How I lost nearly 7 thousand email subscribers – and how you can avoid it happening to you.



(image by Andrea Smith, used under CC BY 2.0, modified from original.)

A few months ago, I lost almost 7 thousand subscribers from the email newsletter list I’ve built for my handmade ornament business..and it happened in pretty much one fell swoop. It was more than half my list.

And, I knew going into it that it was going to happen, but I did it anyway.

How did it happen? I switched email service providers.

I had been wanting to switch companies for a looong time, but I kept putting it off. I knew there would be dire consequences. But, I finally got to a point where I felt I had no choice….and what I’m really hoping for in this (slightly long-ish) blog post, is that I can help you avoid this happening to you.

There is tons of advice, pretty much everywhere you go online, telling you that you need a newsletter list for your business. You’ll find plenty of that advice here on this site, too.

But, what you hear a little less of (maybe because it’s kinda not that sexy) is that it’s JUST as important that you start that list with the right company, right from the get-go. (In my case, it was 7 thousand email addresses-important!) And unfortunately, I did not start with the right company.

In the beginning, when you’re just starting out, it’s only natural for you try to go cheap. After all, you may not have made many sales yet, you might not be sure where your business is going, and you might not even know what the heck you’re going to write about in an email, anyway. And there are many email service providers who know this. So, some of them are super cheap or even FREE, in the beginning.

But, what happens when you’ve been building that list for a long time, and suddenly things aren’t so super cheap or free anymore?

Why I wanted to switch.

The company I’d been using started out very cheap. What worked for me was that it worked on a “credit system”… I didn’t have to pay a monthly fee, which felt way too scary for me at the time, and instead, I could purchase credits each time I wanted to send an email.

Well, I didn’t send many emails in the beginning, so this was perfect! I also didn’t have many people on my list, so buying enough credits to cover an email cost me almost nothing – even perfect-er!

And then, my list started growing much more quickly (when I really got rolling with my blogging). It was becoming more and more expensive each time I wanted to send an email.  In fact, it got to where it was costing me over $100 per newsletter!

Once I began learning more about email marketing, I not only realized I wanted more options (like more detailed stats about my emails), but I also started becoming interested in setting up an autoresponder series – emails going out automatically each week or two – which would really help me cut down my email marketing time.

I looked into the monthly subscription options available with this company, so that I could send more emails out per month, and it blew my mind. I absolutely could not afford it.

But of course, now my list was with this company.

Why switching sucks.

Here is the problem: when you try to move a list from one company to another, the new company will let you upload your old list – but due to anti-spam laws, each subscriber must RE-CONFIRM that they want to be on your list. ACK!

I knew that I could never, absolutely ever, get all of those thousands of subscribers to re-confirm. Who knows if they’d even see the email asking them to do it!

Why I switched anyway.

After much research (and time-wasting, because I was afraid to go through with it), I finally decided to go ahead with the switch. (I switched to AWeber.)

I had not gone with AWeber in the beginning because of their monthly subscription fee, and when I first started my list, I didn’t want to spend anything I didn’t think I had to. The company I had chosen was nearly free, so that felt like my safest bet at the time.

But, let me tell you, it’s an entirely different story when your list has 10,000 names on it. AWeber is far cheaper now than the “cheap” company turned out to be. These are things you just don’t think about in the beginning.

Cost was a huge factor in my decision to go ahead with the switch. But there were a few other big reasons as well:

AWeber has stricter spam regulations than the company I was previously using…and that’s a good thing. It means that less of the emails I send out end up in my subscribers’ spam buckets.

Also, I can now send unlimited emails for the lower price I’m paying.

And, I have an autoresponder set up now…. and if you’ve ever thought setting up something like this isn’t for you, please let me convince you otherwise, because it is amazing.

Rather than killing myself trying to come up with a brand new newsletter each week, I put each new email I write (which are essentially based on my blog posts) into an automated cycle. Every new subscriber is added to this cycle, and they get to start at the beginning (which makes perfect sense, because my “old” blog posts are not old to a brand new subscriber!). Each time I write a new blog post, I just add it to the cycle… so easy and I don’t have to stress about my newsletter each week (which is well worth the monthly subscription fee!).

And finally, AWeber has much better statistics tracking available – now I can see which emails perform well, and which don’t… so I know what to send more of, and how to minimize unsubscribes. Even if you think you will never care about statistics… eventually, you will, I promise.

The 2 unexpected benefits of losing all those subscribers.

I’m not going to lie. It absolutely killed me to lose so many subscribers to my list.

But, one (small) benefit was that I was able to “clean out” all of the dormant subscribers, who weren’t really doing my business any good anyway, and were just costing me extra money. And, I know that the ones who actually went through the trouble to re-confirm are my true-blue followers and customers, which is awesome.

But something else pretty awesome happened, too. I set up a very specific process for making my switch, in order to try and minimize my loss as much as possible – and I ended up making $4200 in sales in 2 days because of it! In my next post, I’ll tell you exactly what I did to make the switch (and even if you aren’t planning to switch email companies anytime soon, maybe the “marketing” part will still give you some ideas!).

In the meantime, the moral of this story is: Don’t automatically go for the cheapie email company! Even if you don’t have many subscribers to your list now – even if you have zero subscribers right now – plan with the end in mind, because one day in the near future, you will have a much larger list, and you’ll be SO glad you set it up right from the beginning.

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