Email Lists: Everything you need to know.

Have you ever left your email address to subscribe to a newsletter or to get freebies, discounts, or eBooks? Then you are on their email list. A quality email list is the most powerful ammunition you can have. 

Email continues to be the winning medium of communication and marketing for all businesses, and the ROI is unparalleled. It is important that you take the utmost care of your email lists. 

This comprehensive guide will give you an email list 101. You will learn:

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What is an email list? 

Simply put, all those people who subscribe to receive communication from you or your business are a part of your email list. It is a compilation of email addresses who you engage and convert into customers using email campaigns.

Different methods to acquire an email list

Technically, for quality engagement, there is only one way to acquire an email list - building it from scratch. If we keep quality aside, there are three ways you can acquire an email list. 

Buying an email list

A lot of businesses out there sell industry-based email lists. These lists include people who have never heard of or showed an interest in you or your brand. This is normally the most harmful way of acquiring a list, and you may even get into legal trouble. These emails are also worn out since they have been used again and again by different people, and are the worst quality of email addresses.

Renting an email list

Companies also rent out email lists, but that would be literally incorrect. If you rent an email list, you will never really see the actual list or email addresses. You would not know who you are sending the email to, and most definitely would not be able to segment these subscribers. The company you rent from is going to take full responsibility for the delivery and will have absolute control over the list.

Building an email list

This is the most recommended method of acquiring an email list- building it over a long period of time organically. These subscribers will be genuinely interested in what you have to offer since the emails will go to real people who open them regularly. The quality will be top-notch, and your email campaigns will have higher open rates, good conversion rates, and therefore, more sales.

Should you buy email lists? NO!

You may receive hundreds of emails from businesses that sell email lists as per your industry. Emails talking about things you are not interested in, or emails from people you have never heard of might also land in your inbox. Is your spam folder also full of emails from random brands or email addresses you have no clue about? You would have never really subscribed to any of these emails, yet they have your email ID. 

How often do you interact with these emails? Do you open them or click on their CTA’s? Never, right? That’s the impact of a purchased email list. Here are all the reasons why you shouldn’t buy an email list:

It affects email deliverability. 

Email deliverability is the measurement of emails that have landed in the inbox, and not bounced or landed in the spam folder. Deliverability is affected by different factors like -  sender reputation, hard bounce, etc. 

Sender reputation is the score that the Email service provider (ESP) assigns to your domain or company, which is based on the existing deliverability rate. A hard bounce occurs when your subscriber’s email server deems your email address as invalid. When you buy an email list, you cannot account for the validity of all the email addresses in it. In this case, hard bounces become more likely and affect all your metrics. Open rates plummet, engagement barely exists, and the ROI is nothing.

You risk being penalized by your email service provider.

As an aftermath to bad email deliverability, your emails will start landing in spam folders. Irrespective of how good your email content or design is, all that effort will go down the drain if your email never lands in the primary inbox. ESP employs strict methods to curb spam, and with purchased lists that is practically impossible. This affects not just your reputation, but also the ESPs deliverability, and they can penalize and blacklist your IP address or domain.

It will infringe GDPR.

GDPR or General Data Protection Regulations was created by EU (European Union) regulators to hold companies liable for the way companies use data. Companies are forced to reassess how they capture data, manage it, work on data breach, and more. Seeking permission for emails became a crucial part of email lists. 

If you end up sending an email to anybody within the European Union without explicit permission, you might have to bear a hefty fine of up to € 20 million. If you purchase lists, you cannot adhere to privacy concerns with respect to GDRP, and you will be in trouble.

You will have no qualified contacts.

In a purchased list, none of the contacts will be familiar with you or your business, and neither would they be interested in learning about it. When you buy a list, you are not buying loyal or interested subscribers. You are just buying email addresses. You cannot personalize the emails or segment this audience, because you will have no information on them at all. The emails you send to them would not even be relevant to them.

Your contacts will not be exclusive.

The companies who sell email lists, try to sell it to every person or business who is interested. They tend to sell the same list over and over again. The contacts that you have maybe with all your competitors and all other companies in the same industry.

Your campaigns will witness bad engagement rates.

