How To Manage Your List: What your email subscribers really want....

A lot of blogging advice is centered around helping you get new subscribers. But what should you do after a person has signed up?


You see, the moment after a person subscribes to your mailing list is a very important one.


One might even say it is a very intimate, romantic moment.


This person has found your blog, enjoyed your content and is now ready to take the relationship to the next level by giving out their email address.


So what do you do with it?


Here are some ideas.

Try to include:


  1. A personal message
    Write this email the most personal tone you can muster. You want to be developing the relationship – not just going through formalities. Try to remember that the person who just subscribed might have only read one of your articles and as such not really know your style or tone that well. By adding a personal feel to the message you can reduce a lot of stress.
  2. A big ol’ thank you
    Don’t forget to thank the person for subscribing. By joining your mailing list they are playing a vital role in the development of your blog and business. I have had quite a few people mention to me that they like the idea of my free eBook being pitched as a “thank you gift” for signing up to my list. It made them feel less used.
  3. A link to download the eBook from your site (not the email)
    If you are sending them a free eBook you want to make sure you include a link to a page on your blog where they can get their download as opposed to just sending them the eBook as an attachment. By doing this you are sending the new subscriber back to your blog as opposed to just hoping they’ll visit again.
  4. Some old (but sexy) content
    The next thing you want to do is show them your oldest, newest, sexiest posts that they might have missed. Remember, readers don’t enter your blog just through the homepage – they come from all over the place. I actually use the eBook download page mentioned above to direct them to my favorite posts. Just add a “Now What?” paragraph and they might go exploring. I also do this after people leave a comment.
  5. A place to share their concerns
    My buddy Derek ‘do what I tell you’ Halpern once mentioned that he uses his first Follow Up email to ask his subscribers where they are having the most troubles. This is a great idea because it gives him a free and very direct source of ideas for his blog. He simply answers the questions and solves the problems that people email him about! Give them an email address to contact you at or a social networking site where you are active an available.
  6. Directions to your internet properties
    The next thing you want to do is make sure they know what else you have out there on the interwebs. For example, I am emphasizing Google+ a lot these days and so try to make sure people know where my profile is an how they can interact with me. You might prefer to link to your Twitter or Facebook pages depending on your goals and desired outcomes.
  7. Explanations of how your content is delivered
    This is a really important one because, as I mentioned above, people need to know what to expect when they sign up for your blog. Surprises might be nice in some scenarios but when it comes to handing out your email address you really don’t want any. Start by telling them how often you plan on contacting them and perhaps let them know that another email might arrive really soon if they’ve signed up close to a publish day.
  8. And then leave them alone
    The last thing I want to mention is that it is really important to leave them alone for a while. Don’t send them a sequence of Follow Up emails that go out every two days for weeks unless that is what they signed up for. Let the dust settle. In the younger days of Blog Tyrant I had a seven-part series that I sent out and it caused a lot more unsubscribes than I would have liked.


It’s quite important to make these Follow Up emails short, sharp and shiny so don’t feel like you need to cram everything into a giant 2,000 word email. Perhaps the best plan is to keep the email itself short and then send people off to a custom designed page if they want more information.


Wait… isn’t something missing here?


If you’re smart (and I know you are!) you will have noticed that there is a piece of the puzzle missing here: what if they don’t open the Follow Up email?


Well, then you’ve got a problem.


A really crucial part of capturing email subscribers is making sure that when they subscribe they are doing it for the right reasons. Make sure you read that carefully. You actually don’t want email subscribers unless they are targeted towards your goals and outcomes.

Multiple lists


Agencies that send email campaigns for different clients should create a list for each client in MailChimp. That way, your data for one client doesn’t comingle with data for another. Plus, if one client decides to leave you, you can simply remove the list instead of having to go through and remove certain subscribers from your general list. You can create groups within your lists.


One list, multiple groups


If your company plans to send different types of content to different segments of your subscriber list, then you should create one list for your company, and divide it into groups based on interest. For example, a nonprofit might have separate groups for volunteers, news, board of directors, and more. That way, you won’t bother the board with a volunteer schedule, and you won’t bother your weekly news subscribers with a detailed budget report. And of course, you can send to your entire list when a campaign applies to everyone.


Now that you’ve decided how many lists and groups you’re going to create, let’s get started.


Create Your List

Since creating a list is the first thing you should do in your MailChimp account, we create one for you when you fill out your account information. You can use the list we created for you or follow these two simple steps to create a new one. You can go through this process again if you have another list to create. We’ll go over how to add groups to your list after this.

  1. Choose Lists, then click Create List.

  2. Fill out the setup details, making sure you’ve written a Good Permission Reminder. Click Saveto finish setting up your list.


Import Your List

Now that you’ve got your list set up, it’s time to import your subscribers into it. Before doing so, it’s worth remembering that you can only import lists of people who signed up for your list specifically. No third party lists, no prospects, no lists you scraped from websites, no none of that. Cool? There are four ways to import your list into MailChimp:

  1. Upload a CSV file
  2. Copy/paste from Excel
  3. Import directly from other apps such as Salesforce, Highrise, Google docs, and more.
  4. Start a list from scratch.

