Email lists are often neglected by businesses. Instead, they focus only on website traffic or social media followers. But, email lists are like investing in your retirement. Give it attention and over time you will see huge returns. Also, email lists are not plugged and play. I am a marketer at a company that curates and sells gift baskets online. I can’t expect to purchase a list of contacts once and see the benefit of that list for years to come. So, let’s talk about the value of email lists and then discuss how to build and maintain them.


Why Email Lists Are Important


When we talk about email lists here, we’re talking about people who have opted-in to your specific email list. Meaning, people have indicated to you directly that they want to hear from you on a regular basis. This is very different than purchasing a list of contacts you otherwise have no connection to and don’t know who you are. When people tell you they want to hear from you, and you communicate to them in a way that they are interested in, these are your best prospects. In a blog post, Constant Contact shared a few stats to make the point:



So there you have it. It is arguable that you should dedicate more time to email than social media and search. But don’t just take my word for it. Test it for yourself.


How to Build Your Email List


Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that email lists are important, let’s talk about how to build to build your list. Let’s back into it.


First, you need to have a way for people to sign up. This may seem obvious, but it’s shocking how often people don’t include an email signup form on their website. Or it doesn’t stand out. Or it’s not compelling enough. Let me elaborate.


People don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “who can I give my email address to today?” Instead, they generally think the opposite, “how can I avoid giving my email address away?!” But, if you have something of value that someone actively wants, giving away an email address is a small sacrifice, in fact, you can actually make someone want to give you their email address. Crazy, right? So, you have to make it compelling.


How do you do that?


Your Call to Action (CTA) has to pique their interest. And the CTA button has to stand out and make them want to take action. What can make them want to take action? You need to offer them something they want.


This could be a downloadable resource like a white-paper if you are a business. Maybe you have a notable case study that people can learn from. Maybe you offer early access to a beta release. If you’re a retail company, your newsletters can offer discounts only available to subscribers. The options are many.


How to Maintain Your List


Email lists have a natural attrition or decay rate. This varies depending on your industry. But you can expect that people will change their email address, some people will opt out for various reasons, others will simply stop opening the emails or they’ll get archived without being read. That being the case, you need to continually promote your email list and gain new subscribers just to stay even.


But, you don’t want to stay even. You want to grow your list, get more people to open them, click through, and convert with the actions you want.


To grow your list you need to continue to offer new and more resources, calls to action, value-ads that make people stop and think and click.


Offer some things on your website “ungated” or not requiring an email address. But other things you should require an email address to access. And for those who are on your email list, appreciate them. Show them through exclusive offerings how grateful you are for them. Pay attention to them, otherwise they might leave for greener pastures.


Patrick Ahrendt, Sr. Director of Marketing, Wine Country Gift Baskets

Patrick Ahrendt is Senior Director of Marketing at Wine Country Gift Baskets.  After graduating from Rutgers University Business School, he worked in data-driven marketing at several growth oriented companies before joining Wine Country Gift Baskets in 2000.

Published by Kimberly Smith