Since a purchased list is unverified, it will be full of invalid emails. That will affect all the campaign metrics. Say, you bought a list of 5000 subscribers who have never heard of it. Optimistically, 10% of them will open your emails. Would they ever engage with your email by clicking on the links on your email? Highly doubtful.

Sending emails will become more costly.

Email marketing software charges you on a per email basis. With a purchased list, you will end up paying for thousands of emails, but the conversion will be minimal. Email is the best channel with the highest ROI when compared to any other marketing channel, yet in this case, it will barely get you any return on investment. Moreover, if your ESP blacklists your domain or IP address, then you are basically paying for emails to land in spam folders.

How to create an email list from scratch?

Buying an email list is not only frowned upon, but also completely redundant. Why would you buy contacts who don’t know you at all? You can start collecting email addresses from people who are genuinely interested in these easy steps:

Start collecting emails early on.

It is never too early to start collecting emails. Putting together an effective list is a time-consuming process, and it takes years to build your email audience.

Know your target audience.

For you to get people to leave their email addresses, you ought to know where they hang out. To understand which channels the ideal customer use to consume content, you need to create marketing personas. Build a complete customer profile, and get as specific as you want to.

Create incredible content that adds value.

You have to create a buzz with your content. The best place to collect email lists is on your website, but how will people come to your website? Write great content that will catch the attention of the target audience and make them want to keep coming back for more. Content will always be king, and your content strategy can change your email marketing game completely. 

Set up a form on your home page.

Your homepage is the highest performing page that you have. It is the first page that people land on, and shows the exact value you can add. In most cases, the majority of the conversions happen via the homepage. So make sure you have a clear opt-in form and make it easy for your visitors to subscribe to your list.

Add forms across all high performing pages.

Use analytics to know which pages are your highest converting pages. Ensure that you have an opt-in form (which explicitly mentions that visitors will receive emails as per GDPR) on all of these pages to collect the most emails.

Create lead magnets (Provide incentive).

Now that you have incredible content that visitors like to consume, gate your eBooks, checklists, guides, whitepapers, etc. This makes your valuable content exclusive to just those who will leave their email addresses with you.

Use pop-ups and welcome mats.

Pop-up forms like welcome mats and exit intent pop-ups are forms that pop up when someone visits your page for the first time, or right before you are about to exit the page. On average, a good pop-up form has a 9.28% conversion rate. So, if 100 people visit your website, you can convert 9 of them. This obviously differs in terms of the intent of the pop-up forms, but it can accelerate your growth substantially.

Build landing pages.

A proven way to build your list is with landing pages. Every webinar you run, feature that you want visitors to adopt, new sale, etc., create different and more targetted landing pages. This way you will not only be growing your email list, but also creating automatic segments.

Provide a free trial of your service/product.

Give more value to your prospects with a free trial of your product or service. If it is feasible for you (as is normal in the SaaS industry), you can grow your email list even more with people who are interested in trying your product and don’t want to make a commitment yet.

Put up a live chat widget into your website.

Interactive chatbots are there to guide your website visitors, provide them with a better experience, and immediate support. For any guidance, visitors will have to leave their email addresses with your chatbot, which is a great way to build your email list. In fact, about 40% of millennials say that they interact with bots daily.

Host online webinars.

Creating content doesn’t mean just writing pages and blogs. In this age of interactive content, videos and live webinars are doing very well. 73% of B2B marketers say that hosting webinars is the best way to generate leads.

Leverage Social media.

Social media is a great way to engage with your audience. So, add CTAs on your social media pages. Tweet with a link for your followers to join your list, add buttons to your Facebook business page, keep links in your social bios, and keep growing.

Collect email addresses at offline events.

All those events that you physically attend, or where your target audience is there, exchange visiting cards and contact information and collect those email IDs. Import these emails to your marketing automation software and send them a welcome email to confirm their opt-in.

Make use of your existing contacts.

You already would have a list of existing customers, or a list of inactive subscribers. Start by sending them an email, and reinvigorate your inactive email list with an in-email opt-in campaign. Give them the option to want to receive your emails, and remove the ones who don’t interact with that campaign. You can also add an ‘Email to a friend’ link within your existing newsletters, allowing subscribers to share it with their friends.

