If you’re looking to maximize your email marketing results, then you really need to switch gears and consider email list management as your primary job. Now, I know you’ve heard that email marketing has the highest ROI out of any marketing channel. But there is a catch: this is only true if you have a well-managed email list.
When you manage your list properly you get higher engagement rates, more conversions, lower sending costs, and the inbox providers love delivering your emails. All of that means more bang for your buck, better deliverability and more sales.
What is email list management?
Do you like the idea of having a poor quality email list? Imagine the dread of having to send a ton of emails, barely getting any opens, and making very few sales. Do you like the idea of feeling like you’re begging people to engage with your emails? Yeah, nobody does.
When you have a well-managed email list, the actual marketing part becomes fun. Think of email list management as setting the foundation. Once those foundations are set, you get to actually do all the fun stuff you want to do. Whether that’s coming up with cool offers, setting up clever campaigns or just testing marketing ideas.
But what is email list management? Well, it’s an umbrella term for all the activities you take to keep your list healthy, active, engaged and well organized.
This includes best practices like list-hygiene, mastering proper subscriber onboarding, as well as different ways to organize your subscribers, and then personalize (and improve engagement) based on said organization.
Why email list management matters
One of the saddest things is seeing an email marketer who wonders why their emails aren’t hitting home. It’s easy to get stuck in a loop where you’re constantly trying to up the ante.
You might start to wonder if the offers aren’t good enough, perhaps your subject lines aren’t cool enough, or well maybe you’re just not meant to be a marketer. At this point it’s easy to become desperate and start doing more to try and squeeze anything out of a bad list.
The truth is that if you find yourself investing an outsized amount of effort in trying to improve your content and things like copywriting to see minimal returns, the issue is with your list, not the actual emails that you’re sending. When you maintain a healthy, quality list, you get multiple benefits, including:
– Easier engagement.
– The inbox providers love you, and reward you.
– Relationship-building on autopilot.
– Easier conversions and effortless sales.
– Higher long-term customer value.
Best Practices to Grow, Engage and Convert
Let’s face it, we all do email marketing to get those conversions. That’s where the money is right? But here’s the thing, you can only get a high level of conversion if your engagement is up to par. And if you want to have a sky-high level of engagement, you must make sure that you maintain a quality list.
While it is tempting to grow your list “at any means necessary”, I want you to remember one thing: list quality always beats size. A marketer with a high-quality list of just 10k subscribers can easily beat the marketer with a million-strong list, if that list is of low quality. Email list management is all about making sure to put quality above quantity.
But how do we define quality in this context?
This is simple. A quality list represents an audience that you “understand”. You know what your subscribers want, when they want it, and how to give it to them. The opposite would be a list made up of random email addresses. With that said, let’s look at those best practices today.
Clean up your subscription process
There are a lot of things that can be said about how you obtain an email address. You need to make sure that they know exactly what they are signing up for.
I know it can be tricky to strike that balance between being too specific and having a great offer that gets people rushing to put in their email address as fast as possible. How you achieve that balance is up to you, however the more explicit you can be upfront, the less work you will have to do afterwards.
Now, I am going to assume you will be getting people on board through promising a lead magnet of some sort. If you do, then you might want to try implementing some of the following:
– Avoid making them feel tricked into joining your list. Don’t make it seem like they’re only going to get the lead magnet, and nothing else. While you do want to put the emphasis on sending them that lead magnet, do also mention they will become a list subscriber as well
– You could have an additional checkbox where they verify that they are also agreeing to signup for your email list if you want to make it even more explicit
– Alternatively, if you utilize a double-opt-in process, you can have the confirmation email explain all of this. It can inform them that by confirming their interest they will be sent the lead magnet, but also get enrolled in your email list (from which they can unsubscribe at any time).
Utilize tagging and segmentation from the very start
A quality lead is basically any subscriber that you have a lot of good quality data about. In an ideal world, you could get all of this information upfront. You would be able to get people to fill out a long survey before you add them to your list.
Unfortunately, save for a few high-ticket industries, in most situations you can’t ask too many questions upfront without sacrificing conversion rates.
This means that you’re essentially adding a bunch of random email addresses that you don’t know much about. That’s the exact opposite of what we want.
You want to have as much segmentation data on subscribers as possible. This means assigning different tags and custom field values based on differentiation points that help you “understand” your subscribers.
Now, you’re not going to gather all of this data in one day, and I recommend you read our guide on segmentation here. You actually gather this data over the course of the subscriber journey, however, you can, and you should start from the very beginning. That means, from the moment they signup.
