Bigger Isn’t Always Better-Why List Size Isn’t Everything

Quality over quantity. It’s a well-known phrase, but when it comes to the size of your email list, it’s easy to think more along the lines of “bigger is better.” We hear it from our clients all the time: “Can I buy email lists?” or “List size is one of my performance indicators.”

Don’t get me wrong, engaging with more of your customers using relevant content they want to receive is a worthy goal and can result in huge gains for customer satisfaction, program enrollment, and almost every utility business goal. But the key here is engagement. Growing a list just for the sake of growth is a big mistake. Purchasing lists, mining old internal databases, and mailing to the same stale list for years on end results in a lot of inactive subscribers…and I mean A LOT. Questline has found that without proactive list management, many of our utility partners find up to 80% of their email list has gone inactive and not opened or clicked an email within the past year. But email is pretty cheap to send, right? So why is that important?

1. Keeps your messages out of the Inbox

All major ISPs now use subscriber engagement as a primary factor in whether they deliver your messages to the inbox, send it to the junk folder, or block it entirely. Questline monitors something called Inbox Placement to see whether the messages we send for our clients are actually reaching the Inbox. What have we found? Repeatedly sending to subscribers who don’t interact with your emails actually lowers sender reputation scores and the rate at which your mail gets placed in the Inbox. Even for those customers who have engaged in the past

2. Skews your metrics (for the worse!)

Sending to a large numbers of inactive subscribers not only lowers deliverability metrics, but it results in lower open rates, click rates, and other key performance indicators. It’s hard to get a clear picture of your success with all that dead weight. And unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, most of those email addresses have gone dead and will never interact with your messages.

3. Damages customer relationships

As much as we’d like them to, not every customer wants to interact with their utility on a regular basis. For some, reliably delivering the energy they need is enough and they just aren’t interested in the information you’re sending. Email can be a very personal thing for some people. Don’t upset them by continuing to send messages they are never going to read.

4. Wastes effort

When your primary goal is to grow your list as quickly as possible, there’s a good chance you aren’t doing it organically. Buying lists, data mining from other departments, and other similar tactics can be counterproductive to your overall business goals. Make sure you keep the business goal in mind. Doubling your list has no effect on the end business goal if it results in a 50% reduction in Inbox Placement.

Want more detailed information and further tips on maintaining a clean list? Need to educate your boss on why bigger isn’t better? We have a whitepaper complete with a five step process on how to re-engage inactive subscribers and remove bad email addresses. Download our Deliverability Whitepaper: “Don’t Wait Until Spring! Clean Up Your Email List Now

And stay tuned next week for some tips on growing your list the right way – with engaged customers who want to hear from you.