I did it. I broke up with them. So take a look at how and why I broke up with my email subscribers and you should too! Read why you just might need to do the same thing.

I broke up with my email subscribers and it was awesome! Here's why you should too!

Why is it that as bloggers we’re so focused on having high numbers? I think that when we are just starting out, we want everyone to like us. The thing is, not everyone will like you. In fact, the more you grow in popularity, the more you’re going to hear some nasty stuff from people. Take it from me; there are people out there that have no problem telling you how you should run your business. Seriously.

Once I became serious about my blogging efforts, I started to learn that numbers weren’t as important as the quality and engagement I was receiving. I’d rather have ten comments on my blog of people sharing with me their opinion or expressing gratitude than having a high amount of visitors to it. Just knowing I helped ten people means more to me than anything else.

[Tweet “I’d rather get 5 replies that I helped someone that grow my list even bigger!”]

How to Grow Your Email List, Seriously

When it comes to our email lists, it’s the same thing. I grew my email list to nearly 6000 in about six months because I set up a Backstage Library. The majority of these subscribers cared only about getting into the library and getting their free downloads.

It works, if you just want to focus on numbers, build a library of a lot of really cool things they can download. You’ll get subscribers!

My Open Rates Sucked With My Email Subscribers

My stats on ConvertKit were showing extremely low open rates on my emails. I took the advice of a lot of bloggers that indicated that you had to be in touch with your list more frequently. I had always worried that I was emailing too much, so I was just sending a monthly “update” of sorts.

Then, I started engaging more; weekly vs. monthly. I learned how important it was to give valuable information with personal anecdotes, but also to make sure to include my business and services in everything I do or say. I still struggle with what to share, and I’m working on that.

As I wrote in my social media scheduling post last week, if you’re not talking about you then no one will know about you, or what you’re offering! Your email list is something you own. Unlike other social media platforms, it’s the only reliable way to communicate should something go horribly wrong with social media.

My Email List Grew Out of Control

Unfortunately, my list became a free for all. I thought I had narrowed my blog’s focus, but honestly, it was still too broad. Yes, I still have my posts up for brush lettering and other art and illustration topics. But, my passion is sharing how to incorporate more creativity into your blog and business.

By sharing more tutorials and tips on how to do graphic design and other ways to better your blog with social media, my a-ha moment happened.

Back to my list. Subscriber open rates on emails was a measly 6 to 12%. That sucks. I mean, really. What’s the point of all of those other people being on my list if they never read my emails? Are you feeling me?

That’s when I decided I would delete a lot of my list. I would break up with my cold subscribers. That’s what they call subscribers that don’t open your emails.

My hitting that delete button, I went from nearly 6K subscribers to 1600-ish. Yes, I eliminated that many! What’s the point of 10K subscribers if only 1000 open your email? Or worse, in my case, 360 people out of 6,000 subscribers opening your emails? You probably only get a 1-2% of those readers actually clicking on a link inside your email to buy something. Am I scaring you?

It’s okay to break up with people. If people aren’t buying from you, or even care enough to open your emails then wouldn’t it be better if they would just unsubscribe from it? But they won’t.

ConvertKit Makes This Process of Breaking Up Easy To Break Up With Your Email Subscribers

I use ConvertKit (affiliate link) now, and I love everything about it. With ConvertKit, you can create links within your emails to your subscribers that will trigger tags or other automations. So I decided then and there that I would offer two niche options for my subscribers:

  • One would be all about my real focus on running a business creativity. This is the audience that I wanted to focus truly on and provide great information on a more frequent basis. This is my passion.
  • The other would be my lump focus of brush lettering and other artsy stuff. I honestly wanted to see what people were interested in as well. However, my emails for those only interested in the artistic stuff wouldn’t be receiving my regular emails. They would only get an email if I wanted to share something I posted to YouTube or a new product that I thought they would be interested in purchasing. I just wasn’t ready to let them all go.

Update: August 27th – this all changed this week! I am now even MORE focused and my email list will change again. It will be all on the first bullet. WOOHOO!

Of course, my entire list would receive emails about my new courses or something I felt relevant to everyone out there.

