4 email main list do’s and don’ts

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Email marketing has become more sophisticated as email platforms like Klaviyo, offer more flexibility within their platforms. However, main lists for email campaigns remain one of an email marketer’s most frequently used tools. Within automation platforms you can segment your main list and send a more tailored message to your subscribers. It is useful to have a main list to get a gauge on how many contacts are affiliated with your website. That said, however, your main list should be comprised of contacts who have elected to hear from you — not everyone who has ever interacted with your site. Below are four do’s and don’ts of sending to a main list and some common mistakes to avoid.

Do’s of sending email marketing to subscribers

These practices will help ensure that your main list stays up-to-date and includes those who have opted in to receive emails from you, and in turn prevent your emails from winding up in the spam folder.

1. Have all your subscription methods lead to one segment. Often, main lists are actually segments. If you have multiple ways people can sign up to hear from you (i.e. a popup, flyout, and embedded signup), creating a segment that aggregates these methods can give you a more accurate read on how many subscribers you actually have.

2. Periodically clean your main list. Depending on the age of your website, your main list might be years old. To make sure you’re not sending to inactive subscribers, periodically remove those who haven’t opened an email or made a purchase in six months or more. Continuing to send to these inactive subscribers can harm your deliverability.

3. Segment your main list.This will allow you to deliver more relevant emails to your subscribers, which will increase engagement. There are a number of ways you can choose to segment your marketing campaigns. A few include:

  • Content
  • Frequency
  • Subscriber data (i.e. gender, location, etc.)

Batch-and-blast emails are generic, antiquated, and less effective then tailored campaigns, so be sure to take advantage of your email platforms segmentation features to personalize your company’s emails.

4. Grow your main list organically. Adding more signup methods, offering signup incentives, including a checkbox to receive emails on your checkout page, and other email address collection techniques can help you grow your main list without sending to customers who haven’t opted in to hear from you.

Don’ts of email marketing 

These are common mistakes many email marketers make when sending to a main list. It’s important to recognize that, while you want to cast a broad net, you may have contacts in your Klaviyo account that have not explicitly opted in to receive marketing emails from you (i.e. those who have made a purchase, etc.) that you should not be sending campaigns to.

1. When sending to a segment, don’t forget to constrain your conditions to a list or lists. For example, if you want to send a marketing campaign to a segment of customers who have purchased a particular item, make sure you add a condition that includes only contacts in your main list. If you have multiple subscription methods, add a condition for each of these lists. Otherwise, email platforms will pull from every email address stored in your account, including those who have never opted in to hear from you.

2. Don’t send marketing emails, like newsletters, to contacts who have not subscribed to receive these types of emails. Resist the temptation to send to everyone you have an email address for. If a contact hasn’t opted in to hear from you, odds are they don’t want to receive your emails and won’t open them, which can affect your deliverability.

3. Don’t send the same email to everyone on your main list. Segments allow users to drill down and learn about their customer bases. Take advantage of this feature by segmenting based on gender, location, or some other metric and editing the content of your marketing campaigns accordingly.

4. Don’t overwhelm your existing subscribers. Be aware of how often you email your subscribers. Even if someone has opted in to hear from you, they may not stick around for long if they are immediately bombarded with emails. If you send a daily newsletter, we recommend allowing subscribers to choose how often they hear from you.


The key point to keep in mind is that your main list should include only those who have specifically given you permission to send them marketing emails. Even if someone has purchased from you, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have opted in to receive your newsletters or other marketing campaigns. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind whenever you’re sending a campaign, and you’ll see increased engagement and higher deliverability.

If you do not have an email platform that offers sophisticated segmentation its time to explore your options.

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