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Why is Email List Size Still Driving Your Advertising Strategy?

If you’re looking into dedicated email advertising, you might be interested in getting the most bang for your buck. So, naturally, you look at email list size when you’re looking for a publisher, and decide based on that, right?

If you’re still just picking the biggest lists you can find to advertise with, it’s time to rethink your strategy. While list size can be one factor in choosing a newsletter to work with, when you get down to it, big lists just aren’t as effective.

Ready to switch up your email advertising strategy and stop choosing publishers based on list size alone? We’re here to help.

Why Big Lists Are Ineffective

There’s nothing inherently wrong with big lists, of course. Some email lists attract many subscribers, and there’s nothing necessarily bad about that. But when it comes to advertising, big lists simply aren’t as effective.

Here at Paved, we consider a list a “big list” when it has over 300,000 subscribers on it. Of course, it’s hard to nail down a subscriber count that indicates a list is ineffective. Some of the reasons big lists are ineffective apply to much smaller lists, and some big lists can be very effective to work with. 

Generally, though, the 300,000 subscriber mark is where it is risky to advertise with a given list, especially if it is a general topic newsletter. The issues with larger lists stem from a few key reasons.

General Topics

First, very large lists generally are on very broad topics—a very general news update, for instance, or a broad-ranging newsletter sharing all sorts of articles from the web. These kinds of lists are likely to attract readers with a range of interests, jobs, and demographics.

A massive email list size should be a red flag that a given list is filled with a mashup of different types of people.

This makes targeting extremely difficult with large lists. The opportunity to align your ideal customer with a list’s readership is one of the biggest value drivers when you’re trying to find the best lists for email newsletter advertising.

Email advertising gives you an opportunity to find readers who are very interested in a given niche—enough so that they subscribed to a newsletter on the topic. That means that the audience will be more receptive to messaging. Don’t waste this opportunity by mailing to a big, general list.

List Pruning

Second, big lists aren’t cleaned and maintained the way they should be. The fact is, email lists decay by about 22 percent each year. There comes a time for most newsletter readers when they aren’t using that email address anymore, or they start marking those emails as spam, or they just start ignoring emails.

That’s why good list owners clean up their email lists with list pruning campaigns on a regular basis. Oversized lists usually aren’t cleaned in the same way, meaning many of their subscribers may not even be interested anymore.

Engagement Metrics

The result for these general and unpruned lists? Big lists generally have low open and click rates. This is the largest issue for big lists, and the main reason why advertising with them is so ineffective.

Email advertising rates are based on a CPM model for the number of subscribers on a list, not the number of subscribers that actually engage with your email ad. That means that email engagement metrics are crucial to the success of your campaigns.

Without engagement, your ROI will be low, even with a very large list of readers that could potentially see your advertisement.

All of these reasons are why we keep the Paved marketplace limited to a curated list, and why we intentionally remove big lists from our platform.

The Alternative to Big Lists

Now that you know all of the problems with big lists, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it. The solution is obvious: work with small lists.

You don’t have to pursue tiny lists—we generally say that a list is worth advertising to once it has 10,000 subscribers. There’s a lot of wiggle room between that and 300,000.

More importantly than list size, though, is the engagement metrics and niche of a given list. That’s why we have it easy for you to learn more about potential publishing partners in the Paved marketplace.

On a Paved publisher’s profile, you can find information about a given list’s readership and niche, beginning in their general profile information and audience details. The publisher can share details about their niche and ideal readers, and you can even view previous issues to get a better idea of their newsletter content.

Additionally, we allow publishers to connect their email service provider (ESP), and analyze their audience to create a data-driven media kit.  We provide information about life milestones, interests, and employment so you get a sense of who the readers are.

advertising factors beyond email list size- paved media kit demographics

We also pull list size, open rate, and click rate from their ESP so you know you can count on the engagement metrics they provide to figure out how effective a potential campaign will be for you.

In fact, every listing in the Paved marketplace features an ROI calculator to make it easy for you to figure out the kind of results you can expect. When you’re working with a smaller email list size, you can be confident knowing how many readers you’re realistically going to reach.

advertising factors beyond email list size- Paved ROI calculator

Put Email List Size on the Back Burner

While email list size might be one factor you consider when deciding whether to work with a given publisher, it should not be the only one. In fact, big lists have low engagement rates, disengaged readers, and are generally not aimed at a target audience. All of these factors will hurt the ROI of your campaign.

If you’re ready to find better, smaller lists to work with, sign up for Paved today. Not only do our Paved profiles contain all the information you need on a given publisher, but you can find publishers, discuss projects, send creative and submit payment all in one place. See how easy email advertising can be with Paved.