Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels. For every dollar brands spend on email marketing, they average a return on investment of $36. Proper email list management is essential to maximizing your returns from email marketing. 

Managing your email list correctly will help you improve the deliverability of your messages, increase engagement, and boost your conversion rate. It’s an absolute must for any brand using email marketing. 

Learn what email marketing list management is and how to implement it to take your email marketing campaigns to the next level. 

What is email list management?

Email list management is the process of growing, maintaining, and segmenting the list of customers who have subscribed to your email messages. 

When people approach email marketing for the first time, they often assume that a larger email list is always better. After all, the more subscribers you have, the better your chances of driving sales and conversions, right? Actually, to get strong results from your email marketing campaigns, you need a healthy list — not just lots of subscribers. It’s about quality over quantity. 

That’s where email list management comes into play. Practices like eliminating invalid email addresses from your list, phasing out disengaged subscribers, and organizing your subscribers into segments are all part of keeping your list as healthy and useful as possible. 

The importance of email list management

When people on your email list do not belong there, your email marketing campaigns suffer. These recipients likely won’t open your messages and may even report you as spam. As a result, your campaign statistics decrease, and your reputation as a sender may suffer, too. 

Email list management best practices help you eliminate these people from your list. Once you clean your email list, you’ll have a list full of engaged, interested readers you can actually impact with your messages.   

The benefits of email list management include:

  • Increasing deliverability rates
  • Strengthening your reputation as a sender
  • Boosting conversions
  • Enhancing engagement and click-through rates
  • Improving the ROI on your email marketing campaigns

Managing your email list will also help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience, helping you improve your email marketing even further. 

Understanding your audience

As with any marketing message, the ideal promotional email speaks to the audience’s needs and preferences. So, to craft a great marketing email, you need to understand your audience. 

Who is your target audience? What questions and concerns do they have? What problems can you solve for your subscribers? These are the kinds of questions you should ask before drafting your marketing emails. 

Segmenting your target audience

Segmenting your email list is about creating smaller, more specific groups of subscribers. Grouping subscribers together based on shared characteristics helps you personalize your messages so they’re more applicable to the readers. Some characteristics you can use to segment your email list include: 

  • Demographics (e.g., age, location, gender)
  • Purchase history
  • Interests
  • Engagement level
  • Income level or profession
  • Stage in the customer journey
  • Organization type

For example, you might segment your email list into two groups: customers who have already made a purchase and those who have not. Then, you could message the previous customers about renewing their purchase and send a separate message to prospective customers, encouraging them to try your products or services for the first time. 

These personalized messages are more effective than mass general emails. Using segmented, targeted messages leads to a 760% increase in revenue from email campaigns. 

Email list management software

Managing your email list manually can quickly become overwhelming, especially as your list grows. Luckily, there are many options for email list management tools to help with the task. 

Comparing top email list management tools

Some of the top email list management tools include:

  • HubSpot: HubSpot’s comprehensive marketing suite includes email list management software. This software will help you segment your list, send targeted messages, monitor your campaign, and compare messages with A/B testing. However, be aware of the platform’s significant learning curve. 
  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact is a straightforward yet powerful email marketing tool that’s great for beginners. You can grow your list with Constant Contact’s sign-up forms, segment your audience based on varied data, and track your results to improve your campaigns. Sign up for a free trial of the platform today.  
  • ZeroBounce: ZeroBounce is a tool specifically geared toward reducing your bounce rate by eliminating invalid email addresses from your list. This software also lets you test whether different spam filters will catch your messages so you can make changes before hitting send. 
  • ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is another advanced email management tool that helps you segment your list and automatically tags audience members based on their activity on your website. 

Email marketing and CRM integration

Ideally, your email management tools will integrate with your CRM software. When the two are integrated, you can use customer data like purchase history, web interactions, and preferences to further tailor your email content. CRM integration helps you perform more advanced, effective segmentation of your email list.  

Forms and pop-up software

Getting people to sign up for your email list is an essential part of list management. Consider using forms and pop-up software that will help you collect contact information from customers interested in joining your mailing list. Some email marketing software includes these features, but you can also use separate tools to collect this information. Set up the forms and pop-ups wherever your target audience is most likely to interact with them. 

Best practices for email list management

As you’re building your email list, keep these best practices in mind:

Verifying new contacts with confirmed opt-in

Using a confirmed opt-in for your email list is a good way to keep it healthy and full of engaged audience members. With confirmed opt-in, you only add new subscribers to your list after they provide their email address and click a link in a confirmation email you send. 

Confirming new subscribers this way ensures they provide a valid, active email address and are interested in receiving your messages. 

