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When it Comes to Email Deliverability, Less is More

A couple of weeks ago, HubSpot deliberately unsubscribed 250,000 people from its marketing blog and decreased its list from 550,000 to 300,000. Insane, huh? As you can assume, we had much stress about this test (but forced ourselves to go through with it, anyhow).

Luckily, the decision was a good one. What we discovered was that ‘trimming the fluff’ cleaned engagement. Not to consider, we tackled our big ‘graymail’ barrier: As HubSpot was sending more than four emails to specific segments per day (and who has time to read that many emails from one company these days?).

Digital media is an unchartered empire, and HubSpot had approached an inflection point that several companies are lucky enough to experience: our audience turned so big that it was actually time to cut down and laser-focus on a core subset. But we did not want to risk our web traffic by pruning down our list either.

In other words: we did not suffer any web traffic, and we actually enhanced the quality of our responses from customers, too. It’s an important lesson for our company–that less email marketing yields an overall net positive outcome. Here is how this aspect is applied to the digital media world.

Digital Media Has Been a Numbers Game

It is about website traffic, name, reach, and reputation–in other words, behemoth visibility. But today? Marketers understand that ROI comes from precision in targeting. The source of ‘casting your net wide’ is out-of-date: now, the name of the game is ‘reaching the correct audiences at the right points of their buyer journeys.’

Digital media companies need to satisfy two stakeholders: audiences and advertisers. You can not prioritize one crowd over the other, and you can not ignore either set. Actually, both groups want the same thing: targeted, relevant messaging. It’s the media organizations that can fulfill this promise that will come out strong. Precision is the value proposition of the future, but many publishers are yet held in (big numbers games of the past).

In addition, publishers are searching for new revenue patterns that are based on higher targeting levels and personalization. For more info on these strategies, look at HubSpot’s 2015 Publisher Benchmarks Report.

So How Does This All link Back to Email?

Email marketing is continuously ranked as the highest ROI channels out there though it’s also getting more and more flooded, with users feeling bombarded with information overload.

According to one report, one-third of marketers assume that personalization tech will be most valuable to marketing in the future. With industries moving in this direction, it’s imperative that the media industry keep up. It is the only way that publishers can (1) deliver ROI to advertisers and other stakeholders, and (2) stay relevant to digital audiences.

Email is a high-performing channel because it’s a direct way for companies to communicate with their target audiences. So these same readers are bombarded with so much information that they are missing key details in your messages.

Time to make a change: prune down your list to make your audience interaction matter.

Get Started Trimming Your Email List

The process will not be straightforward. For instance, you won’t want to create an abrupt jolt to your subscriber base or audience composition. Be methodical and make sure that you are creating a value-add–not a deficit.

Begin by conducting a landscape analysis. Following are some questions that your team should search when trimming your email list:

  • Which types of email content are your audiences finding most valuable, and why?
  • What are the reasons why subscribers may be interested in more or fewer emails?
  • What are your highest engaged audiences, and why?

Understanding the contextual data, and the ability to tie it back to personal profiles or subscriber emails, you will be well-positioned to ‘do more with your lists’—to decrease the headcount of your subscriber base while enhancing your marketing efficiency.

You will want to take this step by setting specific goals and an action plan around the following:

Develop Subscriber Personas

Many media companies are still blasting their complete lists with the same, one-size-fits-all messaging. But as audiences get more, they also become more diverse. It’s significant that publishers pay attention to these different needs and craft email messaging that is relevant. For a guide to growing subscriber personas, see the template and conduct exercise from HubSpot.

Improve Quality of Email Marketing Ads and Content 

It is well-known for subscribers to use their email lists as afterthoughts and add-ons to their core website browsing experiences. But consumers see themselves more time-strapped, and attention spans are narrowing. Email is the most powerful means to maintain steady, continuing

conversations with audiences. Don’t just toss together any email marketing ads or content: make sure that all graphics and word adds value to your subscribers’ core experiences.

Improve the Substance of Your Messaging

This is an important point. It’s not only valuable from a user experience perspective: it will also enhance your email deliverability, complaint rates, and spam. As a publisher, you know this—it pays to have exceptional content. Your email list is no different from this perspective.

Think Small to Win Big

After reading this blog post, it’s quite easy to feel confused and wonder what to do. How can you guarantee that you have the right plan in place and to get the ball rolling? The answer to that is simple: concentrate on making small improvements every day. Start making subtle improvements now, even if you are still defining your brand and revenue plan. Particularly with content marketing, the little things add up.

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