Take a look at your email contact list. Is it bloated with people who never open (or even receive) your emails, or is it clean and only made up of your target customers? Many marketers fall into the trap of stuffing their email list for marketing with as many addresses as possible, but this approach usually falls flat.

In this blog, we’ll review how to build your email list in order to connect with highly-qualified prospects and customers. We’ll cover topics like email list management, email list segmentation, and email list hygiene, among others. Let’s start by reviewing the basic definition of email marketing and the valuable role it can play in your arsenal.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing involves sending relevant, highly-targeted emails to a curated list of subscribers. It’s one of the best ways to build and nurture long-term relationships with your prospects and customers. Email marketing can benefit businesses in any industry, as it helps you promote your company, share your story, and / or softly market your products or services.

Because it’s infinitely scalable, email marketing can easily grow alongside your business. It also promotes regular communication and builds trust because you can stay in touch with your customers. And with the advent of email automation, you can stay in regular communication with subscribers without much manual effort. You can use email marketing to:

  • Raise awareness about new products or services
  • Generate leads
  • Build brand awareness
  • Sustain customer relationships
  • Re-engage lapsed customers

Studies show that 72% of consumers favor email when it comes to communicating with their favorite brands. The best way to capitalize on this is by providing unique, exclusive content via email that keeps subscribers coming back for more.

Ways to Grow Your Email List for Marketing

Wondering how to build an email list? There are a variety of strategic, ethical ways to grow your email contact list. And while building a strong list can require substantial time and effort up front, the long-term benefits include more engaged contacts and higher open rates. Let’s take a closer look at a few ways to grow your subscriber base.

Lead Magnets

Also known as opt-in freebies, lead magnets are complimentary items or services given away to obtain contact information. For example, you might use gated content to give website visitors a reason to join your email list, helping you gather leads. Make sure your opt-in freebie is something your target audience actually wants and will value enough to give you their information. Effective lead magnets include:

  • Trial subscriptions / samples
  • Exclusive videos
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Free consultations

Website Sign-Up Forms & Pop-Ups

One of the simplest ways to grow your email contact list is by including signup forms on your website. In addition to your homepage footer, you should include these forms anywhere you deem appropriate.

A non-intrusive pop-up prompting visitors for their contact information is another great way to build your list. You can use your pop-up in conjunction with the incentive of gated content to convince more people to provide their contact info. Regardless of what you choose, it’s crucial that interested users can easily sign up to receive your emails.

Organic & Paid Social Media

Another effective way to grow your email list for marketing is through organic and paid social media. Offering exposure beyond your immediate followers through things like shares and hashtagging, social media helps you reach more potential subscribers.

Invite followers to join your email list with a clear, succinct message and link to a sign-up landing page. You can also use paid advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms to reach potential subscribers. Your ads should entice users to visit your website and sign up for your email list for exclusive content.

Discounts & Giveaways

You can also use discounts and giveaways to grow your email list and reach potential customers. Consider offering a discount or free shipping on a user’s first order when they sign up for your mailing list. You can also hold giveaways for new subscribers to win valuable prizes when they join.

Never Buy or Rent Third-Party Email Contact Lists

While you may be tempted to grow your subscriber base by purchasing email addresses, you should never do this. Purchasing or renting mailing lists composed of contact information scraped from other sites is ultimately a waste of your marketing spend. 

Purchased email lists are also unethical, since the individuals on them didn’t provide express permission for you to contact them. Plus, some email service providers (like ActiveCampaign) may lock your account if you’re sending to people with no proof of opt-in.

Make sure every email you send includes an unsubscribe link, which is required by federal anti-spam laws. Your subscribers should also have easy access to their email settings so they can opt down (or out) of your emails at any point.

In most cases, emailing people who haven’t provided express permission will lead to you being flagged as spam. And if enough people report you as spam, your brand’s reputation and deliverability will take a hit.

Cultivate Long-Term Relationships with Email List Segmentation

You already know the importance of reaching subscribers at the right time with relevant content they can actually use. This starts with segmentation, which is the process of dividing your subscriber list into smaller groups based on similar characteristics.

Breaking your list down into smaller segments allows you to deliver personalized messaging that shows subscribers you care about their unique needs. Rather than being a nameless face in the crowd, they’ll feel connected and heard. Always remember that despite their similarities, each member of your target audience has a unique personality and set of needs.