Setting up opt-in forms correctly

Before you launch any email list opt-in forms, make sure they’re set up correctly. Keep the form as simple as possible to avoid scaring off customers who don’t want to provide too much data. The simpler the form is, the more subscribers you will get. If you’re planning on using confirmed opt-in, check that you enabled this feature in your list management software. 

Welcome emails and first impressions

After new subscribers join your list, consider sending an automatic welcome email to make a strong first impression. Your welcome email establishes the tone of your marketing emails and lets the subscriber know what to expect. You can also prompt them to take action and engage further with a strong CTA. 

Email list management activity example: This welcome email from Peloton includes a quiz to find the best instructor.
This first email from Peloton not only welcomes the new subscriber but also prompts them to engage further by taking a quiz to find the perfect instructor. Image Source: Peloton

Maintaining a healthy and engaged email list

The first step of email list management is growing your email list. After that, it’s vital to properly maintain your list so your campaigns perform well. You may be wondering, but how do I manage a large email list?

Implement best practices for list hygiene and data maintenance, such as:

  • Send re-engagement emails to subscribers who have been inactive lately. 
  • Implement a scoring system to measure engagement and segment your list accordingly.
  • Remove invalid or outdated email addresses from your list.
  • Implement double opt-in to ensure subscribers want to be on your list. 
  • Regularly check your list to remove inactive, invalid, or redundant contacts.

Advanced email list management strategies

Once you’ve tackled standard list management of building, maintaining, and growing your email list, implement these advanced strategies:

Mastering tagging and segmentation

Basic email list segmentation involves categorizing your subscribers based on fairly static categories like their demographics and interests. Email tagging takes segmentation to the next level. 

With email tagging, you attach labels — tags — to your email subscribers when they take certain actions or meet specific criteria. For example, you might tag users who haven’t engaged with your messages in the last six months as “inactive subscribers.” You can also tag according to criteria like purchase behavior, status in the sales funnel, and where they subscribed to your list. As the subscribers’ behavior changes, so do their tags. 

These tags help you create very dynamic, specific segments in your email list for more targeted messages.  

A/B testing for optimized campaigns

It’s difficult to know ahead of time which email messages will perform the best. Test their effectiveness with A/B testing to determine the ideal messages and optimize your campaign. 

With A/B testing, you send two variations of the same message to small samples of your email list and compare their performance. Then, you send the version that performed better to the rest of your subscriber list. 

A/B test for call to action buttons
A/B tests compare two identical emails except for one factor. This illustration shows an A/B test evaluating two different call to action buttons to see which readers respond to better. Image Source: Constant Contact 

Data management and analysis

The more technical side of email list management involves tracking and analyzing your email marketing metrics. Before launching your campaign, make sure to establish email key performance indicators (KPIs) that are in line with your goals. Some email KPIs you may want to track include:

  • Delivery rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • List growth rate
  • Email sharing rate

Analyzing these metrics will help you gain insights into your campaign, highlighting issues and successes as they arise. For example, a spike in your bounce rate may indicate that you’re including many invalid email addresses or getting caught in spam filters. Keep an eye on this data so you can fix any problems as soon as possible and learn what’s working well.   

Challenges and risks in email list management

As you grow and manage your email list, you may encounter some challenges, such as high subscriber churn or low message deliverability. You can overcome these challenges with the help of email list management tools and the right strategies.

Low deliverability

Several different points may cause low deliverability in your email campaigns. Make sure your message frequency is reasonable (no more than one message per day), use an opt-in process to join your subscriber list, and practice proper list hygiene. 

High subscriber churn

If you’re struggling to keep email subscribers, take a look at your message content. Are you providing engaging, useful content in your messages? Are your subject lines eye-catching without any spammy catchphrases? 

Examine your campaign data in your list management tool to find the source of any issues you face. Analyzing this data will help you determine what you need to change to make your campaigns more successful. 

Buying email lists

It’s normal to want to grow your email list as fast as possible. You’re excited about your brand offerings and want to get the word out to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. Even so, it’s important to avoid pitfalls like buying email lists. 

Buying an email list can damage your reputation as a sender. The people on these lists have not agreed to receive messages from you, so many will likely mark your emails as spam. Even if they don’t, they probably won’t be receptive to your messages. 

Your campaign will yield a low return on investment compared to campaigns that only involve engaged recipients. It’s simply not worthwhile to purchase email lists. Build your list organically for the best results. 

Make Your Email Lists Work for You

Managing your email list is key to the success of your email marketing campaigns. Remove invalid email addresses from your list, try to re-engage inactive subscribers, and segment your subscribers for more targeted emails. With the help of a great email list management tool, you can ensure your list is healthy and set up for impactful, rewarding campaigns. 

There are consistent new developments in the world of email marketing and list management, so always stay up to date. A small change in your approach to list management can lead to big changes in your results.

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