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3 Simple Things You Can Do to Build a Healthy, Thriving Email List


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Businesses that aren’t using email marketing today could be missing out like never before. Consider the fact that Americans spend an average of 143 minutes daily just checking email. There’s tremendous marketing potential in an email address.

Make the most of this opportunity by building a reliable, healthy email list. Otherwise, you not only decrease your ROI, but also your emails may end up landing in your spam folder or never arriving at all.

So, what should you focus on to build a list that is healthy and thrives? Let’s look at some of the most important steps.

Related: 4 Ways to Stop Your Emails From Going to Spam

1. Get people to confirm they want to be on your email list

Building a healthy email list means your subscribers intentionally signed up. To make sure of that, ask everyone to confirm they subscribed to your emails. The double opt-in method is the most effective.

How does it work? After entering their email address in your sign-up form, an automated email goes out instantly. It has a unique link to verify the person’s email address and that they agree to receive your emails. Once they click the link, they are added to the list. 

Asking this simple action will lead to a more engaged audience. It ensures that nobody added someone without their permission: Your new subscriber wants, indeed, to hear from you.

Without using double opt-in, you’ll inevitably get people who mark you as spam. Keep in mind, spam complaints are one of the worst things that will hurt your sender reputation, which is a score internet and inbox providers use to direct where emails go. For all they know, if a lot of people are hitting the spam button, your operation is illegitimate.

So, if you haven’t already, set up this subscription confirmation process. It should be easy to do in your email service provider dashboard.

Related: ‘Abuse Emails’: What They Are and How They Impact Your Email Marketing

2. Use ReCAPTCHA to reach real people

Spambots are computer programs that can sign up a large quantity of email addresses (frequently fake) to mailing lists. You could be managing a healthy list and receive a deluge of sign-ups that will frequently be followed by spam complaints, unsubscribes or bounces. It’s because a bot signed up. 

Obviously, a healthy, thriving list consists of human subscribers and not bots. One of the best ways to keep things real is to use ReCAPTCHA. You know those simple tests used to weed out bots by testing for human intelligence? ReCAPTCHA is Google’s proprietary CAPTCHA and you can install it fairly easily.

It adds an extra layer of protection against fake and risky email addresses. However, it’s often not enough to prevent malicious signups, so if you want more security, consider email validation.

3. Use an email validation API to keep bad data off your list

Email sign-up forms are great for allowing people an easy way to start getting your newsletters. However, if you’re not careful, sign-up forms are also gateways for bad data.

First, some people may accidentally make a typo while trying to subscribe. They might also sign up using a less than quality address. Oftentimes, when they want to access gated content without giving out their real email, people use a temporary address. There have even been instances of business competitors sabotaging a list by entering bad or invalid addresses. 

On top of that, some of the people who sign up for your emails may be habitual complainers. You think you’re getting a great lead, but instead, you get someone who might label your email as spam.

These are issues you can’t prevent in real time, but an email validation API will. Once you set up the double opt-in and ReCAPTCHA, adding this software to your forms ensures your list stays healthy longer.

A reputable email validation service should have an API that you can connect to your sign-up form to block harmful emails. In most cases, if an address is typed in incorrectly, the API will notify the person that they’ve made a mistake. Keeping these invalid addresses off your list prevents bounces and spam complaints and keeps you off of blacklists.

Bonus tip: Check your entire list in bulk regularly

Email validation is critical if you want an email list that thrives, but even the good contacts on your list can go bad. People change their email addresses for a variety of reasons, especially workplace addresses, so verify your email list in bulk a few times a year. There’s no value to sending emails if they will bounce. It only harms your deliverability and sender reputation.

Of course, it’s easy to get hung up on numbers. It’s only normal to want a massive list or compare your list to others. But the number of subscribers doesn’t always signify good engagement or a high ROI. What would you choose between a large, unhealthy list versus a smaller, but healthy list with interested subscribers? 

The focus is an opted-in, valid email list of people who really want to engage with you.

Related: Why Email Marketing Is Better for Your Business Than Social Media


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