Email Attrition Happens, but It’s Not All Bad

Posted by Krista Moon on May 1, 2018

Email Attrition Happens, but It’s Not All Bad

There’s no denying it: every time you send an email newsletter to your list, the number of subscribers you have goes down. In the world of email marketing, we call it your email attrition. You can’t prevent email attrition; it’s going to happen no matter what you do. Typically, companies lose approximately 25% of their email list every year. On the surface, that sounds pretty bad! But it’s actually not.

Here are 2 reasons why you’re losing contacts and how it can actually be a good thing!

1. People Unsubscribe

No matter how awesome your emails are, after every send, some people will unsubscribe. It’s just the way it is. I always check to see who doesn’t want to hear from me anymore. It hurts a little (awe!), but it can be a good thing too.

Reasons for Unsubscribes

Here are the most common reasons people unsubscribe from newsletters:

  • They Have No Pain: The prospect may be completely satisfied with how they’re running things now, and your type of products or services are not on the radar. Because it’s not even close to being on the priority list, these prospects may unsubscribe because the information is not relevant to them at this time. Those are not people the sales team should be spending time on anyway because they’re very hard to sell to. It’s a long, tough sales cycle. Yes, it’s true that these prospects may have a need one day, but a good, holistic marketing plan should help them find you when they are ready. They can always opt back in when the timing is right.

  • Not a Qualified Buyer: Someone who isn’t qualified to purchase your product or service, or they’re 100% in love with their current vendor.

  • Use Other Sources for Information: Some people just don’t want any email at all - they use other sources to stay in-the-know, such as Google alerts, organic search, or social media. That’s why it’s important to use a wide variety of marketing channels.

  • Bad Email Strategy: People will unsubscribe if you’re not hitting them with content that is relevant, interesting and easy to read. The only way to sustain regular readers is to create content that they find valuable the majority of the time. It’s important to remember that very few subscribers will open every single email you send. That’s normal and okay. But if they see good titles more often than not, they will stay with you.

Contrary to popular belief, studies show that companies that only email monthly or quarterly have higher unsubscribe rates than those that email weekly. So if you want to minimize unsubscribes, email more!

The Benefit of Unsubscribes

  • Maintain a Responsive List: You want to have a clean, responsive email list. You don’t want to be sending to a bunch of people that will never read your stuff anyway. It’s a waste of time and costly too. It’s better that they unsubscribe. It will give you a more accurate picture of how many engaged people you have on your list.

  • Quality vs. Quantity: I’d rather have 100 people on my email list that love reading my stuff, than 1000 people that never open or read anything. You can’t necessarily judge the effectiveness of your email marketing on the size of your list.

  • Deeper Prospect Insights: If one of your “hot” prospects unsubscribes, that’s a big red flag that the salesperson should respond to immediately.

2. Emails Bounce

Why do emails bounce? People change email addresses, companies close, companies merge, people retire, people change jobs, and a plethora of other reasons. A bounced email means it’s invalid and can’t be sent to.

If your bounce rate is too high, the email servers may think you purchased a list and are trying to SPAM people, so they won’t let your good emails get through. This could cause a huge percentage of your good emails to end up in people’s SPAM folder.

Difference Between Hard and Soft Bounces

Hard bounces are invalid emails. Soft bounces are valid emails, but your email couldn’t get delivered at that moment in time. Some reasons for that might be that the server was down or the person’s email box was full (which can indicate that prospect is overwhelmed with work or on vacation). Soft bounces usually get delivered eventually.

Benefits of Emails Bouncing

Having invalid emails in your database is a waste. Knowing who’s email has bounced is important to:

  • Maintain Accurate Prospect Lists: You might think you have 10,000 contacts in your database, but if you add up only the valid emails, you may only have 5,000 that you can actually email. That makes a big difference when you’re trying to develop sales and marketing strategy.

  • Save Money: Most email programs charge by the number of contacts in your database, so keeping invalid emails means you’re paying for people who will never get an email from you (same with unsubscribes). If you have bad email addresses, either get rid of them or do some research to get accurate information about the contacts.

  • Understand the Marketplace: Email bounces can indicate an increase in job shifting or layoffs in your target companies or industries. That information can help you understand the market and adjust your prospecting strategy accordingly.

  • Improve Sales Efficiency: It would be a waste of time for salespeople to target prospects who have an invalid email. If a hot prospect’s email suddenly becomes invalid, the salesperson should get immediately notified so they can find out what’s going on.

Email Analytics Tell The True Story

Your email analytics speaks volumes about the effectiveness of your entire marketing strategy. After all, email marketing is a direct communication between you and your prospects and customers. The data tells you if they’re interested in hearing what you have to say.

If your unsubscribe rate is high, that’s a clue that something is amiss. The problem could lie with having poor or misaligned content (lacks relevancy to the people on your list).

If you have a huge number of bounces, that means your email list is not up-to-date. You need to take action to ensure you’re sending to valid emails and people that are interested in hearing from you.

Monitoring the data is critical to a successful email marketing strategy.

Take Away

Be prepared for email attrition and keep an eye on the numbers so you can evaluate what is going on with your audience. The good news is that while you can’t prevent losing contacts, you can implement strategies to create the right messages to the right people and replace uninterested and invalid contacts with qualified sales leads. All is not lost after all!

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