still going to love you.
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