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email list size

Email List Size

Yes, it’s tempting to strive for those big numbers you can boast about. But the reality is, big numbers don’t mean much if the people behind those numbers aren’t engaged and active.

The truth about your email list

Industry jargon and rationale aside, let’s look at this issue from a common-sense perspective. If you have a giant list, say 10,000 subscribers, but only 1,000 are active and opening your emails, that’s not so great, right?  On the other hand, if you have a relatively small list of 1,000 subscribers, yet ALL of them love your content and regularly open your messages, that’s outstanding! Now, it’s very unlikely you’ll get 100% of your list engaged (if you do, please teach me your ways!!), but you see my point, right?  Your list should be full of people who actually WANT to be there. People who love your brand, your content, and your messaging. Why? Well, quite simply, those are the people who will buy your products and services!  Inactive subscribers – those people who never open or click through an email of yours – are just taking up space on your list. Time to clean house!

How to measure the health of your email list

Before you go on a cleaning spree through your list, it’s important to understand some of the terms and industry standards to measure the health of your email list. Any mail management system will give you access to these numbers, even the free services. 

Open rates

The first number to look at is the Open Rate for your emails. Of all the emails you send, how many actually get opened? A good average to strive for is 32-27% according to Hubspot. 

Click-through rates

This includes the number of times a link within your email gets clicked. Industry averages are anywhere from 3-6% for good click-through rates. 

Bounce rate

This is the number of emails that can’t be delivered for whatever reason. The email address was mis-entered, is no longer active, or there was a server or spam issue. Your average bounce rate should be around 1% or less. 

Unengaged/Inactive subscribers

A high number of inactive subscribers can really hurt your list. Not only could it cost you money, since many email services charge based on how large your list is, it could also make your messages more likely to wind up in spam.  The key to maintaining a healthy – and profitable – email list is to monitor these numbers and regularly clean house. 

How to clean up your email list 

It might seem scary, but one of the best ways to clean up your list is to remove inactive subscribers. You can find a list of people who haven’t opened an email from you in months and do one of two things. 
  1. Remove them outright. 
  2. Add them to a segment and attempt to re-engage them. You can send them a couple of emails along the lines of “we’ll be removing you from our list – if this is a mistake, click here to stay active!”
Email list purges can be an excellent way to breathe life back into your email list. Once inactive subscribers are removed, you can truly focus on the people who want to be there and who love your content. 

How to build engagement with your email list. 

Once your email list is whittled down to the people who really want to be there, you can start strategically pushing out content tailored to them. Here are a few tips to grow engagement with your list: 
  1. Be consistent. Create an email schedule and stick to it. Read more about building consistency here: The Secret to Profitable Email Marketing.
  2. Tell a story with your content to hook your readers. Compelling, story-based content is highly effective!
  3. Use effective subject lines, and test out different formulas. 
  4. Focus on your email design. Don’t overuse images, and make sure the email is optimized for mobile. 
  5. Segment your lists based on subscriber interest and behavior.

What are your thoughts? Is bigger really better with email lists? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works best for an email list. Do you find more success when your numbers stay low, or are you all about the numbers? 


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