Two people made of wires illustrating email exchanges
blog post | marketing

Email Marketing List Management Best Practices

Let’s be honest. Email marketing list management isn’t fun. Contact lists are large and constantly in flux, so even the smallest changes add major complexity to the challenge of delivering your message subscribers’ inboxes.

Issues like inaccurate contact data and improperly managed user lists add up to big deliverability problems (and even bigger relevancy problems for email marketing). Competing for email recipient attention is becoming more difficult too, as they’re not as easily swayed in this increasingly competitive digital landscape.

If you want to simplify your email marketing list management process, these tips will help you. But remember, these tips will also work for internal announcements, sales information, and any other email sends. And if you have questions, you can always get in touch with our team by calling us at (443) 927-7195 or clicking the button below.

Email Is For More Than Internal Messaging

I don’t need to tell you that email is important. You already know that it’s an essential way to communicate within a business and you probably already know how powerful it is for marketing and other external communications. But just in case you need a quick refresher, here is a non-comprehensive list for how email is used:

  • Prospective customer marketing
  • Existing customer marketing
  • Customer support
  • Employee recruiting
  • Office administration
  • Sales notifications
  • Partner announcements

The versatility and usefulness of email cannot be understated. But if you still need to convince your boss that investing resources into email list management is critical, consider these facts:

Group of people connected by lines illustrating diversity of purpose in email sends

  • Right now, there are over 3.3 Billion email accounts worldwide. (Source: Mashable)
  • After polling online Americans aged 12 and over, 94% of them cite email as one of their daily activities. (Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project’s Generations 2010 report)
  • Email reigns supreme. More than 77% of consumers prefer marketing efforts through email. (Source: ZD Net)
  • Email generates revenue. For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2011, there was $40.56 return. A dollar spent in search engine marketing would return you almost half at $22.44. (Source: Marketing Sherpa 2013 Benchmark Report)

Here’s What Good Email Marketing List Management Looks Like

Group of people representing email marketing lists.

Whether you’re managing email lists for marketing, sales, human resources, or anything else, keeping your contact records updated and properly segmented is critical. So what’s that look like?

To effectively send email to the right recipients, you need to create several lists. Here are some basic email list categorizations that you should have.

  • Contact Type: Is your contact a customer prospect? A current employee? A former customer? You must be able to segment your email list by type of contact. Otherwise, your emails end up being irrelevant to large portions of your list or they have to become an information dump that’s trying to cater to every type of contact.
  • Demographic Data: Where does the contact live? Will he or she be reading your message from a different time zone? Can you send your emails by gender or age? Using demographic data to personalize your emails can drive up engagement
  • Last Interaction: What was your contact’s most recent experience with your company? Did you meet them at an event? Did they download something? Were they searching for something on your website? What are they expecting from you? Personalizing email marketing by last interaction allows you to create highly-contextual email campaigns that continue the conversation.

There are countless other lists you could create for effective email sends, but these are the most important and most obvious. So if you’re struggling to manage email lists like these with your current email platform, you may want to investigate alternative email marketing platforms.

You Can Simplify Email Marketing List Management With Software

Pile of emails symbolizing difficulty simplifying email sends.

“Emails are send and forget, right?” Wrong. Just because they are out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. An effective email marketing campaign continues past the send and into the engagement data. After all, how else are you supposed to know if your campaign was delivered to the right recipients?

So how can you use email data to simplify list management and improve your campaigns? Software. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to need good email list management software to keep your contacts in order. Just about any email software will do for basic segmentation — like contact type and engagement data. But if you want to almost entirely eliminate the guesswork in your list management process, marketing automation software is what you need.

A marketing automation solution can pull contact information from a huge number of data points — previous email sends, website activity, CRM records, and much more. With all of this information automatically populated in your contact records, it’s remarkably easy to create accurate, up-to-date lists. In fact, with most marketing automation platforms, it’s even automatic.

So what choices do you have for email marketing list management?

Available Email List Management Solutions

Phone and icons symbolizing email marketing automation software solutions.

In the world of email marketing list management, these are our top picks. Take a look at what each company offers and how their software differs:

HubSpot is the leader in the world of marketing automation software. Based in Cambridge, MA, HubSpot brings cutting edge software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads and close customers. Here are some of the benefits their software suite provides for dealing with email list management issues:

  • Smart email lists that automatically update based on email, website, and CRM data
  • Integrated email and website analytics for all-in-one testing and evaluation
  • Simple email design and editing

You can view HubSpot’s website here.

Marketo is a marketing powerhouse. In 2012, Inc. 500 ranked them #1 among all marketing software companies. Since then Marketo has gone on to develop industry leading software. Marketo’s email marketing software includes:

  • Easy email list segmentation based on email and website data
  • Integrated email and website analytics for fast evaluation
  • Simple email design and editing

You can view Marketo’s website here.

Pardot is a B2B marketing automation company run by Salesforce. They offer marketing automation solutions that allow marketing and sales departments to create effective campaigns. Pardot Lists is their email database tool and it offers things like:

  • Easy email list segmentation based on email and CRM data
  • Spam analysis and multiple email preview options
  • Simple email design and editing

You can view Pardot’s website here.

Our favorite of the bunch is HubSpot. We feel like it’s the easiest to use and sports the best functionality. But regardless of which marketing platform you feel is right for you company, getting some kind of automated email list management help is better than none. All of these platforms offer most of the same functionality to one extent or another.

Email List Management: DIY or Hire an Agency?

List management is a crucial part of your business’s success. So how should you determine who handles these lists and email sends? The easy answer is “it depends on your business” (and the complex answer is “talk to your legal team”).

But let’s pretend all things are equal and take a look at the thought process behind a typical business’s decision on who to use for email marketing list management.

Managing Email Lists In-House

Nobody knows your business better than you do. You simply can’t share all of your team’s institutional knowledge outside of your organization — sometimes because you can’t and sometimes because nobody knows how; you simply had to be there.

But while your team’s knowledge of internal affairs can help, it can also be a hindrance. Opinions and approval can be too hard (or too easy) to come by. Team members can also be stuck in your institution’s way of thinking, overlooking alternative approaches that would be obvious to somebody else.

Hiring An Agency for Email Marketing List Management

Hiring an agency for email list management provides you with professional expertise and more calculated decision-making. Agencies do this kind of stuff for a living so they do it a lot and are good at it. They’re not scared of killing some of your sacred cows because they’re sitting outside your company’s walls while making their suggestions.

But agencies aren’t the perfect solution. As mentioned before, they’re not privy to unshared institutional knowledge and they’re not as emotionally invested in the outcome of your email campaigns. This cuts both ways though. And, admittedly, as an agency we are a little biased.

Email List Management Should Be a No-Brainer

At the end of the day, email list management needs to be done by somebody with the time and knowledge to do it. Whether you have somebody in-house who meets that criteria or you’re willing to pay for a professional to take things to the next level, you need to invest in your email campaigns. If not for your company’s sake, for your prospects’.

About the writer
Brian Thackston
Brian Thackston
Brian creates exceptional content and enduring publishing strategies that attract and convert. He is also a Nintendo fanatic who is grooving through law school so that he can fight for the freedom of the web.

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