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A healthy database of subscribers is at the core of any successful email marketing program. And growing the database is a top priority for 38% of email marketers, according to research I recently completed, working with the Email Marketers Club and Mike Bloxham of Ball State’s Center for Media Design.While list growth is universally recognized as a cornerstone of success in email, it has also become an emotionally charged and trend-driven area of email marketing. Best practices for list growth abound, but my experience has been that what passes for best practices are generally driven by anecdotal evidence and corporate agendas more than comprehensive analysis.
In our study, we found that this lack of analysis carries over into individual marketing efforts. A frightening number of email marketers seem content to place their faith in list growth “best practices” and let their programs run on auto-pilot. While 42% actively track all sources of list growth, 45% only track some of their sources of list growth and 13% do not track any sources. Worse still, even when sources are tracked, 32% say they rarely or never evaluate the performance of those list sources.
While it may seem obvious, not tracking and evaluating these sources is a huge mistake. Lack of consistent tracking and evaluation of sources increases the chance of wasting money on bad list sources, damaging reputation by continually mailing to bad addresses — which adversely impacts deliverability.
Alternatively, we found that email marketers with large and thriving email databases do three things that others do not:
1) They track all sources of list growth. Yes, tracking only some list sources is better than tracking no list sources. However, unless all sources are tracked, there is no consistent basis for comparison. Organic list growth sources, such as onsite registration, email capture through inbound call centers or at the point-of-sale for retailers, should serve as the benchmark for all other subscriber acquisition efforts. Alternative sources like sweepstakes, acquisition through social networks, co-registration, list rental, or email append, should all be held in comparison. Not only that, but tactical level tracking only serve as aggregate categories under which more granular sources (e.g., source site for co-registration) are tracked.
Originally from “Track, Evaluate, And Diversify To Drive Email List Growth”| Published May 27, 2009