Quick Tips To Grow And Maintain A Healthy Email List

How do you get your email marketing list off the ground and then keep it growing by leaps and bounds? Columnist Eric Dezendorf offers some tips.


Of the many challenges facing email marketers, one of the first hurdles to overcome is growing your list and maintaining it moving forward.

For many novice marketers, establishing a list from nothing can be a daunting task. And for experienced marketers, keeping a list healthy can make for one large headache — industry averages show that lists can churn considerably each year.

Here are a few tips and tricks for getting your list started and keeping growth up over the course of your email marketing campaigns.

Go Organic

There are two main ways to grow an email list: organic and inorganic. Inorganic is code for “buy a list.” You should avoid buying a list at all costs. If subscribers have not explicitly signed up for your emails, they are very likely never going to respond, or worse, mark your email as spam. So, organic is the way to go.

For rapid list growth, there are a few ways to jump-start your contacts. First, make sure that you are collecting email addresses at every purchase point, either online or in your brick-and-mortar location. If people are buying your products, they’re obviously people who belong on your list.

Make Signups Easy

As a next step, have an easy-to-spot signup for emails on your homepage. Costco does this very well on its page, with three different places to join the email list.


Now, entice your online shoppers to put their email into the box. Can you offer a coupon for a first purchase? Can you offer a contest or free content in exchange for the user’s email? If so, don’t hold back, and make sure the user knows the amazing benefit of joining your list.

A word of caution, however — these incentivized email addresses may be weaker candidates for a long-term relationship when compared to the pure organic ones, so make sure that you are qualifying your captured addresses.

Now that we’ve started capturing emails, it’s time to focus on qualifying and retaining those emails. The first question is, what happens when someone signs up?

Many marketers choose to use a double opt-in email which forces users to click a link after signing up to confirm their email address. This can hamper growth a little bit, but is a good way to make sure the people on your list actually want to be there.

Content Is Key

The next step is content. Most marketers have at least one welcome email thanking their new user for joining and possibly offering that juicy coupon, but the next email is probably more important. I like to recommend a nurture program to my clients.

Instead of just the one-step welcome, offer two to six more messages to a user promoting the different sections of the site, offering value beyond just sale information, pointing people to your social pages, and most importantly, providing the user with clear information on how to update their preferences. If a user doesn’t open a single one of these emails, it becomes pretty clear that they’re never going to open an email, so you are probably better served by treating that email address as a black hole.

When people churn from a list, it’s generally because they stopped caring about your content. Make sure that you are offering them every chance to tell you what kind of content they want to receive and when they want to receive it. You can see a great example of a preference center at harveynorman.com (disclosure: Harvey Norman is a Lyris client).


Make The Experience Positive

Finally, make sure your users have a positive customer experience. If you have a subscriber who hasn’t opened your emails for the past three months, it’s probably better to stop sending them marketing messages, and instead send them down a re-engagement path, which will encourage them to update their preferences and stay on your list. Emailing a customer who isn’t interested costs you money and yields no rewards, so get them back by encouraging them to tell you what they want to receive.

Keeping your list growing and your subscribers happy doesn’t have to be a hassle. By making it easy to sign up for your list, establishing automated emails to nurture subscribers, having a dynamite preference center, and firing re-engagement emails to lapsed subscribers, you can create a positive experience for your users.

Sending the right email at the right time can do wonders for your marketing campaigns and ROI, so getting these kinds of campaigns set up can be key to your email marketing efforts and preventing list churn. Happy Marketing!

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

As Manager of Professional Services, Eric Dezendorf helps clients at Lyris develop and drive their digital marketing projects to completion to increase their ROI. He works with major entertainment providers, retailers, institutions, and B2B companies.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


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