    Set up your list with the email address in one column, and any other data you want to include in separate columns. Like this: Just select the import option you’d like and follow the easy steps.

    Just select the import option you’d like and follow the easy steps.

Now that your list is imported, we’ll help you set the name and content type for each column—we call it mapping. Use the pull-down menu above each column to set the field name and type. Once you’ve mapped your fields, click the All done button to complete the import. After the import, you’ll get to review all of the emails that were or were not added to your list.

After the import, you’ll get to review all of the emails that were or were not added to your list


Add Groups to Your List

MailChimp makes it easy to send targeted email campaigns to groups within your list. If you segment to certain groups, you can provide more relevant content than when you send general newsletters to everyone. Here are some different ways you can segment your list with MailChimp:

Interest groups

Don’t bother your entire subscriber list with content that only applies to some of them. For example, a church might send new nursery rules only to those who signed up for childcare updates.

Date added

Send a campaign to new subscribers that missed your last email.


Use zip codes or states to send a campaign about an event only to people that live nearby. And with MailChimp’s geolocation, you can even send a targeted campaign to subscribers inside a 150-mile radius around any point on the globe, without gathering any extra info on your signup form.


If you asked for birthdays on your signup form, you can send special gifts and offers to subscribers for their birthday month. (You can even preschedule this for the whole year.)

Purchase activity

Send an email to people who purchased a particular product from your store, or to people who spent a certain amount of money at your store. Better yet, send an email to your most loyal customers. All you need is MailChimp’s eCommerce360 plugin.

Social Stats

Learn more about your subscribers and send targeted emails based on gender, age, location, and more using MailChimp’s social stats.

Add Groups to Your Signup Form

You can add these groups right to your signup form, so people can decide which newsletters they’d like to receive when they sign up for your list.

If you’ve already created a list in MailChimp, go to Lists > Groups > Create Groups from the dropdown menu.

You can choose the list your groups will be added to, how you would like us to display your group options in your signup form, the title of your groups field, and the group names.

Sending to Groups

When you’re ready to send a campaign to a segment of your list, click the big Create Campaign button and choose Regular Ol’ Campaign.

Choose your list, and click Send to Segment of List.

Now you can specify which group you’d like to send to. Select Group: Interested in | one of | category, and MailChimp will only send the campaign to subscribers in that particular group.

You can also segment the date subscribers were added to your list, where they’re located and more.


Keep Your List Clean


A clean list is a vital part of email marketing. You should regularly check to see if your subscribers are engaged, and if they’re not, either reactivate them or remove them from your list. Check out these mistakes that email-marketing rookies often make.


  1. Don’t send to a really old list.

    It will make ISPs think you bought an old email list from a spammer, which would make you a spammer.

  2. Never purchase an email list.

    This one’s worth repeating: NEVER purchase an email list.

  3. Use double-opt-in on your signup forms.

    This method sends a confirmation email that the subscriber has to click in order to complete the subscriber process. If you just use the “single opt-in” method, your list is vulnerable to prank submissions, typos, and spambots that plug in spam trap addresses.

  4. Don’t scrape lists from websites.

    And don’t assume that you can just add “sales@” or “info@” to the front of a company’s domain name to reach someone. It only takes one or two spam complaints from these role addresses to get yourself blocked.

  5. Don’t email everyone in your address book.

    It probably contains addresses that you don’t even know are in there, like tech-support contacts from companies you’ve requested help from, companies who have sent you email order receipts, friends and family. They didn’t sign up for your company’s email list.

  6. Avoid trade-show lists.

    If you want to send direct, one-to-one emails to contacts you met at a trade show, fine by us. But you can’t just import the trade show’s email list into your MailChimp account and send them all bulk email.

  7. Step away from the fishbowl.

    If you’re collecting business cards in a fishbowl for a prize drawing, you can’t subscribe all those email addresses to your email-marketing list. You can individually contact the people to see if they want to subscribe. Or, if your fish bowl has a giant sign on it that says, “Enter to win a prize, and subscribe for email marketing” then you’re probably okay. Just make sure you send your first campaign to those people soon after the drawing.


Monitor Engagement With Campaign Reports


Unlike print or traditional direct marketing, you can actually track how many people opened your email campaigns and see what they clicked. Watching your campaign stats is great, nerdy fun, but it’s useless if you don’t understand how the reports work and what you should be doing with them.


Here are the three most popular stats you’ll see in your reports:




We track how many people open or view your email campaign and report it as a percentage. An average open rate is somewhere between 20 and 30%. If your open rate is low, then your subscribers aren’t as engaged as they should be.




We track how many people click links in your email campaigns by redirecting them through our server. Regularly check to see if people are clicking your links after you send out a campaign. If no one’s clicking, you might want to adjust your content.




A bounce means an email couldn’t be delivered. A hard bounce goes back to the sender because the recipient email address isn’t valid. A soft bounce means the recipient no longer has that email address, their inbox was full, or the email service is down. Check to see if you have too many bounces—if so, evaluate your list so you don’t get in trouble.


