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The Do’s and Dont’s for Growing your Email List: 11 Must-Know Rules

As marketers and business owners, we all know the importance of building an email list. But how do you get people to subscribe?

This blog post will break down 11 rules for building a successful email list that includes industry best practices. From when is the best time to send emails to what kind of email content is engaging and engaging, this blog post covers it all. 

We’ll also explore some common mistakes made by marketers who are new to growing their lists and how they can be avoided with these simple tips!

Do find the best place to target your audience

If you want to build an email list full of engaged subscribers, the first step is to find out where your ideal audience is. 

Most online interactions happen in the inbox, on social media, or via a forum. To find your audience, search all these platforms and find out which one has the most active user base:

  • Other newsletters
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit (and other forums)

If your ideal audience is on multiple platforms, it’s recommended to build up your presence on one rather than splitting your focus. 

Do add a subscribe button to every page and profile you can find

Some people might end up on your content by chance, so adding a subscribe button is one of the best ways to build your email list. 

Imagine someone visiting your website or blog as a one-off. If you don’t show an opt-in to subscribe, you could lose a returning customer. You won’t be able to send offers, information, and so on to thousands of valuable leads.

Of course, you can build an email list without a website, but it’s a good idea to utilize it if you do. Make sure users can see your subscribe button and that the initial sign-up process is quick.

Do personalize every landing page, CTA, and greeting

If your website or products target multiple niches, use personalized calls-to-action (CTA) and landing pages. 

For instance, if you have different landing pages on your website or social media, you can customize the subscribe button to match the target audience on each page. 

When your messaging resonates with a reader, your conversion rate will increase. Specificity is key to getting people to hit that ‘subscribe’ button. 

Pro tip: Once you have subscribers, you can send personalized messages based on each customer’s previous activity and inputted information. Start your emails the right way.

For example: 

  • Using their name in email introductions (e.g., Hi Devesh)
  • Using their name mid-sentence (e.g., And do you know what Devesh? It works) 
  • Sending them personalized messages because they opened an email or clicked a specific link

Do segment your email list

People from all over the world can sign up for your email list. The ease of access to your sign-up page gives you a very diverse customer base. 

That’s great, but content relevant to someone in a startup in India might not apply to a small business in the US.

To keep building your email list, try segmenting your subscribers into groups based on 

age, location, gender buying habits, website behavior, and newsletter engagement. 

Using segments, you can create targeted email campaigns that boost customer engagement, ultimately increasing your conversion rates.

Do use a double opt-in feature

When someone subscribes, you want to confirm two things: 

  • They’re a real person who consents to receive your emails
  • They’re interested enough to stick around for the long haul

A subscriber that never opens an email isn’t worth your time. Nor is a spam bot with no person on the other side. If an unengaged reader decides to report your emails as spam, it could cause severe deliverability issues.

Perhaps most importantly, a double opt-in also protects you from data protection laws. GDPR, for instance, states that you cannot subscribe someone to an email list without their expressed consent. 

You will stay in their primary inbox and out of the spam folder for those who confirm their subscription. 

Do clean up your email list regularly

If you don’t clean up your list regularly, it could be full of email addresses that are no longer in use or of subscribers who no longer want your emails. 

As mentioned above, if your emails bounce or are placed in spam often, it can severely impact your deliverability. 

There are a couple of ways you can clean your email list:

  • Remove any contacts where emails bounce frequently
  • Monitor engagement, so if a subscriber hasn’t opened one of your emails in 6+ months, it’s a good idea to send them a quick exit sequence
  • Ask recipients to confirm their information when appropriate 
  • Use automated software, such as MailGet, to clean up your email list

Don’t add people from your contacts list or business cards

When you build an email list, one of the worst things you can do is add contacts that haven’t given consent to receive your marketing or promotional emails. 

It’s against the law to add contacts who haven’t opted in. 

That’s why opt-ins are so important. You’re basically asking for someone’s permission to put them on the list.

If you’d like to add people to your email list from business cards, instead send them a personal email with an opt-in link or a sign-up landing page. That way, your contacts can willingly subscribe.

Don’t buy an email list

Never, ever buy an email list. Ever. 

By using any of the contacts on an email list, you’re basically violating the same law mentioned in the last section. 

Plenty of people still buy email lists and send emails to people. These emails are automatically marked as spam in most email clients. Even if you decide to chance it with a bought list, you probably won’t get any engagement. 

Don’t wait too long to welcome and send emails

When you’re building an email list, it can be tempting to wait until you’ve reached a certain number of contacts before sending a message. 

The problem is, those who subscribed first may be waiting a while. Someone might even forget that they even subscribed, and in turn, will unsubscribe. 

Make sure you follow up quickly: 

  • One of the best ways of following up (without wasting the hard work you spend writing the emails)is to have an automated set of emails ready with an email service provider, such as Mailchimp.
  • Always send a welcome email to say “hi, this is what we’re about” when someone subscribes. 
  • Send your list emails at least once every two weeks to keep them engaged, even if you have only a few subscribers. 

Keep in touch with your subscriber list regularly. You need to nurture your subscribers, so follow up by sending offers, discounts, or anything else of value to them.

Don’t ignore your newsletter metric and analytics

email list metrics

By keeping an eye on your metrics and analytics, you can genuinely monitor how effective your email campaign is. 

For instance, if you sent out 30,000 emails and got an open from 1,500 of them, you’ll note that as a 5% open rate. A 5% open rate is relatively low and could indicate that you need to clean your list or learn how to write better subject lines.

Here’s what you want to look out for:

  • How many contacts are on your list 
  • How many opened your email (open rate)
  • How many clicked through from your email (CTR)
  • How many completed your goal after clicking through

Don’t worry about newsletter unsubscribes

If someone unsubscribes, it’s not the end of the world. 

Sure, you may be wondering why, but there’s no point in them staying on your list if they’re not interested. What you can do, though, is have a double opt-out feature — similar to the double opt-in. 

When someone decides to unsubscribe, redirect them to a survey that asks the reason for unsubscribing. Give the user a few standard multiple-choice options and a text box for them to leave comments. 

Get your email list growing in the right way

Aside from abiding by these dos and don’ts for building an email list, it’s also important to be patient. It takes time to grow an email list, and having one with long-term subscribers won’t come overnight. All of the time and effort you put in will be worth it in the end. 

One great way to build your email list is to get your brand in front of people who already subscribe to newsletters. Sign up to Paved to get started with newsletter ads, and your list will grow faster than ever. 

This article was written by Devesh Sharma. Devesh Sharma is the founder of WPKube, one of the largest WordPress resource sites. His work has been featured on sites like Forbes, HuffPo, Mashable, American Express, & more. You can follow him on twitter.