There are as many ways to manage lists of emails. If your online you are probably using a service of some type. Are you getting the most from your list do you even know what it should be doing for you?
While list management probably ranks up there as one of the most boring topics, running a successful business is about mastering these basic details or outsourcing the detail to experts. In fact, it is the rare business that will be successful without executing on these items. So what do we mean by list management?
The starting point for most people is maintaining a grouping of email addresses (and contact information if you have it) that you can send emails to. Most of the services we have seen do this adequately enough most of the time. But in this day and age, you really should expect more than that (particularly for what some of those services charge!).
So what are the advanced functions that you should be looking to utilize daily in your business? First, you should have the ability to automatically move your contacts from one list to another based on actions your contacts have with your company. If someone purchases a product, they should be unsubscribed from the list trying to sell them that product and automatically subscribed to another list.
This is a powerful technique. The first benefit is you don’t continue to send them messages for something they just purchased. More importantly you can work to sell them the next product. And just as important, you should not require the contact to perform another double optin. They either opted in already or they just purchased from you—they want to hear from you.
A second feature you should look for is the ability to send the same message to multiple lists at the same time AND ensure that a contact receives the message only ONCE even if they are on multiple lists. We have seen lots of services that will not perform this de-duplicate prior to sending and it doesn’t help your image. In fact, it could seriously harm your reputation depending on the expectations of your contacts.
A third powerful feature that most big name companies use is sampling (aka testing). If you have a list of 10,000 names, is it easy to sample send an email to 500 users and track the results (who received, who opened, etc). Sample and split testing large lists before rolling out a large campaign is a key technique in any marketers arsenal (note I didn’t say online). Offline marketing has used sampling to test out different messages since marketing was invented. You need to be able to use the same technique online and easily.
A lot of people will tell you to just blast your list and record the results. By doing this though you could overload your list. Besides, seeing the same message with perceived slight changes (e.g., your subject line), could actually harm you with your contacts. Sampling different messages is a much
better practice and large enterprises spend millions testing before rolling out a full campaign. You should be able to do the same thing!
The last feature you should be looking for is how to take your list offline. While email is great, other forms of communication are potentially more effective. Can your list management software facilitate offline communication such as a print campaign (e.g, postcard, letter, newsletter) or depending on your business personal contact (e.g., phone call or phone survey)?