Our free reports show you an overview of opens, clicks, bounces, and more. You can also click further to see maps of where subscribers are clicking, performance advice, and social stats.

Reactivate Subscribers


If you’ve ever had a subscription to a magazine, you know that as you approach the end of your subscription, you start getting letters in the mail about renewing. And it’s never just one—you get a series of letters, all designed to move you to action. It may seem like overkill, but research shows that a renewal series is more effective at retaining subscribers than a single notice. Renewals can be lost, thrown away, or forgotten in a pile of mail. Sending a renewal series increases the chances that a subscriber will renew, or at least that they’ll make an active decision not to renew.


Keeping someone on your email list may not mean that you’ll see additional subscription or advertising revenue. But if the overall engagement of your list affects its deliverability, it makes sense to confirm that inactive subscribers want to be on your list, and to remove subscribers that have lost interest. Plus, if you have a large number of inactive subscribers, you may be spending more money on your campaigns than necessary. The magazine-renewal principle applies to email lists, too: Email can easily get lost in a cluttered inbox, and sending a series of reactivation notices ensures that the subscriber is aware that his subscription is expiring. Here’s how to set up a reactivation campaign:


  1. Choose the segment.

    Make sure both conditions apply by selecting match all of the following. We recommend that you target subscribers who have been inactive for at least six months. Member ratings of 1 and 2 represent subscribers who have soft bounced and subscribers who have never opened or clicked.

  2. Check link tracking.

    In the second step of the campaign builder, you’re asked to give your campaign a name, a subject, and a few other details. You’ll see tracking preferences in the right column. Make sure you’re tracking opens and clicks. Track Opens and Track HTML Clicks are checked by default, and click tracking is required for free accounts.

  3. Create the reactivation campaign.Now you’re ready to write your email. For the second and third emails in the series, you can segment your list the same way. Subscribers that click to reactivate won’t match the conditions of the segment, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally sending them subsequent renewal notices. Here’s a generic reactivation series. Feel free to copy or revise this text for your own reactivation campaigns.


Email 1:


Subject: Do You Want to Renew Your Subscription?
*|FNAME|*, You signed up to receive news and information from
*|LIST:COMPANY|*. Would you like to renew your subscription?
Please take a moment to indicate your preference below: <a href="link to your site">YES, I’d like to continue receiving email from *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> <a href="*|UNSUB|*">NO, I no longer wish to receive email from *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Thanks,


Email 2:


Subject: Your Subscription to *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s Newsletter Expires Soon
*|FNAME|*, We haven’t heard from you about your subscription to
*|LIST:COMPANY|*’s newsletter. If you want to be removed from our mailing list, you don’t need to do anything further. If you’d like to continue receiving news and information, please reply by clicking below: <a href="link to your site">YES, I’d like to continue receiving email from *|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Thanks,


Email 3:


Subject: Your Subscription to *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s Newsletter Has Expired
*|FNAME|*, Thanks for your interest in receiving *|LIST:COMPANY|*’s newsletter. Your subscription has expired and you have been removed from our mailing list.
If you’d like to renew your subscription now or in the future, click the link below: <a href="link to your site">YES, I’d like to receive news and information from
*|LIST:COMPANY|*.</a> Sincerely,


The first notice just asks if the subscriber wants to continue receiving email. The second notice acknowledges the first and only provides a positive action—the subscriber will be unsubscribed if no action is taken. The third email confirms that no action has been taken and the subscriber will be unsubscribed, while providing one last chance to reactivate.


The YES option can link to any page on your site, because simply clicking the link will increase the subscriber’s rating to 3 stars and remove him from the inactive segment. Ideally, you should link to a dedicated page that thanks your subscribers for renewing. It can take up to 24 hours for member ratings to change after subscribers click the link in your reactivation email. The NO option should contain your unsubscribe link, which you can copy above or from any previous campaign you sent.


Regardless of the frequency of your regular campaigns, we recommend sending the reactivation series over three weeks, one email a week. That way you won’t overwhelm your subscribers with email, but the series will be frequent enough that the reactivation request will be on their minds.


When you’ve completed the series and allowed a week for subscribers to reply to the final email, remove the subscribers that still fit the inactive segment from your MailChimp list.


Remove Inactive Subscribers


Once you’ve completed the series, those inactive subscribers aren’t going to remove themselves from you list. Here’s how to remove them:


  1. Go to Lists in the MailChimp Dashboard and open the appropriate list.

  2. Choose View all.

  3. Click Segment and enter the same conditions you used in your reactivation campaign. On the same screen, click Download Segment to export the segment to a spreadsheet.

  4. Click Remove People. Copy and paste the list of addresses you want to remove from the spreadsheet into the removal field and click Unsubscribe.

To belong + to be known + to feel special + to be treated well = what they really want

As much as we marketers like to believe that we know what our customers want, we have to recognize that their desires and needs change rapidly. Therefore, it's important to have testing, an analysis of subscriber behaviors, and a collection of subscriber feedback (via surveys, research, social media tools, etc.) as part of standard daily business practices.

Remember, recognizing and acting on what your subscribers want not only makes them feel special and produces happy customers, but will also increase their engagement and improve your program performance.