Fact or Fiction: Email List Growth Is Never Bad

June 10, 2013
By TowerData

Growth Chart with ArrowWhether you’re discussing email list growth or social media fan growth, quality versus quantity is always part of the conversation. At the Email Insider Summit 2013 panel “Converting Consumers Into Subscribers: Acquisition Strategies,” Kelly Briggs, director of corporate communications for the Dallas Stars, argued list growth is never bad, even if you’re not acquiring quality subscribers. “Ultimately, if you’re gaining contact, then you have the opportunity…to speak to them and convert them,” she said.

But not all marketers agree. At that same panel, Greg Martz, director of strategic business at The Motley Fool said, “I do think the old mantra ‘garbage in, garbage out’ does apply. We’ve shied away from sweepstakes or even co-registration—they just didn’t convert. It’s got to be quality list growth.”

So when it comes to email marketing, does quantity trump quality? Is growing your email list ever bad? Let’s look at the two sides of the argument:

Some Say a Large List of Low-Quality Subscribers Hinders Email Performance

Email-only specials and promotions, such as discounts, exclusive sales, merchandise or free samples, are compelling ways to persuade potential subscribers to provide their email addresses; however, they can bring in a large quantity of subscribers only interested in the freebies.

If you’re merely tacking new subscribers onto your database and sending everyone the same message, you’re setting your email marketing up to fail. Some subscribers will be annoyed by your messages, while others will tune them out and won’t engage. The end result is fewer opens and clicks and more unsubscribes and spam complaints. Even worse, as described by Business Insider, they may vent their hatred on social media and stop using your product or service, convincing friends to do the same. So, in this sense, growing your email list with low-quality subscribers is bad, especially if your efforts damage your email reputation and, thus, your ability to deliver your messages.

Others Say More Contacts Means More Opportunities for People to See Your Messages

Increasing the number of email subscribers enables you to cast a wider net for your marketing messages and can substantially boost the effectiveness of your marketing efforts if your organization effectively segments its email list. Research shows segmented email outperforms untargeted sends, improving deliverability, increasing open rates and decreasing opt-out and unsubscribe rates. If you tailor messages accordingly and weed out unqualified, low-quality contacts as they become apparent, who’s to say growth of any kind is bad?

What do you think? Is email list growth ever bad? Share your thoughts in the comment section! If you’re looking for ideas to effectively grow your email database, check out “20 Great Ways to Grow Your Email List” today!

Free eBook: 20 Great Ways to Grow Your Email List