How Indicator can boost your email deliverability, increase engagement, and unlock an additional $250k+ from your existing email list (without increasing ad-spend or shady tactics).


Diminishing Returns, Costly Distractions, and the Deliverability Death Spiral

We have helped clients send millions of emails per week across several different industries. This access gave us a front-row seat to see that conscientious marketers are having to work harder, deal with more complexity, and cover increased costs to generate the results they need.

  • Deliverability issues can eat away at list performance...and Email providers like gmail and corporate firewalls keep changing the game by creating different inbox placement algorithms that dictate where your emails get filed
  • High open rates and engagement are more difficult to achieve because there is so much competition for attention.
  • Bad actors are spamming or sending silly amounts of email which trains your subscribers to ignore you and could undermine your deliverability.
  • On top of the technical headaches and hiccups, an average 20% of your subscribers will disengage (stop reading your messages) without unsubscribing each year.

The typical advice our clients were getting from "email experts" was hyper-technical, often ethically questionable, and often it made the root problem worse not better.

  • Just "grow the list faster" is not a sustainable solution - it increases costs, exacerbates tech headaches, and
  • Introduce expensive exotic tech configurations to get around specific filters (and other tech "hacks")
  • Blatantly violate terms of service with list management shenanigans
  • Play a high stakes game of technical "whack-a-mole" trying to beat google, Microsoft, and other ESPs

A few clients had impressive "top line" numbers and huge emails lists...but a closer looks revealed a death spiral of decreasing engagement, deliverability issues and increasing costs that had led to desperation.

The Engagement Epiphany

Our clients were on a treadmill...running faster, spending more, and steadily losing ground. They had technical experts inside and out, but no one was taking an integrated look or solving for revenue (rather than isolated highly-technical metrics).

We had a hunch that our clients' challenges were not only technical...and perhaps we could solve them while also simplifying their life. So, we began a research partnership with a few of our largest clients.

We proposed to go deeper to see if we could find a better way. We looked at:

  • email technology and data
  • payment processing data
  • key business metrics and strategy

By integrating this data, we made some incredibly powerful discoveries. 

As we worked with our clients there was one simple metric that had a powerful cascading impact on improving deliverability, boosting open rates, and increasing revenue. It is....

NOT list size.

NOT Open Rate.

NOT Click Through Rate.

Subscriber engagement is the leading indicator of success.

The data generated by millions of subscribers revealed an insight that has transformed the way our clients approach email and unlocked hundreds of thousands of dollars from their existing list.

But the initial impact was only the first part of the transformation. The data quickly indicated that any marketer that properly measures engagement has a clear path from death spiral to a virtuous cycle that confers a powerful ongoing competitive advantage:

  • Resolving deliverability issues
  • Optimizing open rates
  • Attracting more of your best subscribers at lower cost
  • Capturing significant revenue potential hidden amongst subscribers already on your list
  • Decrease email marketing costs
  • Dramatically simplify operations and reporting

Focusing on engagement as the true indicator of email health may seem obvious...yet all the most common metrics and most popular experts divert your attention to things more easily measured but much less useful (even potentially harmful).

See how the Indicator platform sets you up to measure the right things.

From Technical Treadmill to Compounding Returns

The age-old adage in advertising that “Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” is spot on for email as well.

We saw that it’s typical for just 50% of a list to generate 90+% of revenue. We developed the Indicator Framework to identify which half is pure gold and which is dead weight...and then leverage that insight into compounding returns over time.

A Real Life Example: How to add $250k revenue from your current list

We found that the more engaged a subscriber was with emails the higher their revenue potential. We started creating four segments to represent different levels of engagement within our client’s list (hot / warm / cold / frozen) and attributed the revenue that subscribers within each segment generated:

We have found the percentage of revenue that each segment generated to be pretty consistent across all clients. The reason for this consistency is very interesting and powerful...but much too math-heavy for this post. The important thing to understand right now is that it is extremely likely that your revenue distribution looks very similar to this example:


A few takeaways from this example:

  1. The Hot segment is worth 3x as much as the Warm segment.
  2. The Hot segment generates 8x the revenue as the cold segment.
  3. Hot / Warm segments combined generate 90+% of the revenue while making up only about 50% of the list.

