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Email Marketing List Maintenance Best Practices

Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson

Email marketing is most effective when based on an up-to-date and accurate email list. These best practices will ensure your email list is up to the task.

  • Your email list is the foundation of your email marketing campaigns, containing the email addresses for all your subscribers.
  • You must regularly update your email list to optimize your email marketing campaigns’ effectiveness.
  • Purchasing email lists rather than building them organically can have disappointing results.
  • This article is for small business owners who want to build and update email lists for their email marketing campaigns.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know you need an email list. Email marketing allows you to develop a relationship with your customers and bring in more sales for your company. But building an email list is not enough on its own. You also need a way to manage and optimize your email list. This process is known as email list management.

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What is email list management?

Email list management is how you organize your business’s email subscribers. It’s the process of validating email addresses, getting rid of dead ones, and otherwise maintaining a healthy list.

When you regularly manage your email list, you ensure it’s up to date and accurate. This allows you to deliver more value to your email subscribers.

Why is email list management important?

A strong email marketing strategy hinges on an active and engaged subscriber base. People sign up for your emails for different reasons, and many of them will lose interest at some point.

A certain percentage of people will eventually unsubscribe. Others won’t unsubscribe; they’ll just stop opening your emails altogether. Worse, your emails might go to their spam folders, which hurts your campaigns’ deliverability and, eventually, your sender reputation.

Email list management is the core of your email marketing strategy. By maintaining an engaged list of subscribers, you can create content and offers that speak directly to your audience.

Key takeaway: Email list management is critical because it ensures your audience is as active and engaged as possible with your email marketing campaigns. A bad list equals an unsuccessful email marketing campaign.

Best practices for managing your email list

You’ve invested a lot of time and money into growing your email list, so you want to manage it well. Here are four best practices for managing your list.

1. Use the double opt-in method.

Before your customers can begin receiving your emails, they have to subscribe. There is some debate over whether you should require them to do a single or double opt-in for this.

If all you require is a single opt-in, they can begin receiving emails from you as soon as they subscribe. With a double opt-in, they have to confirm that they signed up for your email list.

It can be tempting to go with a single opt-in because it allows you to grow your email list faster, and you never have to worry about losing those subscribers left in limbo. However, you could end up with a bunch of fake or spam email addresses. A double opt-in ensures that you have an engaged email list, since the people who signed up have shown they really want to be there.

2. Set up a welcome sequence.

What happens when a new email subscriber joins your list? Hopefully, that person goes into your welcome sequence.

A welcome sequence is an automated funnel that new subscribers receive right after signing up. It’s an opportunity for them to get to know you and start building a relationship with your business.

When a new subscriber joins your email list, they are excited and engaged with your business. But if they don’t hear from you for weeks, they’ll quickly lose interest and move on. So, a welcome sequence helps you build trust and engagement with your audience.

Here are a few tips for creating a welcome sequence:

  • Use a conversational tone in your emails.
  • Ask a question and invite your subscribers to respond to the email.
  • Share one of your best pieces of content – a really helpful blog post, guide or video.
  • Don’t space the emails too far apart; send them every day or every other day, depending on how long the sequence is.

3. Segment your subscribers.

Companies that personalize their emails have open rates 11% higher than those that send generic emails to all their subscribers. The best way to deliver targeted emails is segmenting your email subscribers.

Segmentation can feel like a huge undertaking, so if you haven’t been doing this already, it’s best to start small. Start by segmenting your list based on demographics like age, gender and income level. Those factors alone can tell you a lot about your subscribers’ interests.

You can also segment your subscribers based on whether they are already a customer. You can segment your current customers even further based on their past purchases or total amount spent.

4. Remove inactive subscribers from your list.

The final step in maintaining a healthy email list is to remove unengaged subscribers. It may seem counterintuitive to remove subscribers, but it doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have. What matters is your overall engagement.

Inactive or “dead” subscribers are individuals who haven’t opened a single email from you in the past 90 days. Your email provider should have a way for you to find this information quickly.