Email List Segmentation Categories

When it comes to segmentation strategy and email list management, the sky’s the limit. Consider using buyer personas to inform your segmentation decisions, as these offer a detailed picture of who your target audience is and what they want. Here are just a few ways you can segment your email list:

  • Demographic data
  • Geographic location
  • Past email engagement
  • Purchase history
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Position in the buyer’s journey
  • Survey results
  • Website behavior

Use Email List Segmentation to Drive Analysis & Strategy

Along with being an effective way to grow your email list for marketing, segmentation can provide valuable opportunities for analysis. Monitoring each email’s open rate, conversions, and click-through-rates can help you determine which messaging is driving the best results. As you learn more about each segment and their preferences, you can send them content that’s even more tailored to their needs.

Benefits of Email List Segmentation

There are many benefits of strategically segmenting your email contact list. For starters, segmented campaigns get 14% more opens and 65% more clicks than mass mailings. Targeted emails sent to specific segments also increase user engagement and can boost eCommerce sales. Plus, segmentation is proven to improve customer satisfaction and retention, leading to increased revenue in the long run.

Implement Thorough & Frequent Email List Hygiene

Building a comprehensive subscriber list of people who actually want to hear from you is only the beginning. Research shows that email lists decline by 20-30% every year, and one-third of your subscribers will never actually open your emails. That’s why diligent email list management and regular data hygiene play such an important role in your success.

While it may seem counterintuitive, scrubbing your email list of unengaged subscribers can actually boost your engagement. This is because it allows you to market to a smaller group of people who truly want to hear from you. Engaged subscribers are the only group of people that matters, since they’re the ones who are purchasing from you. When your subscriber list is bloated with dead weight, you’re leaving money on the table.

Why Subscribers Become Inactive

There are a variety of reasons why your email list subscribers may become inactive. They may not have meant to opt-in in the first place, or they may have joined for a one-time promotion or discount. In other cases, they may no longer have a need for your products or services. And if you’re not following best practices, your emails may even be going directly into their spam folder.

Know When to Scrub Your List

As a general rule, you should clean up your email contact list at least twice a year. You should also immediately scrub your list if you experience any of the following:

  • Declining open and click rates
  • Open and click-through-rates significantly below industry averages
  • High unsubscribe rates
  • Increasing spam complaints
  • Lackluster overall engagement

Ultimately, a bloated email subscriber list can slow down deliverability rates and make it difficult to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Best Practices for Removing Inactive Subscribers

Before you remove inactive subscribers from your email list for marketing, try running a strategic re-engagement campaign. This is one of the best ways to reconnect with lapsed or one-time customers.

If your emails aren’t being delivered, you should take a closer look at why they’re bouncing. Your email service provider will provide information on whether the bounces are hard or soft, so you should use this to your advantage.

Hard bounces occur when emails can’t be delivered for permanent reasons, such as incorrect addresses or inactive servers. On the other hand, soft bounces happen when emails can’t be delivered for temporary reasons, like full mailboxes or files that are too large.

When the time comes to actually start removing email addresses from your list, be sure to follow these email list hygiene best practices:

  • Remove anyone who has specifically requested to be unsubscribed from your list.
  • Always consider when a user joined your email list before deciding whether to remove them. You should also factor in the last time they opened one of your emails and how frequently you send to that list.
  • Remove any addresses that may have come from a purchased list, since they haven’t provided express permission for you to email them.
  • Be sure to create a new segment for inactive subscribers, rather than deleting them entirely. You may want to target these users later with a fresh campaign, so you’ll want to keep their email addresses.
  • Remove all duplicate email addresses or duplicate names that have different email addresses.
  • Remove any subscribers that appear to have spam email addresses.
  • Create an automation for email list cleaning, making it easier to maintain over time.

Benefits of Regular Email List Hygiene

The importance of email list hygiene cannot be overstated, and there are many benefits to keeping your list clean. Let’s take a closer look at the most valuable benefits.

Lower Costs

If you use an email marketing service, you’re probably being charged based on the number of subscribers you have or the number of emails you send. That means every inactive email address is a waste of money. Scrubbing these names from your list is an easy way to improve your ROI while lowering the overall cost of your email marketing.

Improved Statistics

Cleaning up your email list is also proven to offer increased open rates, fewer bounces, and higher click-through-rates. While the same people are opening your emails with a smaller list, that group makes up a higher percentage of total emails sent. Plus, a cleaner list means fewer bounced emails, which improves your engagement data and deliverability.

Reduced Spam Flagging

Most mailbox providers keep a running list of spam complaints. If you keep emailing bad addresses, you’ll start going to everyone’s spam folder, not just people who reported you. A clean list and targeted emails ensure more of your emails arrive in the inboxes of engaged subscribers.

