A guide to Email Marketing: Part 4 – Maintaining Your Email Subscriber Lists

Email Marketing - Maintaining subscriber lists

Maintaining Subscriber Lists

We have already mentioned the value of a subscriber, so when you attract a new opted-in member to your list you should do all that you can to make them feel welcome and to make sure they are getting content that is relevant to them, so let’s take a look at some things to consider for maintaining subscriber lists.

Auto-responder series

Auto-responder emails are a series of emails that are sent automatically to new subscribers, these are triggered when someone signs-up to your list.

You need to decide what you want to send to subscribers and set up the emails to go at the intervals you decide.

The fatBuzz auto-responder series is set up as follows:

Auto-responder email No 1 – One day after sign-up

A welcome email is sent with a thank you message and brief description about what to expect in the future.  We also include some information to remind the subscriber to ‘white list’ the email so that they get all future emails.  We also specifically mention Google Tabs and the need to drag the email from their inbox list to the ‘Primary’ tab, this will automatically ‘white list’ future emails.  In many cases, simply asking the subscriber to reply to the email will automatically ‘white list’ future emails.

Auto-responder email No 2 – Two days after the initial email

We send a second email with a link to some premium content – at the moment this is a link to a Video Marketing presentation on Prezi.  We explain it’s a simple thank you for joining the list.

Auto-responder email No 3 – One Week after the second email

We send a final email in the auto-responder series with some other useful links – these are currently to the New Media Breakfast website, the Social Media Podcast, and our Case Study page on the website.

You can have as many emails as you wish in the auto-responder series, and you can select the intervals between them.  We use three in total, after that subscribers receive the same mailings as the rest of the list.

The benefit of the auto-responder series is that you are demonstrating to new subscribers that you care about them, and you’re explaining what they expect to receive from you in the future.

However, another useful outcome is that people who have subscribed just to enter a competition, or have mistaken what they are going to receive in the future will more than likely unsubscribe at some point during the auto-responder series.  After all, you don’t really want people on the list that are not genuinely interested in your brand.


Unsubscribes will happen and you shouldn’t get hung up about this.  People change their mind, lose interest, change email address, or change email providers, there’s any number of reasons for unsubscribes.  However, it is better for you, and for the reporting, if your list is not cluttered with people who are not interested in your brand.

Segmented Lists

We’ve already mentioned segmented lists, make sure you are segmenting subscribers so that they’re not receiving emails that are not relevant.  If you have a bricks and mortar retail outlet and an ecommerce store selling globally, you may want to segment the list so that you’ve got subscribers who live locally and those who live further afield.  This way you can send local offers and promotions for activities in the shop without annoying people who live abroad and can’t take advantage of these offers.

Multiple Mailing Lists

In certain circumstances you may decide that segmented emails are not the best solution and that a completely separate list is a better solution.  If this is the case, you need to set-up different sign-up forms and a new auto-responder series for each separate list.  You will always have the option to combine mailing lists at any stage in the future if the circumstance change.

Keep an eye on the bounce rate

The reporting function will provide details of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ bounces; a hard bounce is an undeliverable email, these will be marked as ‘Cleaned’ and removed from future mailings, a soft bounce can occur if the email is temporarily undeliverable, perhaps because a server is down, the ESP will continue to try to deliver these for a number of days.

NOTE: If there is a sudden increase in the bounce rate it could be an indication that your IP address has been blacklisted.  However, if you operate within the rules and guidelines of your ESP you should avoid this happening to you.

The next post, in a couple of day’s time, will look at Improving Your Email Marketing ROI. Please watch out for it, or ‘Follow’ me on LinkedIn by selecting the ‘Follow’ option when you hover over the ‘Connect’ button on my profile.

Meantime, if you have found this post interesting, please use the social share buttons on this page to share it with your online community, there’s a good chance that others in your community will find it interesting too.  Thank you. 

 Previous posts:

Author: Gordon White