How a Mailing to 98 People Beat One to 5200+


Over the years, I’ve always encouraged my readers to keep their email marketing targeted.

And by targeted, I mean everything from how you build your list all the way to how you manage it. The more targeted you are, the easier it is to profit. You don’t need a huge list, you just need to know who you are marketing to and why.

The proof of just how much targeting works surprised even me this past week when I sent out a mailing two do different lists, with one list being just under 2% of the size of the other.

Here’s what happened…

Mailing One – List Size: 98

I took a segment of one of my lists that had purchased a specific type of product and sent them a special offer for a very similar product. With a small sampling of 98, I wasn’t expecting much, but wanted to see what happened.

In the email, I acknowledged their purchase and let them know this was a special offer on a very similar item. I also used the subject line to indicate this was recommended based on a former purchase.

24 Hour Results:

  • 38 clicks (Click through rate: 40.4%)
  • 6 orders (Conversion on clicks: 15.8% / Conversion for list: 6.1%)

Mailing Two – List Size 5200+

Then I took a list of about 4200 customers and about 1000 prospects who hadn’t purchased anything. All these people indicated (by purchase or opt-in) that they were interested in similar products, but not necessarily a product this specific.

Because of the less targeted nature of this list, I did a straightforward promo indicating why they might be interested in this special offer.

24 Hour Result:

  • 127 clicks (Click through rate: 2.4%)
  • 4 orders (Conversion on clicks: 3.2% / Conversion for list: nearly zero)

Over the past couple of months, I have been doing a lot of list segmenting based on previous purchases and have been very satisfied with the results. What I didn’t expect and what surprised me was the poor result of the larger list. Of course, there are many factors involved in why it bombed, but I think the targeting lesson is still valid.

If you want to target your email marketing more, here are some things you can do…

  • Ensure that your autoresponder allows you to segment your list based on specific products they’ve purchased.
  • If you’re an affiliate and don’t sell your own products, work to get people into lists targeted to specific products or have them opt-in to claim bonuses, etc.
  • After your customer or subscriber gets into your database, conduct small surveys that allow you to collect more information about them. This can often be done through collecting information through custom fields from your autoresponder. This will allow you to customize and target your mailings as well. You can also use a WordPress plugin like Formidable Pro to integrate with your autoresponder.
  • Track all your links through email, so you know exactly what interests your subscribers. It doesn’t matter if you’re linking to content or a product, get to know your readers as much as you can.

More Targeting Lessons

Whether it’s email, blog posts or other content, targeting simply gets better results. It’s also easier to manage because you aren’t dealing with people who aren’t good prospects and are putting your focus into those genuinely interested in you and your offers….and that is REALLY one of the best perks, in my humble opinion.

It’s one of the key lessons emphasized throughout the Contententrix Better Content Marketing course, where our focus is on helping you get more RESULTS from your content without so much work. We just reopened the doors to new students and would love to have you join us.

It’s a 19-week course filled with hands-on practical advice and applications for your online business. You can even ask questions the whole way through and get answers, feedback and more.

Hope to see you there!

What to Do Next to be an Email Marketing Success

A big part of email marketing success, comes from making it a regular habit. The more you work on growing and nurturing your list, the better your results. To ensure you develop those great habits, be sure to join me for the 30-Day Email Marketing Challenge. I’ll whip you into shape in no time.

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About the Author

Alice Seba
Alice Seba is the owner and creator of With a focus on using content to create relationships, loyalty and results from writing, she loves helping online business owners get more bang out of their content.

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  • Angela Wills

    This is really interesting Alice, thanks for sharing!

    Good thing I learned from you in the early years of my business about list segmenting. I actually have targeted lists on a number of topics and am working on building them even larger.

    I also have my customer lists separated. I just yesterday decided to move them into Aweber because Amember was bouncing my emails to lists over 150 AND I just love Aweber so much better.

