Are your email lists growing?

We are big fans of building internal e-mail lists, and often recommend this strategy with our clients. Homegrown email lists  trump any bought list of any kind, and we continually see good business opportunities come out of well managed, consistent email newsletter programs.  Even our own, “What’s Working in Marketing” e-newsletter has been a big conduit for new business opportunities.

How are your email lists doing? Are you running a committed and consistent e-newsletter program?

In case you were thinking about scrapping an e-news program  in favor of social media or PPC programs, we say hold on a minute.  A recent MarketingSherpa study showed that opt-in email lists are growing, slowly but surely:

Opt-in lists continue to grow for two-thirds of all email marketers, which includes 11% who describe their list as “growing quickly.” This is great news considering the complaints email users have expressed about the volume of email they receive. Even more surprising is that a mere 3% of organizations report negative growth or subscriber attrition.


This year in particular was challenging for maintaining good email lists with so many layoffs and job changes occurring across the world.  But we’ve seen that it pays to be vigilant with keeping your email list clean and in tip top shape.

If you feel that your list is in need of a good scrubbing, then send out an email to your current list with a request to re-subscribe to your list.  This is perfectly fine to do, and it allows you to identify bad addresses, invites your audience to opt back in which people appreciate, and illuminate what information has changed in the last 6-12 months.


  1. Steven Woods says:

    Interesting data from Sherpa. However, it might be missing a point, which is that a list look like it’s “growing” (new minus unsubscribes), but that does not mean it is actually growing *unless* the people in the database remain actively engaged.

    We’ve seen a large segment of many marketers’ databases be inactive – essentially having “emotionally unsubscribed” even if they don’t actually click the unsubscribe link.

    Worth counting this into the stats to see if your database is really growing or shrinking. Here’s a piece I wrote on the topic earlier:


  2. juliann says:

    Hi Steven,

    Thanks for the comment. You raise a good point about the inactive contacts, that’s very true. I checked out your blog post, and appreciate what you are saying. I think that’s a problem for many companies who maintain large email lists, and the use of landing pages and such are helpful to further track engagement. But if I’m being honest, I’m subscribed to several email newsletters that I rarely pay attention to and am “emotionally unsubscribed” as you say. I do read browse subject lines, and read it if something strikes me. But that’s hardly engaged. So, where does that leave marketing folks who are diligently trying to be consistent with their email communications? It leaves them to figure out the engagement puzzle – how to do it, what tools are available, what content needs to be created that will actually take their push communications to something more of value. Sounds like a good marketing challenge for 2010 now that many are over the hump of social media.

  3. […] marketing today, because it’s something which I’m sure everyone’s involved in. Are your email lists growing? on What’s Working in Marketing suggests that if you feel your email list is getting tired, and are […]

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