10 tips for building a healthy email list
Want to build an email list? Always prioritize quality over quantity. Read this guide from Mailbutler to learn why.
James has five years' experience as a Content Marketer, bylines on Left Foot Forward, Submittable, and INOMICS, and a Master's in History. In his free time he likes to read, play guitar, and write for his personal blog.
Think of a healthy email list as the lifeblood of your email marketing efforts.
Among many other benefits, having an engaged email list can boost revenue, improve brand awareness, and drive customer action.
However, many companies fail to capitalize on their email list. Some firms may even resort to unscrupulous practices like buying scraped lists to quickly inflate their numbers.
This is a surefire way to damage your sender’s reputation, end up in spam folders, and get blacklisted by ESPs.
Want to learn how to create sustainable and healthy email lists? Read on to learn what makes a list healthy (and unhealthy) and ten strategies on how to grow them.
What are the elements of a healthy email list?
An email list is composed of individual email addresses from people who have consented to receive emails. These emails can contain valuable content, from educational resources to product discounts.
A healthy email list is a valuable marketing asset because it’s made up of people who have already shown an interest in your blog or business. They are the types of people who are more likely to engage with your content and purchase your product or service.
One way to tell apart a healthy email list from an unhealthy one is by determining whether they meet the following criteria:
- Users opted-in of their own accord
- Users open and click emails regularly
- A low number of spam complaints
- No fake or inactive email addresses
- Targets the right audience
- Must ideally have more than 2,000 members
- Complies with anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM Act, GDPR, and TCPA)
What are the elements of a bad email list?
When attempting to generate leads, many marketers opt for shortcuts and end up acquiring lists through dishonest means. Some may get complacent and fail to vet their email list regularly.
Unfortunately, this isn’t sustainable. Not only do these email lists fail to convert or lead to meaningful customer action, but they can also be devastating in the long run.
Here are some of the qualities of an unhealthy email list:
- Bought from a third-party vendor
- Contains inactive or fake email addresses
- Covers a wide net instead of being laser-focused
- Has a high number of spam complaints
- Does not comply with anti-spam laws
If your current email list is not as healthy as it should be, don’t despair. Many marketers launch an opt-in campaign to their list to weed out emails of the disengaged and disinterested.
You can also use email verification tools to eliminate any invalid email addresses in your list.
10 tips for building a healthy email list
When it comes to email marketing, the quality of your email list matters more than the quantity.
According to EmailStatCenter, two out of three emails delivered to inboxes worldwide are spam. It would help if you stood out.
Ask any marketer: a small, engaged group is preferable to thousands of uninterested prospects.
To attract and engage qualified email subscribers, try following these 10 tips:
1) Make opting-in pleasant for visitors
The sign-up process should be seamless and easy for first-time subscribers. The fewer steps and hoops they have to go through, the better.
Complicated and lengthy sign-up processes are one of the quickest ways to lose visitors.
While it may be tempting, avoid asking subscribers for too much information on lead-capture pages. Instead, ask them to fill up one or two fields at most.
By keeping it short and sweet, you’ll be more likely to encourage sign-ups since there is less opportunity for visitors to drop off. Besides, if these subscribers are worth maintaining, you’ll have the chance to get feedback and data from them later on.
Website Tip: Make sure that the sign-up form is prominently displayed on your website or blog. The call to action (CTA) should be clear and visible, and it should be placed in strategic locations where visitors are most likely to see it.
Some of the best places to put your sign-up form include:
- The footer or sidebar of your website
- The top of blog pages
- Underneath blog posts or articles
- In the middle of a blog post
- On a dedicated popup screen
2) Use data to segment your list
If your website specializes in two or more niches, consider segmenting your list.
You can send more targeted content to subscribers who will be more likely to engage with it.
Segmentation is the process of dividing your subscribers into groups based on shared characteristics.
Segmented lists could include one, two, or more of the following combinations:
- Purchase history
- Website activity
- Email engagement (opens, clicks, etc.)
According to MailChimp, open rates for segmented and personalized emails are 19% higher than for non-segmented lists, while click-through rates are 22% higher.
To flesh out an example, say you own an e-commerce store that sells both male and female clothing. You could create two separate email lists – one for men and another for women.
You can then send gender-specific content (or any form of segmented content, for that matter) with an email-sending tool.
This makes the campaign feel more targeted, which consequently leads users to open the email and read your offer.
Irrelevant content is one of the biggest factors as to why people unsubscribe from lists. So don’t take list segmentation for granted!
3) Declutter your list with an opt-in campaign
Is your list filled with disengaged contacts? If so, then it may be time to run an opt-in campaign to clear them out.
While it may seem counterintuitive, smaller, more engaged email lists tend to increase your deliverability.
It also helps you better gain control over your sender’s reputation, which is essential for maintaining a good open rate.
