Email list churn, and how to avoid it

By Luke Petterson

Your business may have a decent sized email mailing list that you’ve compiled over time. If your business depends on using it’s email list to communicate with your clients or subscribers, you need to know about “email list churn” and how to handle it.

What is email list churn?

Email list “churn” is losing subscribers due to the fact they have changed or abandoned their email address. If a subscriber can no longer access the email account that you send your mailings to they’ll no longer be a subscriber to your mailing list. Simple as that.

Your subscribers will change their email addresses from time to time. This is common. Changing email addresses could be due to:

  • Changing jobs, and subsequently changing their work email address
  • Getting sick of Hotmail and wanting to set up a Gmail account
  • Getting overwhelmed with SPAM on an email account and abandoning it
  • Wanting to change to a more fun or different email address, or to change their name
  • And probably a myriad of other reasons

How many times have you changed your email address?

The numbers

The fact is, your list will probably lose about 1/3 or more of it’s subscribers yearly to email churn

This means if your list doesn’t keep growing, in just a few short years you’ll be left with zero or few subscribers. That’s a lot of churn, and that’s why it needs to be recognized and dealt with.

How to prevent or handle list churn

The most effective method to help avoid list churn is to offer subscribers a way to change their email address for their subscription.

Mailings commonly will contain links to allow users to unsubscribe, but it’s not so common to see the option to update subscription account options. Add this option to your email footers and your users will be able to provide you with a new email address if they change email accounts. It’s that easy.

Another way to prevent your list from dwindling is to actively promote it to attract new subscribers. Don’t just sit back and hope people will subscribe to your email list – ask everyone you come in contact with to sign up for your emails – both online and off. Some easy ways to do this are –

  • Put a link to your email list in your email signature
  • Tell your sales staff to ask everyone they talk with if they’ve subscribed
  • Put out a guest book in your store and ask people to write in their email address so you can send them updates

In closing

Even with an email update option on your mailings, you will still lose subscribers to list churn. The only sure fire way to completely counter the effects of list churn is to continue to grow your list. Just make sure that all your new subscribers are officially opting in for your mailing list (keep it legal!).

Luke Petterson is the interactive director for Absolute Marketing Group of Moorhead, MN. Feel free to contact Luke at 218.284.1111 with any questions about email mailing list management for your business.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.

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