Why it’s sometimes better to have a smaller email list

Did you know that, in email marketing, bigger isn’t always better?

The reason it’s sometimes better to have a smaller email list is simple: it’s cheaper and more effective.

In the 1990s, we were all excited about having our own email address. We would sign up for any interesting subscriber list. This made it easy for companies to build large databases, send lots of emails, and even sell our details for others to do the same. Not anymore, of course. 

Today, regulations like GDPR do more to protect our personal data and reduce unwanted emails.

They also make it harder for organisations to build an email list. Yet if you’ve been emailing for years, you’ve probably built a large database of prospects and clients.

There are advantages to a large email list but left unmanaged, they can cost more in management fees, produce weaker reporting statistics, and lower email response.  

Higher management and sending fees

Most email marketing and list management services charge you based on the number of contacts in your database and/or per email you send. So the more names on your list, the higher the cost. The solution to this is simple.

‘Cleanse’ your database. Remove email addresses which bounce repeatedly or recipients who haven’t engaged for over 12 months. If you’re worried about reducing your list size, remember that the contacts you’re removing under this criteria hold no value whatsoever. 

Misleading reporting statistics

Large email lists (especially those built over a long period) tend to contain a high proportion of inactive email address. By inactive, I mean that the contact no longer accesses it.

Most email marketing services will tell you when an email goes undelivered (which is called “bouncing”), but they won’t automatically remove bounced addresses. This affects statistics like open rates, click rates and list conversion rates… and can lead you to draw inaccurate conclusions.

If you clean your database as described above, this will no longer be an issue.

Low response

The more people on your email list, the more diverse their problems, desires and interests are. Unmanaged, this tends to dilute the value of the emails you send. The solution?

Segment your email list into groups of people with shared interests.

Exactly how you approach this depends on what makes sense for your business. For example, a law firm with a diverse range of services like wills, conveyancing, and child law would benefit from segmenting their list into service areas.

You’ll know you’ve segmented enough when contacts on each sub-list share the same problems and desires.

Then, if you send targeted information to each segment, they are far more likely to find respond.