The Email Savant Series: 8 Tips to Optimize ROI Through Email List Management

Mark Vogel

Written by Mark Vogel

May 9, 2018

Successful email marketing starts with the list. Here are eight tips to help maximize your return-on-investment for your email marketing strategy through best-practice list management:

#1: Don’t Use Third-Party Lists

We’ve all heard this for years, but I still see savvy marketers being lured by the promise of a pot of gold at the end of the List Rental Rainbow. Here are just a few reasons to avoid third-party lists:

#2: Ask for Opt-Ins

Too many sites bury their sign-up forms on the “Contact Us” page. Be overt! Place the form on every page, preferably “above the fold.” Don’t ask for too much info up front – just the basics. Promise that their data is secure and that you never share or rent your lists, and that they can easily unsubscribe at any time. “Pop-up sign-up forms” can work well in certain cases but be certain your webmaster understands Google’s rules regarding “intrusive interstitials.”

#3: Use a Leading ESP

A reputable ESP – or Email Service Provider – is a must. There are hundreds of options, including Listrak (my ESP of choice), MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, GetResponse, Vertical Response, Emma, Campaigner, InfusionSoft, and many more. An experienced email marketing consultant can help recommend the best fit for your company.

#4: Keep It Clean

Since I’ll assume you’re already using a leading ESP, then your email marketing platform will automatically remove bounced and unsubscribed addresses. Monitor your inbox for the “reply-to” email you’re using since some recipients won’t click the “unsubscribe” button but will simply reply “Remove me.” On a regular basis, purge your list of addresses that have taken no action in many sends – maybe after one year or 12 sends, whichever comes first. Before deleting them from the list, try a “Still Want to Hear From Us?” message, with an offer to stay subscribed.

#5: Build Details on Recipients

Too often, an email database of current buyers isn’t updated with purchase details. Today’s technology provides a plethora of information on buying habits of e-commerce customers. What if your company sells offline, such as high-value industrial products through a sales team?
One of my industrial clients sold high-value pumping systems, and many years would go by between purchases. Rather than disappearing from the radar until the time came to replace a pump, they automated an email messaging campaign on maintenance and performance improvement. If Pump A required new lubrication and filters every six months, they automated a series of reminder messages that began exactly five months after delivery for a specific company – and every six months thereafter. The message contained data on their exact model of pump. They included an automatic “cc” to their service team, who would follow-up with phone calls to see if the customer would like to pay them to perform the maintenance – which led to a new revenue stream of hourly fees for service calls.

#6: Preference Centers

An email preference center allows your recipients to change their own subscription details. More than two-thirds of email recipients will unsubscribe because the sender is delivering too many emails. It’s possible that many of them would have remained as a subscriber if they could adjust the volume to a lower number. In addition to email frequency, a preference center allows recipients to select specific products or topics that are of interest.

#7: Offline Acquisition

New opt-ins don’t only need to occur online. Here are some ideas on physically collecting new subscribers:

#8: GDPR, CASL, CAN-SPAM, and other acronyms

If you’re following the general guidelines outlined under CAN-SPAM in the US – no list rentals, easy unsubscribe process, honoring unsubscribes, include a street address in your emails, etc. – then you should be generally safe from penalties. Other countries, however, have far more stringent guidelines regarding email list management.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in the European Union that addresses data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU. It deals with the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data. So, you’re saying “I’m in the US! That doesn’t involve me!” Not so fast. On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation takes effect and impacts companies that retain data, including an email, from any person in the EU. If someone from the EU signs up for your e-newsletter, or makes an online purchase, or attends an international trade show at which you’re participating, then you must follow the GDPR regulations.

Under the terms of GDPR, not only will you need to ensure that personal data is gathered legally and under strict conditions, but you must protect it from misuse and exploitation, as well as to respect the rights of data owners – or face penalties for not doing so. The GDPR states that “smaller offenses could result in fines of up to €10 million.” Larger lists may require that a person is assigned as a “Data Protection Officer” (DPO.)

Other countries also have particularly stringent anti-spam laws. The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and the Australian Anti-Spam Law of 2003 are examples. Fines from the Canadian authorities can go as high as $10 million for businesses per violation.

By following list management best-practices, you’ll see a higher ROI for your email marketing efforts and help ensure your organization is protected from actions by governing authorities.

Mark Vogel is president of Vogel Marketing Solutions LLC and serves as a lead email consultant for Nxtbook Media. He has more than 35 years of experience in the marketing world and has been actively engaged in email campaigns for more than 20 years. His email marketing clients include Fortune 500 companies, e-commerce retailers, non-profits, local businesses, and more. He can be reached at

Related Posts


40+ Awards

Consistently ranked in the top 10 best places to work in PA, and ranked nationally in the Top 101 Best and Brightest Companies.



Nxtbook Media has supported more than 100K projects... and counting.


7.5 Years

Our top clients have been with us for an average of 7.5 years.

Back to Top