Enhanced Reporting

It can be difficult to determine whether your email marketing efforts are working if your list is full of disengaged subscribers. Trimming the fat leaves you with a list of people who are actually engaging with your brand. You can use the data you glean to improve your future efforts and continue to fine-tune your approach.

If you’re ready to add email marketing services or refresh your existing strategy, we’d love to talk. Our team of experts can help you ethically grow your list while delivering targeted content directly to your customers’ inboxes.

How many times have you checked your email today? If you haven’t checked it at least once since you woke up this morning, you’re in the minority. According to Adobe’s 2019 Email Usage Study, users spend up to five hours a day checking emails. With stats like this, it is clear that our fascination with our inboxes is an ideal target for digital marketers to make use of email automation tactics. 

What is Email Automation?

Email marketing automation combines traditional email marketing efforts with automated technology to streamline processes and provide relevant content to your audience at the right time. Most companies will send out very general content that may or may not interest a particular contact. With email automation, you can send out highly-relevant content to your contacts based on how they interacted with your site.  The best part of email automation is that once you’ve set workflows up, they’ll continue to run. Forget manually sending out emails to each individual contact — now your emails will automatically send out based on the workflow you created.

How Do Email and Marketing Automation Work Together?

Are you surprised that a shirt you were looking at from your favorite online store a few days ago is now showing up in your emails? If you have the willpower, you may have simply ignored these. But wait, a week later you get another email — this time with a coupon for free shipping on your next purchase. This free shipping offer saves you a nice chunk of change, so you decide to make the purchase. Guess what — that online store has incorporated email automation into their existing email strategy using highly-targeted email content based on your shopping behavior.

An Email Automation Workflow in Action

So, let’s backtrack to the purchase we made with our free shipping offer. We’ll break down the steps of an email marketing automation workflow that could’ve led up this purchase:

  1. You signed up for email offers through an email sign-up form on the company’s website.
  2. You browsed the site, added a shirt to your cart, and exited without purchasing.
  3. The company has an email automation workflow set up to automatically send emails out to customers who didn’t complete a purchase.
  4. You received an email with dynamic content. In this case, it was the shirt you added to your cart. Dynamic content in emails allows companies to send out the same email with content that may differ based on the user’s actions.
  5. You haven’t made a purchase yet, so the company also had in their workflow to send a second email out with a free shipping coupon if no purchase was made.
  6. You finally completed your purchase using your free shipping offer, which ends this particular email automation workflow.

This is only one automation that an ecommerce store could have put into place, but the company may have dozens of others running simultaneously. These email workflows are the backbone of any email automation strategy. No matter how simple or complex a workflow is, each one is meant to assist your email marketing team with your business goals.

Benefits of Integrating Automation into Email Marketing

An effective email marketing automation strategy gives marketers the ability to send behavior-based emails to their audience in an efficient manner. From highly targeted emails to lead nurturing, here’s how automated email marketing can improve your existing email strategy.

Increase Engagement with Dynamic Content 

Contacts are more likely to open your emails when they feel the email matches their own interests. You can alter the email content each recipient receives through dynamic content. This content may change based on an individual’s demographics, preferences, and on-site behavior. With a median ROI of 122%, there’s no reason not to incorporate dynamic content into your emails.

We recommend sending custom HTML emails rather than image-based emails when it comes to email automation.

newsletter background

Save Time & Increase Productivity

Automation helps free up resources for your marketing team and can aid in increased productivity. Think about the time you spend on repetitive tasks in a given day. For email marketers, email automation streamlines these processes, so they can focus on other aspects of their jobs. Gone are the days of manual list cleanups and sifting through email contacts.

Nurture Customers 

Whether you have a short or long sales cycle, your business can benefit from the lead nurturing that email automation provides. Automation workflows can move users down the sales funnel, so your brand is always top of mind, regardless of how close they are to purchasing.

Our Top Five Automation Workflows

Here are our top suggestions on automation workflows that are applicable to any business. They cover a variety of areas you should include in your email marketing, such as welcoming new subscribers, site tracking, contact scoring, and re-engagement.

1. New Email Subscribers

Building your email list should be top-of-mind in order to increase your audience reach. A new email subscriber workflow can be as simple as sending an autoresponder thanking users for subscribing. You can also take this opportunity to execute a detailed drip campaign by sending a series of emails you think would be useful to subscribers.