    It’s good to know I’m on the right track with that and my stats are going to be awesome now that I’m in Aweber with the customer lists.

    • Melissa Ingold

      Angela, the reason amember is bouncing your emails is because your hosting account typically only allows you to send 500 emails per hour. The rest just wind up in cyber space.

      I have a plugin on all my amember installs so that it breaks up my mailings to send out only 450 (with 50 free for new signups and orders) emails every hour until they all go out.

      I used to just hit the back button once, and it would continue sending the emails after it showed an error. But now I have the plugin to take care of the issue all together.


    • Alice Seba

      I see Melissa told you about the Amember plug in below or you can also use a host that doesn’t set those limits. I have a virtual private server and there are no limits, but staying out of the spam box is a whole other challenge. :-(

      Personally, I like keeping things in Amember because it allows me to keep better track of the subscriber’s actual status (active / expired, etc.). I have never found an autoresponder plugin to Amember that fully satisfied me.

      One other thing to think about is if you ever email within Amember you may be mailing people who unsubscribed in Aweber…or vice versa. While I have different autoresponders for different sites, I do try to keep mail going out from one place per project.

      • Melissa Ingold

        Alice, it shows my comment is in moderation :)

        • Alice Seba

          Oops…cuz of the link in it. Approved.

      • Angela Wills

        Melissa yes I actually bought that plugin, tried to install it, almost messed up my site then decided to return it, lol.

        Then I decided I really did want them all in Aweber anyway.

        The plugin I’m using is aMail and Alice it says it DOES two of the things you had issue with:
        - unsubscribes people from BOTH Aweber and Amember no matter where they unsub from
        - removes people that cancel subscriptions from both Amember and Aweber
        - it also transfers the login information over to Aweber too

        So, I decided to go with that one.

        Also – I’m not using Amember as a membership site where I send them stuff via email. I’m using it more as a customer center.

        Anyway, I’ve got it done now and customers into Aweber so I’ll have to run with it.. will let you know how it goes!

        • Alice Seba

          Nice! That is a third-party plugin, right (no Amember or Aweber)? I think I saw that when I was looking around, but that was just very recently and since I was already fully set up with Amember, I didn’t look into it further.

          But now, you have piqued my curiosity and thanks for sharing it.

          • Angela Wills

            Hey Alice. Yes it’s a third party plugin but I think I read somewhere that he got it from Amember and got permission to edit it and make it better.

            Here is the site:

  • dawnaurora

    Thanks so much for this Alice. I have not been paying attention to my list to try to make any sales. I know that I need to do something with it, but didn’t know what.
    Actually my efforts have been in calling my previous customers and making sure my product is serving its purpose well. I know their are other facets of the business I need to pay attention to.

    • Alice Seba

      Well that’s a good start, Dawn. Do you suggest another product when you talk on the phone with them? If that’s out of your comfort zone, email is a really easy way to follow up and sell them more stuff!

      • dawnaurora

        Hey Alice. Never thought of suggesting other products. I will try both email and phone. I am pretty comfortable on the phone now after quite a few tries. I wanted to push through the comfort zone. I actually prefer to talk on the phone with my customers.

        • Alice Seba

          Then that is absolutely wonderful. You’ll get great results that way, I’m sure! Comfort zones are meant to be broken.

  • Laurie@Affiliate Marketing Training


    This is really interesting. Segmenting your lists is something I have heard about, but haven’t done it. Maybe it’s time to start:-)

    • Alice Seba


  • Susan Scott

    Thanks for some great information. It really gives me some things to think about. Do you have any figures on what the average response rate is to surveys? I did a 7 week ecourse with a large group and followed it up with a short survey. I gave away a freebie directly related to the ecourse in exchange for the survey and got about a 10% response after sending a follow-up, reminder email.
    Maybe you should create a product on how to write great emails for autoresponders!

