Talk to any blogger long enough and inevitably the conversation will turn to numbers.
Whether it’s followers or fans or +1s, blogging success is intrinsically tied to the amount of support you have from your audience. Support has many forms but the most important is your email list.
The size of your email list has value but more importantly it is the health of your list that is vital to your growth.
The hardest part of maintaining your email list is cleaning it up. Removing people from your list is painful, even when they haven’t opened any of your emails in months.
At the outset it doesn’t seem logical but the truth is a clean email list will enable your blog growth to soar.
Here’s the nitty gritty of it.
Engaged followers open your emails.
Engaged followers read your posts.
Engaged followers pin, tweet, and share your content.
Engaged followers tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on.
This is how your blog grows.
What about email list duds?
They don’t open your emails and your open rate goes down.
They don’t read your posts so your page views and click rates stay low.
Duds don’t share your content with anyone. They have no value.
Yes, they are part of your overall number, but that number is meaningless if it isn’t producing results.
It’s time to stop thinking of your email list in terms of the numbers and start thinking of it as individuals who spread the word about your blog. Are they actively helping your blog grow or are they dead weight?
Email duds are like sandbags tied to the side of a hot air balloon. When the dead weight is cut loose the balloon starts to rise.
Now think about your email list. Is your growth stagnant? Are you looking for new ways to infuse life and vitality into your blog? Cleaning up your list is a great place to start.
I recently cut almost 20% of my list loose and I saw immediate results as well as a quick return to my pre-cut numbers. I think you will too.
I use MailChimp so I will walk you through the process of how to clean up your list using this service. I’m sure the other services are quite similar.
Open your email list.
You will see a box that says SEGMENTS. (like this)
When you click this you will be given an opportunity to create a new SEGMENT. Yes, do that.
Now follow these steps:
1. Name your SEGMENT.
2. Subscribers match ALL of the following
3. Enter the following criteria:
- Campaign Activity / did not open / all of the last 20 campaigns
- Info Changed / is before / xx/xx/xxxx (You choose the date. I like 6-8 weeks before today’s date.)
4. Save and view SEGMENT
Here is a visual:
Feel free to play around with this if you feel comfortable using logic based criteria before moving forward. It will help you see how the criteria work. Or not.
If someone has not opened all of the last 20 campaigns you have sent, it’s a pretty sure sign that they are a dud. It might also mean your emails are going straight into their SPAM file and they are not seeing them.
So, before you go off and delete this group you might want to send them one last email. Tell them you are cleaning up your email list but you want them keep them on the list if they are so inclined.
This is a great way to separate your supporters from the duds because this email will most likely go into their regular inbox and not their SPAM box if you put the right subject on it.
I sent a sample of my weekly email to my dud list with a special message just for them. If anyone opened the email I kept them on the list. If they didn’t they were deleted.
Now, you may see names on the list of people you know and love. It’s ok, you choose whether to delete them or not. Remember each dud you keep who is not opening your emails counts against you, so decide if you want growth or silent friends. Harsh right?
We’re going for growth here, not touchy feely.
Here are some things to consider.
When I cleaned up my list last time I recognized that several of the duds were great friends, but I know they have busy lives and may or may not still be blogging. I cut them loose and they can join back up any time they choose.
I also know several who like to follow on a blog reader like Bloglovin’ or Feedly instead of receiving emails. That’s fine with me because they still share my content and read my posts.
My email list is just one of the ways people are reading and sharing my content.
Finally, although this is a painful process for anyone, regardless of list size, it is necessary. Rose bushes that are cut back grow back fuller and healthier than before. Fruit trees that are pruned regularly produce the juiciest, tastiest fruit. Your email list is no different.
After I cleaned up my list my open rates, click rates, and page views all shot up. Even though I cut my list by almost 20% I have gained those subscribers back and then some. The subscribers I have gained back are also highly engaged, so they are more valuable to me.
I have seen tremendous growth by cleaning up my email list. I think you will too. How fast your list bounces back cannot be predicted but it will happen and most likely with more engaged readers than before.
I recommend cleaning up your list every 6 months. Yes, it’s painful but it a necessary part of seeing your blog growth soar.