Email List Management: The New Best Practices Guide to Manage Contacts

Email list management is most effective when you’re practicing sending relevant messages to people who want to receive them.

This is why it is important to focus on developing and growing your email marketing list and using industry best practices to manage it.

This starts with collecting addresses, whether that’s through your website, in-store, or at networking events and conferences.

Once you’ve started to grow your list, the next step is to properly manage it, and keep your subscribers happy and interested.

In this guide, we’ll offer proven email strategies for adding email addresses to your list, and discuss important considerations for email list management.

You’ll find the answers to those concerns along with:

  • How to grow your email list
  • How to manage your email list properly
  • Opting in and opting out
  • Preference centers
  • Effective Segmentation
  • And more

The Key to Email List Management Success: Your List

Collect Names From Your Website

One of the easiest ways to organically build an email list is to place an opt-in subscribe form on the pages of your website.

email list management

Be sure the form is in a prominent location, ideally visible without having to scroll down.

It’s important to gather good data during this subscription process so you can use it later to segment your list.

Provide Motivation

Encourage people to provide their email address by offering them something valuable in return.

For example, a free eBook offering useful information the individual will receive automatically upon providing their information.

For retailers and ecommerce, try offering discount coupons or software applications in exchange for names.

Other types of incentives include whitepapers, webinars, etc.

cosabella email sign up popup form

Additional Ways to Grow Your List

  • Mention your emails in your advertising efforts
  • Email registration during purchase
  • Provide an opportunity to sign up at networking events
  • While talking with customers or prospects, ask for their email addresses and permission.
  • If you speak at conferences and other events, invite attendees to sign up.
  • Incorporate text-to-subscribe into marketing materials, enabling opt-in opportunities even when people are mobile.
» Recommended Reading: Email List Building Strategies Your Dog Could Do

Encourage people to provide their email address by offering them something valuable in return.

For example, a free eBook offering useful information the individual will receive automatically upon providing their information.

The Opt-In Process

Email list management best practices rely on permission.

The most common concept related to permission is what’s known as “opt-in”.

This means a recipient has to agree to receive emails before they can be sent.

Some marketers have tried to use an “opt-out” approach.

This is where the sender believes it’s okay to send as many emails as they want to a consumer until the consumer says he or she doesn’t want to receive them.

Opt-out emails have proven to irritate consumers and may even violate laws.

In addition, reputable email marketing service providers, such as Delivra, will not work with organizations who choose the opt-out route.

A “double opt-in” process is even better at ensuring list quality.

With this approach, someone’s address is added to the mailing list only after they receive a confirmation email with a link to be clicked.

If the organization does not receive this confirmation, they will not add the name to their list.

Follow-Up to Email Subscriptions

Your email marketing service provider probably offers a feature allowing you to set an automatic response when someone provides their email address.

marketing automation strategy template welcome message

Such a system can automatically provide fulfillment for any incentives you offer.

Generally, most email list management systems can be setup to send out welcome emails at specified intervals, reminding recipients you received their information.

Offer A Way Out

As you build your list, be sure to provide an easy way for recipients to say, “thanks, but no thanks.”

The best way to do this is to include an unsubscribe link in every email.

Clicking on this link takes email recipients to a page allowing them to confirm they want to be taken off the list.

Some organizations include a question asking why the individual wants to be removed.

preference center example change frequency

This helps them determine where possible flaws are in their programs.

Regardless of what method you choose to handle unsubscribes, make sure you remove the individual’s address immediately before your next email send.

It is also extremely important to manage unsubscribe history to ensure that anyone who has opted-out, never receives additional communications.

When using an email service provider, this process is managed for you.

While recipients who opt-out stay in the system, they are flagged as unsubscribed and never sent to again.

Managing opt-outs this way effectively eliminates accidental emails sent to recipients who have very clearly opted-out.

Managing Your Email List

There is more to email marketing than building a sound email list.

List management is an ongoing process to help ensure your list is accurate and useful.

In addition to prompt removal of unsubscribes, pay close attention to your email metrics like bounces and other problems.

Keeping your email list clean and up-to-date will keep your email program running efficiently

Preference Centers

Having a subscribe form for when people join your email list is essential, but a preference center is a great email list management tool to use on an ongoing basis.

