Does your sales team praise you for the phenomenal MQLs you send them?

Do the leads in your list close at a rate you’re happy with?

If you manage email lists the way a lot of companies do - sending mass, untargeted emails to an unsegmented list, or failing to nurture your lead before passing them on to sales - the answer is probably ‘no’ to both questions.

Without proper email list management practices, it's hard to get to yes.

The very first step to a well-managed email list is good data.

Want to see how good yours is? Request a free data quality check.

It’s not too late to manage your email list properly

Cost of acquisition is rising and most marketing channels are saturated and complicated by algorithms.

Email marketing, especially if you already have a list, is an affordable channel with great ROI, especially compared to channels like PPC or paid social.

The only thing is that you need to manage your list well.

Take Vetrotech, a manufacturing company.

They had just over 80k contacts in their email list.

But they couldn’t do personalized email marketing with a single data point. The data was just bad. It was either $FNAME or no name, and no segmentation. Imagine having a list of that size that you can’t do anything with.

Personalized email generates 6x higher transaction rates. They knew that, but with all the data points in the list, it would’ve taken their team 4,200 hours to clean the list ($75.6k in labor). If those numbers make your cortisol levels spike, you aren’t the only one.

Instead of doing it in-house, they outsourced the cleaning to tye and managed to improve 84% of the data for email marketing. 

You don’t need to start from scratch to manage a list that’s already huge. You can make the most of what you have. 

This guide is the email list management of large, seemingly unmanageable lists.

If you manage your email list right (with a clean, personalized and segmented list), you can expect $51 back for every $1 you spend. Do you know of any other marketing channel with that kind of ROI?

Most companies don’t hit that figure, regardless of the size of their lists. This is mostly due to bad data and a poorly managed list. 

This guide will help you:

  • Get a clean list that’s ready for personalized email marketing.
  • Segment customers from non-customers.
  • Know when to nurture a lead with more email marketing & when to send them to sales
  • Maintain pristine email list hygiene. 
  • Skyrocket revenue from email marketing. Give reports that make investors and your fellow C-levels happy.

According to a study by the DMA, it’s segmented, personalized, and targeted emails that generate 58% of all email revenue. 

If you have a huge, unorganized list, don’t worry. We’ll make it easy for you.

Quick Navigation

The structure of this email list management guide

This guide is not one you need to read front to back.

It’s divided into sections to make it easy to refer to and go back when you need guidance and more details.

Be sure to bookmark this page. This guide is a living document and we’ll keep updating it with email list management best practices and how-tos.

In order to start, you’ll need to set some goals for your email list. 

What are you currently using your email list for?

How would you like to use it?

It could be to:

  • Increase engagement in your emails

  • Generate more revenue from email marketing

  • Get more affiliates to promote your product and brand

  • Book more demos for your product

  • Get more free trial signups for your product/service

As we move through each section, we’ll list the tools that we recommend to manage large email lists. Our goal is to make things easy: the tools we recommend integrate with the most common marketing stacks.

This is a long guide, so feel free to scan and jump to the sections that interest you. 

The complete how-to email list management guide for busy leaders with large email lists

Click to Tweet

How to segment your audience

What is audience segmentation?

Let’s look at the basics:

Audience segmentation is dividing your audience into smaller groups. Based on certain traits, such as their demographics, behavior, and preferences.

Note: this is different from lead segmentation. We discuss lead segmentation in later sections in this guide. 

unsegmented audience properly organized into groups based on their similar attributes, important for email list management

Why is audience segmentation important in email list management?

Audience segmentation means your audience gets a message that’s relevant to them. 

It helps you avoid mediocrity in your email marketing campaign. 

According to marketing guru Seth Godin, in an interview on on his book, This Is Marketing: "we worry about disappointing, missing, offending, or otherwise leaving behind someone who might become our customer. So we become mediocre instead.”

