Okay, I finally cleaned up my andreas.com newsletter list. Or, actually, lists, as in plural, which is to say it was a bit of a mess. Here are the details.

The various lists happened because I used various tools:

  • Gmail: I segmented my Gmail contact list into family and friends. If I send a newsletter to the friends list, I run into Gmail’s limit of 400 per day. If you send around 400 or more, you’ll get blocked for 3-6 hours or more. Gmail wants to stop spammers. So I had to break the list into two groups (A and B) and send List-A (312 people) on one day and List-B (198) the next day.
  • LinkedIn: The problem with LinkedIn as a social network is that LinkedIn isn’t a social network. LinkedIn is a resume database for recruiters and that’s all it really does. It lacks practically every feature of social networks. For example, you have 2,500 contacts in LinkedIn; what can you do with them in LinkedIn? Zero. LinkedIn lacks a newsletter tool. Yes, you can post an update, but few will see it because only 20% of LinkedIn users actually visit in the last 30 days. And they’re not likely to read a long series of updates. So you have to export your subscriber list. Yes, it can be done, but LinkedIn doesn’t quite make this clear because they don’t really want you to do this. Anyway, export it. And I strongly recommend that you export it today,  before they shut off this capability.
  • Scrub the List: So now you have 2,500 LinkedIn email addresses. But many of those emails no longer exist. If you send an email to hundreds of bad email addresses, you’ll get flagged as a spammer. Your IP address will be blocked. It’ll wreck your business. So you have to “scrub the list” to identify the bad emails and remove them. I wrote about that in a previous posting.
  • Good and Maybe: So the scrubbing produces two lists: Good (1,203) and Maybe (425). The good emails are definitely good (active, etc.). The Maybe list is possibly good. Or bad. Anyway, you have two lists. So you have to test the lists to see which of those actually read your newsletter.
  • Mailchimp: Using MailChimp, I also set up a Subscribe to My Newsletter button at my website. This created an additional list. Keeping count? Yes, seven lists so far…
  • Cleaning the List: You don’t want to send to people who ignore your email; they may click the Spam button to get rid of it. So you send an email every month for three months. MailChimp reports on who opens the mail and who ignores it. After three or four newsletters, you end up with data about your readers on who opens/ignores the newsletters. In MailChimp, sort the list by activity. One or Two Stars = Never opened your email. Three Stars (or more): Opened  your email or clicked on links in your email. So you want the three-, four-, and five-star subscribers. You delete all of the one- and two-star subscribers. After you do that, you combine those lists into one. The numbers? The Good list dropped from 1,203 subscribers to 475 (39.4% active); the Maybe list went from 425 subscribers to 148 (34.8% active). The newsletter subscriber list went from 112 subscribers to 77 (68.8% active). The Gmail lists (511 people) are 95% or higher active (after every sending, I deleted broken emails).
  • Combine the Lists: After deleting everyone in the various lists who never opened the newsletters, I combined all of the lists into one master list. I ended up with 1,263, which shrank to 1,156 (there was some duplication). These are valid, active email addresses of people who read my emails.
  • Add New Emails: In Gmail, I have a new small list of new email addresses: email addresses of people with whom I email during the month or new business cards. In a month, this can be 30-50 people. When I’m ready to send out a new newsletter, I download those new email addresses and add them to the master list at MailChimp.

I know practically all of my subscribers, so I reply to everyone who writes to me. This means a monthly newsletter can result in 75-125 emails.

Six months ago, I started with 5,500 email addresses. I ended up with 1,156 active emails (21%).

For more on how to send a newsletter, see my blog posting on how to send a newsletter.