Email Marketing Lists 101

Marketing team conferring at conference table

NFocus Marketing Team

Email communications serve a variety of personal and business needs. When we use email to market our products and services, we need to understand and abide by a number of best practices and laws to optimize our results. Email marketing lists come in a few different flavors:

Proprietary Email Lists

If you’ve generated a list of customer emails by retrieving addresses and permission to use them from your customers you have a proprietary email list. You ‘own’ this list of emails and have permission from people on the list to send them email until they unsubscribe or communicate they would like you to remove them from your list.

If you use a service such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma or others, they will likely require that you own your list and are not uploading a purchased list in order to send email through their system.

Anytime you upload a new set of ‘contacts’ (email addresses), these third-party email marketing platforms may ask you how you obtained the list and you’ll possibly need to confirm you have obtained permission to send email to these new contacts.

You must ask permission and can’t simply add someone’s email address to your list if they provided their email address as part of a business transaction. They must have checked an explicit box stating they want to receive marketing messages from you via email, or, must have written and provided you their email address with permission on a form somewhere.

Rented Email Lists

It is possible to rent an email list through a resource that maintains ownership of the list and assures compliance with all regulations. This is how we provide email lists to our NFocus clients. We have permission to send email to recipients based on their stated interests.

In general, you rent the list for single use campaigns but can request use of the list as often as you’d like. The owner of the list maintains control and uses their systems to send your campaign for a fee.

You may have the option to provide your own artwork for your email campaigns but will need to adhere to their design specifications. Some email list owners will offer to create your email artwork for you. In either case, you never have direct access to the list and cannot see individual email addresses. The owner manages all aspects of list hygiene and campaign execution.

The most important part of using rented lists is to assure the company’s list hygiene is excellent – no duplicates, inaccurate or dead addresses. Ask how they maintain their lists and how contacts are collected. Be aware that any list that is not your own may not perform as well as your proprietary list but may boost your ability to reach new customers and secure some of them for your list.

When sending a campaign to a rented list, your goal (other than sales) is to get the recipient to opt-in to YOUR proprietary list.  This is how you convert a rented list recipient to become a member of your proprietary list. Always be sure to include an offer to join your list for future offers. Once the recipient from the rented list has opted-in to your list, you now own that contact.

Have questions? We’re happy to help!

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