Audience segmentation is crucial because it helps you

  • Know your audience and how you can help them
  • Send them messages that fits with where they are in the buyer’s cycle
  • Speed up your sales cycle
  • Use better data in email and outbound marketing

Let’s take a look at how this is done:

How to segment your audience

You can segment your audience based on criteria like:

  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Online behavior
  • Basket size
  • Use cases
  • Interests
  • Purchasing power
  • Their mindset about your product and how they interact with you
  • Seasonal segmentation
  • Etc.

You can also start with customer segmentation in your CRM. Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system has a goldmine of data; you just need to leverage it right. 

Then follow these steps

  • Choose how you’ll want to segment your audience from the list above. 
  • Create a customer avatar for each group
  • Create specific messages for each group

For example, a pet shop owner, (let’s call him Joe) can segment his target audience into different groups based on their mindset about his product. 

One prospect may have a couple of puppies they want to train. Another might have an older cat. With this kind of segmentation, Joe can better target his audience.

Knowing this, his content and emails will be more relevant to the people receiving them. If I have a puppy, why would I want content about old cats? 

Alternatively, if you try to target everyone, you’re targeting no one. You’ll send your whole list content about puppies and old cats, and most people won’t care.

If all you have a large list of email addresses but no names, gender, location, then segmenting your list will be hard. Data enrichment is the answer. Data enrichment services take the data you have and add more to it. They can fill out the information until you have a whole person, not just an email.

Don't miss our post on how to choose the right data enrichment services according to your email list. 

Note: there is no hard and fast rule on how you should segment your audience. The idea is to try different segments to see which meets your goals and continually improve them.

Get our free ultimate checklist, workflow and email sequence swipe file bundle to manage large email lists for maximum ROI

What you need to know about behavioral email marketing 

In behavioral email marketing, you gather information and segment your list based on the way your audience has behaved on your website, with your social media content, and with previous emails. 

This allows you to shape a campaign specific to them, and their position in their buyer’s journey. You can send emails to your contacts at the right time, with messaging and offers you know will appeal to them. There’s so much data you can capture if you have your tools set up correctly. 

Check out our guide to behavioral email marketing: what it is, how you can use it, and examples you can put into practice.

Email list hygiene and email list cleaning

The first step in email list management is data scrubbing—cleaning your email list. 

Email list cleaning, especially a large list, can be overwhelming.

It takes our customers an average of 3 minutes to clean 1 data point. 

That means 500 hours of labor for a list with 10,000 contacts. Yikes.

According to a Prospectify study, 4.5 percent of emails decay after 28 days. At this rate, your email list starts getting crowded with outdated data that increases bounce rates and hurts your sender reputation.

A large email list isn’t valuable if it isn’t clean and up-to-date.

table showing the rate of decay of a new email list. Cleaning data is an important part of email list management

What is email list cleaning?

Also called email scrubbing, email list pruning, email cleaning, or data scrubbing. Email list cleaning involves the removal of invalid or unengaged contacts from your email list. 

Email list cleaning is tedious and time-consuming. Often, it involves removing large segments of contacts.

Hubspot removed over 250,000 emails from its database, reducing its customer database by over 50%. It sounds crazy, but we all know Hubspot is more awesome than crazy.

Their logic is solid.

It's better to have a few hundred subscribers who engage with you and convert to buying customers, than hundreds of thousands of leads that do nothing. Or at worst mark your email as spam.

Related post: The Email List Cleaning Best Practices and Services

Why Hubspot removed a quarter of a million emails from their list

They wanted to:

  • Send more personalized emails
  • Reduce bounce rate
  • Increase deliverability
  • Reduce the cost of sending out email campaigns
  • Make the most of their email marketing budget
  • Increase overall email marketing ROI

So how do you clean your email list?

Email list hygiene best practices

To segment your audience and personalize marketing, you’ll need a clean list. Here’s how you can do it manually:

  • Delete or merge duplicate email addresses
  • Fix or delete email addresses with typos (the major causes of hard bounce)
  • Fix first and last name typos and anomalies
  • Update email addresses in your database to eliminate abandoned emails 
  • Remove role accounts like info@ and support@ etc.
  • Re-engage unengaged contacts to improve email performance. 

