What Should You Do If You Haven't Emailed Your List in a While?

It happens to the best of us.

Business picks up and all of a sudden you realize you haven't emailed your list in a month or two. (Or three.)

And then all the thoughts starting pouring in: What do I do? How do I reengage with them? Do I acknowledge that I've been gone a while? Will all they all unsubscribe? 

First, let's clarify one thing: It's important not to let your list go (too) stale.

MailChimp suggests that, generally speaking, a list needs to be reconfirmed after about 6 months. Basically, what that means is this: 

If it's been a super long time, your subscribers could have forgotten that they signed up for your list in the first place. So you may end up being flagged as spam by several of them - which could get you in trouble with your email provider. 

So, it's important to keep that in mind. If you know you're taking an extended leave, going on vacation, or have your busy launch season coming up - you may want to consider writing and scheduling post in advance. That can help avoid this problem in the future.

Now that we've talked about how to stop the Oops-I-haven't-written-cycle, let's talk about how to come back from a Newsletter Hiatus:

1) BE HUMAN

Your "list" isn't this thing made up of endless names and emails that are just there to sell to, right? Those names are people. So treat them as such. In your first email back, don't be afraid to say things like:

  • "I know you haven't heard from me in a while, and I'm sorry. I'm human."
  • "This biz-building craziness gets the best of us sometimes, doesn't it?"
  • "Have you ever experienced this? Hit reply and tell me how you handled it."

Don't hesitate to tell your readers what's been going on in your life. Take this as an opportunity to get real - to show them what your big picture is all about.

Consider telling a story in your email campaign that weaves this experience into your entrepreneurship tale:

  • Maybe you were gone because you were taking care of a sick loved one. ("That's why we're building these businesses, right? So that we have time freedom to attend to the things that matter."
  • You could have been overloaded with work in your busy season. ("This has taught me so much about automation and planning ahead. And that it's just good business.")
  • Or you simply weren't sure what to say. ("Have you ever felt stuck? Felt like you've said everything you could? Like you don't have anything new to add to the biz-building conversation? I was having serious self-doubt and it stopped me from serving you amazing folks.")

When you speak honestly, your people will take note. 

2) OFFER THEM SOMETHING

To make up for your absence, you may want to consider offering your subscribes something. This gives you an opportunity to create a jazzy headline - and shows them that you're serious about reengaging with them. 

Here's an example from own biz:

When I first found out I was expecting my son, I went 2 months before emailing my list. At first, I wasn't sure how to reengage, so I stalled a bit and made that gap last even longer. I finally decided to take this approach. 

I sent an email with the headline:  "Want to see my latest sonogram pic? (+ I need advice!)" I had a really nice open rate - over 50%.

I explained that I didn't write for a while because I was sleeping a lot (!) and adjusting. And I asked for advice about how the parents on my list balance biz and babies. Then I shared our sonogram picture and told them that no one else had seen it yet. (Which was totally true.)

That's a really specific example. So since you may not be pregnant right now (Ha!), here are a few other ideas of what you could offer your list:

  • A PDF download
  • An audio recording of you chatting about some related to your niche (No fancy equipment needed. Just pop open Garage Band, Audacity, or QuickTime & use your headphones' built-in mic.)
  • A free mini service (This will differ based on your niche. For example, if you're a web designer, offer to give a free review. If you're a coach, invite them to a webinar.)

What you decide to give them doesn't matter as much the act itself. You're offering your subscribes this as an act of service. 

3) EXPECT UNSUBSCRIBES

In general, when you've not written in a while, you're probably going to see a lot of unsubscribes your first email back. In the example above from my own biz, I saw 5 unsubscribes after that email. That's the most I've ever had from one campaign. 

But don't worry about that. It's not totally about numbers anyway. It's about connecting with a group of like-minded people who need what you have.

Just accept what happens after reengaging and try to come up with a system to change moving forward. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Have you had an experience with your list after returning from a Newsletter Hiatus? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!