My Break Up Email to My Email Subscribers

In the email, I told everyone that was subscribed to me, that we had to break up. After a lot of research, many coaches stated that you had to give them a bit of a shock factor to get them to open your email and see what the heck is going on. If you can’t get their attention, then they risked being deleted from the list.

I pissed off one person that I know of because she made sure to let me know. Look, I got the attention of more people, and that’s the point. Your subject lines matter. And, out of nearly 6K people, if only one person vocalized dissatisfaction about how I choose to run my business then I didn’t care.

How I Made It Easy for My Subscribers

I emailed my entire list with the opportunity to click on one of two links to stay with me. One was for the main topic and the second was for the less involved topic. I set up two different pages in my WordPress account as thank you pages where the links were directed. I thanked them for choosing to stay with me and which list topic it was.

I created an Automation in ConvertKit that indicated that if they clicked on one of those links that it would tag them appropriately. I now have these two tags that have separated my subscribers that I use for all of my opt-in forms now, so when I send out emails, I can choose the tag that should receive the email. Cool right?

Deadlines

I gave them nearly two weeks to complete the task, and on May 1st, I went into my list and created a new Segment. I created several filters first to go through my Cold Subscribers (people that don’t open emails) and filter out anyone that clicked one of the two links in my email. Then, I deleted those people.

I also gave my subscribers the okay to unsubscribe. When you’re crafting your email to them, make sure you indicate why you’re doing this. Let them know that it’s important to you that your subscribers are engaged and want to learn from you. It’s nothing personal, and if they choose to break up right then and there, that’s okay! Give them permission!

I Sent My Break Up Email Several Times

I sent out this email twice to everyone, then once more a few days before the deadline to anyone that hadn’t already followed through (meaning they weren’t tagged on one of my two lists). My unsubscribes were around 90-100 with these three emails. Hey, they made my job easier!

And, that’s how I ended up with my list of about 1600 (as of this post I’ve already increased by a couple of hundred more so it’s still growing.) That’s a huge chunk of people gone.

It’s only been a couple of weeks, but my open rates are much better. The latest email I sent had a 40% open rate. So I’m getting there! But I have no shame in sending out my weekly emails and clicking on the “resend” to un-opens a day later. Love that feature with ConvertKit by the way.

I am more ruthless with managing my email list. I would much rather have a small, engaged list than a huge one of just people that wanted something free. Now, my focus is about reaching people that I want to help.

I believe it’s probably smart to do this cleaning on a quarterly basis, so it doesn’t get unmanageable, and you aren’t paying for a new tier with your email company!

Oh, and I ended up not paying so damn much for my list. I dropped my monthly payment down by $50. Yeah, that will go back up, but if you manage your email list more frequently by running the breakup email with your cold subscribers (send it just to them), then you’ll end up with a more manageable list to work with, and have better open rates.

When people boast about huge email lists, I just laugh now. Really. 30,000? I’d rather know your open rate and engagement. That is what truly matters.

Use My Break Email Templates

Email 1 Sent Out Twice (even to the same people)

Subject Line: It’s So Sad to Say Goodbye

Sometimes you just have to move on to better things, right?

Don’t worry! I’m not going anywhere; I just wanted to get your attention because you may be leaving me, and I wanted to give you a chance to stick around!

It’s my wish to make sure that I’m only sending emails to my readers who are getting a lot of value from them. So I am removing everyone who isn’t engaged from my list.

To make sure you’re receiving the emails that you want, I’m breaking things down into two categories. All you have to do is click on the link that meets your needs, and you’ll be staying on the list!

CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

If you wish to receive emails from me about both categories, simply click on one and then come back here to the email and click on the other. That way I know you’re interested in both topics.

Running a Creative Business

This topic includes information about business, blogging, branding, social media and graphic design that you can use to provide your clients and readers with great products, ebooks, courses, and marketing strategies.

If you’re interested in Running a Creative Business topic, CLICK HERE!

Art & Lettering

This topic includes information about anything art related including DIY crafts, illustration, watercolor, lettering, and clip art. This is for hobby creatives or small crafty and art businesses that want more of this type of information sent to them.

