Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Gain eighteen, lose thirty

I remember it was a Thursday that I emailed what I thought was a great eBook to the people that subscribed to my business's bulletin.  The book was a very worthy read and I expected at least some people to pass it on - thereby exposing the name of my business.  I have grown wise to trying to predict what will make people subscribe to my bulletin - people treat their email addresses as sacred - but at worst I thought nobody would unsubscribe after sending this eBook out.

Once the eBook was sent out the aftermath was:
• Eighteen new subscribers (meaning people did pass it on) and
• Thirty people unsubscribed.

Of course, I was more perplexed by the thirty that walked out.  During the one minute long post-mortem I picked the up problem:  I initially got people to sign up for the bulletin by bribing them with competitions.  Sign up and you are entered into the draw for an iPod and other similar competitions worked a treat in getting people to sign up, considering that good content was not enough to get enough people to subscribe during the early stages.

The competitions were introduced as a catalyst to speed up subscriber growth.  In the interests of winning that iPod or GPS unit, people signed up without knowing what the bulletin was about.  That was fine by me, because the hope was that they would find the bulletin invaluable once they started receiving it anyway.  And admittedly most people who signed up for the sake entering a competition have remained subscribers.

The thirty that left were obviously not interested in anything health, finance or insight related, which is fine - they can get it from numerous other sources.  But I realised that I wanted this bulletin to be known for useful content, while the thirty that left got tired of waiting for me to put out the next competition.

The scorecard may have reflected minus twelve, but this is misleading.  I lost thirty people who weren't interested in the actual content of the bulletin to start off with, and gained eighteen who are.  Those eighteen have subscribed because they felt strongly enough about my bulletin to allow one more email to fill their already overloaded inbox each week.  And more importantly, those eighteen are highly likely to share any good content I email to them with their friends.  Winning eighteen strong followers outweighs losing thirty fickle ones.

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