List Management - Could it be YOUR missing ingredient?

14 replies
The end of a year is a natural time to reflect on where we are now, and where we intend to be going in the future. Thing is, where you want to be, might not be as far away as you might think!

For me, next year is going to be really exciting. I have just bought a new house in a new area of the country. It's a beautiful 'Arts and Crafts' house by the sea. I can't wait to begin that new life which will be characterised by long walks with the dog while I turn over, in my mind, my new projects.

It has taken me 6 years to get to this stage where my online income is large enough, and reliable enough, for me to make this change. It has been a time of learning and it has been a great journey so far. But, there is no question about it, in my own mind, I could have got to this stage much quicker if I had worked out what I was doing sooner. So I wanted to offer a little advice for those who are still a little way behind me.

Here's what I want to say: the difference for me has been learning that this business is not really about building a big list. I know some people here might not believe me, but I have deleted around 20,000 subscribers from my main prospect list over the past year; and I still have a list of around 20,000 left.

Why did I do that? Because I have finally come to realise that not all subscribers are created equal. If people cannot get themselves off my prospect list and onto one of my buyers lists within 1 year, then I simply delete them; at least, that's what I did when I got rid of 20,000 email addresses.

Just this last year, I made quite a transition in the way I am doing business. That transition has been away from constantly finding new prospects and then selling something to them - nothing wrong with that of course, I still do it - to providing my buyers with what they want based upon their buying habits.

The thing that has made the difference, for me, has been what I would like to call 'List Management' which is the process of sifting that main list into niched buyer lists. Just one of those much smaller lists is worth far more than my enormous prospect list.

If you are using Aweber - you can probably do the same with most autoresponders - you can get the autoresponder to unsubscribe people from your prospect list when they become buyers. This enables you to target different lists based upon their buying decisions. This is a very powerful principle and it could make a big difference to your results if you are not already doing it.

So there you are. I hope this post has inspired a few people here to think about their List-Building in a different manner and I wish all Warriors a happy and prosperous 2011.
#ingredient #list #management #missing
  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    Thanks for sharing the experiences you've had with building and managing your lists, Will. I think as internet marketers we tend to get dazzled by numbers and place too much emphasis on list size metrics, when we should be paying more attention to other statistics like open rates, conversions on a mailing, etc. I can concur that the "freebie" lists tend to be pretty unresponsive for the most part, and no matter what you do in terms of providing value, it doesn't seem to truly make a difference when trying to get them to buy something based on your recommendation.

    I'm definitely all for pruning lists like what you've mentioned. What's the point of carrying around dead weight like that in your autoresponder when you cannot monetize them, and furthermore increase your autoresponder bills?

    I was wondering though about how you track the length of time the subscribers have been on your prospect list? Is there a feature within Aweber which allows you to automate that tracking? I haven't really used many of the more advanced analytics features that it has, so perhaps you could enlighten me on how you do this.
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    • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
      Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

      I was wondering though about how you track the length of time the subscribers have been on your prospect list? Is there a feature within Aweber which allows you to automate that tracking? I haven't really used many of the more advanced analytics features that it has, so perhaps you could enlighten me on how you do this.
      Hi Paul

      It's a bit of a pain but I do it manually. I have a year's worth of my autoresponder sequence setup and basically if they purchase during that time, they are added to another list. I just periodically search for all subscribers on the last message number and then delete them.

      Will
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary King
    Will,

    Congratulations on your success! It's awesome, isn't it?

    I absolutely, 100% agree with your thoughts. It's the old, do you want 10,000 non-buyers or 100 buyers?

    I personally prune my lists as well and never get stressed about unsubscribes - they aren't the right match anyway.

    All success for 2011.

    Gary
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    • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
      Originally Posted by Gary King View Post

      I personally prune my lists as well and never get stressed about unsubscribes - they aren't the right match anyway.
      Yes - you're absolutely right. Pitch right away so they know it's part of the arrangement and let those who don't like it unsubscribe.

      I completely agree.

      Will
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  • Profile picture of the author AidenChong
    Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post


    Here's what I want to say: the difference for me has been learning that this business is not really about building a big list. I know some people here might not believe me, but I have deleted around 20,000 subscribers from my main prospect list over the past year; and I still have a list of around 20,000 left.

    Why did I do that? Because I have finally come to realise that not all subscribers are created equal. If people cannot get themselves off my prospect list and onto one of my buyers lists within 1 year, then I simply delete them; at least, that's what I did when I got rid of 20,000 email addresses.
    Thanks for sharing this insightful post, Will!

    However, I found out that you're too "merciful" (jokingly) with your subscribers. I tend to remove each of those who are inactive within 2 months of subscribing to my list. But that's just with one of my testing list - this testing list was being acquired via a totally non-forced opt-in method. So if they opt-in because they like the materials I wrote/want more related materials from me, then there's no reason why they won't open my emails, right?

    Say, I am sending out around 10 emails within the two months period, and if there's a person who's not even opening my email from day 1 to check out what I have to tell him, why would I want people like this in my list, right? They take no action at all, and I don't want non-action takers in my list as well.

    Well, I am not sure if people would say if I'm thick to do that, but that's just how I see fit. Aweber's analytics function helps a lot in this case!

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing this with us, Will.

    Aiden
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    • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
      Originally Posted by AidenChong View Post

      Say, I am sending out around 10 emails within the two months period, and if there's a person who's not even opening my email from day 1 to check out what I have to tell him, why would I want people like this in my list, right? They take no action at all, and I don't want non-action takers in my list as well.
      Hi Aiden

      I have seriously thought about removing people who don't open, but I think a good number of them might read the email in their preview window in their email client. I do this myself and I wonder what percentage of people actually do that.

