Growing Your Email List in 2018

Why growing your email list in 2018 is important, via Only Influencers:

Fast forward to today. Ignoring the need to add new email subscribers to your list is no more an option now than it was before. Your list is either growing or it’s shrinking. Shrinking is not a good strategy for any email marketer. Besides, email is not just for retention. New subscribers have a funny habit of becoming customers.

The above quote from Chris Marriott succinctly positions the email marketing industry in 2018. There are many rules, written and unwritten, that those in email marketing need to follow. The consequences of not following those rules, however, have never been greater than they are today. It’s those consequences that are the reasons why you should be growing your email list in 2018 the right way.

Consequences of buying your email list.

Seven years ago, I started a new position in corporate marketing at GreatAmerica Financial Services. I learned all about email marketing while on the job, and can safely say that I’ve learned how buying or renting an email list is bad news. As Chris Marriott explains in the aforementioned article, many marketers previously found ways to “justify” buying or renting email lists, mostly because the consequences were equivalent to a slap on the wrist.

Attendees at the numerous email marketing conferences began to follow their own version the of the Rules of Fight Club from the 1999 movie of Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton:

  1. The first rule: you do not talk about Email Subscriber Acquisition
  2. The second rule: you DO NOT talk about Email Subscriber Acquisition!

My experience match Mr. Marriott’s, and one not-so-proud-moment in my own personal marketing history follows. I acquired a list of several thousand email addresses via one of those infamous “business research companies.” When we sent out the email blast – remember that term?! – we were immediately inundated with an email bounce rate greater than 30%.

What was our punishment or consequence? Nothing. Not internally, not from our ESP, not from a blacklist, nothing.

Consequences of poor email list hygiene

Fast forward to this year. One email that we sent to a customer list had a bounce rate over 10%. While this certainly isn’t good – nor is it typical of our regular email sends – we quickly received notice from our ESP inquiring about the situation.

  • Was the list created through permission-based practices?
  • Was the list purchased or rented?

And so on. It was clear that our ESP was ensuring that we, their customer, would operate under the guise of permission-based marketing. No longer would the ESP tolerate even a 10% bounce rate, let alone the 30% bounce rate we saw a half-decade ago.

Advances in email list best practices

It took me the better half of a decade, but our company finally came around to what Marriott calls “The New Rules of Email Subscriber Acquisition.”

  1. Don’t jeopardize the inbox.
  2. Quality is in; quantity is out.
  3. Don’t rely on dumb luck.

And just as my personal experiences reflected the “not-best” practices of yesteryear, today my experiences closely mirror the New Rules.

We care about the subscriber.

We’re not blasting every message, to every list member, all the time. No. We ensure that those on our email lists are there because they want to be, because they signed up to be there.

We care about the message.

Is this what the subscriber signed up to read about? Is the email relevant to the recipient? We ask and answer those questions before each email is sent.

We care about the data.

Every number, every subscriber, every open, every click. All of these help tell a story. It’s important to me and my team members that we listen carefully to what story the data is telling.

Growing your email list in 2018 is not sexy.

It’s hard work, and the dividends are difficult to see in the short-term. The consequences of growing your email list the wrong way are too great for email marketers to ignore in 2018. Yes, it’s not sexy. Consumer trust – or a lack of consumer trust – dominates today’s marketplace, and doing the right thing, no matter how little, is worthwhile to keep or gain that trust.