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BLOGGrowing Your List (Part 1)

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, CRM, Make It Happen TipsheetTagged as: ,

Almost every organization has a list – or several.  The list is used for service and event updates, for marketing, sales, and then billing.  It is used to recruit, it is used for retention.  And because it is so central, it is also the subject of a critical marketing question:  “how can we grow our list?”

Unfortunately, this is the wrong question.  If the list itself is the evidence of your relationship to a particular person or organization, the question really should be “how do we grow our relationships?”  Answers to this wider question revolve around connecting with relevant content and services that precisely address their challenges, service levels that exceed their expectations, and technology that can help facilitate the relationship, particularly self-serve web access, marketing automation, and CRM.

While the above items help with the depth of relationships, the question still lingers: how might we widen the number of people that are touched? Note that this is still different from the how can we grow our list question.  The reason for this nuance is simple: the “list” is fast becoming a dated concept. Consider an email’s enemies:

  • Spam filters
  • User’s cynical attitude against email marketing
  • The growing share of “walled garden” in-system email alternatives (Facebook messenger, LinkedIn messages, Twitter direct messages, etc)
  • The growth of non-email-based communications channels, including chat/messaging, blogs, discussion forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Younger users’ general disdain for email (vs email alternatives such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc)
  • GDPR, CCPA, CASL, CAN-SPAM, and other anti-spam or privacy laws

We are now recommending that growing your “list” is not just a question of the number of email addresses that are collected, but rather the collection of names, along with their preferred communications channels, along with their areas of specific interest, along with their preferred communications frequency.


Before you embark on a list-growing exercise, inventory all of the channels that you use, and benchmark your performance relative to others.  How are you doing on Twitter comparatively?  On Facebook or Instagram? On YouTube?  On your blog?  And so on. Based on this, consider whether there is competitive merit growing these channels as well – or instead.

Still want to focus on your list? Part two of this series shares 11 specific ways to increase the number of names on your list.

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