We wrote a detailed guide on email list hygiene if you want more in-depth information on this.

How often should you clean your email list?

Data becomes old fast. Cleaning your list monthly would be ideal, but you can start with a few times a year. Our guide on data cleansing for email marketing covers how to get started step-by-step.

We recommend cleaning your email whenever you experience a spike in your bounce and unsubscribe rate. Click here to skip down to our bounce rates section.  

Regularly cleaning your data is the key to preventing email providers like Mailchimp from considering too many of your contacts as ‘unsafe’ or ‘undeliverable’.

If that happens, Mailchimp will not let you send any more marketing emails until your contact list is clean again. This is also known as the Omnivore warning on Mailchimp.

If this is the issue you're currently facing, we wrote about how to fix the omnivore warning on Mailchimp.    

It won’t take long to clean a list with 100 subscribers. But if you have several thousand and don’t want to spend hundreds of employee hours doing it, you can use a tool to automate it.

Tools for cleaning your email list

tye is a data cleaning tool that removes the hard work from email list cleaning.

In only a few clicks, it cleans your list right in your CRM, email marketing platform or excel sheet.

It also enriches and populates your data and fills in the blanks. Not only will automating this step relieve literally 100s of hours from your staff’s burden, but you’ll have a clean list back within a fraction of the time.

When your list is clean, you’ll need a way to figure out which leads can move on to sales and which need more nurturing.  

You can also check out our guide to choosing a data quality tool based on your business and needs.

Check out the difference between data enrichment vs data cleansing.  They are both important processes to keeping your data clean and getting the most out of your database. 

How to build a lead scoring model

Most marketing campaigns deliver garbage leads. 

That’s the unfortunate truth. 

Downloading an ebook doesn’t mean that someone is ready to buy or is even a lead yet. Watching a webinar doesn’t mean they want a call from your rep at dinner time. A strong lead scoring model helps you send quality MQLs to your sales team.

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical values to each lead generated for your business. These values add up to reflect their readiness and probability they’ll buy from you. Their relative readiness place them at different stages in your funnel

Lead scoring helps you to understand the stage each lead is in your sales funnel. Leads with higher scores are farther in the buying process and are ready to be sent to your sales team.

Lead scoring best practices

The goal of email list management is to increase the conversion of leads to customers through more personalized and targeted messaging. But not all leads are equal. 

Lead scoring will help you decide which lead to give more attention to, which to send to your sales team and which to classify as zombie leads. Zombie leads are leads that will never buy from you.

Properly scored leads makes happy sales reps. It’s what makes the difference between a 215-day sales cycle and a 45-day one. It’s what makes demo calls worth the while.

A well laid out lead scoring model will help you organize and prioritize leads. Based on how much they might (or are likely to) spend, how quickly, how likely they are to close.

Pay close attention to who you need to remove from your list (very low score), who has potential but needs to be nurtured longer, and who can be passed on.

different leads with different lead scores in a bar chart. Effective email list management involves a smart lead scoring model

How do you score your leads? 

Here’s how you can build a lead scoring model into your systems:

Building a lead scoring model

You can score your leads based on any of the following models.

  • Demographics (age, gender, job, gender, and location)

  • Firmographics (job title, company size, company value, and purchasing power)

  • Online behavior (engagement with your email campaign, website pages, digital asset/ downloadables, and social media)

  • Spam detection (how they respond to and fill out your signup forms)

Your next action steps are:

  • Decide on a scoring model to use

  • Give numerical values to each model

  • Create a lead score benchmark

  • Start grading each lead that comes into your funnel

  • Keep adjusting your models based on new data

Related Post: 26 Elements to Include In Your Lead Scoring Model

Data on your previous customers and their attributes can help you choose which model to use. We recommend you use a combination of different models to make your scoring more accurate.