If you’re interested in Art & Lettering topic, CLICK HERE!

At the end of April, I’ll go ahead and remove anyone that hasn’t responded so that starting in May you’ll only hear from me when it’s relevant to you. I will send out another reminder or two before that’s over in case you forget!

And, if you’re just not interested anymore and want to break up with me, I’m cool with that too! Just scroll down to the bottom and click that unsubscribe button! I only want to share with people that find value in my topics, so please know that I do not mind!


Second email subject: I’m going to miss you! (sent to everyone that hadn’t been tagged through my new automation)

I KNOW! It’s me again. Look, I am sure you think I’m a pain in the butt, but I really am trying to make sure I don’t bug you if you don’t want me to! That’s why I’m working to clean up my email list, so only people that find value in what I share are on it.

I realized that you hadn’t clicked a link yet to help me make sure you want to stay with me, or break up!

PLEASE CLICK A LINK BEFORE APRIL 30TH (THIS IS AUTOMATED)!

To make sure you’re receiving the emails that you want, I’m breaking things down into two categories. All you have to do is click on the link that meets your needs, and you’ll be staying on the list!

CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC & IF YOU WANT BOTH…

If you wish to receive emails from me about both categories, simply click on one and then come back here to the email and click on the other. That way I know you’re interested in both topics.

Running a Creative Business

This topic includes information about business, blogging, branding, social media and graphic design that you can use to provide your clients and readers with great products, ebooks, courses, and marketing strategies.

If you’re interested in Running a Creative Business topic, CLICK HERE!

Art & Lettering

This topic includes information about anything art related including DIY crafts, illustration, watercolor, lettering, and clip art. This is for hobby creatives or small crafty and art businesses that want more of this type of information sent to them.

If you’re interested in Art & Lettering topic, CLICK HERE!

At the end of April, I’ll go ahead and remove anyone that hasn’t responded so that starting in May you’ll only hear from me when it’s relevant to you.

Clean Up Your Email List!

Happy deleting, and you can eat some chocolate while you get through your breakup.

Free Blogging Toolkit

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Holly McCaig

About Holly McCaig

Hey you! I'm Holly McCaig and I'm super excited to help you love and ROCK your Etsy shop. I will help you have an amazing online presence so you can build a strong business and attract more customers to your shop. Let's do this together! Let's connect on Pinterest or Instagram, k?

About Holly McCaig

Hey you! I'm Holly McCaig and I'm super excited to help you love and ROCK your Etsy shop. I will help you have an amazing online presence so you can build a strong business and attract more customers to your shop. Let's do this together! Let's connect on Pinterest or Instagram, k?

6 Comments

  1. jenn on May 12, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    This is extremely helpful!

    By reading many blog posts, everyone is concerned with numbers. It isn’t a bad thing, but I do feel like that this definitely lowers the quality of possible great content.

    There is a saying that numbers don’t *lie*. However, if you have a good opt-in; it’s actually quite simple to get people to sign in. But who are those true readers? I think that’s the true challenge.

    Love this post <3

    xoxo

    • Holly McCaig on May 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

      So happy that this helped, Jenn! Yes, it’s so much better to have a small list of active subscribers. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Kayla on May 28, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m in the process of building my website and email list and this really helps! I’d rather have a quality list than a quantity list… I’m definitely going become a new subbie! 🙂

    • Holly McCaig on May 31, 2016 at 9:43 am

      You’re welcome, Kayla! Glad to hear that!

  3. Angela | Mary Angela's Blog on April 17, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hey Holly!
    I’m a big fan of your blog. As an Illustrator and Web designer, it’s difficult to narrow down my niche regarding opt-ins. Like you said, people love free stuff. It took me a long time to figure this out, but I’m pretty much okay breaking up with cold subscribers. ConvertKit is super awesome when it comes to dealing with this. I also love how they write articles so you never get stuck with a problem. Thank you for writing about this. I didn’t offer to tag my subscribers in my break up email. So this is a very good tip. It truly helped. ❤️

    • Holly McCaig on April 18, 2017 at 9:59 am

      So awesome! Yes, I think when you get serious about email list growth this is a must! Good luck with everything!

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