What is Your Mailing List Worth?

It is entirely too easy to dismiss or underestimate the value of your mailing list. Many companies have mailing lists that are underutilized and frequently enough, almost never used. There is almost always an inherent radical variation between what your email list is worth and what it could be worth. Of course, making it worth something does require effort. The question is whether you can meet or exceed your ROI expectations on that effort? And… when?

Increase Opt-Ins through the Registration Process

Customers expect to hear from you when they first purchase and register your app. Even if they opt out of your newsletter during registration, you still have (at least) three opportunities to get them to opt in. This needs to happen while you are still fresh in their minds.

#1 – Day 1. Thank you for your purchase, provide technical support and contact information, newsletter opt-in emphasizing value to customer.

#2 – Day 3 or 7. Welcome your customer’s feedback and include another newsletter opt-in.

#3 – Day 30. Recap – thank them again for their purchase, keep the door open for feedback, cover your latest news or upcoming product releases, and emphasize this email is the last one they will receive from you in support of their purchase, offering additional support through your newsletter opt-in.

Future mailings are possible, too, especially for new app releases; suffice that if customers are not opting into your newsletter you need to respect their desire to be left alone.

Within this framework, you have four opportunities for customers to opt-in to your newsletter – once during initial registration and through three follow-up messages.

Newsletter and Mailing Frequency

It is difficult to pin down an “optimal” frequency for emails to opt-in customers. It varies by person, by product/service, and the value of the information in the mailing. Newsletters tend to have lower engagement than special offers, but that does not preclude a special offer from including some of the value of a newsletter.

The core focus of any email to customers is on your desired outcome – what you want them to do. As long as that is clear and everything else is not intrusive, you should be good. Technically, you can heavily emphasis special offers in the mailing and provide newsletter components on your landing pages.

Functionally, special offers can be presented more frequently than newsletters in that if you are discounting your app for 30 days, you can include an initial mailing, a reminder 7 days prior to its close and potentially a last minute offer 3 days before closing.

There are no hard set rules, however – if you are in doubt, you might ask your customers directly and personally. In these kinds of occasions, it can be useful to provide some value-added options to the customer.

“We are evaluating the effectiveness of our company’s newsletter and special promotions. You are one of our most respected customers, so I would really appreciate your thoughts. Below is a very short survey. If you can complete this for us, we can give you A/B/C.”

Determining Mailing List Value

The most basic way to associate a value to your email list is to define your Revenue per Email OR Revenue per Subscriber while also taking into consideration your Cost per Acquisition (or cost of getting each new subscriber).

Let’s say you have a mailing list with 10,000 addresses – and over the course of a year, the revenue you are able to attribute to email marketing is $25,000.00, the base average value of each of your subscribers would be $2.50.

You may also need to factor in the cost of acquiring each new email address over the course of the year.

Having a “very imperfect valuation method” is better than having no valuation method, suffice that there is considerable potential for you to engage in a more detailed analysis. The objective here is to prompt those who do not take their mailing list seriously, to start.

Once you’ve started, you have a considerable range of options to increase its value.

The following are some items to look at for improving the value of your email list:

  • Average purchase value in relation to what you promoted in each mailing.
  • Number of mailings conducted over the year.
  • Examine engagement rate relative to your email format – expect engagement to drop off if every mailing looks the same.
  • Look at B2B cross-promotional opportunities – just because you don’t have a new product to offer does not preclude you from promoting other products/services on a commission basis.

Appeal to multiple price ranges relative to what you know about your audience and super-user segment. The Pareto Principle asserts the idea that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. Within this segment, it frequently holds true that about 60% of your revenue may come from a select 4% of your customers.  While the majority of your users might be interested in low-end price options, there are likely to be a few interested in a higher buy-in.   Consider that even in some free to play games, there are players willing to pay $50 for a +6 stat tome…  Is everyone going to?  No.  Giving that possibility to the 1% who would can account for a large portion of your profits.

Last but not least, understanding this point is including a B2B link to a page that promotes what you can offer other businesses. Some of your customers, in addition to being end-users, may also have their own web site, store, business or professional interest in your niche.

I intend to revisit this article or expand upon it – there are a lot of loose ends.  Again though, the interest is to get those who are not treating their mailing list seriously to begin moving in that direction.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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