Tips to make sure your mailing list grows

It’s no secret, building a mailing list for your website or business is a great and easy way to bring return visitors back to your site.

People like what you do, or what you write about, but they may not remember to come back to your site. Offering a mailing list is a simple solution and can be incredibly powerful with all of the available tools out there today.

Double opt-in. Always.

I see this all the time as a user of the internet. I buy stuff online all the time. Sometimes because it’s cheaper than in stores. Sometimes because it’s more convenient to have something shipped to my home than to pick it up.

I go to a site I’ve never been to before, I buy a thing, and suddenly I’m a mailing list. I never checked a box, I never gave you permission to email me. So why am I getting your marketing newsletters?

It’s because you think it’s ok to email me just because I’ve bought from your online store. News flash, it isn’t. Unless I give you permission to email me, any sort of marketing email is — legally — considered spam.

You should always use double opt-in when letting people subscribe. This is a mechanism wherein the person subscribing gets sent an email and then has to click on a link within that email before they’re subscribed.

This serves two-fold:

  1. It makes sure the person entering their email to subscribe didn’t type it wrong. Or worse, someone’s maliciously signing someone else up for your list.
  2. It forces you to be honest in sending your emails out. This way you’re ultra sure anyone getting your email wants to get it.

Many providers, such as Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Mad Mimi, and Constant Contact strongly suggest you use double opt-in, while many of them require it.

It's illegal to email someone who didn't subscribe

According to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, it’s illegal to send unsolicited emails to anyone, no matter their source material.

Each email you send can carry fines up to $11,000.

This also includes any “subscriber” list you may buy or procure:

“Harvest” email addresses from websites or web services that have published a notice prohibiting the transfer of email addresses for the purpose of sending email
Generate email addresses using a “dictionary attack” – combining names, letters, or numbers into multiple permutations
Use scripts or other automated ways to register for multiple email or user accounts to send commercial email
Relay emails through a computer or network without permission – for example, by taking advantage of open relays or open proxies without authorization.

Snippet from CAN-SPAM Act

It may seem like an easy win to buy a subscriber list from an online source to help build your business quickly. But you could get into a lot of trouble — both financially and criminally — in doing so.

Check your bouncebacks

Sending email to undeliverable addresses can not only hurt your reputation, but it can cause issues with whoever your provider is, even if you’re sending the emails yourself.

Checking your bouncebacks should be done weekly, or however often you’re sending your email blasts out.

If you send on Monday, check your bouncebacks 48 hours later, once emails have a chance to fully bounceback.

Then, spend some time removing those people from your mailing list.

If you repeatedly send email to people who aren’t getting your emails, your mailing list provider might flag your account as suspicious.

In addition to looking at bouncebacks, you should also be looking at your open rate, delivery rate, and click-through rate. If your numbers are low, you’re doing something wrong with the content of your emails.

Don't muddy the waters, only send information pertinent to what the user subscribed to

Once you build a list, it’s important to keep people subscribed to it. Seeing someone unsubscribe is heartbreaking, so do everything you can to keep them entertained.

As tempting as it may be, once you build your list, try to stay on the topic of what people subscribed for. If your list is about web development (for example), don’t send out email newsletters talking about puppies. (That’s a bad example, who doesn’t like puppies?!)

Staying on the topic will ensure your subscribers want to stay subscribed and don’t leave because you’re talking to them about something they don’t care about anymore.

Cover photo by Artem Bali

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