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Email List Building: 5 Tips to Build an Effective File

January 7, 2013 By Brenna Holmes
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For any marketer, building a successful prospecting list is a top priority. But as you tweak your direct mail list tests, also take a closer look at your organization's email house file to ensure it contains the cleanest data and highest quality potential supporters. Below are some considerations for building a clean and well-engaged email file.

1. Always Enable Subscribers to Opt-in—Always

A good email file growth plan should include both paid and earned subscribers, but be wary of purchasing an email list outright. A better practice is to rent a list from a reputable, ethical company that uses opt-in practices to help avoid poor quality leads and problematic addresses.

Regardless of the source, requiring subscribers to opt-in to receiving messages from your organization helps you stay in the good graces of many email programs. If possible, implement a double opt-in by setting up your welcome email with a link to confirm their interest—a simple second step that verifies the email address on file.

2. Follow Up With an Automated Welcome Series
Once subscribers sign up, don't miss the opportunity to welcome them with a timely, relevant message. Further customizing your emails with triggered and automated content helps further build a relationship with your audience and ensure mindshare. A well-crafted welcome series should acknowledge when and how a subscriber joined the list and expertly guides them up the ladder of engagement with your organization.

Customized messages can come in the form of conditional content that is swapped out based on the subscriber's interests, geographical location and/or previous interactions with your organization. There is no end to the data that can be personalized to make your message relevant to each and every subscriber. This practice is widely used in commercial companies and is starting to catch on with nonprofits.

3. Track Chronic Non-responders
Not only do you need to consciously welcome all your new subscribers, you also need to keep track of the people who opt-in to your email list but are not responsive to any messages you send them—no opens, no clickthroughs, no interaction. For these recipients, create "win-back" messaging to reactivate their interest. Here, too, you should customize content to appeal to the areas of interest that brought them onboard—a particular issue or product, for example. Whenever possible, include "low-bar" activities that are easy for them to engage with, such as taking a pledge, watching a video, sharing a photo album, signing a petition or participating in a contest to help reinvigorate involvement.



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