So we all have our own way of building our email lists but which is actually better, a smaller list with more engagement and higher open and click rates?


A bigger list with less response, lower open and click rates?

My top tips

Firstly let me answer the above question...a big list is no good without quality subscribers and a small list with quality subscribers is not going to keep your profits flowing. So my opinion? Bigger is better in email marketing! You just need to maintain your list correctly while building.

Clean up

I personally keep my email lists in good check every week or after a large campaign, I make sure to delete any subscribers that are not engaging to my standard, any subscribers that do not open your emails after a period of 4 weeks should be removed.

The reason I set 4 weeks is because this will allow for anyone that may be on holiday which is generally 2-3 weeks but also allow that extra week for any catching up.

Remove any subscribers that have auto response set up and you have noticed this for the 4 week period, as well as this you should remove any mail that gets bounced. When an email is bounced it usually means that when the subscriber filled out your form with a fake email address or they made a mistake, you can beat this by using confirmed opt in.


Segment your big list

If you are concentrating on building big lists then its good to note that they don't need to be emailed as a big list, break up your list into smaller targeted groups. Use the data you have on your subscribers to send more specific information to each segment, doing this you should start to see more engagement not to mention your open rates increasing.

Automate your small list

Did you know that you can set your autoresponder to send out a different campaign to certain subscribers in the same list depending on their behaviour? When subscribers click a link on certain topics, trigger an autoresponder sequence to further promote that product or service. This also works with bigger lists but its more managable in a smaller list.

Optimise, test, test and retest

You should always be optimising and retesting your email campaigns. A/B testing campaigns are easily run from your mailing list provider. You can gather important information on you subscribers open and click rates from small changes made to your campaigns. I know A/B testing may seem like it adds more work and effort, but actually, it can save you a lot of time! Not to mention increasing your returns.

How to A/B split test

  • segment a small section of your email list
  • Send out two emails one called A, the other B. In A/B testing, the “A” is usually the control group where you would keep it as the standard email and the “B” is the variant group where you would have made small changes to group A emails.
  • Track your results for the best open rate, click-through rate (CTR) and any conversions.
  • Use the best email from your split test to send out to you're remaining list.
  • You can now improve your results with little effort.


Getting your standards right in your email marketing will ultimately help you decide which works best for you when it comes to building your lists. Hopefully this has helped you understand that a big list is worthless unless you follow the above tips.