He called me a huckster. Other people have called me worse.

This is what he sent me…

I am going to cancel but not for the reason you may think. I have enjoyed your newsletter. However, you have become a victim of your own importance. Sending this type of cheap, canned (BS) email puts you in the same group of Internet and company hucksters who send the, “This is your third and FINAL notice letters.”  I am really surprised you have done this. How much money or time has it cost you to have me on you mailing list. No hard feelings, no, really.

Clearly, he wasn’t happy with my re-engagement email. I responded to him to wish him the best of luck, and he replied again…

I really enjoyed your emails but you really turn a bad corner with your last one. There is a saying, “Don’t BS the BS’er” and that is what your Goodbye email felt like. You do good work and don’t need to play those games with your followers.

Unfortunately, I do.

I found it funny that it was THIS email that prompted this reaction. The email that got him mad at me was the 10th email in a series that I run to unengaged email subscribers. It is automatically triggered after 60 days of not clicking on any emails. So, after 60 days of nothing, and 9 emails telling him to please click so that I know he’s still active and interested… it takes the 10th and last email for him to finally do something. And instead of just clicking the darn thing, he gets pissed.

Why I Willingly Piss People Off

Actually, it isn’t my intention at all to piss people off. I’m rather surprised a few act that way. The emails I send out are very polite the entire time.

But, the last email basically tells them I’m going to remove them from my list.

Why would I do that? More email subscribers, the better… right? He asked…

How much money or time has it cost you to have me on you mailing list.

Truth is… more than he thinks. And here’s why…

Engaged subscribers are what maintain high delivery rates.

If I have a number of people on my list who aren’t engaged, then it affects my overall ability to reach the inbox on everybody else.

How is engagement measured? Well, by many potential factors, including:

  • Do you open the email?
  • Do you click on anything in the email?
  • Do you scroll through the email?
  • Do you ever hit the reply button and talk back?

These are all signs of engagement with the list.

Generally speaking…  if you don’t open it, click it, reply to it… then… well, you just don’t give a crap. 🙂 And the big email companies like Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo… they see that stuff. And they see it collectively across their large pool of users.

A large pool of disengaged email subscribers makes it less likely that you’ll be able to reach the people who truly want to hear from you.

Its that simple.

How I Handle This

I handle it by using an automatic reengagement sequence. Keep in mind, I’m using Ontraport so this kind of thing is child’s play. In a system like Mailchimp or Aweber, this would be a much more manual process. I can automate it.

Essentially, anybody on my list is put on a 60-day countdown timer. If they reach day 60, then they are automatically put onto a 10-email series to get them reengaged. If at ANY time they open or click on ANY email, the counter resets itself.

So, as long as the person opens/clicks on ANY of my emails at least once every 60 days, they will never enter the reengagement series.

Once they are on that series, then my entire mission is to get them to click a link in the email. Any link. Because that simple action will then tell my system that the email is valid, that they saw it, and they’re still engaged at least at some level.

If they don’t click anything, then I assume they’re not paying any attention. And, yes, I stop emailing them.

Why Some People Seem To Slip Through The Cracks (And Get Pissed)

Email open rates are an inherently unreliable metric. Some email clients block the ability for senders to track opens. So, even though my Ontraport-based system is “listening” for it, it doesn’t always see it because their email program is blocking it. Sometimes, then, I get people who are opening my emails (at least sometimes) who still end up on reengagement.

This has caused some confusion. And just recently, I made some modifications to the emails being sent out to more thoroughly explain this.

This is why my emails are adamantly telling them to CLICK THE LINK. Because only that can my system reliably track.

As for those people who do open but still make it to the point of my “final notice” email… what that tells me is that they’ve seen my emails but they’re just not acting upon it.

Which begs the question…

Why Do You Build A List Anyway?

Let’s be clear…

We don’t build a list just to have it. Just to have a nice big number there to float our egos. And we don’t do it for the exclusive purpose of providing value, either.

