How To Grow And Maintain Your Email List

Momina Ayaz
Momina Ayaz

Last updated on

October 25, 2021

Email marketing is a highly effective tool for generating new leads, nurturing them, and converting them into customers. It can help businesses build strong relationships with their clients and turn one-time buyers into loyal customers, driving sales, and building brand recognition.

However, to start sending marketing emails, you need a mailing list. Let’s find out how you can gain new subscribers and look after your email database.

Building an email list

Growing an email list doesn't require a big marketing team or a hefty budget. All you need to do is implement the right growth strategies, keep up with the industry, and play your cards right. Oh, and be consistent at this! Let’s explore four ways to grow an email list.

1. Improve your visibility

If you don’t ask, you won’t get subscribers.

Host a few different kinds of opt-in forms on your website. Give visitors the opportunity to subscribe across different pages, whether it’s a blog post, your website footer, a dedicated landing page, or an e-commerce checkout page.

Learn about the different kinds of opt-in forms and where to place them. A pop-up might be great on your main landing page, whereas an embedded form will be most convincing within a blog post. Test images to bring more attention to your forms and boost your subscription rate.

Also, pay attention to the appearance of your sign-up forms. Your subscription boxes and web forms should attract eye-balls and reel in readers. Test them out!

2. Develop opt-in testing strategies

Different target consumers engage with different opt-in opportunities and expect different results after they sign up. Therefore, analyze your customer demographics: gender, age, location, family status, education and other factors. It will help you develop your opt-in strategies and test them to find the best ones.

Chalk out the form elements you want to test; call-to-action buttons, colors, fonts, images, form placements, and the copy. Maybe “get fresh insights” as a call to action works better than “subscribe”? You’ll have to test it out!

Don’t forget to be compliant with the current data privacy laws and regulations, such as GDPR or CASL, and don’t try to mislead or trick your subscribers into signing up.

3. Don’t build complicated and long subscription forms

Longer forms help qualify leads and personalize marketing. But they're also one of the biggest reasons why potential subscribers abandon opt-in forms.

When you publish a form, your potential subscribers are asked to give up their personal data. The more you ask, the more tedious and invasive it feels. Not everyone finds that action easy to do.

Moreover, you probably don't even need that information so early on in the interaction. An online fashion retailer won’t need to gather all demographic information during the sign-up process. They can always send follow-up emails, collect more data during the checkout phase, or enable users to build their profiles within the application.

Longer forms just give your visitors more time to abandon your page. Here is exhibit A.

long form

The above form has 20 form fields! That's outrageously high. An A/B test was able to optimize this form and bring it down to four fields.

short forms to maintain email list

4. Use lead magnets as an incentive

A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers might want to offer in exchange for an email address. You’ve probably come across many of them – for example, sign up to download a free eBook, a report, or a training video. And yes, lead magnets give your potential customers an instant reason to sign up.

Thus, if you want to boost your subscription rate – offer a lead magnet that your audience will want. A shoe store might offer up a 15% discount on the first order while a B2B software company could offer up a free trial.

surf stitch lead magnet

Maintaining your database

Once you’ve built an email list, you need to maintain it. This means keeping your contacts engaged and pruning the list whenever needed.

Always ask for permission to email – this is the most critical step in having a healthy and active mailing list. You don’t want to be seen as a spammer – so respect your leads and your customers.

By looking after your database, you’ll be able to keep your contacts engaged, achieve better results, reduce email bounces and unsubscribes, and your emails will be less likely to be marked as spam (and that can harm your sending reputation a lot!).

1. Manage bounces

Pay attention to the bounces you get after each email deployment. There are different types of bounces. Soft bounces can, for example, represent a full inbox (a temporary issue), while a hard bounce will most likely mean an incorrect email address.

You need to pay attention to the hard bounces. Don’t send your campaigns to emails that are bouncing – remove them from your sending list to improve the health of your list. Many email marketing solutions can automatically take care of bounces for you. Consider this when opting for an email deployment tool.

2. Send out regular emails

Be visible in your subscribers’ inboxes – try to email them a few times a month but don't spam! One email per day will only annoy your contacts.

Regular email campaigns to your active and engaged recipients will help you get noticed, boost your brand, increase customer loyalty. They enable you to stay top of mind, enabling your contacts to stay connected with you. Periodic reminders will help build long term relationships and encourage future purchases. On the contrary, if you keep sending emails to unhappy or inactive recipients, you’re most likely to get an increase in complaints.

3. Re-engage or remove inactive subscribers

Identify active and inactive subscribers. Sending marketing emails to inactive subscribers only annoys them and hurts your KPIs. So either re-engage them or remove them.

If some of your contacts haven’t interacted with any of your emails in the past month or two, it’s time to send them a re-engagement campaign. If that doesn’t work, the contact is a lost cause. Just remove them from your email list. Continuing to market to them will only lead to an increase in complaints. Then, you'll start landing in the spam folder for your contacts, crushing all your hard work and eventually hurting your ROI. Quality is better than quantity in email marketing.

4. Enable contacts to unsubscribe

Whenever you're sending out an email in bulk to your mailing list, make sure it has an unsubscribe link at the end. This provides an easy way for disengaged contacts to remove themselves from your list. And it requires zero upkeep from your side! Here's an example of an email from

unsubscribe link

This link should lead your contacts to an unsubscribe page that informs contacts what should they expect after unsubscribing or enable users to choose their mailing preferences. Wish keeps it simple by just offering contacts to configure their settings.

unsubscribe page


An unsubscribe link offers an automatic way for you to only stick to active leads. However, keep a close eye on this metric. If your unsubscribe rate is anywhere above 1%, you might need to re-evaluate your targeting.


Email marketing presents great growth opportunities for start-ups. It has become an essential part of customer acquisition and retention for many established companies. Though it requires commitment, nothing can beat the results and engagement of an organically collected and maintained email list.

It’s important to understand that over time your customers and prospects change: their preferences, interests, and engagement with your product, all evolve. Therefore, understanding your subscriber behavior, and monitoring the health of your email database consistently will help you improve your email marketing ROI and enable your business to grow.

Always keep a close eye on your email list – clean those bounces, find the inactive subscribers, and email the active ones regularly. Keep your mailing list healthy for the best possible results!

Author Bio

Momina Ayaz

Momina Ayaz is a Content Marketer at Mailmunch. She loves reading during lunch breaks and witnessing technology reshaping the corporate sphere.


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