Email marketing is an essential ingredient to the delicious dish that is digital marketing.

With a collection of names and email addresses of past, present, and potential/future customers (A Christmas Carol, anyone?), email marketing keeps you in the hearts and minds of these people. This constant presence can help breed loyalty and encourage repeat business by previous customers. For your leads, it can help shorten the sales cycle and turn a ‘maybe’ into a sale.

But, any savvy marketer isn’t satisfied with just having a list. Effective email marketing requires constant analysis, maintenance, tweaking, and growth of said list.

Now, a lot of people look at the calendar, see the holidays approaching, and decide to dial back or completely abandon their marketing efforts for the season. Don’t be one of those bums. Instead, I say now is the perfect time to take the time to build a healthy, active, and current email list. With a little bit of time and effort now, you’ll be ahead of the curve and ready to go all-guns-blazing once the madness of the holidays subsides.

Besides, I’m always on the lookout for a great pun so if you work on your list while dressed as Santa Claus, that could be fun, right?

Maybe not.

Maintaining Your List

Having a smaller, more engaged list is much more valuable than having a gigantic database of emails of people who don’t care about you. So, before you start worrying about bringing in all manner of new names, make sure your current list is as strong as can be.

Do a deep dive

Once you’ve collected the results from previous campaigns, don’t just move on with your life. Actually look at the numbers. By looking at your open rates, you can see exactly who is opening your emails and, more importantly who isn’t. If a large number of your current contacts have gone months without opening a single one of your emails, it may be time to cut your loses.

These individuals have either moved on, lost interest or taken their business elsewhere and don’t have the wherewithal to take themselves off your list. At this point, your marketing efforts are falling on deaf ears and you could be spending your energy elsewhere, namely, generating content for people who actually want it.

Keeping your list clean will give you a more accurate representation of the open rate of each of your campaigns. Working with a pool of people you know who have shown recent interest, you can focus your attention on increasing open rates with better subject lines and your click-through’s by working on call to action (CTAs).

Not all email services, however, are created equally. When it comes to maintaining an email list, it pays to have a tool with the functionality of Constant Contact. With Constant Contact, you can add tags to individuals within a list making this exercise much, much easier.

Clean up bounces

After every single email you send, it is imperative that you check your bounces. Bounces aren’t just folks who aren’t opening – they aren’t getting your emails at all!

Emails get flagged as bounces when they hit an auto-responder (like when someone is on vacation), don’t exist, or are suspended. After every campaign, take a few minutes to look through your bounces. Ones that hit an auto-responder are fine, they’ll be back eventually. If one marked as non-existent is that way because of a typo, fix it. Otherwise, you should always remove emails that don’t exist or are suspended.

Why is it so important remove bounces? Email accounts take bounce rates into account when flagging emails for spam. If you continually send out email newsletters that have 100+ bounces month after month, your emails are going to start getting dinged as spam and go straight into the spam folder, never to be seen again.

Growing Your List

Now that your current list is in good shape, it’s time to start growing. The best kind of email growth is organic. Artificial growth (i.e. buying a list of random names) is never, ever a good idea. These leads carry no value because they likely don’t know you, don’t care, or don’t want your product. Sending a random person marketing material is a good way to get flagged as spam.

Thankfully, there are plenty of organic ways to find leads and grow your list with people who will be interested and care about what you have to say. Here’s just a few ways to get you started.

Create downloads

Exchanging a free resource for an email is one of the oldest, and most effective, methods in the book for generating leads. A whitepaper, guide, resource, quiz, survey, video, or even podcast filled with valuable information about a relevant topic is a great way to tempt someone interested in your product or service – even more so if all it requires is to surrender their email address. It’s a win/win, really. They get valuable information and you get an email that you can plug into your regular email newsletter list or add to an auto-responder campaign.

So what makes a good download? Well, if you are an expert in your industry (and you are, right?) it should be pretty easy to put together. Additionally, if you’ve been publishing blog posts on a consistent basis, round up blogs on a related topic and format them into a guide or collection.

Network, Network, Network

There no better ways to make new connections than by hitting up a local networking event with a stack of business cards and a big smile. Meet some fellow business owners and professionals in your community, form connections, and get some business cards. Who knows, you may run into someone who is looking for exactly what you have to offer.

Even if that doesn’t turn out to be the case, you’ll still have a nice new collection of emails to add to your list. And, since you’ve met them face to face, they likely won’t mind seeing an email from you appear in their inbox.

Social Media

Social media isn’t just for memes. For years now, social media has emerged as one of the most effective advertising platforms out there because of the quality of content it is able to generate and the high level of geographic and psychographic segmentation it is able to achieve when designating an audience.

Social media ads are capable of meeting several needs namely; bringing traffic to a web page, increasing likes on your page, and generating leads. Yep, you can create an ad on social media directly or indirectly seeking emails by promoting your downloads or just directly promoting your email newsletter sign up.

And that’s just the beginning. There are many more ways to expand your reach with email.

Download the 50 Ways to Grow Your Email List whitepaper