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4 Ways to Grow Your Stagnant Email List

Syed Balkhi
at OptinMonster, WPBeginner, WPForms, MonsterInsights, and List25
Nov 04, 2019

To get the most out of email marketing, you have to make sure your list of subscribers remains fresh.

  • A stale email list has a low click-through rate and minimal user engagement.  
  • Segmenting your list allows you to target inactive subscribers.
  • Marketing to mobile users can improve your open rate. 
  • Lead magnets can help you attract your target audience for a more engaged list. 

For the first couple of months after launching, your business was thriving. People were signing up for your email list, subscribers were opening your messages, and sales rose considerably. However, that level of success is often quick to disappear. Email open rates can dwindle at 1%. Website traffic can drop rapidly, and sales can decrease to lower levels than ever. 

If this story sounds familiar, you should know you aren’t alone. Business owners around the world struggle with retaining subscribers and growing their audience. Sadly, many of these companies peak immediately and never make it past the post-launch excitement. You don’t have to fall into this trap.

When you go through times like this, you need to recognize whether your email list has become stagnant. There are several signs you should look for to determine if you have a stale email list. The first sign is a sharp decrease in engagement. Consumer engagement happens on various levels, including comments on your blog posts, social media engagement and email response rate. If you notice a sharp decrease in one or more of these categories, it’s time to consider revitalizing your list. 

The next thing you should look for to determine the status of your email list is your open rate. If no one is opening your emails, there’s a good chance that they are no longer interested in your content, or there are deliverability issues. The average open rate across all industries is 22.86%

Your click-through rate (CTR) represents the percentage of subscribers who open your email and then act on your call to action (CTA). Much like your open rate, the percentage of people who accept your offer will vary based on your niche. A high open rate but low CTA means your emails are pulling subscribers in, but your content or design is causing them to bounce from the message before they can click your CTA.  

On a side note, if you purchased your email list, you should start from scratch. Purchased lead lists are stale by nature. You’re not the only business owner who has access to these consumers, and these people are likely tired of emails from strange businesses. 

If you have determined your list is stale, here are four valuable tips to start generating new leads and build rapport with existing subscribers. 

1. Segment your lead list.

Consumers can often be divided into separate groups depending on their interests within your niche or behavior on your website. If you want to grow your stagnant email list, you should try segmenting your inactive consumers and sending them specialized emails that will catch their interest. 

For example, an inactive subscriber would likely open an email if you targeted them with a headline that reads, “Was it something I said?” We are naturally drawn to these headlines, and thus more likely to open the messages.  

If you want to generate sales from your inactive list, you could send them a limited-time promotion with an abnormally cheap discount. A consumer is far more likely to come back and shop on your website if you offer them a 50% discount as a “welcome back” gift. 


Editor’s note: Looking for help with your email marketing? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.


2. Target mobile users.

Mobile formatting is vital to a successful email marketing campaign. Studies show that 61.9% of email opens happen on mobile devices. In other words, a large percentage of your consumers are likely scrolling past your emails daily. 

The wrong format could cause mobile users to bounce from your message and never look back. Your goal is to keep user experience in mind when you’re formatting your email copy, adding images and creating headlines. Loading speed, CTA and the way images load vary widely between different mobile devices. When you’re sending out emails to your lead list, make sure they are able to open and read your messages without glitches or overlapping text. 

Additionally, your website should use a mobile-responsive structure. The quality of your email won’t mean much to people who can’t view your site unless they use a PC. 

3. Create a lead magnet.

Lead magnets are an excellent way to grow your stagnant email list. If you want to bring in new subscribers, you have to give them a reason to sign up. Lead magnets are essentially gifts you give consumers in exchange for joining your email marketing list. 

For example, if you own a marketing website, you would want to offer a lead magnet that helps consumers master building an audience. You could create an e-book that gives people a step-by-step guide to grow brand awareness and encourage users to sign up for your list in exchange for the book. 

When the consumer signs up for a lead magnet, you should set clear expectations so they can stay on the lookout for your messages. You could tell them before they submit their email address that they will receive other content and special promotions by signing up. The result is you build your subscriber base full of people who are excited about your content and know what to expect. 

4. Check email deliverability.

Finally, to ensure you’ve done everything possible to jumpstart your stagnant email list, check your deliverability. The reality may be that your list isn’t stale; your consumers are just not getting your messages. Imagine sending out a whole drip campaign only to discover that all the emails went to the spam folder. 

Luckily, there are precautions you can take when fine-tuning your deliverability. You’ll want to check the protocol you’re using to send messages to consumers. Standard WordPress accounts start with PHP, which can be problematic when it comes to how the messages are transmitted. Email providers may cross-reference the delivery source, which could cause a discrepancy. When your emails try to pass through, they get kicked back or go to the spam folder. 

Use SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to improve the chances of your messages making it to your intended audience. Alternatively, you can use free spam checkers that grade your email and give you opportunities to make your email look more legitimate. 

There’s no question email marketing is one of the best ways to touch base with your audience, forge connections and grow your business. As your business grows, you’ll have to prune your list to remove subscribers that refuse to open your emails or interact with your brand. Most leaders suggest pruning your list every six months for a healthy, vibrant lead list. 

The more you work to master email marketing, the better chance you’ll have of retaining customers long after their initial purchase. Every business has experienced stagnation with their marketing list. Overcoming this challenge is no easy feat, but the lessons you will learn along the way are priceless. 

Image Credit:

grinvalds / Getty Images

Syed Balkhi
Hello, I'm Syed Balkhi, a 27 year old award-winning entrepreneur with a strong 8 figure online business. I was recognized as the top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. At age 12, my family immigrated to the United States. Ever since I can remember, I have been extremely competitive which makes me hustle at everything that I do.