Subject: Why That Giant Email List Isn’t Such a Good Thing
I’m an email marketer. No, no—not the person spamming your inbox with useless junk. I’m the one who fights against that—the brains behind emails that offer value, that you want to open up and explore.
I send the emails that make you say, “Hey, how’d they know?”
Never had that reaction? Then the email lists you’ve subscribed to probably don’t have someone like me on their digital marketing team. (Tsk, tsk.) That means those companies are missing out, because a well executed email marketing strategy can do incredible things for a brand.
Maybe it’s because I’m aware of all that email marketing can do that I get so frustrated when others miss the mark. Even digitally savvy brands sometimes get caught up in vanity metrics like list growth.
List growth. Ugh.
The instinct is understandable: More is better! Big lists make you feel good! The word “growth” gets you excited! But ask yourself this: Would you rather date one Ryan Gosling or 25 James Francos?
Did you pick one Ryan Gosling? Congratulations—you win! Because you understand that more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Now think of Ryan Gosling as your active and engaged consumer, and James Franco as the person who subscribes to your list but then deletes your emails as quickly as they appear.
Still prioritizing Ryan Gosling in this scenario? Good. (Though truthfully, we’d prioritize RyGos over just about anything.)
An active and engaged audience will read your content—and isn’t that the point? They’ll engage with it. Explore it. They want to see more. And you can measure their interest through actual benchmarks like open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, unsubscribes, and (when applicable) conversion.
These are the gauges of success. And yet still, even after explaining the benefits of these other indicators, clients ask time and time again, “How do I grow my list?” While it’s a reasonable question (and certainly a valued goal by my kind), the above benchmarks should take priority.
So much emphasis has been placed on list growth that clients can be tempted by the idea of purchasing an email list—a major no-no in the email marketing world.
Sure, purchasing a list will get your distribution to a sexy number, but it comes with serious consequences. Buying emails is the easiest way to a) get bad email addresses, b) make people unsubscribe, c) get labeled as spam, and d) get a bad sender reputation. Oh yeah, and e) mess up all my benchmarks.
Of course there are ways to effectively grow your list. And there’s real value in quantity when it doesn’t deter from quality—that is to say, I’d take 25 Ryan Goslings over one Ryan Gosling. (I mean, who wouldn’t?) Your list growth will be slower than purchasing emails, certainly—but it will be a healthy, sustainable kind of growth, and you’ll find that your other benchmarks improve along the way.