    • Alice Seba

      Hi Susan…no, I wouldn’t know an average response rate on surveys. I do find the key is to keep them really short and illustrate why completing the survey helps them. I also often tell them their is a free gift upon completion and say it’s really good…but then let them find out what it is once they’re done. :-)

  • Lexi Rodrigo

    Thanks for sharing your results, Alice! One of my biggest regrets in email marketing is being initially lazy and putting all subscribers of one blog into one huge list. No segmentation whatsoever. I now get very poor response from that list. Tsk, tsk.

    It really pays to set up different lists for each product, freebie or bonus we offer. It may be a pain at first, but the heightened responsiveness of the lists is worth it.

    • Alice Seba

      Hi Lexi…glad you were able to comment. Sorry for any tech troubles before.

      It’s true…if your system requires set up, it takes just a bit of time at the beginning and that will pay off. For some systems it’s even done automatically based on product purchases. Either way, it’s very worthwhile.

  • Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Markrting

    Just getting back into email marketing myself Alice, this is vital little info here. Thank you. :)

    • Alice Seba

      You’re most welcome!

  • Patty Gale

    Alice, that is such a great story and I hope a lot of people pay attention.

    We have a similar story. One of our lists is a very tiny, very targeted list of 65. That little list has an average open rate of nearly 72% and a click-through rate of about 40%.

    We recently sent them an email with a survey and had a 65% open rate to the email, and a 20% response rate of those who actually answered the survey. Keep in mind, we hadn’t emailed this list in months, so I was very pleasantly surprised at the response.

    We’re gearing up for a new project with this group, so it will be exciting to see the results down the road.

    Targeting is the key.

    • Alice Seba

      Thanks for sharing that, Patty. I’m sure it’s encouraging for all.

  • JOSE G

    Speaking of targeting, I find this very interesting, why all the comments come from female readers, I assure you that my curiosity is purely statistical, I would assume that it would be more females than males but all females? just because the author is female? anyway now you have your male comment. I wonder if your email’s show such preferences too since your email and gender neutral well is what I think but maybe I’m wrong, also would be interesting to collaborate with a male in your comments to see if that would change your ratios? I better stop now this start looking like and exercise in philosophy. Thanks for reading.
    Regards to all.

    • Alice Seba

      Hi Jose and thanks for your comment and I can certainly appreciate the curiosity. While this site may be gender neutral, I think our audience is based on my history. I started my online marketing teachings with the work at home market and exclusively targeted women where I grew quite a large readership.

      I think they’ve been following along and recommending their friends as we go along.

      What’s interesting…is the gender our customers/clients isn’t so one-sided. So maybe the men are just quiet? ;-)

      • JOSE

        Hahaha, well said, I’m glad in the actual business is more harmonious, thank for responding, like I said before it was mostly curiosity. I wish you continuously good luck in your business. Actually not luck but good work is more adequate.
        And yes we male’s tend to be a little intimidated specially is the majority present are female’s. Is a bit sad because I think that; like a battery you only get current when you joint the + (female) with the – (male). Enough for today.
        Regards, Jose

        • Alice Seba

          Well, I’m glad you spoke up and became the voice for men on this thread. :-)

          I think women also can feel the same way. If it’s a bunch of guys talking, we may hesitate. Perhaps, I’ll grow a mustache to even things out!

          • JOSE

            Alice trust me you don’t want to do that, besides why would anybody try to become someone else?. I think best to find the great in ourself and presented as such; anyway we male are not very intuitive, see I’m been generous actually we are a disaster, that is not to say that some female could joint the group but as luck would have it,most are excellent persons, and no I’m not trying to get a fiancée hahaha I’m very happily married to a wonderful wife, so what I’m writing is exactly like I think so, sorry I’m a bit chatty, I never done that before, so I’ll stop now, just one last thought I wish females would have more administrative government power maybe we would be better of. On the other hand they should try to influence there children a bit different specially the males, so as not to perpetuate the status quo .

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