You know that little button beside each email? The little one that says “Mark as spam”.
Clicking that button feels like one little victory against spammers. I love clicking that button.
And so did people on my mailing list. It grew to 3,000 subscribers before it reached a tipping point and had to be abandoned.
The rules to live or die by
Mailchimp monitor “marked as spam” rates for mailing lists.
If more than 0.1% of subscribers mark an email as spam, this rings alarm bells on Mailchimp. Three warnings, and you’re out.
Did you get one spam report from a 1,000-receiver email? You’re already smack bang on the limit. 2 people for an 800-receiver email, now shit is hitting the fan!
Rob Walling makes the highly valuable point that people generally don’t spend upon their first visit to your site. I have top respect for Rob’s approach to online marketing.
I had already collected emails on a landing page before Bitesize officially launched in 2010. I emailed the launch announcement to the list of 179 subscribers. 2 abuse complaints later, and I’m at a 1.1% abuse rate, well above the 0.1% allowed.
After some more emails, I emailed out an announcement about a small price increase. 459 recipients, and one marked as spam. Ugh, I’m still treading above Mailchimp’s rate.
Fast forward a bit, and I send an invite to a segment of the list to register for a free live webinar to learn some Irish. The webinar was fun to do, but of 1,479 recipients, 6 marked it as spam. 0.4% abuse rate.
Mailchimp asked me to delete the list.
Things to learn from the failure
There’s a lot of factors at play here that I haven’t been able to get in to. For example, subscribers were receiving an autoresponder series while also getting once-off mails. Some people may have received an autoresponder and a mailing in one single day.
The mailing list needs to be split into two: prospects and customers. Thankfully I had already implemented this early on.
The autoresponder series may not have been interesting enough, although in my opinion it was highly-targetted. It may have been too often, or not often enough.
I didn’t collect first names on the subscription page. Perhaps this may have helped to make the emails more personal.
Despite the double opt-in nature of mailing list subscription, it may not have been clear enough that ebook == mailing list.
Last but not least, I certainly can’t skip the fact that the emails themselves may just have been a bad read. I tried to make them personal, and in my opinion were targetted to a very specific niche. Yet people may not have been impressed.
Be warned here, and then go for it!
Despite resulting in a dead list, this has been a great learning experience in the world of Internet marketing.
A major downfall to email marketing is that testing is difficult! Stray on the wrong side of abuse rates, and you have a real chance of causing actual trouble. In other words, it’s hard to learn.
Email marketing is something that needs to be mastered. But it’s too valuable to ignore.