How to Build Your Email List the Right Way Follow these best practices to make sure you're hitting the inbox and making sales with your emails.

By Liviu Tanase

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Email marketing works. According to Statista, 49% of people say they like to get promotional emails from brands every week. But while checking their inboxes for offers, there's a chance your customers and prospects won't find these emails. If your email list is outdated, or if you purchased it, your campaigns may be redirected to the spam section.

Keeping your database fresh is paramount to your email success. In email marketing, it's not about how many people you email — it's about how many you manage to reach.

How your email list health affects your deliverability

Emailing invalid, fake and outdated contacts damages your sender reputation. Also known as a "sender score," this is an indicator internet service providers use to gauge your legitimacy as a sender. The higher your score, the more likely your campaigns and newsletters will go to the inbox.

That's why the health of your email list plays such an important role in your email deliverability. Gathering many contacts seems tempting, but what matters more is that those contacts are valid and engaged.

Related: 5 Mistakes You're Making With Your Email List

Build your own email list

Planning to buy or rent an email list? Think twice. These people have never heard of you, so the most engagement you can get is a bunch of spam complaints. The best-case scenario is that your emails will never get opened, and instead, they'll get deleted in bulk.

To prevent wasting your resources, build your own email list. Here are five tips to do it right.

1. Get permission

Emailing someone who hasn't granted permission is another surefire way to sabotage your own deliverability. People who haven't opted in to receive emails from you are not only unlikely to engage, but they may report you as spam. Get permission before adding someone to your database. Even if it's a customer, they must express a clear interest in getting marketing emails from you.

2. Double opt-in should be the standard

Some companies are still reluctant about using double opt-in. There's this myth that it slows down your email list growth. In reality, it helps you build a healthier, more active email list. Setting up double opt-in should take minutes in your email marketing platform. It automates sending an email to every new subscriber, asking them to click a confirmation link. This way, you prevent fake signups and ensure you're emailing only people who are expecting to hear from you.

3. Check every new email address

Double opt-in can prevent some fake email signups, but your list can still acquire undesirable contacts. To prevent them from infecting your database, check every new email address yourself. The most prominent email verification platforms allow you to check a few emails for free. It's a good option if your list is growing slowly. However, at least twice a year, make sure you run your entire list through an email verifier.

Related: These 3 Strategies Will Grow Your Email List for Free

4. Use Google's reCAPTCHA on your sign-up forms

Any obstacle you can put between your email list and fake sign-ups helps you build a healthier email program. Apart from verifying your database periodically, add another layer of protection against automated bots. A program like Google's reCAPTCHA uses a variety of algorithms to tell humans and bots apart. While some spammers can bypass even the most advanced anti-spam systems, reCAPTCHA will still help you protect the health of your email list.

5. Part with dormant subscribers every three months

If you want to build a vibrant email list, you need people who engage with your emails. Many factors affect your sender reputation, and your overall engagement rate is one of them. Keeping dormant subscribers on your list tells inbox providers that your content isn't relevant. To avoid the junk folder, remove unengaged contacts every three months. It's beneficial to your email deliverability. Moreover, you avoid potential bounces as some of those dormant emails may get deactivated.

Related: How To Start An Email List And Succeed From Day 1

Bonus tips to grow your email list faster

Growing your email database isn't as simple as setting up a couple of sign-up forms on your website. You also have to make sure the emails you gather are real and active. The tactics above are easy to apply, but at times, you may feel that your email list is growing too slowly.

Here's how to change that.

  • Add more sign-up forms to your platforms. Have at least two on your website and add one to your blog, as well. Make the process frictionless.
  • Use social media more intentionally. Your social media channels are great for capturing more email addresses. Promote your email list consistently.
  • Include a sign-up link in all of your emails. That way, if one of your emails gets forwarded, the person who receives it has a way to opt in.
  • Encourage word of mouth. Talk to your peers, friends and customers about the great emails you send. Encourage them to not only subscribe but also to share your form with others.

Finally, and most importantly, send those emails. Be consistent with your schedule so that people come to expect your emails. Whether it's once a month or three times a week, show up with helpful content. Being present and providing real value to your audience will allow both your subscriptions and engagement to grow.

Wavy Line
Liviu Tanase

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder & CEO of ZeroBounce

Liviu Tanase is a serial entrepreneur and telecommunication executive with extensive experience in the creation, growth and sale of novel technologies. He is currently the CEO of ZeroBounce, an email validation and deliverability platform.

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