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Data management / list growth

Success factors for building a great email list

by Melanie White

Jun 28th 2016


Only 9 percent of email marketers see their list strategy as very successful, while 36 percent admit their email marketing efforts are unsuccessful, according to our new Email List Strategies for Success report that was released today.

What differentiates the two? Knowing your customers and building a good acquisition strategy are the golden keys to success.

How can you become one of those nine-percenters? We’ve got your back on this! We surveyed 50,000 B2C and B2B marketers, asking them about their list strategies and how they evaluated the various tactics used in email marketing.

Best list builders

The top most effective tactics our survey respondents mentioned were, in this order:

  • Email-specific landing pages
  • Content download registrations
  • Email and social media integrations
  • Website access registration

Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said that email specific-landing pages are the best way to achieve email list success.



We have the same advice for B2B and B2C marketers: Set up a speci­fic landing page for each of your lead sources; this is something that many of the top B2B marketers already do. Create a different landing page for email clicks, PPC ads, social media posts, webinar sign-ups and content downloads. This will allow you to compare your different lead-generation tactics. The data you collect will let you understand where each individual customer is in the customer journey.

Areas of disconnect

Our survey also uncovered some contradictions. For example, while 69 percent said that list quality was important for success, only 7 percent identified reducing list attrition as an important goal for a good list strategy. In fact, reducing attrition is a key component of maintaining a quality list.


Another clue that marketers may not have a handle on reducing attrition is that 65 percent told us that their email list sizes are increasing. More subscribers is a good thing, right? That depends.

Neither subscriber growth nor the total number of subscribers is a good metric for your email list. The quality of your subscribers is what’s important. And, not all lead sources provide the same quality of leads. B2B marketers should measure lead quality by the time it takes to convert. B2C marketers should tie acquisition to attrition. A particular source of leads may generate plenty of sign-ups, but the subscribers may not be active, or they may quickly unsubscribe. One good lead is worth more than 1,000 worthless ones.

Facing the barriers

This ties into what survey respondents said were the biggest barriers to a successful email strategy: Lack of an effective strategy altogether (44 percent) and poor email subscriber quality (40 percent).

The best way to think about acquisition is to consider it in the context of the performance of your list. And the quality of your sign-ups is the key to good performance. If your list is poor, you will have a poorly performing email program.

We advise marketers to take a holistic approach to acquisition that’s tied into the entire customer lifecycle. Collect behavioral, browsing and preference data to learn what they’re looking for from your company or brands, and the benefi­ts that they want. Work to understand why consumers sign-up and why they leave, so that you can constantly improve your acquisition process, as well as what you deliver to your subscribers.

With an average of 20 or more commercial emails a day competing for your customers’ attention, your messaging needs to be top notch!

For more insights, including an analysis comparing the most effective tactics with those most difficult to execute, download our Email List Strategies for Success report here.