For example, Joe might decide to go with demographics and online behavior for his lead scoring. 

He’ll give 5 points to every lead that lives in the town his store is located, +5 points for leads that are employed, +5 for married leads. Then another 3 points for those that engage with his email campaign regularly. 

lead scoring model for effective email list management

This scoring adds up for each lead. 

A pricing page has a higher score than downloading an ebook because it shows commercial intent. Use your analytics to figure out where your current customers came from and work backwards to assign score values.

Check out our detailed guide on how to manage sales leads.

Lead scoring metrics

Your customer history will tell you the attributes your buying customers have. Naturally, these attributes will have high scores because they led to sales.

Joe might discover that his previous clients checked out his pricing page before buying, and give 20 points to such leads.

Just as leads gain more points for new attributes they acquire, they lose the equivalent score for any attribute they lose. How does a lead lose points?

In Joe’s lead scoring model, a lead who moved to another city would lose 5 points.

customer avatars with different lead scores. Lead scoring helps to manage leads in your email list

To qualify a lead as an MQL, a lead score benchmark is set.

Any lead that gets to or exceeds the benchmark is immediately tagged as “marketing qualified” and assigned to your sales team.

For example, from data on previous customers, Joe and his team might decide that 75 is the benchmark. So, Joe tags all leads that score 75 and above as MQLs. And ship them off to his sales team. 

a lead with a lead score of 75 on the lead scoring meter. This lead might be ready for the sales team.

Tools for lead scoring

Your CRM can help you score your leads automatically based on your configuration. These are the best CRMs for maintaining a good lead scoring system:

Once a lead is qualified for sales, how do you manage it?

We created the ultimate email list management bundle for busy marketing leaders with large lists

  • Email deliverability checklist
  • Lead management workflow
  • Email cleaning checklist to make the most of your list
  • A welcome email swipe file to engage your list from the start
  • And more

Sales lead management

This is where your marketing qualified leads are converted to paying customers for your business in a predictable manner.

What is sales lead management

Sales lead management is everything you do to move your leads down the funnel - toward becoming customers.

How to manage sales leads

If effective email list management helps you get more qualified leads, sales lead management ensures you convert them to customers. 

Some leads are self-closing, some need some nurturing while others will never buy from you. Lead management places your leads in the different categories they fit in and exactly what to do to convert them, warm them up, or let them go.

[lead management flow chart. Comprising the lead capture, tracking, scoring, distribution, and nurturing stages

How to manage sales leads

Keep close communication between sales and marketing. If your sales team can tell you which kinds of leads are closing, you can score them more accurately.

  • Know your buyers 
  • Integrate your CRM and marketing automation tools to be aligned with one another.
  • Synergize with your sales team. This is where CRMs come into play. Leads can cool off as fast as they warm up, once a lead is qualified and ready, it’s time for the sale.
  • Segment your leads (more on segmentation in the next section)
  • Nurture your leads. Not all leads close easily
  • Attribute your leads to their sources
  • Do proper lead scoring
  • Track and improve everything, keep iterating your labeling process

Best sales lead management tools

The best tools for lead management are CRMs optimized for sales are the following:


Use lead segmentation in email list management

You can manage your leads directly in your email list.

According to an Experian study, personalized emails have 29% higher unique open rates, and 41% higher unique click-through more rates than non-personalized emails. 

Part of this is having their first names, job titles and the right data in the right field. But it’s also combined with tagging them and understanding where they came into your funnel from.

What is lead segmentation?

Lead segmentation is the process of splitting your leads into different groups based on the information provided by them, their behavior, or preferences. 

an arrow pointing from a pile of scattered leads to a set of segmented leads. A product of effective email list managemen

Don’t confuse this with audience segmentation. Splitting your leads (acquired contacts) into sub-lists is lead segmentation. When you do this on your target audience (not necessarily leads yet) it's audience segmentation.

