Five ways to love your lists

I don’t suppose love and subscriber lists ever, ever get put into the same sentence, but I’m going to try anyway, so here goes: Your Lists Probably Need a Little Love.

In email marketing, success boils down to sending the right content to a well tended list. A well tended list is one that contains mostly real addresses, checked by real people, who spend real time reading your emails. They represent very real potential customers, business partners, and colleagues.  From this perspective, tending to your lists with some care and attention is about finding out what people need and want, and then sending the appropriate emails their way.

1. Understand your subscribers.

Your lists don’t have to be complicated, but they should be structured in some way. Out of a sea of 5,000, you may picture a subgroup of 50 people who need repair work on their car. Or, out of a group of 500, you may define five sets of relationship managers who need different product updates. Figure out how to separate out these useful subgroups, and then envision the different email campaigns or content these subgroups might see.

2. Cut the fat.

Take out the emails that should no longer be included in your lists. Perhaps a prospect hasn’t opened your emails in over a year. Or they’ve changed jobs and aren’t at the company anymore.  Such email addresses might fluff up your lists, but they aren’t much use since their owners aren’t reading your emails anyways. Once these emails are gone, you will have a truer sense of who and how many people you are communicating with.

3. Give your lists some shape.

You’ve already envisioned the segments into which you can divide your lists, but you may still need to test out your idea if you’re working with an undifferentiated set of emails.
Try using a simple survey. Let’s say you’re wondering how often you should send your emails. You could include a simple poll in your email: do you prefer (a) weekly news updates or (b) once-a-month summary emails? Based on your results, you would move respondents into different lists. Polls and longer surveys can help you shape your lists into smaller, more responsive segments.

You might also try an indirect approach. You can run two articles in your next email: an article on a new car model, and an article on maintenance for older cars. You can then separate out the subscribers who clicked on or the other. And since you understand better what your prospective customers are looking for, you can send effective follow up emails.

4. Shower your targeted lists with love.

Treat subscribers according to their wishes.  If you run a poll on how often people want to see emails, then be sure to send them emails only as often as they wish. Or take the car articles example again: you can send a great financing deal to those who seemed interested in the new car article, and send a coupon for maintenance service to the other group.

5. Finally, fertilize your lists with new, quality contacts.

Just like garden plants, lists are not inexhaustible. People will opt out, change addresses, or simply stop paying attention. So create a companion strategy to keep your lists healthy with new growth at the same time that you’re weeding out unresponsive emails and segmenting your lists.

Try taking these five steps to showing your lists a little love. Better yet, work this process of list management into your normal cycle of email marketing, and you’re more likely to get a little love back from your subscribers.


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