Remember, you’re not demolishing the fruit of your labor from the past – you’re simply removing the rotten emails from the bunch to make room for higher-quality leads in the future.
4) Promote your newsletter on Facebook
Social media platforms are excellent places to promote your email list and drive traffic to your sign-up form – and Facebook reigns supreme in this department.
With nearly 3 billion active Facebook users, there’s a huge potential for finding the right audience for your business. And thanks to Facebook’s business-friendly tools, there are multiple ways you can generate leads for your business.
One option is to add an action button to your page to help promote your lead magnet offer.
If you’ve ever scrolled down your news feed and seen a “Sign Up” or “Learn More” button on a Facebook Page, that’s an example of this.
You can do the same thing for your business by adding an action button that leads to your business’s landing page.
Another option is to make your cover photo a visual CTA that has a link to your sign-up form in its description. This grabs scrollers’ attention and prompts clicks as soon as they enter your page.
5) Produce and give away gated content
Gated content comes in many forms. As long as it’s valuable, it can be a big help in expanding your email list.
Valuable gated content generally includes:
- Email templates
- How-to guides
Let’s put this in perspective. Say you own a recipe website with a decent reader base.
If you want to increase your email list, you could consider creating an eBook with all your best recipes and gate it behind an email sign-up form.
It’s a win-win for everyone, with the subscriber getting content they’re interested in and you getting a potential warm lead.
To gain the customer’s email, the tradeoff will have to be acceptable in the first place. So take some time to create high-quality content that’s relevant, targeted, and valuable to your target audience.
Ideally, the customer giving out their email shouldn’t be a problem given the value they’d receive.
People who exchange their emails for content are likely the types you’d want to do business with in the first place.
6) Create a powerful landing page
If you’re promoting gated content as part of an email list-building strategy, then having a dedicated landing page is essential.
Your landing page is the make-or-break factor in whether a lead converts or not, so it’s important to get it right. Here are some things to consider when creating a landing page:
- A clear and concise headline
- Compelling copy that informs, engages, and converts (of which more later)
- An image or video for a visual break from the text
- A simple opt-in form
- Links to your social media pages
- A bold and big CTA button that encourages visitors to sign up
- A thank-you page or confirmation message after form submission
Don’t have to bombard your visitor with a colorful background or eccentric fonts as they can distract from your offer. Instead, focus on making the headlines and copy as clear and effective as possible. Even a minimalist pure white theme can work well for a landing page as long as all the other elements are there.
7) Integrate content marketing into your list-building strategy
One missed opportunity when it comes to email list-building is not integrating content marketing into the mix. Content marketing can be an extremely effective tool to attract leads and get people interested in your business.
Content marketing is developing and delivering valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and maintain a defined audience.
When people enjoy your content and find it valuable, they’ll be more likely to sign up for your email list to get more of it.
This is the perfect time to incorporate opt-in forms and CTAs within your blog post (or at the conclusion of it) to make it easy for them to do so.
But try not to sound too sales-y either. As long as you meet user intent, you can sell without making them feel like they’re getting tricked for a quick buck.
8) Use pop-ups on your website
One retargeting method to grow your email list that can be very potent when used correctly is pop-ups.
Pop-ups are effective because they’re positioned and timed as soon as a user is about to exit a website.
This draws them back in and gives you one last chance to make an offer.
While some people find pop-ups annoying, if they’re relevant and not too intrusive, they can be an effective way to increase your email list. They can also be customized to target specific pages, devices, and user behavior.
9) Create and A/B test quality copy
Your email list-building strategy is only as good as the copy you use. No matter how great your offer or landing page is, if your copy is weak, you’re not going to convert many leads.
Copywriting is an art and a science. You need to be able to write persuasively to get people to take action, but you also need to know how to structure your copy for maximum effect.
Given that you’re probably sending to a large number of leads at once, it’s also important to A/B test your copies to see what works best. This way, you can fine-tune your strategy and ensure you’re making the most out of every email.
10) Guest post on other blogs
If you know where your target market congregates online, you can use that to your advantage and lead them to your website.
One way to do this is by guest posting on other blogs in your industry. By doing this, you can include a CTA or link to your newsletter or landing page to expand your email list.
When guest posting, be sure to write quality content that will actually interest and engage your target audience.
Don’t just guest post for the sake of it or you’ll risk turning potential leads off or even damaging your reputation.
Building an email list is essential for any business that wants to succeed online – but it’s an ongoing process.
It may be tempting to take shortcuts, but if you want a healthy and effective email list, you need to put in the work. To make your job easier, Mailbutler offers the Contacts feature, which can help you manage your email contacts effectively.
Be patient and consistent, and plan and work with purpose. Once you’ve honed in on the basics of healthy email list-building, you’ll find it easier to reap the benefits of a quality email list.
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