Why is lead segmentation important for email list management?

Lead segmentation is understanding your customer’s pain points and delivering something that’s relevant to them. 

If you don’t segment, that means you’re sending the same email to all of your leads. At the very best, you have to limit your content to the lowest common denominator. At the worst, you’ve annoyed or confused your subscribers.

Lead segmentation helps you send emails to customers who will be delighted to read them and take the needed action. 

That is delighting your customers, at the same time avoiding being marked as spam.

You most likely have different use cases and more than one buyer persona. You definitely have people at different stages of the sales funnel. 

How to segment lead effectively

It may feel overwhelming to segment a massive list. There are so many ways to segment. Start by picking one.

You can segment leads based on

  • Demographics

  • Online behavior

  • Basket size

  • Use case

For example, at tye, we segment based on use cases. 

We came to realize that our customers are very diverse, but can be grouped in 4 segments.

Our single product serves 4 different use cases:

  • I want to do personalized email marketing.

  • I want to migrate to a new CRM/ERP system.

  • I want to merge many customer lists into one master list.

  • I want this data chaos cleaned up.

So we place all leads in our email lists into these 4 different segments. From there, we could look at each segment and divide by company size or online behavior. But we’ll focus on use case, which already makes a huge difference in the way we communicate to them.

If you don’t have multiple use cases, online behavior is a great way to segment them. You can track this using Google Analytics goals from when they land on your website to getting onto your email list.

If you were Joe in our last example, you can tag a lead that downloaded a guide to washing your dog bathing as a “serious dog owner”, or a lead that just bought from his store as “past customer”.

different lead segments based on their online and purchase behaviors. Lead segmentation is an important part of email list management

Tailoring your messages to online behavior is common in ecommerce. You’ve surely received emails from Amazon reminding you to refill on a bottle of shampoo or recommending you products you may like based on prior purchases. 

Tools for Lead Segmentation

The extent to which you can segment your leads depends on how much information you have on them. The more information you collect from your opt-in forms, the more specific you can make your segments. 

Most email marketing providers like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign have systems for tagging leads that integrate with Google Analytics.

How to clean an email list to reduce your bounce rate

According to a Return Path report, 21% of emails never make it to the recipients’ inboxes. No matter how personalized your emails are, or how segmented your email list is, not all emails will get to their destination. This is called a bounced email.

A high bounce rate is a symptom of bad data, and the higher your bounce rate gets, the worse your IP reputation becomes. We’ll discuss IP reputation (and how to improve it) in another section below.

Related Post: How to Reduce Your Email Bounce Rate to Below 1%

What’s the difference between a hard and soft email bounce?

There are two types of bounces:

  • Hard bounce and 
  • Soft bounce.
MailChimp analytics report on the number of hard, soft, and total bounces. Proper email list management reduces your bounce rate

Hard bounces are permanent and are a result of non-existing email addresses. Soft bounces are temporary and a result of server downtime, poor sender reputation, or a full inbox.

Note: a bounced email isn’t same as sending your email to the spam folder, bounced emails don’t get to your subscribers at all.

It’s already unfortunate that your bounced emails never get seen. To add insult to injury, more bounced emails hurt your domain health and makes any future emails more likely to go to spam.

Why bounce rate is important

Your bounce rate is directly tied to your sender reputation and email deliverability.

Email inbox providers (like Gmail) assign reputations to different domains to try to protect their users from spam. The worse they think your reputation is, the more likely your emails go to spam. It’s a vicious cycle. 

You can check your IP reputation on websites like Talos or Watchguard’s IP lookup page.

So the more emails bounce, the lower your score goes, generally speaking. There are plenty of other factors involved in how they judge your reputation, but bounce rate is one of them. The only way to reduce bounce rate is to keep your list clean.

Also, a high bounce rate means you have the wrong email addresses. Maybe they’re spelled wrong or have a letter off, but it means potential customers never get your email.

