Thursday, June 23, 2022

Newsletters: Trim & Grow

by Pam Hillman

Last month I took a deep dive into managing your mailing list with the goal of archiving unsubscribed fans and subscribers who have rarely (if ever) opened one of your newsletters. Managing your list will increase your open rate as well as keep costs down if you’re to the point of paying for a newsletter service. You can review last month’s post here.

This month is where do you go from here?

This month’s post should be a good bit shorter… and well, last month’s would have been as well if I’d found out where to segment the 0% Open & 0% click rate before I did. Oh, well, live and learn.

So, you read last month’s post, took a day, or a week to clean up your list and then dusted off your hands, thinking your work was done. Not so fast. :)

Now that you’ve cleaned up your list, you need to stay on top of keeping it that way. It’s like your kitchen countertops. You can have your kitchen spotless, and thirty minutes later, a kid or your spouse will walk in, get a drink of water and leave the glass on the counter. By day’s end, there are 5 coffee cups, 10 glasses, 15 plates and 45 spoons and forks. Can I get an amen?

Do you ever participate in PR campaigns like Round Robins or Blog Hops? Maybe host a giveaway or your publisher does where readers sign up for your newsletter? Or even collect email addresses at book signings?

Go ahead and segment these email addresses when you add them to your list. You can be as broad or narrow as you like.

For instance, I’m signed up for a Christmas in July Blog Tour. Blog hoppers won’t sign up for my newsletter directly, but I’m supposed to get the list of all the visitors after the tour is over.

I plan to upload all those emails and either use the segment or tag feature to identify where they came from. Segment Organic signups, too. Most of these can be just by year.

Right now my biggest criteria is 0% Open & 0% Click Rate. But, remember, just because they have 0% Open/Click, don’t archive them just yet. How long have they been on your list? If they just signed up and you haven’t sent out a newsletter, then of course it’s 0%. As long as I have room on my list, I’ll keep those 0%’ers on there for 12 months at least.

Now, for a few stats on what’s happened since my big “clean up” started.

But before we dig in. Here’s a nice little tip. If your newsletter service provider offers a mobile App, download it. Even if you don’t want to use the App to create your newsletter, it’s a quick and easy way to keep up with what your latest campaign is doing.

At the end of April, I sent out a “Hello, do you still wanna be friends” email to all those 0%. It’s not necessary to know whether the email address is just a catch-all inbox (I have one of those), if the address is a bot/scammer, or if the subscriber just doesn’t have time and deletes the email. But it is important to know if they opened it.

That email only went to 809 subscribers and had a 12.42% open rate. My average for almost 10 years is 33%. But I wasn’t surprised. Remember, this is the group that never opens my newsletter. Some even unsubscribed at that point, and if they didn’t click, they were archived.

My April newsletter had a 30.7% open rate and a 2.2% click rate. May was 34.5% open and 3.5% clicks. I had just started the cleanup on the May newsletter. My June newsletter went out last week and has a 36.8% open rate, and a 3.1% click rate, so my average click rate is slowly creeping up. Hooray!

Opens are good, but clicks are better. And here’s a fun fact. Both my April and May newsletters included links to some .99cent sales, but the June newsletter didn’t have any sales at the time it went out, but my click rate is still nice and strong (at least for me). Historically, new releases, sales, and giveaways get the most clicks, but if you can build traction even when you don’t have those things going for you, then that’s a win-win.

Two things are at play here that have helped my open rate in the last 3 months:

1) About 350 subscribers who never open/click have been archived, so that means those who are left are the ones actively opening and clicking. Well, at least some of them.

2) I’ve started paying attention to what makes my readers engage and am playing to those strengths.

And, boy, it’s not always what you think!

Stay tuned for a post on that next month. Hopefully. :)

Oh, and if you want to see my June newsletter, click here.


  1. Thanks for the tips, Pam! My newsletter list isn't huge, but I can see the necessity of cleaning it on a regular basis. Your kitchen counter illustration was perfect!
    (And my email inbox is the same way...)

    1. Keeping a clean newsletter list is just like keeping a clean kitchen!!! That's for sure!!

  2. Thanks for the tips Pam. Your comparison of cleaning up newsletter subscribers is like cleaning your house is apropos! I enjoy neither. LOL But it's totally necessary and something that I need to do.

    1. Well, that's true. I definitely don't like cleaning ... and re-cleaning, and RE-CLEANING the kitchen. Ugh!

  3. "I’ve started paying attention to what makes my readers engage and am playing to those strengths. And, boy, it’s not always what you think!" - we readers are an enigmatic bunch haha!

  4. Oh My Gosh, I need so much help with my newsletter. I'm doing like...CAVEMAN level newsletter creation.

    1. Caveman or not, Mary, you are authentic, so keep doing you because it's working!

  5. You amaze me, Pam. Stuff like this makes my head swim.

    1. I share whatever issues I'm currently going through. A clean kitchen, a clean list, a tidy yard, settles my poor old swimming head. Or at least I HOPE it does! :)


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