Brands put tons of effort into generating leads and growing their audiences. However, many email marketers exclusively focus on seeing their subscriber count grow and forget all about the maintenance a healthy email list requires.

We’re here to help you get the most out of your email marketing strategy with excellent email list management. If you aren’t already familiar, it’s more straightforward than it sounds. Email list management is managing, organizing, and optimizing your subscribers to keep your list engaged, lean, and in great shape over time.

Keep reading to discover what actions to take for great email list management as well as the biggest advantages it can offer your business.

Before we begin, here’s a list of our 11 email list management best practices for your reference:

  • Use a top notch email marketing software
  • Be transparent when subscribers opt in
  • Set up a double opt in process
  • Embrace tagging and segmentation
  • Put together a welcome series for new subscribers
  • Send personalized email content
  • Clean up your subscriber list regularly
  • Create re-engagement campaigns
  • Let subscribers manage their preferences
  • Don’t make unsubscribing complicated
  • Encourage subscribers to get in touch with you

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

Why manage your email list?

Many people think of email list management as a chore, but it’s a highly effective way to get the most out of your email marketing budget and build a high-quality subscriber list that will drive your business growth over time. Here are a few of the biggest benefits:

  • Reducing costs: Many email marketing platforms (other than Flodesk, of course) price their plans according to how many subscribers you have on your list, so maintaining a healthy email list will make sure you’re only paying for contacts who are engaged with your business.
  • Benefiting from higher levels of engagement: Better engagement means more enjoyable, interactive relationships with your customers and a much lower likelihood of your emails getting filtered as spam. A shocking 15.8% of emails go missing or end up in spam folders.
  • Getting to know your subscribers on a deeper level: When you effectively carry out email list management best practices, you’ll really start to understand your subscribers and their preferences. You’ll know what kind of content excites them and prompts a reaction, what their interests and defining characteristics are, and how often they like to receive emails. This will help you understand how you can optimize your products and services and send out content that better serves your customers.
  • Enjoying more accurate analytics: If you have a largely inactive subscriber list, it’s harder to understand how your emails are really performing. Imagine a recent campaign had just a 10% average open rate, but many of your contacts never look at your emails anyways. You’ll never know if your low performance was due to general disengagement or something specific you did that missed the mark.

11 effective email list management best practices

There are many actions you can take to keep your email list healthy, but here are the 11 best practices we think are most impactful.

1. Use a top-notch email marketing software

Choosing an excellent email marketing software is one of the best things you can do to seamlessly manage your subscribers. High-quality platforms like Flodesk have built-in features that make it easy to keep your email list in tip-top shape and ensure your marketing efforts are as successful as possible.

Here’s how Flodesk helps with list management:

  • An intuitive sign up form and landing page builder to help with lead generation
  • Great email deliverability rates
  • Email marketing templates designed for welcome and re-engagement campaigns
  • Comprehensive reports & analytics to zero-in on metrics like bounce rates, unsubscribes & opens by device
  • Segments and tags to organize your subscribers and send personalized content
  • The ability to set up powerful email marketing automations based on customer behavior
  • Lots of educational resources to help you build your subscriber list

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

2. Be transparent when subscribers opt in

Clearly communicate what kind of content people can expect from your email list before they even opt in. That way, they’ll understand exactly what they’re signing up for and make an informed decision about whether they want to do so or not.

Many people hit unsubscribe because they get emails that aren’t in line with what they were expecting or what’s relevant to them. Avoid that problem by being up-front about your email marketing goals, as shown in the example below.

This opt in form template shows how you can tell your audience what kind of content you’ll be sending out while still encouraging them to opt in: “Join my regular newsletter to learn something new each week about building a sustainable business you’re truly excited about!”

3. Set up a double opt in process

A double opt in process means that potential subscribers will have to complete two steps to successfully join your contact list. 

Usually, your leads will sign up for your email newsletter with a sign up form, landing page, or pop up. If you have a double opt in strategy set up, they’ll receive an email after they submit their information that asks them to confirm their email address and give you explicit permission to add them to your subscriber list. 

While email marketers debate the effectiveness of single vs. double opt ins, one thing’s clear—double opt ins normally result in higher-quality contacts, more engaged email lists, and fewer complaints and unsubscribes.

4. Embrace tagging and segmentation

Tagging and segmenting your subscribers is one of the best ways to consistently send people relevant, personalized email marketing content. 

