You’ve just added 100 new names to your list. You’re pumped! Your list is growing and you have plans to turn those new contacts into loyal customers.

Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter, but this influx of contacts might not be as fruitful as you expect.

Wait, what? Isn’t email a great way to generate new leads?

Yes, it is, but too many marketers focus on quantity over quality. In other words, marketers work to fill the sales pipeline full of new leads, focusing more on the number of leads rather than the quality of them.

It’s better to add 20 engaged subscribers to your email address list than it is to add 100 unengaged subscribers. Put even simpler: a quality email address list = engaged subscribers.

A growing number of marketers see the value of a quality list. Campaign Monitor conducted a survey with 245 marketing influencers and found 66% of small businesses see ‘increased email list quality’ as their top priority. Here’s how the priorities stack up:

Email Address List Quality – Priority Stats

To help marketers focus on a quality email address list, we’ll go over why engaged subscribers are better than a lot of subscribers, tips to build a quality list, and metrics that do and don’t measure engagement

Why engaged subscribers are best

Engaged customers are more valuable than you might think. Here’s why focusing on an email address list that’s full of engaged subscribers is beneficial:

Engaged subscribers buy more

Research shows engaged customers are more loyal to a brand, and as a result, will spend 66% more than average customers, according to Accenture.

Engaged subscribers are more likely to refer you to others

Fifty-five percent of engaged customers recommend your business to family and friends, and 12% will publicly defend your company on social media, according to Accenture.

Engaged subscribers are the future

Customer engagement is quickly becoming a priority to consumers. By 2020, customer engagement will overtake price and product as the top reasons a customer chooses to shop with a business, according to a report from Walker.

Tips to build a quality email address list

Ready to build a killer list full of engaged contacts? Here are four tips to get started:

Improve sign up forms

To keep subscribers engaged, consider updating your sign up forms. Ask for customer information that you can use later on. For example, ask subscribers to provide their birthday, hometown, or job title so you can use the data to personalize messages in the future.

You don’t want to add too many fields to your sign up form, or you’ll risk losing subscribers. However, you can still collect information without making the form too cumbersome.

For example, Seafolly, a Campaign Monitor customer, uses this simple form on the bottom of its website to collect both an email address and a birthday for its new subscribers.

Seafolly – Email Address Sign Up Form

With this information, Seafolly can send a birthday email with a celebratory discount and age-related content that’s of interest to the subscriber.

Personalize every message

To keep subscribers engaged, you have to work for their attention. Another run-of-the-mill email campaign that’s trying to sell a product won’t work. You need to create content that’s personalized.
Need proof? Eighty percent of customers say they’re more likely to do business with a company that personalizes their messages, according to Epsilon.

Try these personalization tactics to increase engagement:

    • Add a piece of personal information to every email, like a subscriber’s first name, city or company name. It’s easy to do as a Campaign Monitor customer, just use these instructions for adding custom fields to an email. Flight Centre, a Campaign Monitor customer, addresses the subscriber right away in this message:
  • Segment your email address list and create content for each segment. Break contacts up by gender, location or buying behavior, for example, and send relevant emails to each niche. Use this email personalization guide for more specific tips.
  • Send email campaigns to subscribers when they’re most engaged. Using metrics, you can see when subscribers are most likely to open your emails and send emails during that window of time. Campaign Monitor can automate this process through Send Time Optimization.

Access your list and remove unengaged subscribers

To keep a healthy list of engaged subscribers, you should do routine list maintenance and remove unengaged subscribers. While it’s tough to remove any subscriber from your email address list, it’s the best way to ensure your focus is on engaged subscribers only. Again, quality over quantity is the goal.

At what point should you remove subscribers? If a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in 6-12 months, it’s a good time to say goodbye. Campaign Monitor has a great post on handling inactive, unengaged subscribers that provides more details.

Use integrations to ease your workload

Creating engaging content can be time-consuming, but not if you’re using integrations that can automate parts of the process for you. Campaign Monitor has integrations with Salesforce, Zapier, Sage, Shopify, Facebook, Eventbrite – just to name a few.

By using integrations you won’t duplicate your efforts in multiple platforms and can do things like schedule emails to send, sync customer data files, and funnel new contacts from sign up forms directly into your email account.

Metrics that do and don’t measure engagement

Marketers have access to dozens of metrics. If you’ve integrated your email marketing service with Google Analytics, you have even more charts, graphs, and stats at your disposal, but which ones measure engagement and which ones don’t?

Metrics that do measure engagement

  • Open rate. An engaged email address list has stable or increasing open rates over time.
  • Click-through rate. Subscribers that click on links in your emails are engaged with your messages.
  • Revenue generated. Email campaigns that lead to sales is a sign of a highly engaged list.
  • Social share. If subscribers open your email and love it enough to share it, your subscribers are engaged.

Metrics that don’t measure engagement

  • Current subscriber count. Having a large number of subscribers is nice, but if they’re not engaging with your emails, it’s not a viable way to promote or sell products.
  • List growth. You want your email address list to grow, but collecting a bunch of names and emails isn’t effective. You need the right people – potential customers – to join your list.
  • Rate of growth. Every company wants to grow their email address list quickly, but again, it’s better to gain a few quality leads than it is to gain a hundred cold leads.

Wrap up

Working to collect and maintain an engaged email address list that puts quality over quantity should be the goal of every marketer. Using the tips above, you can shift your focus to engagement and make every effort possible to build lasting relationships with subscribers.