Is Your Email List Strategy Holding You Back?

Posted by Laura Christensen 

Email is more profitable than ever. Not only does the email channel typically show a high ROI when compared to other direct marketing channels, it also offers marketers a means to directly reach their subscribers. But success is not a guarantee, and largely depends on maintaining a high-quality list of engaged subscribers. Consequently, an email list strategy plays an important role in your overall marketing performance.

To find out the most significant barriers to having an effective an email list strategy, and how to overcome them, Return Path and Ascend2 conducted interviews with over 245 marketing influencers from 69 companies. The research compiled in our Email List Strategy report sheds light on the importance of quality data and how email list quality and size are changing. Consider some of these key findings to shape your email list strategy.

Quality Matters
List quality is a priority for marketers. When asked to identify the most important goals of an email list strategy, the majority of marketers (71 percent) choose improving list quality over list growth (45 percent). Increasing list quality was also selected over increasing engagement metrics such as conversion rates (52 percent), open rates (39 percent) and click-through (35 percent).

The most effective goals of an email list strategy

Key Takeaway: A bigger email list isn’t necessarily better. Mailbox providers will filter or block your mail if you send to invalid, unverified email addresses and experience high bounce rates. Improved data quality leads to better inbox deliverability, subscriber engagement, and conversion. Verification technology such as Real-Time Email Validation can instantly identify and remove invalid email addresses from your subscriber list, reducing undeliverable email by up to 98 percent and improving sender reputation.

The Struggle is Real
Developing a high-quality email list is no easy task. Over half of marketers surveyed indicate that the lack of an effective email list strategy is their greatest barrier to success, while many struggle with subscriber quality and volume.

The most significant barriers to the success of an email list strategy

Key Takeaway: Marketers can utilize a number of different tactics to develop an effective email list. However, there should be a clear overall list strategy behind those efforts. Otherwise, marketers can easily get caught up in the short-term details of execution and fail to meet their overall objectives.

Don’t Believe the Hype
When it comes to achieving a successful email list strategy, not all tactics are created equal. For example, paid search tends to receive a lot of attention, but only 13 percent of marketers consider paid search to be their most effective tactic, and over a third consider it to be the most difficult tactic to execute. Conversely, email-specific landing pages and exclusive subscriber offers were reported as extremely effective relative to level of execution.

How effectiveness compares to difficulty

Key Takeaway: To make the greatest impact, marketers must consider how we can work smarter, not harder. Finding the right balance between tactical effectiveness and difficulty can lead to a more successful email list strategy. Test tactics to determine which are most effective for your program compared to the level of difficulty to execute and adjust your efforts and resources accordingly.

Read the complete Email List Strategy report for more insights. And if email file growth is part of your list strategy, you’ll find effective tips to increase email opt-ins and build an engaged list of high-quality subscribers in our ebook 50+ Ways to Grow Your Email List.

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About Laura Christensen

Laura Christensen is an Email Strategist on Return Path's Professional Services Team with a passion for helping email marketers exceed subscriber expectations. With over 15 years experience in the email industry, Laura has worked with a broad range of clients to provide strategic, data-driven guidance to increase email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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