The simple conclusion? More Hot subscribers, please!

Low Engagement’s Impact on Deliverability Issues

We also found that lists with low engagement suffered from a vicious cycle that lowered email deliverability. When an email campaign dips below 20% open rate the algorithms are dramatically more likely to classify messages from the list as SPAM or place it in a promotions folder. This kicks off a death spiral where algorithms place more of your emails in spam which further drives down your open rates and makes the problem worse and worse.

On average 20% of a list becomes unengaged without ever unsubscribing each year. To come out ahead marketers have to make up for unengaged subscribers AND official unsubscribers.

Outside of serious technical configuration issues we’ve found calibrating campaigns to ensure average engagement remains above a minimum threshold typically has the single biggest impact on resolving deliverability issues.

To address this issue we help our clients evaluate their list and create a segmentation strategy to:

  • Boost average open rate
  • Recapture disengaged subscribers
  • Quarantine or scrub subscribers who are dragging list performance down

Instead of fighting against the ESPs, our approach harnesses the algorithms to your benefit. It's like instantly giving your program a tailwind.

Radically Simple Solution to Deliverability Headaches

The TRUE Indicator of email marketing success

With engagement having such a clear impact on revenue AND deliverability we believe the health and growth of the Hot Subscriber segment is the single most important metric in digital marketing. We hope that even this 101-level treatment has opened your eyes to a different and better way to approach your email marketing.

You can get a free 201-level treatment of your actual data during a free Indicator Strategy Session - project the revenue potential in your list and see how the Indicator framework can simplify your life.

So Much Data So Little Sense

The tidal wave of data hitting marketers on a daily basis is already

overwhelming. To make matters worse this critical information about engagement segments and value correlation can take intense systems integration and data wrangling to unlock useful insights.

That’s why we built Indicator. We created an “easy button” for marketers to understand their engagement segments and correlate revenue to subscribers. We built the systems to synthesize data from ESPs and payment processors, and monitor tech factors and generate useful insights for optimization.

The Indicator Program

The Indicator Program is a workshop that provides access to our proprietary data intelligence platform coupled with expert human analysis for optimizing your email performance.

The program covers:

  • Comprehensive Deliverability Audit - Over 75 tech factors analyzed that can impact deliverability and inbox placement.
  • Revenue X-Ray - Understand the value of your list and unlock revenue potential hiding in plain sight.
  • Engagement X-Ray - Identify and focus on your most engaged subscribers (and find more like them)
  • Attrition X-Ray - Understand your true engagement attrition rate and fix the leaky subscriber bucket.
  • Optimization Roadmap - A step-by-step action plan to optimize your deliverability, unlock additional revenue, and grow your program the smart way. Our team can do the analysis and provide a roadmap for you or you can work with us to implement.


Our ROI Guarantee

For qualified clients we guarantee a 200% ROI when you implement your custom Optimization Roadmap. Grab a free Strategy Session to see if you qualify.

Discover the Hidden Potential on Your List

Apply for a 30 minute free strategy session with our team. During the call we will plug in some of your basic numbers into the Indicator framework and generate a high-level analysis. We only work with clients that we are confident we can generate a significant ROI for so it’s important for us to ensure your list has a lot of hidden potential we can help unlock

On a free strategy call we’ll plug some of your high-level metrics into our model to see if we could be a good fit to help you optimize the performance of your email list.
On a free strategy call we’ll plug some of your high-level metrics into our model to see if we could be a good fit to help you optimize the performance of your email list.

The Indicator Framework automates tracking the right data, simplifies segmenting your list, and reveals untapped revenue already on your list. Discover the potential on your list and how you can start earning compound returns in your email program today.