E-Mail: Winning Over the Inbox
I often call list growth "The Holy Grail" of e-mail marketing—it's one of the most desired, yet elusive, goals of any e-mail marketer. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, "finding new e-mail subscribers" (44 percent) and "retaining existing" ones (29 percent) rank among the top five challenges e-mail marketers say they'll face during the next two years, consistent with survey results from many years prior.
Here are three good reasons why marketers are right to be so concerned, and why you should be taking a closer look at your own e-mail list:
1. List Attrition Runs Rampant
E-mail churn can do a number on a marketer's list. According to Epsilon's 2009 Global Consumer E-mail Study, 69 percent of North American e-mail users occasionally or frequently opt out of e-mail marketing messages. And opting out is only one way to lose a subscriber: If a user clicks the "Report Spam" button, most ISPs will block future messages from the sender to that user.
In addition, large numbers of addresses simply end up "going bad" when a user changes or cancels an e-mail account. Industry experts, including the Relevancy Group's David Daniels and FreshAddress's Bill Kaplan, tell me that the average e-mail churn rate has held steady at around 30 percent for the past decade.
Large numbers of existing e-mail subscribers are inactive or "disengaged." A study conducted by EmailMarketingReports.com found that the longer subscribers are on a list, the less likely they are to open a message. After being on a list for two years, the propensity for subscribers to open e-mail declined by nearly 40 percent. Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations for Silverpop, estimates that 30 percent to 50 percent of the average e-mail marketer's list is composed of subscribers who are no longer engaging with the messages they originally opted in to receive.