Always vs. Never: Tips For Email Marketers


During our 20 years in the business, we’ve gotten every kind of support call imaginable from customers who have gotten themselves into all kinds of tricky email marketing situations.

To help you avoid the same scenarios, I thought I’d put together a list of best practices you should always implement in your email marketing program.  I’m also including some things you should never do. The idea is to help save you time, avoid mistakes and preserve your sender reputation.

One quick note: Since most of our customers are using ListManager, these tips are written with them in mind. If you’re using another solution, things might work a little differently. Just something to keep in mind.

With that said, here we go!

Manage Your Members

Maintaining a healthy member list is key to successful email marketing.

  • Always
    • Make updates to existing members in your list by first exporting your normal members. Then, update the fields in the specific segment(s) you want to pull each member into. When importing the updates, make sure you select the option to update your existing members. This way, if a new member record overlaps with an existing one, critical data will not be overwritten.
    • If you want new members to be included in specific segments, first determine which fields are being used. Then, update those fields before adding them to your member list.  This will ensure that your new members are pulled into the proper segments.
    • Work out of two separate files: one that contains your updates, and the other containing the new members you want to add to your member list. Working with two individual files makes it easier to ensure that member updates and adds are working properly. It also makes it much easier to pinpoint and address any issues that may arise from the import.
  • Never
    • Send to members who have unsubscribed from your list. Best case: you’ll end up in their spam filter. Worst case: they’ll report you for spamming them, which will harm your sender reputation and/or get you blacklisted. Then you won’t be able to send to anyone. It’s just not worth the risk.
    • Delete a member from your list, even if you’re not sending to them anymore. You will lose all history tied to that member, which you may need in the future. So put them in a separate “archive” segment. This will help you avoid sending to them by accident, but you’ll still have access to their history in case you ever need it.
      • If you need to update existing member information, export the selected members, make updates to the exported information, and then re-import the members to your list (in ListManager you can do this via the “Update Existing Members” link).


Segments Are Your Friends

  • Always
    • Create segments for your list. This is key for getting better results from your emails, because you can create more targeted mailings and lifecycle campaigns. These types of mailings are tailored to specific characteristics of each segment, so they have a better chance of resonating with your recipients and getting a response.
    • Remember that in ListManager, segments ONLY include members that have a “Normal” status
  •  Never
    • Delete members in order to update a segment. It’s best to review the information that the segment requires, and update the fields in each member record accordingly.


Content Rules

  • Always
    • Create your content first, then create your mailing. In doing this, you can copy, paste and edit some or all of your content to create a brand new mailing. No need to start from scratch every time!
    • Test before you send! No exceptions. (Check out our recent post on this).


By following these best practices, you’ll get better results from your mailings and protect your sender reputation. What about you? Do you have any tips or best practices that you use to keep your email marketing program running smoothly? Let us know in the comments!

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