How to Manage Your Email List (The Complete Guide to an Engaged Email List)

Want to know one of the easiest ways to generate more revenue from your ecommerce store fast?

Put together an irresistible offer and email it to prospective customers on your list.

Sounds simple, right?

Everyone has a network. Whether you have a list of 5,000 people, 500 connections on LinkedIn, or just a spreadsheet with 50 of your clients, I can guarantee that you have people who can benefit from hearing about what your store has to offer.

There’s only one problem.

When your ecommerce marketing data is disorganized across channels, sending an update to your most important contacts can be a nightmare of copying and pasting in Excel. Building a relationship between your brand and your customers should be as simple as clicking a couple of buttons and typing up an email.

That’s where this guide comes in.

I’m going to show you how to get all your customer information organized in one platform, Drip, and maintain a healthy, responsive email list that grows your business.

By the end of this post, you’ll know:

  • How to keep your ecommerce marketing email lists clean and filled with only people who want to hear from you.

  • The No. 1 feature you need in an Ecommerce CRM (if you just get this one thing right, you’ll be ahead of almost everyone in your industry).

  • How to use tags to manage prospects, customers, and friends—so you can always find the right audience when it’s time to send an email (in 60 seconds flat). 

Heads up! I’m going to show you how to perform each of these actions in Drip Ecommerce CRM. If you aren’t a Drip customer, don’t worry—these strategies can apply to any email provider with a little bit of work.   

Foundation #1: Choose a People-Centric Email Service

Have you ever thought, “I’ve got all these people that fall into three or four different buckets. How do I organize them so I can send the right email to the right person?”

The solution is simpler than you’d think.

But before I show you the key to managing all the people you want to communicate with, let’s talk about one big differentiator between email providers.

When it comes to email marketing, you have two camps:

  • List-centric: People exist on different lists, which means they could be in your account multiple times if they’re on a lists for, example, “Cat Lover” and “Discount User.”

    If you send an email broadcast to multiple lists, it’s possible that people could receive duplicate emails and you would be charged twice for the same person. Most traditional email providers are list-centric. This type of email provider wants you to think about your customers as clumps of interests and actions.

  • People-centric: Each person exists only once in your account. Instead of grouping on lists, you can apply unique tags (or labels) to people that are used when you segment people for different emails.

    This lets you send the right message, to the right person, at the right time (not multiple times)—and reap the rewards of a targeted, relevant conversation. This type of email provider wants you to think about your customers as individuals with unique histories, interests, and needs. 

So, which camp is right for you?

It depends.

But the short answer is this: If people subscribed to your ecommerce marketing emails fit many different profiles (such as clients, prospects, partners, frequent shoppers, ghosted customers, etc.), then you’ll want a people-centric email marketing tool. Here’s why.

Eventually, there will come a time when you want to send an email to a hyper-specific segment of people. The people-centric email tools, like Drip ECRM, make hyper-segmentation and personalization simple, whereas list-centric tools can leave you stuck with choosing between generic “batch-and-blast” emails or not sending that email at all.

Take this example:

In 2015, Dan Andrews of the Tropical MBA had emailed his list about an exclusive event for million-dollar entrepreneurs. He wanted to make one final push before closing applications.

Since Dan had already emailed his list, he simply wanted to send a reminder to people who:

  • Had visited the event sales page (demonstrating that they were interested)

  • Had not already submitted an application

Simple, right? You would think so, but Dan’s list-centric email tool didn’t give him these options.

He was stuck blasting his entire list about the same event again—even though it wasn’t relevant to 90% of his audience. (Here’s a podcast episode with the full story.)

With a people-centric tool, on the other hand, you have much more power to filter people by all the nitty-gritty details, like this:

In Drip ECRM, you can send specific emails to people who:

  • Are tagged as a “Client” but not a “Friend” or “Media Partner” (in the attributes that you noted when you imported a CSV of people).

  • Have clicked on a link indicating their interest in learning more about your products.

  • Have purchased something from your store at least once in the past 30 days.

  • Viewed a specific product page and abandoned it without adding anything to their cart.

And the list goes on.

Side note: If you’ve not yet imported your contacts into Drip, read all about how to do that right here.

The best part is that segmenting your people makes your emails much more profitable. According to a Mailchimp study of 11,000 email campaigns, segmented emails had 14.31% higher open rates, 100.95% higher click rates, and 9.37% lower unsubscribe rates than non-segmented emails.

For most businesses, simply moving to a people-centric tool is the easiest way to improve your email list management because you can begin to segment people with greater precision using attributes like tags and events.

And that brings us to…

Foundation #2: Use Tags and Events to Keep Track of People (and Send Them the Right Messages)

Let’s start by defining tags.

A tag is simply a piece of data you attach to a person. For example, you might tag someone with the name of a product they’ve purchased, a membership level they’ve reached, or the name of the discount they used.

