Email Churn: List management

A year is an awfully long time in this instantaneous, perpetually connected, omniscient, ubiquitous digital era that we have created for ourselves – or that technology has created for us. Just a year ago (June 2012) Google released its 3D maps, Apple updated its iOS mobile operating system (and broke everything), and people actually thought Siri was cool. OK, so what does this have to do with email marketing lists? The answer is: Email Churn.

Email lists, like technology, are not immune to churn – Email Churn being the ratio of the number of leaving or disengaged members of a marketing list against the list’s entire size, over a given time period. I am using the time period of a year as that, to me, is a pretty standard unit of time. Churn happens. Whether it is people moving company and so changing email address or whether they no longer read the content you are providing them. Whilst this is an inevitability we do hope that new subscribers and contacts are entering into our contact pipeline at the other end of the communication cycle.


So, is Email Churn bad? Primarily, if acted upon with good list management, churn is not bad. You are skimming the impurities/bad eggs off the top of your marketing list - those that there is no point emailing as they are either not there or not interested. Yet why do companies, email practitioners and gurus alike insist on sending content to people who signed up 5 years ago and have not viewed an email for 2 years? The reason is loyalty. Most people find it hard in life and business to change, to alter the status quo and most relationship oweners and senior marketer have spent years building up a contact data base. In short they do not want to let go of contacts. But things do change as a relationship lengthens and time passes.


Email churn in the email industry is estimated at 30% annually so it is worth simply accepting the fact that it happens and react with simple email list management techniques.

How can we battle Email Churn?

1)      Include links on every email to subscription pages/preference pages where people can easily update their details


2)      Segment your recipients. If contacts have not viewed your email campaigns for 6 months then place them in a re-engagement folder and run a re-engagement campaign


3)      Make it easy for people to sign up to your email programme – websites, social media sites, landing pages and blogs – if they want your content they will come back to you! Make it easy

Why is it worth doing the three tips above?

1)      You will increase engagement by sending content to people who want it


2)      You will allow easy access to people to re-subscribe if/when they move countries, jobs and email addresses


3)      You will not waste time and money by sending emails to irrelevant contacts


Churn happens but you can use it to your advantage to improve your email marketing channel. Never be afraid to cull a marketing list as the people who want your content will let you know and resubscribe - and this fact is a far more indicative engagement stat than a view or a click!