For those of you who aren’t familiar with email marketing jargon, graymail is the term given for that gray area between effective email communication and spam. Technically, the people receiving it have opted into receiving emails from you, but they actually couldn’t care less about what you have to say or offer. (Think, people who provide their email addresses to enter a contest or who make a purchase on your site for someone else and don’t uncheck the box that automatically adds them as a subscriber.) These people are easy to spot because of their low (or non-existent) engagement rates and often stick around like stale bread rather than taking the initiative to unsubscribe themselves.
So why is it a good idea to purge your email list of subscribers that view your email communications as graymail? These subscribers act as an unstable base upon which to build your email marketing efforts and can lead to failure over time!
- Mark your emails as spam (hurting your sender reputation)
- Have low engagement rates (bringing down your email marketing metrics)
- Develop a negative opinion of your company (damaging your brand image)
Imagine the difference once you remove the subscribers that view your email as graymail. Engagement rates in the form of opens, clicks, and conversions will increase. Social sharing may even pick up, encouraging new subscribers that are passionate about what you have to say. In short, your marketing goals can be achieved far more efficiently!
So how do you know if your emails are really being perceived as graymail? Look for the following indications:
- An infusion of new subscribers after running a free contest or other giveaway
- Low open rates
- Poor response rates
- Short subscriber life cycles
- High unsubscribe rates
- Infrequent social shares
- Lack of return purchases
If you think you have a lot of uninterested subscribers, you can do what HubSpot did and unsubscribe these people, or you can segment them into different lists based on their motivation for signing up. You can have one list for people that likely bought a gift for a loved one, and one list for people that signed up for a giveaway or sweepstakes, and one list for consumers who’ve changed their buying patterns.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!