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Back to basics: email list growth tips for publishing and media marketers


Most email marketers struggle to keep up a steady stream of email content to engage their customers and keep them reading. Publishers and media marketers don’t have this problem as content is their currency. But you have your own obstacles to overcome:

  • List growth
  • Dynamic content/personalisation
  • List maintenance
  • Analytics
  • Segmentation
  • Content automation

As we go back to email basics, I’ve put together some steps to guide you through the email list growth process.

Before you start improving, know where you want to go

There are a number of different metrics you can use to measure the performance of your campaigns. You need to decide what your aim is and what you want your recipients to do as a result of receiving your email. Without a clear sense of direction, you won’t know if you’ve succeeded. For example:

  1. Are your emails information based? In this case you would be looking at the open rate
  2. Do you want recipients to click through and view content on your website? Then you would need to be looking at click through rate
  3. Do you want to increase subscription renewals? Look at the conversion rate

Being clear about what you want to achieve will make it easier to formulate your objectives. Make sure they are smart, specific, relevant, time bound and measurable.

How big should your database be?

One of the major pain points of publishing and media marketers is growing their database. But what is a good number?

Typically you need to add around 25% to 30 % to your list a year to stay ahead of the dreaded list churn. If you want to actually grow your database, you need to add at least 30% new recipients to your database every year.

Evaluating the current process

Before you start to grow your database you should review how recipients currently sign up to view your communication. Identify the following:

  • The process recipients have to go through
  • How easy is this process?
  • How long do they have to wait till they receive their first communication?
  • What is the first communication?
  • How many different ways can they sign up to receive your emails?
  • Is their experience all the same?
  • Is your welcome message tailored depending on the recipient?

Best practices to improve the process and grow your database

Only after understanding the process, you’re ready to start making some changes and improve it. Try these tips that have worked for our clients again and again.

  • Look to maximise opportunities to sign up. Don’t hide away the sign up box at the bottom of your homepage; place it in a prominent position!
  • You want to make it as easy as possible to sign up. Do you need to know everything about the contact at this stage? It’s much more valuable to have the recipient’s name and email address first, and gather additional information at a later stage such as during your welcome program
  • Ensure the recipient is aware of what’s in it for them. They know that you are going to get their data as a result of signing up but what do they gain in return? Make the benefits clear.
  • Make sure you only add contacts that have positively opted in to your communications and give them the opportunity to opt out if they wish to. This ensures you have the right people on your list: the ones that are actually interested in your brand and will engage more as a result.
  • Keep them engaged! Create a series of welcome emails so you are providing content about your brand or product when you recipient is most engaged.

If you want to find out more about how to turn other pain points into key opportunities for growth, watch our webinar dedicated to publishing and media marketers.


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