Email list building challenges all email marketers, from the newbie to the expert, because we’re all pushed to grow that list, grow that list. And that list growth does matter. In fact, it’s important to increase the size of your email for two reasons. One, the more potential customers you have the more potential sales you have and two, you’ll have attrition meaning people dropping off the list either by unsubscribing or by letting an email address go dead. You have to keep adding to the list to make up for those losses.
But the newbie tends to make a lot more mistakes when trying to grow an email list, only because they don’t know any better.
Email list growth basics for the beginner
Proper email list building is not complicated, or at least it shouldn’t be. Building a good email list is a matter of common sense, and focusing on the right things. So why do so many marketers fail, building big lists that perform poorly? Ignorance.
Email marketing is a strange industry, one in which you can get a job with no formal education and only hands-on experience. Yet that experience might not be one shaped by email best practices. And that carries over into how email marketers approach list building, when they are beginners and even when they’ve been around for a while.
You can overcome that ignorance, to build a better list and be a better email marketer with these four tips…
Email list growth tip 1: Never mind the numbers
The number one thing to remember about growing your in-house email list is this: It’s not about the numbers.
Repeat after me: It’s not about the numbers.
It’s when marketers get obsessed about the numbers that the list building goes awry and decreases in quality (while increasing in quantity).
You have all kinds of (shady) ways to increase the size of your email list, should you choose to focus on the numbers. And that’s what many marketers do: They focus on the numbers to grow a list that’s large in quantity and low in quality. They add names to the list without permission. They get names from third-party sources. They ignore unsubscribe requests. Then they wonder why their open rates are so low and their spam complaints are so high. Go figure, right?
Forget the numbers. Focus on attracting the right people to subscribe to your list, people who want to hear from you, who willingly subscribe. These are the people who are most likely to engage, and that engagement helps you with your email deliverability, ensuring more of your subscribers get your emails and have a chance to convert.
Email list growth tip 2: Focus on the quality
With this second tip, I want you to remember two points about quality:
- The quality of your list counts—a lot (see tip #1)
- The quality of your content counts—just as much
If you’re sending poorly done emails that offer only repetitive sales pitches, how many of your subscribers will want to stay on your list? They might have eagerly subscribed in the first place, but continually serve up schlock in their inbox, and they will lose interest fast.
On the other hand, if you’re sending well-designed emails with quality, compelling content that engages, your subscribers will want to act on these emails—plus possibly share them with others. That way, they stay on your list, improve your deliverability, and help to grow your list for you. What more could you want?
Email list growth tip 3: Pay attention to attrition
Over time, some people will be less engaged with your emails, no matter how hard you work at creating quality compelling content. Reasons vary, but typical reasons include:
- List fatigue—They are getting too many emails in general or too many from you, and they’re just tired of them. List fatigue happens when your emails are repetitive, boring, or too sent too frequently. Subscribers with list fatigue either unsubscribe or ignore.
- Life change—They subscribed at one point because your brand offered something they needed. But life changed and now you’re irrelevant.
- They moved on—meaning they switched jobs or email addresses and they don’t even see your emails any more.
You don’t want to keep people on your list who don’t want to be there (see tips #1 and #2), so you need to have a plan in place for dealing with those who lose interest. It’s called a re-engagement campaign, and it’s something you’ll use regularly. First you decide how long a subscriber must be inactive before they get this automated campaign. Six months is usually a good length of time. If someone hasn’t opened one of your emails in six months, chances are good that they’ve lost interest.
So you have a plan in place to send an automated campaign to the unengaged, trying to win them back. If they don’t re-engage, you drop them from your email list. Yes, that’s what I said: You take names off your list when they obviously don’t want to be there. Remember tip #1: It’s not about the numbers.
Email list growth tip 4: Keep your list clean
Now as you’re building your quality list, creating compelling content, and letting the disinterested go, you have one more email list growth basic to add to your to-do list: Keep your list clean. This last tip takes all the effort you’ve put in to the first three tips and keeps your list building focused on quality by ensuring bad email addresses get removed. It can also keep potential spam traps off your list.
You have literally dozens of legitimate ways to grow your email list, and the four tips above only scratch the surface. However, if building a quality email list is a new focus for you, starting with these four tips will ensure you’re adhering to best practices from the start—best practices that you can continue to employ later as your list building efforts get more extensive and involved.