2. Interest-Based Tagging

Audience segmentation is key in email personalization. Interested in seeing how users interact with a specific product or service? You can set up automations to add tags to users when they look at certain pages of your site.  At Tower, we set up automations to add the tag “Interest in IM Services” if contacts have visited one of our internet marketing service pages at least two times. This helps us track our contacts and also gives us the ability to send IM-based emails to these contacts in the future. We’ve repeated this automation with our web and creative services as well.

3. Contact Scoring

These automations track the engagement of users with your site and email content. The higher the score, the more engaged a contact is with your website and email content. We have a specific point value for each scoring method: Subscribe to list – add 25 points Unsubscribe from list – subtract 25 points Email open – add 10 points Link click in email – add 10 points Site visits – 1 point/session

4. Re-Engage Inactive Users

Feel like your open rates are dwindling? Your email list could be the problem. It’s crucial to periodically check if your email subscriber list is actually opening your emails. You don’t want to pay for contacts who aren’t even engaged with your emails. Instead of manually sifting through your list, create an automation workflow that targets unengaged users. Our re-engagement automation workflow unsubscribes users after six months of not opening emails. If you’re an ecommerce store, you might entice contacts to stay subscribed by sending an email with an online offer before unsubscribing them from your list.

5. Manage Email Preferences

Unfortunately, not all contacts are interested in receiving all your marketing communication emails. But you might be able to stop them from fully unsubscribing. Setting up an automation for users to choose the frequency of emails could keep them on your email list without bombarding them.  Give contacts the option to receive emails weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. At Tower, we segment user email preferences based on the email content. For example, users can choose between receiving monthly newsletters, case studies, and company announcements.

Why Invest in Email Automation for Your Business?

Email marketing is growing at an exponential rate and isn’t going away any time soon. It’s time to improve your email marketing and reach your target audience in their inboxes.

Grow Your Business 

Automating your existing email strategy gives you and your employees extra time to focus on areas of your business that need more attention. This additional time might even allow your team to brainstorm other email marketing initiatives that your business hasn’t had a chance to try. 

Webinars are a great example we’ve seen in B2B and have even tried out for our own agency. Hosting webinars allow your company to increase your expertise and authority in the industry.  Incorporating email automation into your webinar promotion can even help you with registration, reminders, and post-webinar follow-ups.

Provide the Right Content at the Right Time

Each individual in your target audience will be at a different stage in the buyer’s journey. While some may be becoming familiar with your brand, others may be ready to purchase a product or request additional information on your services.

With email marketing automation, you can send content that’s relevant to each contact’s situation. Is someone ready to request a consultation? Send out an autoresponder that allows them to choose a time slot to speak with an employee. Did they make a purchase on your website? Send them a confirmation email with their shipping information. The opportunities are endless when it comes to email automation.

Keep Your Brand Top of Mind

Growing a healthy email list allows you to stay in touch with current and potential customers, even if they haven’t visited your site for awhile. Sending out monthly emails keeps your brand on their mind and also keeps them up-to-date on current promotions and updates.

Ready to boost brand awareness and nurture your customer base? Our specialists can help you build your email marketing strategy from scratch or improve your existing processes.

If you’re an email marketer, you might as well add the title “Warrior” to your email signature and resume. You are constantly fighting for higher open and click rates, changing up tactics and strategies, and defending your email campaigns from bounces and unsubscribes.

Unfortunately, no matter how mighty your sword or how hard you fight, you may find that your bounce rate is continuing to increase. Don’t surrender just yet, warrior! We have the tools you need to become an email marketing champion. Take a look at the reasons your emails have bounced back, discover whether they are hard or soft bounces, and learn how to fix them with our tips and tricks.

Your Email Bounced Back Because…

1. There Are Deliverability Problems

Bounce Type: Soft (Temporary Issue)

If your email bounced back, it could be due to a variety of temporary issues. These issues tend to resolve themselves automatically. The issues are often caused by the following:

  • Recipient’s inbox is full
  • Recipient’s server timed out and is unavailable to receive the email
  • Recipient has a vacation or auto-reply set up

2. Your Email is Too Big

Bounce Type: Soft (Temporary Issue)

If you’ve sent a large email and the recipient’s inbox restricts incoming email sizes, the email may bounce back. Be sure to double check your email size. Are you using large photos? If so, decreasing image sizes can help.

3. The Email Address is Invalid or Non-Existent

Bounce Type: Hard (Permanent Issue)

Did you buy an email list from a third-party source (say it isn’t so!)? Are you using an old email list that you created years ago? If either of these are the case, it’s possible your bounce rate is high due to invalid and non-existent email addresses. Whether email addresses have typos or just aren’t used anymore, your email will bounce back.

