Four Email Lists Every Start-up Must to Have (or Else!)

So, you are starting your business and want to send some email… But how do you manage the email addresses, how do you organize them? Which email do you send to whom? Obviously, you don’t need a full-scale CRM solution like (and you might not even know what CRM does).

I will tell you. You put your email addresses into lists. And to each list you send different emails.


You need to have 3+1 lists

1. Prospects

Every person you get in contact with and can consentually get their email address from. Website forms? Social Media Sweepstakes? Business cards at a networking event? These people have sales potential, however remote. Slowly, steadily, lovingly, they need to be converted into customers.

Send prospects get educational messages, sprinkled with promotional content. And oh, avoid bothering the people who did not give you their consent, i.e. purchased email lists, etc. This never works out well (and I myself tried), so just choose a high road.


2. Customers

You want to retain and satisfy your customers. Occasionally, you want to them to re-buy the same or different product (the infamous “cross-sell”). Send your customers interesting updates. Occasionally, send promotions, just for them (that they otherwise would not get – that’s the virtue of being on the customer email list).


3. Do not send (Unsubscribes and filtered out)

They specifically opted-out, they hate your guts, or you would just rather not send them email (i.e. known competitors).

You would suppress this list on each and every email you send out. If you are a tad more advanced, you’d move to prospect list those customers who explicitly asked for that to happen (i.e. signed up for your newsletter again, etc)


4. Investors / stakeholders

Your mom and your investor are on this list. Also everyone whom you’d like to know how you are doing. They get insider scoop, and when you need help – this list is the first one you’d ask.


Common mistakes

  • Blasting frequent, promotional messages to your Prospect list (#1) – you will just piss them off and cause your unsubscribe list to grow
  • Blasting frequent, promotional messages to your Customer list (#2), or neglecting them at all – do not alienate these people, they need to stick around for you to survive. Be gentle here.
  • Not respecting unsubscribes (list #3) – by mistake or on purpose (“we know you unsubscribed, but here’s a really good deal”). Bothering your unsubscribe list is the #3 cause of homicides in the United States.
  • Not letting investors/stakeholders know how you are doing (#4) – this means asking them for stuff is going to be harder later on. Moreover, they may not give you that 2nd round of funding, or cook you dinner when you are down.

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