It is not ok to start mailing an old list…ever

We’re back after about a month of much needed time off! Full of new ideas, experiences and more it i’s now time to return to the writing board. First up I’d like to talk about sending mailings to old lists. I was inspired (or better said, ‘sparked’) for this because of a mailing I received from a company which hasn’t sent me anything in well over a year. There’s a good reason for that: I’ve opted out back in september 2010. Great!
However, using a different name as a new title for their business this company is sending me this new mailing as a newsletter. No asking for my optin, no describing why I’m actually receiving this. From their point of view of course, it is because they have my email address on the list (even though I’ve opted out last year). From my point of view however it’s totally unwanted.
There was a good reason why I opted out last year: the newsletter was a disastrous, all graphic email which didn’t help me at all. If all an email does is fill my inbox, count me out.
Now that they’re back in a new style, they’re not doing any good – actually more damage than good. But that’s something for me to handle myself.
Let’s take a step back and define what an old list is, regardless of the unsubscribes: they should never be mailed again (getting a fresh optin is something for another post…). My take: a list that hasn’t been used for a year or more is old. Even one that you haven’t sent something between six months and one year is on the edge. Why? Here’s why.
People’s attention span is getting hammered (which is bad), while we are getting so many more impressions everyday by electronic devices (smartphones, notebooks, info boards on the streets, iPads, iPods, you name it) which our brain has to digest. If I’m subscribed to about 40 newsletters and receive about 200 emails per month (which is not that many for personal email, actually), I will not remember who you are after 6 months of silence, and totally not after 12 months. Mailing an old list is not ok, seriously.
How to handle an old list then? Throw it away. It will hurt at first, but after that, you won’t remember you ever had it. Got to love that short attention span!
Afterwards, start thinking out a strategy to win people back, and win new people too in the process. It’s a great exercise in your email marketing skills.
PS: bonus points for those who recognize the picture.


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