4. Spam Filters Blocked It

Bounce Type: Hard (Permanent Issue)

Take a look at your personal or work email inbox. See that spam folder? Go ahead. Open it and see how many emails have collected there without your knowledge.

Spam filters have been set up in most inboxes and have become more aggressive over time due to the continued increase of spam email sending/receiving. While the folder may save you the personal headache from receiving those pesky, annoying emails from unknown senders, it will increase your campaign bounce rate professionally. You guessed it — when your email lands in a spam folder, it’s considered a bounced email.

5. You’re Sending Emails to High-Security Servers

Bounce Type: Hard (Permanent Issue)

It’s possible your email bounced back because a recipient is located on a high-security server. Similar to the previous reason, spam filters are also partly to blame for emails bouncing back after being sent to addresses on high-security servers. High-security servers have super spam filters that make it even harder to land in recipient inboxes.

How can you tell if the email address is associated with a high-security server? Look at the domain. High-security servers tend to be associated with corporate, government, and institutional email addresses.

6. Your Sender Reputation is Low

Bounce Type: Hard (Permanent Issue)

IRL, your reputation is weighed against you. Email marketing is no different. If your sender reputation is low, internet service providers may reject your emails, making them bounce back.

Examine your email history. If your bounce rate and spam rate are too high, they may have inadvertently damaged your sending reputation.

7. You Are Sending From a Blacklisted IP Address

Bounce Type: Hard (Permanent Issue)

Taking it a step further, if your sender reputation is extremely low, your IP address could be blacklisted. When you’re blacklisted by an internet service provider, all recipients that utilize the provider will not receive your emails. This could be detrimental to your email marketing efforts.

Email Bounce Rate Basics

As you can probably tell already, bounce rates are a vital component of email marketing success. By neglecting your bounce rate, all of your hard work could crumble. In fact, some Email Service Providers (ESPs) will even suspend your account if your bounce rate is too high.

mobile device receives email message

What is a Good Email Bounce Rate?

The industry standards for email bounce rates are set by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Each ISP has the right to set its own standard and those limits are not shared publicly. To ensure your bounce rate doesn’t increase too much, ESPs monitor rates closely. Generally speaking, if you have a hard bounce rate of 5% or more, you should be concerned. A good email bounce rate would be anything lower than 5%. The closer you are to 0%, the better.

How to Fix an Email Bounce Back

If you see that your email bounced back after sending, be sure to take the following actions:

  1. Determine whether the email bounces were soft or hard bounces.
  2. Remove any hard bounce email addresses from your mailing list.
  3. Make note of the soft bounced email addresses. If they bounce repeatedly after sending multiple email marketing campaigns, remove them from your mailing list.

Tips for Reducing Email Bounces in Email Marketing

As a marketing agency, it’s our duty to provide you with information that will benefit your marketing strategies. Try some of these tips for reducing email bounces and let us know what worked best for you!

Stay Up-To-Date on Email Marketing Best Practices

There is a standard called the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) that helps ensure email senders and recipients are protected from spam. The standard was set and is continually updated by a large group of organizations and businesses that work together to promote better email marketing. Make sure you’re aware of the best practices to reduce email bounces and improve your email marketing tactics.

Clean Up Your Mailing Lists

Time to tidy up! Pull out your mailing list and closely analyze the data you have. Depending on how large your lists are, this may take some time. However, the effort will be worth it! By cleaning up your list, you’ll minimize the number of bounces and spam reports your future campaigns to receive.

Clean up your lists in sections by looking at the following elements one at a time:

  • Typos or syntax errors
  • Addresses that have been flagged due to bouncing repeatedly (more than 3-5 times)
  • Recipients that haven’t engaged at all (no opens, no clicks)

Monitor Your Bounce Rate Closely

Ensure your mailing list is maintained over time by monitoring your bounce rate consistently. Set reminders on your calendar to check each email’s analytics after the campaign is sent. If there are any bounces, fix them as soon as possible to keep your bounce rate low.

Use the Double Opt-In Method

Double opt-in email subscriptions ensure that your email subscribers are actually interested in receiving information from you regularly. It also validates the email address provided to help eliminate any potential mailing list typos or syntax errors in the future.

Conduct Spam Tests

Try spam testing your emails prior to sending them to see whether or not they’ll end up in subscribers’ spam folders. This will give you an idea of how deliverable your emails are. There are even some tests that will tell you what to change in order to stay out of the spam folder!

Have you evaluated your email format recently? Work with our team to optimize your email marketing strategy.