While tags are useful for labeling people with one-time actions they took or general interests they have, events are great for recording actions that happen with frequency and include other details like the date and time the action took place. In his Drip review post, marketing automation expert Brennan Dunn explains why events are so powerful for businesses.

“The problem with tags is that they don’t hold any data about the circumstances of when a tag was applied or why it was applied. Tags are either there, or they’re not there.

Tagging people as “Customer – Product A” is all good and well… until you find yourself needing to find people who become a customer of Product A between January 1 and January 30. With Drip events, you get the action performed (like “Purchased Product A”) [and] the date and time it happened.”

Events might seem like overkill. But eventually, you’re going to want to see data on how many people on your list bought a specific product, joined an email course, or became a lead within a specific time frame. And that’s the kind of information that can help you double your revenue.

For example, let’s say I run an online store that sells running gear and hosts a weekly running podcast, and I want to see all the leads I’ve generated from LinkedIn advertising for my podcast in the past 30 days.

And let’s suppose I’m tagging leads with “LinkedIn Podcast Prospect” when they submit the landing page I’ve set up specifically for LinkedIn visitors.

If I use the tag “LinkedIn PPC Podcast Prospect” and decide later that I want to find leads who signed up for my podcast from LinkedIn between April 1 and April 30, I’m out of luck. That’s because (as Brennan points out) tags won’t let you filter people based on time or date.

But events are different.

Let’s suppose I fire the event “Joined Running Podcast from LinkedIn PPC” in addition to my tag.

With that event firing when people sign up for my podcast, I can easily find a cohort of all LinkedIn PPC leads who joined my running podcast in February.

Like this.

The power to filter people by such intricate details lets you: 

  • Find past customers who left your service prior to a big product update, so you can email just those folks with a reactivation campaign, e.g., “Here’s everything we’ve added since you left.”

  • Track how your PPC leads are converting into sales month over month.

  • Email a small segment of leads with a short survey (without blasting your entire list).

And tons more.

If your business depends on generating qualified leads or re-engaging with customers, this data is invaluable.

For one thing, it’s a competitive advantage: Most companies don’t use any automation at all, let alone tags and events. And even if you don’t need this data now, when you do decide you want to dig up reports or send hyper-targeted campaign, these segments will only be a few clicks away.

Pro tip: If tags and events seem like a lot to wrap your head around, don’t worry. A good starting point for managing your list is simply tagging each person as “prospect” or “customer.”

And if you’re just getting started with tag inside Drip, check out this Drip Tip that will help you name your tags so that you’ll stay organized for years to come. When your information is organized, the better you’ll be able to use it.


Foundation #3: Set up a System to Clean Your Email List (So You Maintain a High Sender Reputation)

With time, any ecommerce store will accumulate people who stop opening and engaging with marketing emails.

If you start collecting a lot of disengaged people on your list, you’ll see lower open rates and, eventually, a lower sender reputation. A diminished sender rep could hurt your deliverability in the long run, and no ecommerce store wants their emails dumping into spam folders.

The solution? A good ol’ list pruning. 

Pruning your list to remove inactive people is a basic tenet of email hygiene.

There are two steps to removing people who aren’t super interested in your shop anymore.

  1. Find a segment of people who haven’t opened your past 15 emails.

  2. Unsubscribe them—or (better yet!) send them a reengagement campaign to give them another shot to stay on board.

Easy, right?

Pruning a large chunk of your list can be scary. But chances are, if someone hasn’t opened your last 15 emails, they’re probably not interested in hearing from you. And performing this pruning action will keep your sender reputation in good standing.

In Drip, you can clean your list in under 2 minutes with a simple prune action.

Here’s how it works.

First, go to the “People” tab, click “Pruning Operations,” then click “New Pruning Operation.”


Next, type in “15” to find everyone who hasn’t opened any of their past 15 emails.

Click “Save Changes” to pull up a list of people who fit your segment. Finally, click the “Prune People” button in the bottom-right corner of your window. You’ll be asked one last time if you’re sure you want to unsubscribe those people. Once you hit “I’m sure…”, those folks will no longer be a part of your email marketing efforts.

List cleaning isn’t the sexiest topic when it comes to marketing. But if you want to maintain 20% to 30% open rates (or higher) and keep your sender reputation nice and high, this is a necessary 5-minute task that you should schedule once every few months.

Plus, when you clean your list, you can be sure you’re not getting charged for people who aren’t adding any value to your business anymore. Most email providers charge based on your number of contacts, so list pruning is a good way to keep your expenses as low as possible.

Manage Your Email Contacts Effortlessly with Drip

Managing a healthy, responsive list that increase your value per lead doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, email list management largely comes down to the tool you use.

If you need a people-centric, easy-to-use email provider to organize your contacts and get closer to your customers with hyper-segmented, personalized emails, now’s a great time to check out Drip Ecommerce CRM and see how it can change your ecommerce store forever.


Ready to try Drip Ecommerce CRM for your own store? Grab a free demo and see how mastering email engagement today can change your store forever.

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