Last week, we looked at some basic elements of email lists  — why you need them, and how to build them.

And that’s an important concept, so today, we’ll focus on some of the more advanced features of building an email list.

For starters, here are some key concepts you should know:

Sign-up forms, and data fields: With each prospect you sign up, the more info you get, the better your chances of successfully marketing to him or her. But there’s a flip side to that equation: If you ask people to spend too much time filling out your form, or if you ask for more information than they’re comfortable giving, they’ll probably bail before they hit that all-important “submit” button.

How do you find that balance between too much and not enough info? That depends on your traffic, your niche, the preferences of your visitors. It may take some experimenting to figure out what size of form works best for you.

Opt-in: Single or Double? A single opt-in is when the process of joining your list takes a visitor one step. A double opt-in is when it takes two. That second step usually means the prospect has to click on a certain URL in a confirmation email to be added to the list. Double opt-ins means your list grows a bit slower, but the quality of the list will be higher: You’ll have prospects who are genuinely interested in what you’re selling, because they’ve taken the time to make sure they’re on your list.

Your marketing results, then, should be considerably better on double opt-in lists. Again, though, asking for that second action could mean you lose a lot of prospects, as with the sign-up forms.

Autoresponders: Autoresponders are a big part of email marketing and list building. For details on what they are and how to use them, check out this article from our sister site

Positive elements for list building
Getting prospects on your list is the first stage to list management. The second is keeping them there. Here are five important ways to do just that:

1. Find the Right People. You should be targeting potential prospects who are interested in your niche. That means, specialize your marketing message so it appeals to potential buyers, and not just anyone.

2. Tell the Right Message. It’s essential to communicate to your prospects, or they’ll forget who you are and/or lose interest. But it’s just as important to avoid over-communicating. Don’t send too many messages or ask too much of your prospects; when you do communicate with them, make sure to offer them something worthwhile.

3. Get Personal. Email marketing technology has come a long way. Most applications now let you easily personalize each email you send, including the prospect’s name, with little additional effort on your part. Take advantage of these features to give your messages a personal touch.

4. Get Professional. Proofread your message before you send it! And always make sure your links are working. Casual communication is important to engage your readers, but noticeable typos and grammatical errors make you appear unprofessional and even unintelligent. While most people probably won’t notice, to a certain kind of prospect, that’s a guaranteed deal breaker.

5. Inspire! This is the most important part of all your emails: The call to action, the part where you get readers to do what you want them to do, whether that’s clicking on a link or setting a date on their calendars. So take some time to carefully consider your call to action (and heed these call to action tips) to ensure your email has maximum effect, and your marketing time and spend is spent as effectively as possible.

Questions? Comments?
Now you have the basic info you need to start building and managing a quality email marketing list, from scratch if you need to. Thought of anything else we didn’t cover? If so — or if you’d like to leave any other related comment — sound off and let us know what you think.