One of the first things we ask when assessing a client’s digital marketing situation is what’s the size of its email database. The reason is simple – email marketing is still a viable marketing channel. Not only that, but it could also be used as an ad targeting tool in platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, the size of the database could be misleading, as size in this case doesn’t really matter. Engagement does.

The Numbers are Actually Much Lower

Let’s say that you have 40,000 email addresses in your database. It doesn’t mean that you actually have 40,000 people who you can approach with your marketing message. Actually you have access only to those who have recently engaged with you via this channel. This engagement is measured by the amount of people who actually opened your emails (opening rate) and those who clicked links in the emails (click through rate). According to MailChimp’s email marketing benchmark, only 19.7% in the telecom industry actually open marketing emails, and only 2.38% actually click on one of the included links. So if you have 40,000 subscribers to your email list, only 7,908 open these emails, and only 952 actually click on one of the links to further learn about your offering.

And It’s Getting Worse

If you don’t regularly communicate with your email database, things will get even worse. We are using the rule of thumb that if a work email address wasn’t communicated with in 12 months, there’s a good chance that it isn’t relevant anymore. But you can’t send low quality content either. If you don’t provide value, people will just unsubscribe and you lose your communication channel with them.

The Solution

There isn’t a quick win here. Email is just a part of your marketing and sales machine – you need to feed it with quality content, maintain it regularly and pay attention to what your readers really need. Then you can turn them into leads.