How To Manage An Email Marketing List

Scott Burdsall

2 minute read

Congratulations! You’ve either moved into a new role at a new company and inherited an existing list or you’ve successfully built up your email list using multiple acquisition sources and turned it into a profit-driving machine. Or maybe you’re just killing time before lunch and looking for something to read. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.

If you’re not quite there yet and looking for ways to grow an email marketing list, be sure to check out this white paper by the one and only Andrew Kordek:

6 Pillars of Email Acquisition

Clients often ask me about managing email marketing lists. What is the best way to segment my list? How should I be personalizing email content based on list attributes? Where do I start?

Email is one of the more mature digital channels, and with maturity comes expectation. Subscribers expect to have a good experience when they open an email. A good experience can be achieved through tailored content based on the user’s given preferences and behavior. Therefore, modern email marketers need to have a solid grasp of segmentation in order to fulfill the expectations of email.

A good starting point is segmentation based on inbox engagement. Email Service Providers, such as Salesforce and IBM, give marketers insight into open and click activity on a user level. This information is invaluable and helps distinguish email from other digital channels based on the amount of user insights available.

Use this ESP data to inform your content strategy. Perhaps you’d like to offer your unengaged audience a discount on services as a way to win them back. Perhaps you’d like to create a customer advisory panel based on your most engaged users. Perhaps you just want to know why subscribers go dormant and how you can better set expectations with the subscriber upon signup.

Generally, there is some kind of 80/20 rule or Pareto principle for email lists–that is, 80% of engagement likely comes from approximately 20% of subscribers (for baseline campaigns, not triggered campaigns). If this isn’t the case for your list, please reach out–I’m honestly looking to be proven wrong on this one day. In short, this 80/20 rule is even more reason to focus on segmentation and hone your messaging strategy based on activity level.

Another reason inbox engagement is important is due to Deliverability concerns. Let’s face it: CAN-SPAM is a comically written and poorly enforced law, which has forced ISPs and watchdog groups, such as Spamhaus, to take matters into their own hands. ISPs monitor engagement rates and factor in complaints to give each sender a reputation. Read more about this here.

TL;DR – You want to stop sending to subscribers on your list if they stop engaging with your email program or else you face the prospect of deliverability consequences. I generally recommend a last activity filter for your baseline campaigns so that anyone who hasn’t engaged with your email program in the past 12 months will stop receiving emails from your brand, though this range can be cut down to 6 or even 3 months depending on the situation.

Questions? Contact us.

Trendline Interactive

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About the Author(s)

Scott Burdsall

Scott Burdsall is the Practice Lead, Strategy Consulting at Trendline Interactive, where he focuses on creating messaging and segmentation strategies to drive maximum conversions while maintaining a strong focus on the optimal omni channel user experience. He has 13 years of email marketing and product management experience, creating and maintaining programs for both B2C and B2B audiences and overseeing everything from day-to-day campaign management to platform migrations. Scott graduated from The University of Iowa and lives outside of Chicago, Illinois with his wife and two children. Scott enjoys music, running, and fixing up old bikes in his spare time. Follow Scott on LinkedIn

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