Intellectually, I've known forever that age of a name on your list (ie., how long it's been since an individual joined your list by opting in or buying) is critical for response rates for both postal mail and email lists. For example, that's why list brokers charge a hefty premium for new-to-file names.
But, it's been years since I saw the age factor numbers. Today our Senior Reporter Natalie Myers Tomasso sent me this data for our December 1st WhichTestWon.com newsletter sends and told me these were fairly typical numbers for it:
Opt-ins from between 7/1/09 - 3/31/10 44% open rate
Opt-ins from between 4/1/10 - 9/30/10 50.50% open rate
Opt-ins frombetween 10/1/10- 11/30/10 63.60% open rate
Wow. OMG. Holy you-know-what.
People who signed up for WhichTestWon's free weekly 9-18 months ago were nearly 31% less likely to open a typical email newsletter issue than people who signed up in the last 60 days.
Now, that said, 44% is an *awesome* open rate for an email newsletter. So even at our worst, we're getting roughly twice the open rate many other b2b newsletters get.
What does this mean for us moving forward? Two things:
#1. Keep a steady stream of new opt-ins flowing.
To be successful, our marketing plan for all our sites has to focus on s steady stream of new traffic and fresh opt-ins, more than on "building a big list" or big blow-out promotions. Lead generation and audience building has to be a year-round ongoing thing. I knew that, and accounted for that in our plans, but it's nice to see the reasons why spelt out in cold hard data.
#2. Only do marketing partnerships with organizations that have fresh lists.
A lot of the folks in some of the niches we publish in have been publishing forever. A decade or more. They may have big lists, but their response rates are getting saggy with age. A new list of 10,000 may give us more total responses than a several years-old list of 50,000.
And in fact, we saw this in action this week when running a webinar offer for our SubscriptionSiteInsider.com title. The venerable-brand partner lists just didn't pull remotely as well as the new ones did.