How to Maintain a Healthy Email List

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

Email marketing is so popular – and for good reason. But if you want an effective email marketing program, it’s of utmost importance to always maintain the integrity of your list. This means keeping your subscribers up-to-date with emails that are helpful (not just promotional) and avoiding things like spamming them.

An email list is one of the most important parts of any business because it’s how people find out about what you do and what you offer them – but if they unsubscribe from your list (or worse, mark all future emails as spam), then they might as well not have signed up at all.

Below are guidelines to help you maintain a great email list to ensure a positive brand experience for your customers. Let’s get started.

What an email list is and why you should have one

What It Is
An email list is simply a collection of emails from users who’ve given consent to be sent emails for marketing purposes. These emails are accrued though various means, such as sign up forms, newsletter requests, and special offers (like free shipping with sign up).

The following are just a few reasons why you should have one:

  • Easily communicate with customers and potential customers
  • Build brand awareness
  • Personal way to reach customers virtually
  • Increase brand trust
  • Increase ROI

Once you’ve got your lists built, it’s important to maintain them properly so that they don’t become null and void as quickly as they were created.

Email example from hims

Tips for maintaining a great email list

Always provide value to your subscribers
This means providing helpful information about your product or services, often at the time they need it most. Some people may not want to hear from you too much, so be sure to ask them how often they want updates and respect that wish if possible.

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.

The law says that you can’t send emails to people who don’t want or have asked not to be contacted by you. It also prohibits all sending any misleading headers, forbids false headers about message origins, and strictly limits what’s allowed in a subject line.

Keep in mind that CAN SPAM laws could apply to your company depending on what type of business you’re running. It’s important that you keep up with these regulations because even the slightest violation can result in hefty fines for companies who are not compliant. Thankfully there are plenty of resources out there which will guide you through this process confidently – assuming your email marketing service provider isn’t already offering complete compliance as an extra service.

Be personal
Let your subscribers know you appreciate their business and make them feel like a valued customer – even if they haven’t yet converted to a full-fledged buyer. Communicate with them in a way that they will appreciate and value over a long period of time.

Give them a reason to trust you
After all, if they don’t know who you are or what you’re about, they won’t understand why it’s worth their while to stay on your email list. This means only sending emails to them that are helpful, and then using their reaction to those emails as feedback on what you should provide in future.

Be honest
Don’t spam your subscribers or send out bulk emails without providing each person with an option to unsubscribe – this isn’t just unethical; it’s also bad for business! It may be tempting to create promotional emails for the purpose of selling, but if subscribers know they can’t opt out, this could be a deal breaker.

Be consistent
Keep in regular contact with your subscribers and be sure to keep them updated on new products or special offers. Some businesses send an email once a week, while others choose less frequently (e.g. monthly or quarterly). Again, this is up to you and will depend on how often your potential customers are likely to shop at your store.

Common mistakes people make with their email lists

Unhealthy email lists are often characterized by spam, low reaction rates, and unsubscribes. It can cost a company money because they have to pay an email marketing service provider every time they send out a promotional message. If you want to avoid all of these issues, consider avoiding the following:

Trying to be too general with the content about their products/services
One mistake people often make when setting up their email lists is trying to be too general with the content about their products or services. This can confuse customers and in the event that they are in an industry where their products are all similar, it can make you look like a spammer. Instead, take some time to figure out what your competitors are doing and stand out by providing different information than what they provide to their customers.

Targeting everyone at once rather than segmenting based on people’s interests
Customers who have shown interest in your products or services are more likely to want receiving promotional emails, but if you send them information about things they may not be interested in as well, they might start marking your messages as spam and unsubscribing from your list.

An email example from Ordinary Habit

One way to segment an email list is by gathering information about what your subscribers care about. You want to send the appropriate content that they’re interested in seeing and give them the opportunity to opt-in or out of emails that are not useful to them. This will help you avoid sending promotional messages only and also helps your subscribers feel like they’re actually getting something in return for being on your list.

Segmenting your email lists can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it. If you put the effort, you won’t have to worry about spam complaints and unsubscribes because you’ll have a list that’s already interested in the information you’re providing them.

Emailing out promotional messages only (without any value)
Another common mistake people make is to start their email list out with only promotional messages. This can be a good technique for gradually introducing people to your business, but if you don’t also provide helpful information or links that will answer questions that they may have, then your subscribers may unsubscribe from your list.

Sending spam emails
Spamming is a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act and it’s also just generally annoying and unprofessional. If you want customers to trust you and view you as a trusted brand – stick with sending emails that are helpful and relevant rather than sending one every week about something irrelevant just to fill space in their inbox. If you’re unsure about how or what to send, just wait and ask your subscribers first.

Leaving it up to users to unsubscribe themselves
It’s also important for you to provide an easy way to unsubscribe from your list or be at risk of breaking the law. You can do this by providing your subscribers one or two options in each email that gives them the chance to unsubscribe.


If you’re sending emails to the wrong people, the content is not helpful or relevant enough, you send too often, or if your company isn’t compliant with CAN SPAM laws, you’ve got room for improvement. The good news is that there’s a lot of resources out there for companies who want help setting up and maintaining their email lists in a way that makes sense for both them and their customers. If you need any assistance at all don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team will work with you to develop an effective strategy so when it comes time to send your next promotional message, your subscribers will open it right away because they know what they’ll get from reading through one of your messages. You can also check out these five tips to create emails that drive revenue.

Which common mistake do you most often see marketers making?


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