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Understanding List Fatigue and List Churn

Email list dies a slow but steady death if action isn’t taken from time to time. For most of the companies, fifty percent of their subscribers leave them every year. Everyone uses their click, conversion and open rates in order to measure their email program’s success. But they fail to measure the size of their and quality of their email list. Email list hurdle rate is the new metric to be considered, along with the other old ones, in order to keep the list growing.

The email list hurdle rate determines the loss rate from the email list which needs to be overcome for the list to grow. It gives the exact number of new subscribers to be attracted in order to replace the old ones which have either left the list. The other stumbling blocks to be tackled are list churn and list fatigue.

List churn is the percentage of subscribers who have left the list during a certain time period. This is measured either monthly or annually. Out of this only three percent constitute of people who have unsubscribed from the list. Other thirty percent constitute of email addresses which have been lost to hard bounces every year. The subscribers can either enter their email address incorrectly when signing up or the emails addresses might no longer be valid, causing the emails to bounce. The rest of the percentage constitute of people who have reported spam complaints. Even the biggest legitimate permission marketers get spam complaints.

The list churn rate can be calculated monthly by looking at the email performance reports. The yearly lost subscribers can be calculated by adding up number of unsubscribed, hard bounces, and spam complaints. The total should then be divided by the current size of the list to find out the list hurdle rate. Calculation of the list hurdle rate is very important for the annual planning process and for forecasting the revenues. If this metric isn’t considered a lot of explanation is due to your boss if you fail to achieve the required list growth goal. The list churn rate can be improved by reducing the number of spam complaints and bounces.

List fatigue deals with the subscribers on the email list which have hibernated and have become inactive for quite a while. These people haven’t unsubscribed, but have stopped reading the emails and interaction. Therefore the un-subscription rate cannot give a clear picture about how the readers feel about the company’s emails. The most common cause of list fatigue is irrelevant offers, over mailing and newsletter content which dose not deal with the interest of the reader.

The percentage of the inactive subscribers should be calculated to figure out the list fatigue. People who haven’t clicked or opened not even a single email over a certain period of time should be counted. Usually thirty to fifty percent of an email list becomes inactive annually. There can be a variety of reasons cause of which these people are receiving your emails but aren’t unsubscribing. Major reason is because your mail can be going directly to their bulk folder or because your un-subscription link isn’t working. So there can be a possibility that out of the fifty percent, forty percent are inactive and the rest ten percent are busy, on vacation, or just not motivated enough by the subject line or email content. Small surveys can be conducted to understand the changing needs of the subscribers.

These sleeper subscribers need to be activated from time to time by giving them spicy stuff like special offer, different newsletter outlook, interactive tools, etc. On one had the old subscribers must be re-energized and new subscribers must be added from time to time. Otherwise the list gets shorter and shorter. Resources must be obtained and plans must be established in order to get the targeted list growth rates. The ratio of inactive subscribers must also be reduced and slowed down.

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