In case you aren’t already familiar with these terms, let’s dive into some definitions:

Segments: How you split up your entire contact list based on their relationship with your brand. Some common examples include:

  • Leads vs. new customers vs. loyal customers
  • Interest in specific products or services (for example, a fitness studio might have segments for yoga students, pilates students, HIIT students, and so on).
  • How customers opted into your email list (for example, a lead magnet vs. a pop-up form vs. a purchase)

Tags: Get even more specific about customer behavior by adding additional filters to your segments. Flodesk can even automatically tag your subscribers for you. For instance:

  • Engaged vs. unengaged subscribers
  • Subscribers whose actions (like clicking on button links) show specific interests 
  • Subscribers who opened your last email vs. subscribers who didn’t

5. Put together a welcome series for new subscribers

Welcome series are a group of emails that companies send out to new subscribers as soon as they opt into their email marketing list. They’re a great way to start your relationship with new contacts on the right foot and set the stage for high engagement.

Sending a welcome email is also a great way to show gratitude to your subscribers. People receive countless marketing emails daily, so it means something that they opted in to receiving your content.

Follow these best practices to send out fantastic welcome campaigns:

  • Embrace automation: When someone opts into your email list, they’ll expect to receive a welcome email right away. Make sure you automate your welcome series so your subscribers receive your messages exactly when they should.
  • Make your welcome email design consistent with your company branding: Your email marketing content is an extension of your brand experience, so keep your logo, fonts, imagery, design style, color palette, and tone of voice consistent with the rest of your online presence.
  • Send a welcome gift: Many companies offer subscribers something in exchange for joining their email list. Some popular choices include discount codes, freebies, and downloadable resources.

Check out our comprehensive article on developing excellent welcome emails for more detailed guidance.

6. Send personalized email content

A little email personalization goes a long way. Sending out personalized messages doesn’t just make your customers feel like you’re designing your content especially for them, it also means you’re sending out emails that are useful and relevant to people.

For example, the Canadian boutique Ad hoc sends subscribers emails with curated content based on their browsing history. Whoever received the email pictured above was looking at the dresses on their website, so it’s likely they found the targeted content they received informative and helpful.

Here are some other dynamic ways to personalize email content:

  • Refer to your subscribers by name
  • Send out messages based on milestones like birthdays and customer anniversaries
  • Trigger other kinds of browsing history-based emails like abandoned carts and cross-sales
  • Set up different email marketing segments based on customer interests and preferences

7. Clean up your subscriber list regularly

Just like everything in life, subscriber lists need a deep clean every once in a while. Here are a few actions you should make a habit of to keep your email list in great shape over time:

  • Send out targeted emails to unegaged subscribers to pique their interest again
  • Ask subscribers to update their email preferences to make sure they’re receiving content they enjoy
  • Remove emails that have documented hard bounces as they are likely invalid or inactive
  • Prompt contacts who never open your emails to unsubscribe or remove them altogether

8. Create re-engagement campaigns

Brands send out re-engagement campaigns to reactivate disengaged subscribers and remind them of everything their business has to offer. They’re great for boosting sales, but they’re equally good list management tools.

Re engagement campaigns make sure that the subscribers on your email list are as engaged as possible. It’s 5x more expensive to generate new leads than re-engage existing customers, so don’t let any of your contacts fall through the cracks and do your best to keep them interested in your business.

Londre Bodywear is a Vancouver-based sustainable swimwear company and they send out simple, effective re-engagement emails like the one pictured above when a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a while.

If you want to put together your own re-engagement series, we have a comprehensive article dedicated to just that.

9. Let subscribers manage their preferences

One of the best things you can do to keep your subscribers happy and your email list healthy is letting your contacts manage their own preferences. That means asking them what kind of content they want to receive and how often they want to get emails as soon as they opt in. 

Many brands let new leads set specific email preferences on their sign-up form or opt-in page, like in the Flodesk example above.

If you already have a subscriber list and haven’t asked for their preferences yet, not to worry. There are a couple ways to do so:

  • Include a section at the bottom of all your emails where subscribers can adjust their preferences at any time
  • Target inactive or disengaged contacts with specific messages to prompt them to change their email preferences
  • Send out an email to all your contacts asking them to update their email preferences

10. Don’t make unsubscribing complicated

To maintain a healthy email list, sometimes you have to know when to let subscribers go. You might have to prompt inactive contacts to unsubscribe at the end of a re-engagement campaign, and occasionally you’ll need to remove highly disengaged subscribers yourself.