      Something to think about.

      Will
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      • Profile picture of the author flowers4love
        Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

        Hi Aiden

        I have seriously thought about removing people who don't open, but I think a good number of them might read the email in their preview window in their email client. I do this myself and I wonder what percentage of people actually do that.

        Something to think about.

        Will
        You'll be surprised how many lurkers there are who can help drive traffic to your website. Personally, I don't see any real reason for removing lurkers. I only remove spammers.
        By the way, I saw your website and I really liked it; I've bookmarked it. I consider your site a perfect example of how a professional website of this kind should look like.
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        • Profile picture of the author Marty S
          TIP: Here is something I do with my low-responding list - When I want a particular Youtube video to rank quickly, I send out a comment contest to my list. If they want free things, this is even better. I give them prize money for the best comments on my poker videos. Take a guess at how fast you can get a Youtube video to rank when 5,000 people watch it in a week and there are 200 comments? Even non-buyers can help your business with a little creativity.

          Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

          For me, next year is going to be really exciting. I have just bought a new house in a new area of the country.
          Amazing accomplishment Will. All the best to you and your family in your new house.

          Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

          If people cannot get themselves off my prospect list and onto one of my buyers lists within 1 year, then I simply delete them; at least, that’s what I did when I got rid of 20,000 email addresses..
          Your logic is not clear to me on this. I feel there is no reason at all to delete anyone who has subscribed to you, as long as they aren't being devious or malicious.

          Correct me if I am wrong, because I would really like to know.... but:

          1-) Your de-listing ignores the proven value of repetition where sales may come eventually to those who need more time or convincing of you and your longevity/reputation.

          2-) Although you can argue the 80-20 rule with many business models, what is the cost of maintaining the 80% who have never bought from you, yet?

          3-) How is it less work to email only to buyers? Why not just have your buyers on separate list, remove them from the prospect list and target them respectively? Could you not refocus your email campaigns for those who have NEVER bought from you?

          4-) The cost of having a larger database on Aweber is so insignificant, I can hardly believe that is a factor either. Honestly, that IM list of 20,000 subscribers you dropped is potentially a business start-up for somebody else.

          Originally Posted by paulie888 View Post

          I'm definitely all for pruning lists like what you've mentioned. What's the point of carrying around dead weight like that in your autoresponder when you cannot monetize them, and furthermore increase your autoresponder bills?
          Sweating Aweber invoices to me is just a bizarre thing for an IMer to be worried about. Aweber is an invoice of mine that I ALWAYS want to be increasing, not shrinking. I don't know how you can talk about open rates and conversions and yet completely ignore managing/segmenting your lists.

          -----------------

          I just feel there is very little work and even less cost in maintaining a list that performs poorly - you will always have that. It's just like split testing a web-page you keep working that list until you start sending them content they respond to. Find what works, segment them and focus. I have not counted lately, but I probably have 30+ different lists that all started from only 3 different auto-responders.

          I don't think your strategy is actually "managing" a list. You are just firing them so they are off your radar. And since I read above that you actually go through these subscribers manually and delete them, I bet you could spend that time figuring out a better way to market to them instead.

          Just sayin.
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      • Profile picture of the author AidenChong
        Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

        Hi Aiden

        I have seriously thought about removing people who don't open, but I think a good number of them might read the email in their preview window in their email client. I do this myself and I wonder what percentage of people actually do that.

        Something to think about.

        Will

        Originally Posted by flowers4love View Post

        You'll be surprised how many lurkers there are who can help drive traffic to your website. Personally, I don't see any real reason for removing lurkers. I only remove spammers.
        By the way, I saw your website and I really liked it; I've bookmarked it. I consider your site a perfect example of how a professional website of this kind should look like.
        Will, haven't even thought about that before! Well in that case, I think what I have to track would be open + clicks? Not sure, what do you think about this combination of strategy? Anyway, I've just started to do that in a very small list. Just as a testing ground.

        Flowers4love, thanks for the tips.

        Marty, thanks for the awesome insightful posts as well! Learned a few ideas and business strategies all thanks to Will for starting this kick-butt thread!

        Aiden
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Will,

    Sounds like an effective strategy because it focuses on specialization. As you note not all people on your list are created equal. Separate the buyers from the rest so you develop an even stricter niche. Thanks for sharing.

    RB
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  • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
    Hi Marty

    Since my list started 6 years ago, I was wondering how many of those on my prospect list, who had never bought, were still valid email addresses and I did not want to end up with an enormous unresponsive list.

    My main point was indeed about segmenting a prospect list into different buying niches and then targeting them appropriately. But your post has certainly got me thinking about more possibilities, so thank you for your reply.

    Will
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  • Profile picture of the author ~Davor Debrecin~
    I completely and 100% agree with you on this one, Will.

    I congratulate you on your success, that's just awesome.

    What you wrote here is exactly what Amazon does for example. They segment their buyers based on their past purchases and then send emails recommending new products that are similar to what they bought! Simple and so so so effective.

    You can also do this even if you're selling other people's products.

    For example, in order to get your bonus for the product you were promoting (and which they bought through your link) they need to first optin. And then you also automate to unsubscribe them from your main prospect list.

    Thanks for sharing this with us and have a great holiday!

    ~Davor
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  • I'm not quite sure I understand the point on deleting old subscribers from your list. Is it just to save a few bucks on autoresponder bills? Because otherwise I just can't see the point.
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  • What I'd love is Aweber implementing a feature upon which, once a prospect reaches email X, they're automatically transferred to another list.
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