Sure, we want to provide value. We want to be helpful. I work very hard to provide value to my list and I’m even now delivering an exclusive weekly “tip of the week” solely for my subscribers. Even then… providing value is not my only purpose here.

The purpose of the email list is to get people to come back to your site.

I mean, that should be obvious. You’re building that asset so that you can drive people into action. You want to be able to send them to things, whether it is a blog post or an offer for something to buy. Simply BEING on the list doesn’t serve that purpose. Only clicking does.

This is BUSINESS. And a person who never clicks anything is a person who will never buy anything from you.

So, maintaining engaged subscribers isn’t solely about email deliverability (although that’s pretty damn important). But, it is also about ensuring that your list is populated by people who want to hear from you and maybe – just maybe – may buy something from you in the future.

So, This Is What I Send People

Basically, the sequence lasts 14 days and sends 10 emails in total. And like I said, the moment they click on anything at all… it stops and resets.

It starts off very casually saying I’m missing them and I send them links to some of my latest blog content they might have missed.

After 2 or 3 emails of that, I send them to a one-question survey. That survey is simply asking them what I can do more of in order to provide value. This provides good feedback… but it also happens to register the click and pull them out of the reengagement sequence.

After a couple emails of that, I start offering a bonus to them just for clicking the link. It is a little reengagement gift. I don’t tell them what it is. I tell them they have to click on it to find out. That little mystery helps… entice the click. 🙂

By the end of the series, I’m starting to get a little more serious. And I start talking about deadlines. I tell them that I’ll remove them from the list if they don’t respond within 48 hours. I do it in a very polite manner… as lighthearted as I can. But, at the same time, they need to do it.

And then the last email (the one that seems to piss a few off), I give them a final reminder and tell them its their last email from me. Its like… what did they expect? If I tell you I’m going to unsubscribe you by a deadline, I mean it. This email seems to anger people who are used to just sitting there and observing what I do but never acting. Thing is, for the reasons I stated above, I don’t want observers on my list. I want engaged subscribers who actually do things.

And think about it this way…

If they saw all those emails before and still didn’t click, then they were either just there to casually observe and had no real interest at all… or they didn’t believe me when I said I’d remove them. Either way, that doesn’t make them a real prospect for my business, does it?

But, Listen to Feedback

Don’t think that I’m just getting a giggle out of people who email me these nastygrams. Not at all.

I use them as an opportunity to look at the system and see if it could be tweaked to avoid that. For instance, there were some people who were opening but not clicking and they were confused by the emails. So, I modified it to make clear why opens might not be tracked right and that’s why I need them to click.

I also write the emails in such a way not to be accusatory. I mean, if their interests have changed, that’s fine. It just means they’re not a valid prospect for me anymore and I actually want them to get off my list. So, the emails are polite and lighthearted… but I also mean what I say.

You Need To Do This, Too

Don’t think that just doing double confirmation on new subscribers is enough to keep your list clean. It isn’t. If you haven’t removed people from your list, then your list is probably not maintained well. Removing people from your list periodically is an essential thing to do, as much as it sucks.

BTW, if you want to go the extra mile, you don’t even have to just delete them and give up. You could move them to another email host provider (in order to safeguard delivery on your main account), or you could even export them and import them into Facebook as a website custom audience. Send them reengagement ads as a Facebook ad and route them back into a new lead magnet. You don’t have to take it as a total loss.

If you don’t do this, your delivery rates will drop. You’ll be spending more money to reach less people. The truly good prospects will be less likely to hear from you because of all the disengaged email addresses which are in the way.

So, this is an essential thing to do.

There’s no business sense in talking to people who aren’t listening.

To get the email sequence I am using for this… as well as a full strategy on how to employ the automation capability of your email list… you can check out the Action Plan called Building Your Email Followup Engine. This plan is available only to members of the Blog Monetization Lab and does contain the exact emails I am using for my re-engagement series.

Got A Question? Need Some Assistance?

Have a question about this article? Need some help with this topic (or anything else)? Send it in and I’ll get back to you personally. If you’re OK with it, I might even use it as the basis of future content so I can make this site most useful.

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