We all make mistakes. Hopefully we can at least learn from them, as rough as they may seem in the moment. This is the story of how good intentions aren’t always enough.
Time flies when you’re having fun, but also when you keep putting off that to-do list.
And while it might seem crazy that you could go two years without sending out anything to your email list, I know first hand how easy that can be. Okay technically it’s my mom’s email list… but I own responsibility for losing it as I’ve always helped her by making sure the emails got sent.
As many of you know, it’s easy to put marketing on the back burner and let other demands seem more important. Especially when it can feel so daunting to sit down and think about what to write about and then actually do it. Then try to navigate Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or whichever email service you’ve chosen. It can feel overwhelming or at least like a chore that’s easy to put off until next week…
(This is actually part of the inspiration for creating the More Feet Club and offering ready-to-use email content because I knew half the battle of getting the email out for my mom and all my other marketing clients is actually creating the content.)
I knew it had been a while and that we needed to get an email out to her list. Then my father passed away and that took much of my spare time for close to a year in dealing with all the paperwork, clearing out the house, and allowing time for grief.
Last October, I created a sample email to give to everyone who opted in for the 25-Day Marketing Action Plan. I planned to send it out to my mom’s email list as a test too. And if I had, then everything would have been fine. Mailchimp hadn’t close the account at that point. But other things took priority. I put extra expectations on the task, such as recording it as a demo for all of you, etc.
I finally went to send that email 7 months after I created it, oops, and that’s when I discovered the account was closed and all the email subscribers that had joined over the years were gone.
And I didn’t have a back up list. I know the importance of having a website backup. I know not to put all my “eggs” in one basket such as using only Facebook for marketing. It’s part of the reason why I like email marketing, because I can easily download my list and move to another service provider. However, I never realized they’d close my free account for inactivity. Which is just silly. Of course it makes sense. I’m not paying them anything, why should they keep it open? And even still, really, it makes sense not to entrust our information completely to any one technology source.
174+ Emails Lost
Since I lost all the data on the account, I don’t know how many subscribers I even had on the list. “Luckily” I still had an old email notification from an email campaign sent in 2016 that I can use as a benchmark… there were at least 174 subscribers over 3 years ago. And even though we weren’t keeping up with the regular emails, just having the sign up form on her website, meant the email sign ups kept coming in. I’d see on average at least several new names a month come through. There’s also a sign up sheet from an event last fall that never got entered… so at least it’s still laying around too.
Backups of anything important should be a must.
Lesson learned. Back up the data. Going forward I’ll do a semi-regular download of the subscriber list for all the email lists I manage. I encourage you to set a reminder as well. Depending on how many new subscribers you get, consider monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual downloads. You can just replace the back up each time too. No need for multiple copies. Though with WordPress, I do keep multiple copies, if you aren’t sure why, ask me.
Sometimes Starting Fresh is a Blessing in Disguise.
Though honestly, even if the list was still there and I’m sure some of the people on it would gladly welcome hearing from my mom again, after 2 years of silence, it’s definitely not the best list to use and I’m sure many would have forgotten they signed up and reported us as spam… so this gives us an excuse to start fresh, have a big sign up push, and stay engaged with a real plan (thankfully using the More Feet Club email newsletter content to make it easier.)
Now I have a goal to motivate me too… beat 174 subscribers!
Reading the Fine Print
Just to clarify, Mailchimp’s terms of agreement included that they reserve the right to disable accounts that haven’t been accessed in the last 24 months. I’m going to guess any service with a free plan has a similar clause now that I think about it. If I ever read their terms closely enough to know this tidbit, I’ve clearly forgotten it over the years. (Remember I’ve been using Mailchimp (and other email marketing services too) in multiple paid and free plan capacities for over 10 years.)
So let’s quickly review Mailchimp’s Terms regarding closing accounts (and I’m guessing the terms are similar for all email marketing providers, but check yours to be sure):
3. Closing Your Account
You or Mailchimp may terminate the Agreement at any time and for any reason by terminating your Mailchimp account or giving notice to the other party. We may suspend the Service to you at any time, with or without cause. If we terminate your account without cause, and your account is a paid account, we’ll refund a prorated portion of your monthly prepayment for a Monthly Plan or reimburse you for unused Pay as You Go Credits. We won’t refund or reimburse you in any other situation, including if your account is suspended or terminated for cause, like a breach or any violation of the Agreement. If your account is inactive for 24 or more months, we may terminate the account. Once your account is terminated, you acknowledge and agree that we may permanently delete your account and all the data associated with it, including your Campaigns. Usernames are unique and can only be used once. If your account has been terminated, the username will no longer be available for use on any future accounts and cannot be reclaimed.
I know I’ve learned a few things from my “failure”, and will make changes going forward to better protect my data and help ensure I don’t let things slide long enough to where I haven’t sent an email out for 2 years (which is highly embarrassing to admit!) I also hope that sharing my mistake has helped prevent others from losing their lists due to inactivity too.
If you want to make sure you have an easy process in place to regularly engage with your email subscribers and help them see and share the value in your services, check out the More Feet Club >>
(And if you’re not sure why having an email list is important or you’re ready to get started, but not sure how… check out these email marketing resources >>)