Are Those PEOPLE On My Email List?

It can be easy to put together a whole email without thinking once about who will read it. Your mind is already crowded with content to arrange, goals you need to hit and ways to optimize response.

You might not pause to think about your list. You might instead just cross your fingers and send your email zinging toward it? – the “spray and pray” process.

But your list is made up of people – real people with families and jobs, worries and triumphs. And these people have buying power and an opinion of your business. The best way to use email marketing, then, is to pay attention to them.

So let’s look at how to keep in touch with the faces behind those names on your list, whether there are 10 or 10,000.

10 Subscribers
Your first subscribers are probably people you know well. If your business was a band, you’d be playing for your sister, and your best friends in your basement.

Even if it feels silly, start things off things professionally by sending helpful content. These people are your first brand ambassadors – the ones who will talk up your brand to others.

And this early in your campaign, there may be some bugs to work out. Take advantage of your easy access to feedback – just pick up the phone or ask over lunch. Use their suggestions to create something they’ll be proud to share with their friends, business contacts, stylists, librarians…

50 Subscribers
Once those stylists and librarians have joined your list, your audience loses the “you have to love me ’cause you’re my mom” factor. Your band is now playing to people in a coffee shop who’ve heard you have a good thing going. Before they recommend you to the next layer of contacts, they’ll want to see solid value.

Part of that value comes from the enjoyment of reading your emails, so take note of your writing style. Remember, email is a people-to-people medium. You’re sending to real people, but you’re also sending from a real person. Be friendly, be quirky and let your personality shine.

100 Subscribers
As your list grows, you accumulate subscribers who don’t know you personally. It’s as if your band is playing at the park, and the strangers who stop to listen have no way to directly contact you.

Keep in touch by using a “from” address that accepts replies. A do-not-reply address is the online equivalent of the cold shoulder – not the best impression to make. Carefully weigh the responses you get and reply to each, even with just a quick note. Give each subscriber as much personal attention as you can before your list gets larger.

500 Subscribers
With this many subscribers, you have a big enough audience to connect with regularly on social networks.

Link to your profile in your emails, then make your page the place to be. Post about sales, offer special deals, ask for opinions and respond to comments thoughtfully.

Once your page is an established hot spot, you can use it to grow your email list further. Tweet examples of your newsletter and periodically link to your sign-up form or display it on your profile. Then people who bump into you on a social network can easily subscribe.

1000 Subscribers
At this point, your subscriber-marketer relationship is significantly different – you’re playing to a concert hall of people who saw your ads. And since you’ve never met them, you may not know what types of people your brand is attracting.

You can find out easily, though. Ask the questions you’re curious about with surveys. Find out what your subscribers are like, what they think of your product or service and how your emails can serve them better.

10,000 Subscribers
By now, responding to feedback from enough people to fill an amphitheater has become much more than a side task. It’s time to enlist help, whether that be a people-friendly employee, a customer service team or a virtual assistant.

To make a smooth transition, you’ll need to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Create consistency by writing up a library of responses to common queries.

This also keeps the workload down, since most questions will already have an appropriate answer ready. With a slight tweak or two, each response will be ready to go!

100,000+ Subscribers
Photo credit: Sbvr6 at en.wikipedia
If your list is this large, congratulations! You’re filling stadiums! It looks like you’re already using tactics that subscribers appreciate. With such a large list, though, you may feel tempted to let your engagement slip – after all, you’re already doing just fine.

Don’t give in to that temptation, though. View your readers as faceless drones, and it’ll become obvious. Your emails will start prompting the reaction, “Why would I want this?” instead of ,”This is exactly what I need!”

Instead, keep things personal in a large list by segmenting it based on various criteria. Segmenting is a fast, easy way to give each of your readers an experience personally tailored to their needs, wants and preferences.

Putting It Your Way

How many subscribers are on your list? How well do you know them?

What methods do you use to find out what exactly is their cup of tea?

We’re very interested in your stories, so please share them below!


  1. Andrew Molobetsi

    9/7/2010 1:10 pm

    I agree, it’s all about establihing good relationships with the people in your list and then that’s when you can start thinking about telling them how you’re going to solve their problems.
    If they trust you enough, ynu’ll win hands down each time you come forward with a new offer to buy.
    In the ooI so distant past I tried to sell on first contact and always came back empty handed.

  2. John B

    9/7/2010 2:08 pm

    I like the way you compare a list to an audience. It really is that true and it is too easy to get complaisant once a list grows. Thanks for reminding me that ‘the personal touch’ that originally nurtured the list is the way to grow a responsive list and take it forward.

  3. Orestes

    9/7/2010 4:42 pm

    I just wanna thank you for your comments. Very wise advice and the way it should be.

  4. Danii

    9/7/2010 6:34 pm

    Great post. It is so easy to get caught up in your own mission and forget that you really do need to deliver to those on your list what you promised.

    People are always far more responsive when you under promise and over deliver.

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  6. Tsietsi

    9/8/2010 9:27 pm

    Thanks for an empowering analogy. It really shows how we all should think out of the box

  7. Dan Osso

    9/9/2010 8:08 pm

    This was an excellent piece. You made it all seem so obviuosly simple and logical. It also motivated me. It got my synapses firing with all kinds of ideas to put to work with the different steps you laid out so well.

    NIce going.

  8. cisco miller

    9/10/2010 12:49 am

    Yes customers are your bottom line. Treat them right & they’ll gladly come back for more..treat them wrong & you’ve lost them forever…

    I’d also like to comment on something Suzie Orrman says on her TV show which is really true – always remember it’s people first, then money, then things…It says a lot…

  9. Lalitha Brahma

    9/10/2010 10:32 am

    How many subscribers are on your list? How well do you know them?
    Great article and makes me visualize the type of my audience better and better with the growth of my list! To answer your question- 200-250. Not really well. However I am able to track the clickthrus and links opened-Which gives me input about what they like and want more.

    What methods do you use to find out what exactly is their cup of tea?
    Doing poll in linkedin and leading them to the link. Asking for monthly input/feedback on my Ezines. Using twiiter to seek feedback.

    We?re very interested in your stories, so please share them below!
    I was very apprehensive to start list building, because I was new and was not sure if I would get the Return on the investment in email marketing. However list building did help me improve my confidence level, mindset shift from an employee to Entrepreneur, improve writing skills and connecting worldwide. If I did not use a service like aweber, I would never have known about worldwide customers who want what we have to offer. Thanks

  10. Diane

    9/12/2010 10:33 am

    I really enjoyed the post. It’s true, we get caught up in the business end. We have to be Consistent and stay true to what we are doing and our Brand.

  11. Sally Hoffman

    9/13/2010 8:19 pm

    Thanks for the great info. I have never really thought about list building but certainly will now. Cheers, Sally

  12. EM

    10/5/2010 7:23 am

    This is a wonderful ‘show n tell’. You literally remind people that there is a real face behind every email. You gave us a great mental image to go with that. As a result, we’ll remember so much better now.

    Pre-autoresponders, this was not possible, at least not for the everyday John or Jane. Thanks to the internet and then smart sequential autoresponders, many of us can be a (online) rock star!

  13. Kasali Amogbonjaye

    12/18/2013 7:10 am

    Thanks. This has been educative and helpful.