Tips and tricks for building, growing and maintaining email lists

This article is part of the Email Marketing Essentials series. If you are interested to learn all things email, you might want to take a look at our previous entries in the series. The first one deals with the basics of email marketing, while the second one presents the 8 necessary steps for generating a successful email strategy.

When it comes to efficient email campaigns, probably the most important role has to do with something you might not pay enough attention to. Who are your subscribers? How or why did they end up in your email list? If you are looking at your email reports and if you are not happy with the results you are seeing, you might be asking yourself additional questions. But, unsurprisingly, a vital one is often overlooked. How do you grow your list? And, as a follow up, how do you make sure that your new prospective subscribers are going to actually be interested in your email communication?

The importance of email lists

These are all extremely valid questions that you will address going forward. But first, let’s try to explain what email lists are and why they matter. Well, on a functional level, email marketing would not be possible without the existence of email lists. That’s the repository of all the data you gather regarding your subscribers. That’s basically the foundation on which you will build your campaigns.

Email lists should receive your undivided attention, from the building, to the growing and maintaining stages. If you keep them up-to-date and clean, if you give potential subscribers reasons to join your lists, as well as share with existing subscribers high quality and relevant content, you will have made a substantial contribution to your campaigns that will impact them in the long run.

Building email lists

At the very beginning of your email marketing activities, you will need to properly set up your ESP account. That means adding all the necessary and required information regarding your business. Afterwards, if you’re starting fresh and you don’t have any customer databases ready to be uploaded, you will need to create your first email list. Most email service providers will offer you the option to create a rule-based list or a dynamic list.

Rule-based lists are something that you will want to experiment with after generating a considerable number of contacts. Think of them as potential segments of your entire email database. Rule-based lists will be generated respecting the settings you have chosen, but will not be updated with new contacts that will fit that criteria on a later date. A good example of a rule-based list setting is to create new email lists for all customers from a specific city or to generate a list with customers that have not bought anything from your business in the last 30 days.

Dynamic lists are constantly updated with contacts that meet a certain criteria that you decide on. Similarly to rule-based lists, dynamic lists can include a portion of your entire contacts for specific communication. Then you can start using those lists to send out targeted campaigns.

But if we assume that this is the first time you interact with an ESP, you will need to build a list that, at the beginning, doesn’t contain any contacts. The fact that you’re just starting out shouldn’t feel intimidating, because that’s a normal process every entrepreneur goes through. The hard work will come when you will have to grow that list, but we will have some great suggestions for you in the next section of the article.

Before moving forward, it is critical to underline why you should never purchase email lists. Sure, starting from zero will mean that you will have to attract subscribers, but that’s not a reason to include purchased lists in your email strategy. Not only will you communicate with people that might not be interested in your business, but that could actually get your account blocked by your ESP. It might seem easier to just spend money on a list, but you should see that approach as something that will only hurt your reputation and deliverability.

Growing your list

Now that you are ready to grow your list, you’re definitely wondering what steps you need to follow to achieve that. We are going to detail two incredibly efficient approaches. All you will need is creativity, because you will have to be able to stand out in front of potential subscribers, dedication and time.

Subscription form

The first approach that we are going to discuss is the simplest. You will have to create an attractive form (most ESPs allow you to create the form directly in your account), with a powerful incentive for users to submit their personal information. Make sure that the copy you are using is not only relevant, but also enticing, so that the users that will interact with your website understand right away what they are subscribing to. Based on your email strategy, you will be able to tell users what type of content you are going to include in your campaigns.

Because of GDPR regulations, you will also want to allow new subscribers to double opt-in, by automatically sending them a confirmation email after joining your email list.

Lead magnet

The second approach we will go over implies that your strategy is spot on and that you already plan on using inbound marketing to generate new subscribers. Create a lead magnet to attract subscribers. Here you can use a large variety of informative and quality content, depending on what you feel most comfortable with.

To create a lead magnet that will actually convert your website visitors into email subscribers, you might consider creating one of the following: templates that you share for free, e-books or whitepapers, online courses or webinars on relevant topics for your audience, free demos for a solution or service your business provides, infographics, case studies or success stories that highlight your expertise. Whatever you end up choosing, remember that you have to offer a good experience to your new subscribers, so that they stick with you for a long time.

Maintaining email lists

Email lists are not something you create and never bother with again. For various reasons, the quality of email lists depreciates over time. Some of your subscribers might lose access to their accounts, they might delete their email addresses or simply change jobs and stop using the account they have used to subscribe to your campaigns. Even if nothing like this ever happens, they might stop engaging with your newsletters and therefore stop being valuable for you. All these situations will negatively impact your email metrics. It is necessary to clean email lists regularly.

How do you clean email lists? First of all, use segments to exclude bounces, both hard and soft ones, from your active list. Second, filter out the subscribers that are no longer opening your emails. You can compose distinctive campaigns for them, to try to re-engage these contacts. Offer them special discounts, for example, to see if they are still interested and can be converted. Third, use an email list cleaner, like the solution offered by DataValidation, to make sure that everything is in order and that you still maintain deliverability and are compliant with your ESP’s terms of service.

DataValidation is an email verification solution aimed at companies large and small. Our feature-rich application detects the quality of email addresses and offers a grade of each contact in your email list. With AutoPilot, you can also track the changes in quality for contacts. Using one of our native integrations, with ESPs like MailChimp, Hubspot or GetResponse and native integration with third-party applications like PieSync and Zapier, you can make sure to keep your lists clean and fresh.

Takeaways

Think of your email lists as clusters that house your most valuable customers and prospects. Treat the tasks of building, growing and maintaining them with respect. Here are the most important aspect you will need to take into consideration during these processes:

  • When building a list, never consider purchasing an email list, because that will put your account at risk of being blocked
  • Use a creative and attractive subscription form to attract contacts
  • Create and use enticing content to act as a lead magnet
  • Segment out of your main list the contacts that have stopped interacting with your campaigns
  • Use an email list cleaner to ensure deliverability

Considering the importance of email lists, it is critical to know how to build, grow and maintain them. Our tips and tricks will come in handy when you deal with generating new subscribers and checking the quality of your email list.

Continue reading DataValidation’s Email Marketing Essential series.

Dacian Cimpean

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