How is email bounce rate calculated? 

Your email bounce rate is your hard bounce divided by the total email sent times 100.

bounce rate calculation for email list management

How to clean an email list to reduce bounce rate

We mentioned the only way to reduce your bounce rate is to keep your list clean. That’s the best way, but here are a few other things you can do to mediate that rate:

  • Clean up your email as often as possible (check out our step-by-step guide to pristine email hygiene)
  • Clean an old email before using it in your marketing campaign (an email list inactive for at least 6 months is considered old )
  • Remove all hard bounces as they occur
  • Use permission-based lists (double opt-in forms)
  • Authenticate your email address and IP (more on that in the section on email deliverability)
  • Verify the email address on your list. You don’t have to do this manually. There are email verification tools that help youo this.
  • Keep close tabs on your deliverability reports.
  • Make sure your email doesn’t look like spam (the section on sending bulk emails discusses this)
  • Let your subscribers choose what they want to read about.
  • Use your own domain rather than providers like Gmail or Hotmail

What’s a good email bounce rate?

If your bounce rate is less than 2% you’re good. If it’s above this benchmark, your sender reputation might suffer. 

Email deliverability best practices

A bounced email means it never even got to the inbox, but sometimes people don’t receive your email because it goes straight to spam.

There are a few things you can do to increase deliverability as a fundamental part of your email list management.

The complete how-to email list management guide for busy leaders with large email lists

Click to Tweet
bounce email

What is email deliverability?

Email deliverability is your ability to successfully deliver emails to your subscribers’ inboxes.

Your sender reputation controls your email deliverability. We discussed this briefly above, but basically sender reputation is determined by your bounce rate, abuse reports, IP issues, and unsubscription rates.
email deliverability flow chart for email list management

Gmail, Yahoo, and other mailbox providers use your reputation to decide if your email is good for their users. You may not even be aware of some practices you’re doing that hurt your reputation. Things like forgetting to authenticate your domain or checking for spammy content hurt this metric.

Email deliverability is less about punchy copy and good graphics than it is about technical aspects of your domains and best practices. 

Email deliverability best practices 

  • Check for blacklisting. Platforms like Spamhaus supply Gmail and other mailbox providers spam information. Check these platforms to ensure you’re not blacklisted. 
  • Handle IP issues. Invest in a dedicated IP instead of sharing one IP with multiple domains. Sender reputation is judged by IP, not domain. This means the reputation of other domains in your IP will rub off on you.
  • Authenticate your domains using Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC). This helps improve your sender reputation and reduce your bounce rate.
  • Use email marketing platforms that can provide you with an accurate report on your deliverability.
  • Make it super easy for people to unsubscribe. This study by Jeff Bullas showed that 50% of email users mark a brand email as spam because they can’t find a way to unsubscribe.
  • Let your recipients manage their preferences.
  • Don’t use a third-party email list. Grow your list organically.
  • Be transparent with what you intend to be sending your subscribers and the frequency of your messages

 Check out our post on 13 email deliverability best practices to consistently keep deliverability over 95%.

Download our 16-point checklist to avoid email deliverability issues

Best email deliverability tool

Fixing your sender reputation usually starts with an email deliverability test. There are a number of email deliverability tools to make work easy for you. 

Here are our picks:

Tracking performance: data and email marketing metrics

There are various metrics you can track, and it depends on your goals and who you need to report to (and what their goals are). There are vanity metrics that mean nothing, brand metrics that aren’t directly attributable and performance (revenue) metrics.

Just because you can’t always attribute revenue to brand metrics doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Track the metrics that are most aligned with the goals of your email list.

Vanity metrics, like number of subscribers, are usually empty of value. In Vetrotech’s example at the start of this post, they had over 80k subscribers, but they might as well have had 0 with the state of their list. 

So if your goal is to build a loyal audience, opens rates and CTR (and replies!) are a good metric. If your goal is revenue, you can set up Google Analytics to track email-driven revenue and conversions.