For example, you might have different tags based on which landing page brought them into the list. There are actually multiple way to go about this. You could differentiate them based on which specific lead magnet they requested in order to join.
Or if you have a lot of lead magnets, you can store a custom field value based on the topic of the lead magnet. For example, if they requested one of your PDFs on “weight loss”, you can put in “weight loss” under the “lead magnet topic” custom field. If the topic of the lead magnet was “endurance” or “muscle building”, you would put that in.
Use a welcome series to turn raw emails into quality leads
So we discussed how you should gather as much data as possible as soon as possible. However, you can’t ask for much information upfront, and the only thing you can tag them on is the context under which they gave you their address. This is far from an impressive amount of data, but the good news is that a welcome series can help you.
And this is because the welcome series is “special” in a way. This is a time in the customer lifecycle where you get great engagement rates “by default”. In turn, this is the perfect opportunity to get more information on the subscriber. Remember, the more we know about the subscriber, the “higher quality” that lead becomes. That’s what good email list management is about.
So how do you start gathering information about a subscriber? Well, just track their behavior and turn it into segmentation data. Realize that the subscriber is giving you lots of information based on how they engage with your emails and other tracked assets.
Your job is to build your welcome series in such a way that you can “ascertain” what the subscriber is like, and what they want. This includes tracking which emails they open, what links they click on, and even which actions they take on your website. The last one is possible thanks to our site & event tracking technology.
But let me give you a more specific example scenario
Let’s say that one of your welcome emails links to (for example) a blog post on your website that answers a certain pain point. Using our automation builder you can simply tag them based on this link click. However, you can go further than just that.
If they visit your blog post, and then start following the recommendations in the post and proceed to other pages on your website (for example a pricing page), this is also useful data.
Thanks to our event tracking technology you can then give them a tag based on visiting the pricing page, clicking play on a certain video, or if they performed an event (for example page views) a certain amount of times.
All of this engagement data is a great way to build out your segmentation. This in turn will allow you to personalize your communication, and that in turn will allow you to keep up the engagement rate beyond the welcome series.
Personalize based on engagement data
Let’s talk about a fun paradox. The best way to get engagement is to personalize all of your communication with your subscribers. In turn, the best way to personalize is based on previous engagement data. Sounds like a catch 22 doesn’t it?
Well, that’s why we discussed the importance of extracting as much information out of the engagement during your welcome series. You can think of the welcome series as your “freebie”. It’s that early stage of the journey where the subscriber gives you a chance and opens up your emails by default.
However, once that early stage is over, the subscribers become a lot less forgiving, and personalization is a must. Fortunately, thanks to your welcome series, you should have assigned a decent amount of tags (or custom field values).
You might have even set up smart segments whereby your subscribers automatically end up in a given segment based on their behavior. This is where you let our system watch out (in real-time) for certain criteria and automatically move people to different segments.
In essence, once the welcome period is done, your job is to make sure that all emails past the welcome series aim to be well personalized.
This means that the subscriber receives highly relevant communication. And relevancy is determined by whether you send the right content, at the right time. This is largely to do with the interests they have demonstrated so far, as well as their stage in the overall journey.
Take list hygiene seriously, it’s a must
It’s very easy to be driven by scarcity and resist the idea of removing subscribers. You might think “well it cost me money to build that list, why remove subscribers?”.
It might even feel like you would be throwing money away by removing poor quality subs. It’s very easy to tell yourself that even though they’re completely inactive now, they might magically become engaged sometime in the future.
The thing is though that you have to weigh the numbers. Inactive subscribers come at a cost. Aside from the fact that you pay for each subscriber on most email platforms, it goes much further than that. Every inactive person that you send emails to is dropping your reputation.
This means that the inbox providers will gradually stop delivering your emails. Not just stop delivering to the inactives, but in general. This is why you have to take list hygiene seriously and remove bounced emails and inactive subscribers.
However, the good news is that you don’t have to drop them outright. There is a way to give them one last chance to re-activate before dropping them. And this is where winback campaigns come in. To learn more, check out super popular guide: Create a Killer Re-Engagement Email Campaign
Choose a platform designed to help you
What if there was a platform built around list management best practices? Imagine an email marketing service that works to help you instead of working against you. This is what Emercury was designed to do.
Whether you’re talking about our world-famous deliverability expertise and features, or our super convenient, yet powerful segmentation features, Emercury is a platform that puts your success at the forefront.
To learn more about this philosophy and how to compare different email delivery platforms, you can check out our guide: Email Marketing Services: Choosing the One.
There’s no need to go at this alone
While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.
If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.
I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.
Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.