While no one likes losing subscribers, it’s essential to maintain a lean email list that will help drive your business forward.

Make it easy for your contacts to opt out of your email list so you don’t increase their frustration or worsen your brand reputation. It’s also necessary to let people easily unsubscribe from receiving your email marketing content to stay compliant with data privacy regulations like the GDPR.

You can also use unsubscribes to gather valuable feedback about your email marketing content. As people opt out, quickly ask them why they no longer want to receive your emails and take note of their feedback to inform your future strategy.

11. Encourage subscribers to get in touch with you

Last but not least, use your email signature to open the door for conversation with your customers. If you make your subscribers feel comfortable reaching out to you, you’ll build a rapport with them over time and they’ll be much more likely to get in touch if they have any problems with your email content or feedback to share with you.

Check out how Cause We Can Events concluded one of their emails above. They’ve:

  • Enriched brand experience with their friendly, approachable tone
  • Cross-promoted their Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest social media pages
  • Made it clear they want subscribers to get in touch with them via email

Get unlimited email sends & subscribers with Flodesk

We’ll never increase pricing because your email list is growing

Common email list management mistakes

  • Not consistently sending emails: Email lists need to be nurtured, so make sure you send out a steady stream of content. Sending out the odd newsletter every so often won’t be enough to engage your audience.
  • Sending too many emails: On the flip side, too many emails is one of the biggest reasons why people unsubscribe from email marketing content. Don’t send out more than one email per day except in very special circumstances, like during the holiday season.
  • A lack of content diversity: Exclusively sending out promotional and sales-focused emails comes across as spammy and can negatively affect your business’s reputation. Put together different kinds of emails that add value, like educational newsletters.
  • Mistakenly prioritizing subscriber count: Having a large audience is great, but not essential. An engaged email list is much more valuable than a huge email list. 
  • Not asking subscribers for their details: While you don’t want to ask contacts for too much information, collecting data like their names, birthdays, and interests can help you send highly personalized content that will resonate with them.

Your subscribers deserve good email list management

All in all, maintaining a healthy email list is all about prioritizing your subscribers’ needs⁠—be transparent, follow consent best practices, send personalized content that resonates with them, do everything you can to boost their engagement, and let them adjust their preferences and opt out if need be.

Choosing a top-of-the-line email marketing software like Flodesk can do all that and more, so why not give our 30-day free trial a try?

FAQs about email list management best practices

1. How should I manage my email list?

There are many best practices you should implement to make sure your email list stays healthy over time. Follow these 11 steps and you’ll have an engaged, high-quality group of subscribers on your hands:

  1. Use a top notch email marketing software – try Flodesk for free!
  2. Be transparent when subscribers opt in
  3. Set up a double opt in process
  4. Embrace tagging and segmentation
  5. Put together a welcome series for new subscribers
  6. Send personalized email content
  7. Clean up your subscriber list regularly
  8. Create re-engagement campaigns
  9. Let subscribers manage their preferences
  10. Don’t make unsubscribing complicated
  11. Encourage subscribers to get in touch with you

2. What are the best practices for email list building?

There are many things you can do to build your email list, whether you’re starting from scratch or already have a base to work with. Take these 11 steps and see the impact they can have on your subscriber count:

  1. Decide on the focus of your email list
  2. Nail down your target audience and tone of voice
  3. Import any existing contacts (and make sure they opt in!)
  4. Make an eye-catching opt-in form
  5. Add a tasteful pop-up form to your website
  6. Promote your email list on social media channels
  7. Relate blog post CTAs to your email list
  8. Ask customers to opt into your email list during the checkout process
  9. Offer leads something valuable in exchange for opting in
  10. Consider referral programs
  11. Run a webinar

If you’d like more information about building your subscriber list, give our article How to Build an Email List: 11 Swift Steps to Find Subscribers a read.

3. What is a good email list size?

Defining a good email list size is difficult, because it depends on factors like industry and subscriber engagement. An email list with 2000 highly engaged subscribers can be a lot more fruitful than an email list with 20,000 subscribers who never open emails or click on their contents.

As a general rule, you’ll need an email list of at least 1000 subscribers to start analyzing their behavior and diving into analytics.

The size of your email list can also tell you how many emails you should send out. If you have less than 1000 subscribers, don’t send more than an email per week. On the other hand, companies with over 10,000 subscribers can get away with daily emails.