Why tracking (the right) email marketing metrics is important

According to this 2018 survey conducted by Rakuten Marketing, marketers say that they waste 26% of their budget on marketing. 

Tracking the right metrics helps you discover what’s working, what needs to be changed, and what needs to be removed all together. It's a data-driven approach to marketing and it's essential to your email marketing success.

For example, Joe and his team might notice that emails with pictures of dogs generate more sales, while emails with the story of an adopted dog gets replies and shares on social. Which is better? It depends on Joe’s goals. Both can be good.

Tracking a ton of email marketing metrics is like watching a baseball, basketball, and football game at the same time. You’ll end up overwhelmed, and not enjoy any of the games.

Here are 4 metrics that are essential for your email marketing success.

The email marketing metrics you should track

industry averages for different email marketing metrics: delivery, open, click and conversion rate industry averages
  • Overall ROI: How much (in sales) you make for every dollar spent on email marketing.
  • Conversion rate: How many people took action on the CTA they clicked. For example, how many filled a form or made a purchase from your email.
  • Email click-through rate (CTR): How many people who opened your email clicked a link or followed a CTA on your email.
  • Open rate: What percentage of the emails sent were opened. This is an important metric because it shows how effective your email copy is.

Other email marketing metrics include the unsubscribe rate, your list growth rate, the email reshare rate. 

Don't miss our beginner's guide for data-driven marketing.

Email marketing tools to track your email marketing metrics

You can’t effectively track your email marketing metrics on data silos.

Your email marketing platform, CRM, and web analytics must be integrated into one whole system. 

Here are our top-pick email marketing tools

How to build and manage a profitable customer database

You need accurate data to make the best business decisions. Poor customer database management can come in the way of this.

What is customer database management

Customer database management is collecting, organizing, and safely storing your customer information. For the purpose of marketing and improving your products and services. 

Why effective customer database management is important

Cyber attacks can ruin your reputation, customers’ trust, and lead to loss in customer data.

One successful cyber-attack can cripple your reputation and lead to a lot of wastage in damages.

For example, between 2014 and 2015, Yahoo suffered two major data breaches that exposed over 500 million customer data points. 

Uber, Armour, and eBay also lost their customers’ data to hackers due to poor customer data management.

But data breaches are not exclusive for the big guys like Yahoo and Uber. 

According to a study by IBM, small and medium-sized companies on average lose $120,000 per data breach. 

You want these instead:

  • Increased sales, 
  • Better conversion for your marketing campaigns, 
  • Stronger relationships with your customers, 
  • Increased customer retention and higher ROI.

Below is how you can effectively manage your customer data and keep your email list pristine.

How to manage customer data

  • Collect only the data you’ll need. This is the data you can easily organize and store.
  • Clean up data always to make them fresh.
  • Avoid data silos by centralizing your customer data across different departments.
  • Invest in data backup services.
  • Comply with necessary data legislations like GDPR.
  • Collect data ethically.
  • Take security seriously.
  • Invest in a CRM that takes security seriously.
  • Constantly update your customer data.
  • Customers value privacy and transparency. To build trust, ensure to tell your customers exactly what you’re using their data for and how you’re storing their data.
  • Train your team on how to handle customer data to promote your company goals.

Best tools for customer database management

A CRM will help you collect and organize your customer data effectively. Therefore removing the hard and guesswork from customer data management.

Our top-pick CRMs for customer database management: 

Now you have all you need to turn your email list to a source of hot MQLs for your sales team. And revenue for your business. 

Following good email list management best practices helps ensure you do this in a repeatable and consistent manner.

Email list management best practices

These email list management best practices will help you and your team build a system that will yield predictable results on a consistent basis.

