List Growth: The Quantity vs. Quality Conundrum

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Aly Racer from InsideHook, a destination for all things men’s lifestyle, gave an amazing presentation, “Growing a Monster List by Using Little Lists” at this year’s Inbox Awesome. While cohorts, multi-variate testing and list health probably don’t sound like topics that keep an audience on the edge of their seats, the folks at #InboxAwesome are a bit different.

InsideHook is known in the email marketing world as having one of the highest quality user lists a brand can attain. The reason why? They take a quality over quantity approach to their marketing programs; it’s not multiple millions of users, because it doesn’t need to be. The most effective email monetization tactic, according to Racer, is building a true quality list of users who care and engage with your brand. That’s what resonated most with everyone from Sailthru in the audience. Regardless of how many email addresses you gain to a list, there is a certain targeted “sweet spot” audience that company’s need to be able to monetize, and monetize them well.

An amazing fact revealed in the presentation: InsideHook’s original 2,500 users are still among the most engaged users on their list, opening email 4+ times per week. That goes to show that quality users = engaged users who stay engaged over time. And where there is engagement, revenue follows!

 In order to get to the bottom of who your current quality users are (and attract more in the future), you need to look at and implement strategies for the metrics that matter to your company like InsideHook has. By looking at both real-time metrics and long-term, longitudinal analysis, any company can begin to understand the behaviors of audiences.

Yes, InsideHook serves a niche market, but their approach is one that we feel that every brand can take…even those with millions of addresses in their customer database. If you’re an eCommerce company — or media/publishing brand — looking to build sustainable quality growth, here’s where to start:

1)   Personalize the experience. Give users what they want by capturing critical user data based on interests and behavior, and tailoring experiences for them. A technology like Sailthru makes this happen through rich implicit and explicit data and marketing automation.

2)   Build trust. Be transparent from the moment of sign-up on what your business is all about, and what you will provide them in exchange for their email address. Make sure to provide opportunities to opt-down or opt-out on every communication. This will actually work in your favor.

3)   Provide actionable CTAs. I’d be so curious to find out how many brands out there are missing revenue and engagement opportunities with users (especially new ones) because of confusing messages and no customer journey paths. Be clear in every communication what action you want that user to take. Whether it’s download an app, purchase a product, or like your Facebook page, it doesn’t matter: just pick one CTA they can act on. Be sure that whatever you’re asking your users to do that it has value to you AND the user. This is a two-way street!

While you, personally, might not be a male entrepreneur, check out and sign up for InsideHook here to find out more and to experience their emails for yourself!

Kristine Lowery is Senior Marketing Associate at Sailthru.