Five Resolutions To Grow And Maintain Email Lists

by Neil Berman

This article first appeared on

The holidays have come to a close, and email marketers are reveling in their swelling lists of new customers.

While no one likes a party pooper, here’s a sobering thought:  Each year email marketers lose roughly one-third of their email addresses to list churn, bounces, unsubscribes or spam complaints, according to the Email Experience Council.

With addresses on email lists turning over every three years, growing email lists must be a priority for marketers.   Good list maintenance will help reduce churn while giving you a more accurate view of your delivery, open and click-through rates.  A clean list also will ensure that you’re in compliance with CAN-SPAM laws.

Growing and maintaining lists is not difficult, but it does take effort.  To make the process easy, I’ve developed five New Year’s resolutions for growing and maintaining email lists.

1.  Find out what subscribers want.  Send out a brief survey to your subscribers to determine what kind of material they want to receive from you.  Some subscribers may want coupons and offers, while others are looking for recommended practices or how-to information.  Segment your list based on your customer’s desires.

2.  Offer a refer-a-friend incentive.  Subscribers like to share good content, especially if they receive something for spreading the word.  Grow your list by offering an incentive to your subscribers for getting their friends to sign up for your emails.

3.  Increase your sign-up opportunities.  Weave sign-up opportunities throughout your communication channels to make it easier for customers to join your email list. Include sign-up links on your website, in social media posts, in your newsletters and elsewhere.

4.  Offer a profile center where subscribers can manage their email preferences. In this center, enable subscribers to update email addresses, the kinds of communications they’d like to receive, and their preferred email frequency.  At the same time, give subscribers the ability to update demographic information that will help you better target email content.  Include fields for an address, phone number and other information.  To keep your list clean, every so often make the privacy center a bigger part of your communications.  Adding a large button at the top of an email will entice subscribers to check on their preferences.

5.  Review your past tracking results.  Segment out subscribers who are no longer active.  Either don’t communicate with this group or try to re-engage these subscribers with another approach.  If subscribers aren’t responding to your e-newsletter, try sending them a shorter version of the newsletter embedded with a video.  If email metrics are lackluster, consider sending more targeted emails to list segments.


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