  • Lead segmentation: all leads are not the same. Separate them into smaller focus and target sublists. This can be based on their demographics, preferences, behavior, and position in your sales funnel
  • Email list cleaning: poor data can get in the way of great relationships. Remove dormant contacts from your list, fix typos, and eliminate invalid email addresses. Always keep an evergreen email list.
  • Marketing automation and Integration: email list cleaning, email marketing, and CRM tools shouldn’t work in isolation. Integrate all your tools, so there is no gap between sales and marketing.
  • Always use organic email lists: don’t buy third-party lists. 
  • Build your sender reputation: follow email deliverability best practices to ensure your emails get to your readers.
  • Start to build a strong relationship from your welcome email: Welcome emails have an 82.2% open rate. This is an amazing opportunity to start building a great relationship with your leads.
  • Re-engage dormant leads: Send enticing offers and high-value content to inactive contacts to reactivate and re-engage some of them.
  • A/B testing (always be testing): test different lead scoring models and lead segmentation criteria. Always be modifying with new data on your customer that your team gets.

How to send bulk emails without spamming

If you send more than 500 emails in 24 hours, there are a couple extra practices you need to put in place to avoid the spam box.

Every day, about 455 billion spam emails try to reach the world’s inboxes. Gmail, Yahoo, and other email providers are always on the lookout for improved ways to stop messages like these.

If you try to send bulk emails to more than 500 people at time, you’ll most likely get blacklisted. You need to warm up your domain and use tools that spread out how often you’re sending the emails.

On your email list

  • Don’t send bulk emails to a bought list
  • Clean your email list before sending bulk messages
  • Keep your list warm and engaged consistently
  • Don’t send too many emails in one week

On your email platform

  • Format your email header correctly- a good start is to add precedence: bulk to your email header. This signifies to email service providers that you intend to send emails to multiple contacts at the same time.
  • Use a dedicated IP address to send bulk emails
  • Set up an SPF-record and DKIM for your domain.

You can edit your email header from your email messaging server. You’ll usually find this in the mailing list settings page.

Here’s an example for mDaemon:

screenshot of mdaemon mail list settings page with a field for adding the precedence bulk header value when sending bulk emails

On your email copy

  • Avoid spammy words in your email, like cheap, free, or discount.

  • Avoid links in your email subject line
  • Avoid shortened URLs in your emails
  • Avoid caps, exclamation marks, and hidden texts
  • Include a plain text version for your email
  • Use familiar names and email address
  • Always include a visible unsubscribe link in your email

It all depends on how you’re sending bulk emails, where you got the list from, and what your goals are. You may need multiple dedicated IPs if you’re sending more than 50k emails a month, otherwise a shared IP will be fine.

It's a little more complicated than this (but not too complicated!), so we wrote out a more detailed piece on how to send bulk emails without spamming.

Manage all your contacts on a single list

Having one master list is essential for your email marketing success. 

Maintain one master email list for all your contacts. Leads or customers, it’s easier and cheaper to manage them all in one well-segmented list.

Keeping one contact list:

  • Eliminates risk of duplicate emails
  • Saves email budget - you’re not wasting marketing funds in storing and warming up duplicate emails
  • Reduces time wasted in maintaining different lists that may contain the same contacts.
  • Keeps your sender reputation healthy

For example, Joe, the pet store guy, will have one master list for all his customer emails. 

He’ll divide it into multiple segments for dog owners, cat owners, cat & dog lovers, new customers, recent customers, single leads, married leads, and more. 

The very first step to a well-managed email list is good data.

Want to see how good yours is? Request a free data quality check.

We created the ultimate email list management bundle for marketing leaders with large lists

  • Email deliverability checklist
  • Lead management workflow
  • Email cleaning checklist to make the most of your list
  • A welcome email swipe file to engage your list from the start
  • And more
Insert Thrive Leads Shortcode
Markus Beck

Markus Beck - November 1, 2020

CEO with a passion for data relationships. Markus is half Finnish, half Austrian & fully committed to helping businesses keep bad data from ruining great relationships. Process Engineer by training, with digital marketing & project management skills from previous jobs.