A preference center is a great place to tell subscribers what they can expect to receive (for example: type of email and how often they will receive it) and then giving them the opportunity to tell you what messages they would like to receive.

Then you can segment your email list based on that information to send email subscribers exactly what they were expecting.

preference center example simple subscription options

This is a great way to reduce unsubscribes and maintain a good relationship with subscribers.

What is Segmentation?

The most effective kind of email is the exact opposite of batch and blast.

It delivers messages of narrow interest to narrow segments of your audience.

Any type of direct marketing becomes increasingly more effective as it becomes more personal.

The more data you can access about a particular customer or prospect, the more personal your message can become.

No two customers or prospects are alike.

They have different needs, interests, and may even have widely different impressions of your organization and what it can do for them.

Email list management makes it easy to deliver messages to each segment of your audience perfectly targeted to their needs, interests, and preferences.

And only email gives you the ability to pinpoint how each recipient is reacting to your message.

By tracking your recipient’s email behavior and using this information to segment your large audience into much smaller groups, you can deliver relevant and targeted messages to each group and achieve an unprecedented level of engagement.

segment email subscribers email marketing

This translates into higher customer retention and email ROI.

Segmentation is not a complicated concept.

It is as simple as breaking your entire list of customers and prospects into smaller groups who share common characteristics.

These characteristics may be based on demographics, behavior, nature of their business, the relationship with your organization, or any other factor differentiating them from others on your list.

You can also segment based upon interaction with your emails.

In addition to seeing who opened your email, you can determine who performed particular actions such as clicking on specific links.

You can then send a follow-up email based on that information.

» Recommended Reading: 35 ways to incorporate subscriber data into a highly personalized email campaign.

Putting Demographic Segmentation into Practice

If you aren’t already obtaining data to use for segmentation purposes, you can implement several basic techniques.

First, start collecting information as soon as the customer or prospect begins a relationship with your organization.

This can be through an email sign-up screen.

preference center example with demographic info

While you probably do not want to subject someone to a 20 item questionnaire, most people will not mind if you ask a handful of basic questions, especially if you present them in a way that suggests you will use the information to serve them better and will protect their privacy.

Make sure the questions you ask are relevant to either how you intend to segment your list or evaluate reporting.

To gain segmentation data for existing or past customers, consider sending an email with a brief questionnaire.

You may want to offer an incentive to anyone who completes the questionnaire.

Segment for Effectiveness

Your organization has access to one of the most powerful tools ever deployed for marketing.

To make your email efforts even more personal and effective, segment your list as it grows.

This involves breaking your entire list of customers and prospects into smaller groups who share common characteristics.

Those characteristics may be based on demographics, behavior, the nature of their business or relationship with your organization, or many other factors differentiating them from others on your list.

The potential for segmentation is limited only by your imagination and the amount of information at your disposal.

Some of the most common segmented email list management approaches include:

  • Basic Demographics: gender, age, location, and size of company
  • Engagement: reflecting how recipients react to your emails
  • Source: referrals, search engines, promotions, and other means
  • Lifecycle: reflecting how their email address was acquired and how long they’ve been on the list
  • Occupation: both by the type of work performed and the level within the company
  • Employer: by company size or industry
  • Technology: which platforms recipients are using
  • Value: relate to the recipient, such as average order size and number of products purchased
  • Multiple Factors: You can even assemble multiple factors into a matrix.

The Value of Testing

Segmentation gives email marketers the opportunity to understand the value of testing their emails.

a/b testing email list management

One way you can test the effectiveness of a message is to send it to a small percentage of a particular segment.

After the recipients respond to the message, you can project the response rate across the full segment.

Email marketing is also well-suited for another form of testing called A/B testing.

This involves sending out two or more unique emails to different portions of the segment.

These emails might include different offers or messaging.

Once you compare the performance and determine which is more effective, you can roll the better version out to the entire list.

» Recommended Reading: How do you know whether your email content really resonates with your subscribers?

Testing does not have to be a one-time thing.

Savvy email marketers constantly test subject lines, offers, copy, calls-to-action, and other elements to see which works best.

Segmenting their lists allows them to compare how different messages perform among different segments.

Email List Management for Results-Driven Marketers

Delivra offers the tools and services to manage your email list with ease.

Learn more about list management features and other email marketing services we provide.

If you’re ready to make the switch to Delivra, get a conversation going with our sales staff today.


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