Study: E-Mail Lists Rising 38% Yearly

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Most companies are growing their e-mail lists -- at a clip of 38 percent annually on average -- according to a study released yesterday by e-mail software firm ExactTarget.

"Some recent articles are saying that list growth is getting more difficult as the medium matures. We agree with that, but the study shows it is getting harder but is still healthy," said Morgan Stewart, director of strategic services at ExactTarget, Indianapolis.

After studying 142 companies across five industries in the second quarter of this year, ExactTarget found that the firms' lists grew an average of 5.2 percent a month. With list shrinkage at 2 percent a month, marketers had a net increase of 3.2 percent monthly, or 38 percent annually.

Social, fraternal and professional organizations such as the American Medical Association and college fraternities had the strongest list growth of all the industries at a net of 5.4 percent monthly. Other market segments studied included retail, media and publishing and manufacturing. The social/professional group had the strongest growth for a number of reasons.

"They tended to be a bit earlier in adopting e-mail for communication with their members, and they are very actively soliciting e-mails during registration, etc.," Stewart said. Media and publishing companies experienced the most list turnover at 4.7 percent monthly because "they are more likely to be daily mailers, where people are more likely to unsubscribe."

Social, fraternal and professional organizations had the second-highest list turnover while the manufacturing sector had the least. However, 24 percent of all organizations in the study saw their lists decrease in size over the year because of unsubscribed and undeliverable e-mail addresses, ExactTarget said.

"Most of the turnover comes from e-mail addresses just going bad," Stewart said. Undeliverables was the most common reason for list attrition while customers unsubscribing was one of the least common issues.

Stewart suggested some basic steps for e-mail marketers who want to increase their lists:

· Make the content about list subscribers. "The best way to keep subscribers on your list is to make sure there is something of value for them in every communication," he said.

· Make the e-mail signup area on the company's Web site a priority: "Sell the benefits, use a strong call to action and offer something of value to those who sign up."

· Get signups over the phone. Have receptionists and customer service representatives ask callers whether they wish to receive information or updates by e-mail.

· Pop-up ads on the Web site asking visitors to sign up for e-mail -- "though not crowd favorites," Stewart said -- continue to achieve decent results.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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