If you’re interested in numbers, you might be interested in the statistical results of my email burst about my new book, Lillian’s Last Affair. After spending a couple of days stumbling around trying to figure out the free version of MailChimp, a service that allows you to send out semi-fancy emails to bunches of your friends, I hurled an announcement of Lillian’s publication to almost my entire email list on Friday, May 8.
But here’s the thing: MailChimp’s list software immediately recognized that my list was “stale” – a splendid and accurate adjective. That list has been accruing for all these years that I’ve been on email. I have three or five email addresses for many folks, those who have changed their service, their identity, or their country of residence. I often added on their new address without getting rid of the old, as one does when one doesn’t have an order disorder – like the American OCD (or the British OBE). When one tends towards the administratively chaotic, “stale” lists can result.
MailChimp is only following the law, apparently, which is there to guard against spam. Surprisingly, it seems that most of my emails did get through. According to their stats I started with a list of 1,036 addresses of which 833 were delivered (80%) and 203 (20%) bounced. “Delivered” includes all those emails that got conveyed into accounts that, while not cancelled, haven’t been checked for years.
“Delivered” does not mean “opened” – and opened doesn’t necessarily even mean read. However, according to MailChimp, 357 (43%) have been opened. Not too shabby at all, since their “industry average” is under 20%.
My main discomfort came when, despite my best efforts to weed out inappropriate folks from the list, at least a couple were mistakenly sent to contacts I should have removed from the original list. Who would be inappropriate? In a general sense it would be anyone who wishes I had not sent the email. More specifically, I tried to eliminate any professional contact with whom I do not have any other relationship and who never “signed up” to receive my news. Ex-friends who harbor a grudge don’t want my happy announcements. People who receive it against their will may be bemoaning the fact that one can’t “unfriend” an email contact as easily as a Facebook “friend.” Six did “unsubscribe” from my MailChimp list, so if there are any more emails from that source, they won’t get them.
One more stat may be of interest: the click-throughs. How many actually clicked one of the links that took them to a place where they could buy the book? 48 (13% of those opened). Of course that doesn’t indicate how many then actually bought the book, but it all explains why “they” say that you need a huge platform, tens of thousands, to sell more than a handful of books. I’m a reasonably friendly, communicative, well-connected person, and even my stale list, accumulating all my cyber-life, is paltry.
For that reason, I am dependent on the kindness of friends and other generous folks. I would be so grateful if you bounced that email on to your own selection of friends who might like short stories that have been described by my betters as “beautifully written” and “touching, shining, tawdry, and sometimes hilarious.“