Once you’ve identified your inactive subscribers, tag them and send them one last email allowing them to stay on your list. Here is an example: 

Hi, [name]! 

I noticed it’s been a while since you’ve opened one of my emails. I only want to send emails to people who are getting a ton of value out of them. So, I plan to remove everyone on my list who isn’t engaged, and my records show that that’s you.

If you want to be removed, there’s no action needed on your part. But if you’re hoping to stay on my list, just click on the link below. 

[insert link] 

This email allows you to reengage some of your inactive subscribers. At the same time, you’re getting rid of the people who don’t want to hear from you anymore.

Key takeaway: Maintaining your email list includes engaging new subscribers and ends with removing inactive subscribers.

Email marketing software that can help manage your list

A critical component of successful email marketing campaigns is targeting the right people. To do this, you need to use proper list management strategies and segmentation tools. This combination ensures you are sending emails to those who want to receive your messages, while also making sure that those who want your emails are getting messages that appeal to them specifically. Here are four email marketing software providers that can help you with both strategies.


ConvertKit is email marketing software you can use to create emails and build landing pages. The software is fairly intuitive to use, and it should integrate with your website, CRM, and accounting software.

It offers a wide variety of useful features, including an autoresponder, form-building capabilities, and the ability to tag subscribers. You can use ConvertKit to track the following analytics:

  • Total subscribers
  • New subscribers
  • Average open rate
  • Average click rate

ConvertKit is best for bloggers and businesses that sell digital products. The only real downside to the software is that its email and newsletter templates are pretty limited. 


HubSpot is a leader in marketing software, and its email management solution is one of the best out there. You can use the software to create and track personalized email campaigns.

The email editor is incredibly comprehensive, with a wide range of templates for various purposes. You can add content blocks like images and buttons and edit the design.

One of HubSpot’s most useful aspects is that it lets you personalize emails based on where your customers are in the client life cycle. You create an email, and HubSpot will adjust details like the subject line to fit that customer.

It also gives you access to extensive analytics about your campaigns. You can track your open rate, unsubscribes and spam reports. HubSpot will show you which subscribers are the most engaged and which links get the most clicks.

The only real downside to HubSpot is the price; it isn’t the most affordable option for small businesses.

Constant Contact

With Constant Contact, you can manage your email list, set up a website, and monitor your ad campaigns all in one location. The software is incredibly functional and offers many advanced email marketing features.

Constant Contact offers hundreds of email templates, with many editing options available. You can customize the fonts and brand colors for each email by entering your website URL.

You can also add contact blocks, videos and social sharing options. The software’s drag-and-drop tools make it easy to design each email exactly the way you want it.

If you switch to Constant Contact from another email service provider, you can automatically import your contacts. You can also use the software to grow your list, create signup forms and access advanced reports.

The software is relatively intuitive, so it’s a great option even if you don’t consider yourself particularly tech savvy. However, the company doesn’t provide 24/7 customer support, which could be a downside for some people.


Mailchimp is one of the best options for anyone new to email marketing. The software is easy to use but provides plenty of advanced reports that let you take a data-driven approach to email marketing.

When you sign up, Mailchimp walks you step by step through the process of setting up your first email campaign. You can either choose an email template or build your own from scratch. Mailchimp will even spell-check your emails for you when you’re done.

One of the things that makes Mailchimp stand out is its advanced reporting features. The software gives you insights into the results of each email campaign, showing you which ones had the biggest impact on your bottom line.

Mailchimp’s functionality and ease of use make it an excellent option for beginners. However, its customer service options are limited on low-tier plans.

Key takeaway: There are many email marketing platforms out there, so you can find one that works for your needs and budget. ConvertKit, HubSpot, Constant Contact and Mailchimp are some options that can help you manage your email list.

Image Credit: FlamingoImages / Getty Images
Jamie Johnson
Jamie Johnson
Contributing Writer
Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about finance and business. She has also written for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fox Business and Business Insider. Jamie has written about a variety of B2B topics like finance, business funding options and accounting. She also writes about how businesses can grow through effective social media and email marketing strategies.