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How to Build an Effective Email Marketing List

Brought to you by Exclaimer

An existing or potential customer interacting with your business does not necessarily mean they have given permission for you to send them ongoing email communications. However, many businesses often carry out email marketing list building based on implied consent. This is instead of actually getting a customer to explicitly say they are happy to receive marketing emails.

Now this may be the easiest way to collect contacts and grow your email marketing list. However, subscribers should always be obtained with high quality over quantity in mind. It's also important to be mindful of important data regulations such as GDPR and CASL. After all, your marketing strategy will not work if you have customers complain about emails they were not aware they had signed up to receive.

Creating a loyal customer base for your email marketing list

Follow the tips below to create a loyal customer base for your email marketing list and avoid your messages ending up in their spam folders.

Find out who your most loyal relationships are with

Build an email marketing list

When clients start working with you, always acknowledge their support. The power of email marketing gives you the option of tracking specific client behavior to see how engaged a business partner is with you. The more engaged they are, the more they should be treated as your core target audience.

Are they early adopters of your new products and services? Do they actively promote your organization? How else do they interact with your company, e.g. social media?

Knowing this means you can measure the progress of your automated marketing tools and if you are providing the right content.

Reward loyalty

When you know who your loyal customers are, reward their behavior. Implement something like a points system that offers discounts or complimentary services for a certain amount of interaction with your social media profiles or website. You can also reward clients for providing you with referrals, sales leads or encouraging other business to check you out.

Ask for direct feedback

In addition to monitoring customers’ replies/interactions, ask them for their opinion on the products and/or services you offer. You can then customize the promotions and content you offer them. This will inevitably increase customer engagement.

Provide personalized content

Show your customers you care about their needs by personalizing messages. Also, consider sending emails from an address that includes a first and last name. This is data thast can easily be taken from your email marketing list (as long as you've collected it in the first place!) Don’t use a generic one like “[email protected]” or “[email protected]”.

The need for an email marketing list built with customer consent

By not asking for a customer’s consent when trying to build your email marketing list, you risk the following consequences:

Negative brand impact

If you keep bombarding people with email newsletters, what do you think that they will eventually think of you? Just because they signed up for a webinar or used their credit card to buy a pair of trainers, it does not always mean that they want a long-term relationship with your business. This means they should not necessarily appear on your email marketing list.

The more you email them, the more negative the feelings about your brand could be fostered. These will only increase with each subsequent email.

Low email deliverability rates

If your emails don’t get much engagement, there is a possibility that it will lower your email deliverability rates and reduce your conversion rates. ISPs use a lack of engagement to judge whether or not your email is classed as spam. So, if you send someone lots of emails that they open, an ISP will know that people want to hear from you.

However, if you keep sending emails that are not opened, this indicates that your emails are considered to be either spam or of low value. This lack of engagement can then cause the ISP to stop delivering your emails to some or all inboxes.

Spam complaints

Some recipients will report email as spam rather than going through the unsubscribe process. They don’t usually consider the ramifications this can have on a business. They simply don’t want to receive any more marketing emails. Reporting an email as spam seems like a quick fix in their eyes.

However, from a digital marketer's perspective, a spam complaint is a serious issue. If you end up with a number of recipients labeling your emails as spam, you could end up getting ‘blacklisted’ by ISPs. This means you will no longer be in a position to send out email communications. Think of how this may impact your brand awareness and lead generation goals.

Breaking the law

In light of regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL), the need to obtain consent from your subscribers has never been more important. Legally, you now need to obtain informed consent to store any user contact information.

This means you can only email people if they have either specifically consented or are an existing customer that has been given a clear way to opt-out. You need to ensure that you have both of these options in place, or you risk severe legal action being levied against your company.

Questions to ask before launching your campaign

Email marketing checklist

So you're absolutely sure you have consent to contact your subscribers. You believe that no one will be unhappy to receive email communications from your company. You've built a fantastic email creative; the data in your email marketing list has been segmented, and you're ready to start your campaign

However, before you send anything, make sure you ask the following questions:

Is your subject line responsive?

Test your subject line on a variety of devices, email clients, and browsers. This is so you are sure that the subject line does not get cut off in various preview screens. Make the first few words the most powerful in order to drive higher clickthrough rates.

For example, if you are running a special offer or a holiday promotion, make sure that recipients understand this from the very beginning.

Have you considered a personal subject line?

According to a New Yes Lifecycle Marketing report, personalized subject lines boost open rates by 50%. That’s a substantial increase. However, do keep in mind that if you’ve used first names in your subject lines before, they won’t be as effective a second time.

Analyze your data within your email marketing list carefully and look at other information to populate your subject line with. Examples could be a customer’s last purchase or the geographical region they are based in.

Have you proofread your content?

We all make spelling mistakes from time to time. It seems that the most common words that people misspell are:

  • necessary
  • cooperation
  • acknowledgement
  • accomodate

Make sure that you use your spell checker and, if in doubt, get a colleague to proof your copy for spelling/grammatical mistakes. A fresh pair of eyes can be very helpful when looking at your copy. This is especially true if you have been working on it for a long time as it becomes easy to miss mistakes.

Do all the weblinks work?

Test all the links in your message to make sure that they are clickable and lead to the correct landing page. Doing this manually is often the best option. However, you can also use tools like Litmus to automatically test every link for you. This can be very helpful if you are on a tight schedule.

Have you tested your email content?

A good habit to get in to is using multivariate testing (A/B or A/X testing) to a small portion of your email marketing list before sending it to everyone. Some things to test are frequency, call-to-action (placement, design, color, etc.), and sender name (sending from the company vs sending from an individual).

Are you sending the email at the right time?

Even if you haven’t done a frequency test, it is always wise to look through past data from your email marketing list and discover which times your customers are most active.

For example, if you are sending to an international audience, segment your email marketing list so that they go out at the optimal times for those regions. Customize your send time in all instances to maximize your ROI.


So, what’s the answer when it comes to building an email marketing list that is considered healthy and compliant? Ensure you always have their consent, make your intentions clear in any email, and give them the option to opt-out of any marketing. It really is that simple.

Treat the person you are sending the email to like a human being, not an anonymous email address. You will get far fewer complaints about your emails and will be able to tailor your communications accordingly. This will then make your marketing efforts much more effective in helping you grow your business and maintain a healthy email marketing list that will provide far greater ROI.

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