Size Isn’t Important. Really.

Big numbers. An interesting conversation with a potential customer yesterday got me thinking about the perception of success.

People working online mostly judge success by the size of various numbers: the number of RSS subscribers, the number of daily/monthly visitors, the number of newsletter opt-ins, and so on.

For example, many in the F & B industry here in Hong Kong collect customer name cards to build a mailing list.

And when conversation gets round to their online marketing activities they’ll often boast about the size of their customer database.

The problem is that they will often find the cheapest way possible to send out mail-shots, and this often means sending them from a server sitting somewhere in Kowloon. (Nothing wrong with Kowloon, by the way).

Double opt-in is not a requirement in this market, so if you’re a local business mailing to local people you can just add the name card to your database and start sending out emails.

The result is that delivery rates are often pretty low. I’m on two lists that I know of, and I haven’t received an email in months.

The conversation yesterday was about migrating a database to Aweber, Constant Contact or one of the proper email marketing service providers.

The downside for them, as I saw it, was that there was a risk of them losing a large proportion of their database because all the imported subscribers would be asked to reconfirm their request for information.

Since none of them had requested any information in the first place, I figured that a large proportion wouldn’t bother.

But here’s the thing: I’d rather have a database of 6,000, and a delivery rate of 90% than a database of 15,000 and a delivery rate of 36%.

In both those cases I’d be delivering 5,400 emails each time, but the cost (on Aweber’s current pricing) would be US$69 a month in the first case and US$149 a month in the second – for the same number of delivered emails.

A 6,000 name database is clearly a lot more cost-effective, but telling someone that they may lose 60% of their database if they move it to a proper email marketing provider is not what they want to hear!

Same thing goes with most of the other metrics used by people working online.

Another example: I’d rather have 200 people visit my website each day, 1% of whom buy something, than 10,000 visitors who just waste my bandwidth.

So if you’re fretting about the size of your numbers, don’t. Size isn’t important.

Quality and ‘qualified’ are.


Martin Malden

About the author: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

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  • Ryan @ Blogging Virgin Dec 23, 2010 @ 10:26

    I agree 100% with this post. I have several niche websites that barely squeak by with 30-40 visitors a day that make me a lot more money than general websites that drive thousands of visitors a day and make maybe a few bucks a day on ad clicks. Much better to target a niche you know how to monetize.

    • Martin Dec 23, 2010 @ 19:57

      Ryan, hi,

      Couldn’t agree more..! Focus and target your niche – it’s way more cost-effective!