How Big Should Your List Be?

I read a great enews by Chris Creech of Newfangled, and he graciously said I could share it with you.

Benchmarking the High-Performing Agency Website: Email List Size & Mailing Frequency

Newfangled has been consulting clients on marketing automation for a few years, and in doing so, we have developed a sizable list of clients who are now utilizing marketing automation. One great benefit of this for us is that we are able to gather an enormous amount of data on the use of marketing automation tools by our clients.

From our client base, we curated a list of small and midsize marketing firms to observe how they were using their websites as lead development ecosystems — from content creation to lead-nurturing email campaigns. In doing so, we were able to see what the high-performing agencies are doing that sets them apart.

Based on this research, we have put together a set of benchmarks, which I will go over in this series of blog posts. While individual results may vary, these are the numbers that we see from clients who are generating qualified leads from their websites on a regular basis.

Email List Size & Mailing Frequency

The first benchmark that has a huge impact on the effectiveness of your email marketing and marketing automation campaigns is your email list size and the frequency in which you are sending to your list.

The average list size of our high-performing agencies was just shy of 7,000 contacts. So our recommendation in terms of list size is a database of at least 5,000 people you are emailing on a regular basis. Even if you have excellent content, if you don’t have an audience to put that content in front of, then it may go unnoticed. It’s like that old saying, “if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” You want your email to make a sound, so you need to make sure there is an audience there to hear it.

If you are concerned that your list size is too small and that it will take too long to reach the 5k mark, you could also consider purchasing a list. We have done so, as have several of our clients, and it’s a successful way to increase your reach, assuming that you are purchasing a tightly segmented list of your target audience.

On average, the top-performing agencies emailed their list an average of three times each month. This tells us simply having a monthly newsletter or recap is not enough. To keep your brand top of mind, you need to be communicating with your prospects on a regular basis, being a consistent source of expert content.

You can do this in many ways.

One approach might look like a monthly email newsletter that goes out to the full list, followed by emails that send a specific piece of content to targeted segments of your lists, based on their profile or behavior. It could also include an invitation to an upcoming webinar or event. Regardless, you want to make sure that you are getting at least one or two emails in front of every contact on your list each month.

At the same time, beware of overdoing it. Once you start sending emails at a pace of one or more per week, you run the risk of being marked as spam or having a large number of opt-outs. This is something to be aware of if you have several simultaneous campaigns that are sending email out to segmented groups of your list, as it’s possible that some individuals could be in multiple segments, and thus receiving more email than you intended. Make sure you set up some exit conditions in your various campaigns to safeguard against this possibility.

Sitting at our computers in either Westport, CT, or NYC, we design all types of emails – eblasts (like the image above), newsletters, documents, branding, and more. Need help with your marketing materials? Let’s talk!

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