Churn rate–or the attrition of subscribers from your email distribution list–indicates the percentage of your subscriber list lost in a specific period of time.
It’s a straightforward calculation:
|Churn =||# of unsubscribes, hard bounces, and spam complaints in X timeframe
|# of subscribers in X timeframe|
Some attrition is voluntary. With voluntary–or transparent–churn, the reason for the attrition is known. People unsubscribe. Others, mark your messages as spam. Or, emails bounce. Involuntary–or opaque–attrition, on the other hand, is less known. Maybe people aren’t seeing your emails because they subscribed with an email address they don’t check frequently (or at all). Maybe they’ve just disengaged emotionally and aren’t opening your messages anymore. At best, you can attribute this attrition to some sort of inaction on the part of email recipient, but it might not be clear what they’re not doing or why.
If you’re not minding your churn rate, this article explains why you want to and why consistent email list verification should be one tool that you use to manage it.
Three reasons to know your churn rate
There are several reasons to pay attention to your churn rate. It can help you be strategic about gaining new subscribers and maintaining engagement among those you already have. In addition, it demonstrates the importance of email list verification.
Churn rate defines your hustle
First, knowing your churn rate indicates how much you’ve got to hustle for subscribers. On average, attrition can shrink your list by 25% to 30% per year. For real subscriber growth, you not only have to add subscribers, you have to add more than you lose. Knowing your churn rate helps you identify the gap you need to close and motivates you to be strategic out how you gain new subscribers.
Churn rate encourages relevance
Second, your churn rate demonstrates how important it is to make sure you know what your current subscribers want and need. Some unsubscribes are inevitable, of course. Interests and needs change, even when you have relevant, high-quality content for subscribers. Still, monitoring your churn rate can signal the need to refresh or improve content. Proactively check in with current subscribers by sending out quick surveys and other re-engagement messages to find out what they want to see before they decide to move on.
Churn rate protects deliverability
Third, churn rate demonstrates the need for attention to engagement and deliverability. Since email providers monitor and filter messages based on recipient engagement, the disengagement of opaque churn can affect your email deliverability. If you keep sending emails to disengaged recipients, the resulting low response rate could damage your deliverability rating and block your messages as a consequence. Pay attention to subscriber churn and work to reinvigorate or remove dormant subscribers to protect your rating.
How does list verification help?
In addition to re-engagement tactics for the “emotionally unsubscribed” users that comprise opaque churn, you can use consistent list verification to address other components of attrition: bounces, spam complaints, inbox placement, and inactive users. Addressing those factors will improve your churn rate. List verification reduces your bounce rates and spam complaints. For example, if your churn rate includes an 8% bounce rate–well over the gold standard of 2% or less–list verification could reduce that rate to this optimal level. A similar benefit applies when you identify and reduce your spam complaints to the acceptable .1% rate. Email list verification does the work of making sure that the emails you send are sent to active email addresses for real recipients.
Minding the churn rate provides an important measure for the health of your email distribution lists. Though the goal is not always to have a lower churn rate, it is helpful to be aware of what the churn rate represents. If you use list verification to eliminate bounces, spam complaints, and inactive users, you are better situated to do the analysis that will improve lead generation and re-engagement as you grow your subscriber list.