Taking care of your email list

Now that you know how to build your email list over a period of time, it is crucial that you maintain this email list too. To harness the full potential that your mailing list has to offer, you have to do the following:

Create remarkable email content.

It isn’t just about getting more people to subscribe to your content. It is also about keeping them engaged with it so that they want to stay subscribed. You need to continue to create incredible email content and keep subscribers happy. 

Stay relevant with advanced segmentation.

To keep your existing subscribers engaged and interested, you have to personalize content as per their interests. Segment your audience better to send hyper-targeted emails.

Clean your list regularly.

You need to maintain or keep improving your email metrics, i.e., your emails should be seen, opened, and clicked on. Over the years, some of your subscribers might stop engaging or become completely inactive. It is imperative that you clean your list to not only lower the cost of email marketing, but also to optimize your campaign performance. Find your inactive subscribers, people who haven’t opened an email in 60-90 days, and either try to change your email strategy for them or remove them from your list.

Ensure double opt-in.

Getting permission plays a very important part of collecting emails. You cannot send emails to contacts who have not explicitly mentioned that they want to receive emails. So, send a confirmation email to your inactive/low-activity subscribers, to get their permission.

Find out why your subscribers left.

To improve on your subscribers’ email experience, you ought to know why people are unsubscribing. Set up an email with an optional feedback form to understand why unsubscribes are happening. This way, you can improve your campaigns, and keep your subscribers happier.

What are the advantages of creating your own list?

Cover a global audience.

Unlike other traditional means of marketing, your emails get delivered to your subscribers irrespective of their geography. People might not have Facebook or Instagram, but they all have email accounts. As off 2017, there were 3.9 billion internet users wordwide. By 2019, there were 3.9 billion email accounts itself. So, your reach is far higher with your email list.

Increase the traffic on your website.

Every email is sent with a purpose - creating awareness, increasing conversions, updating about new features, sending discounts, etc. Emails are sent with a Call-to-action, which takes your audience to your website, and increases your traffic.

Talk to your audience directly and immediately.

Your email list has the people who already know you or your business and have showed interest. Communicate directly with your audience and engage with prospects and customers easily. If compared to other marketing mediums, email communication is immediate.

Email is personal and more targeted.

Since you have information on your email list subscribers, you can send more personalized content to them and send them more targetted emails.

Convert more.

As you are sending personalized and targeted emails, you are more likely to have higher conversions. Subscribers are already well-versed with your product or service, and with emails, you can stay on the forefront and nudge them into a purchase decision.

Lower cost and highest ROI.

Email marketing in itself is one that has the highest return on investment. As compared to other mediums, it is also the cheapest channel to reach your audience. Unlike fliers, or brochures, or social media, you reach directly into the inbox of your subscribers, both on the phone and web.

You own your email list.

If you have built your own email list, then you own it. It is not a list of plain email addresses from all over the world. It is your mailing list full of interested subscribers. Unlike followers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and the likes, you have complete ownership of your list.

Grow and manage your email list with Freshmarketer

Improve your website visitor experience for higher conversions.

With conversion rate optimization, you can optimize your website experience using heatmapping, A/B testing, web-form tracking, and drive your visitors to convert to subscribers.

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Create email campaigns from scratch. 

Use Freshmarketer’s drag-and-drop email builder to set up emails within minutes, or choose from a plethora of existing templates. Build web and mobile responsive emails, and send highly-targeted emails to your email list.

Manage all your suscribers in your email lists.

Have all your subscribers in one single contact database. Manage the entire timeline and activity of all your subscribers, and create smart segments for better automation. Segment subscribers based on behavior, location, customer journey stage, and more, for better personalization.

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Integrate with your CRM software.

With Freshmarketet-Freshsales integration, you can align your marketing and sales team in real-time. Gain deeper visibility into the performance of your email list, and track the complete audience journey, from leads to becoming customers.

Retain your customers.

Use Freshmarketer’s customer journey visual builder, to set up automation to retain and delight your customers. You want to keep your subscribers for life, so, keep them engaged.