Email Lists: Cold vs Warm and maintaining a good list

As your small business grows, the biggest thing you want to work on is your email lists. Because an email list will become one of the main ways your brand will be viewed on a regular basis.

I always encourage businesses to use segmented, targeted, and personalised lists. This ensures that the people I work with get the most out of email marketing

This blog post will look at how you can maintain a good, warm, list and talk you through why buying a list is a bad idea

What is the difference between a cold and warm email list?

These are common marketing terms and are used to highlight the two types of email lists. Good and bad, is essentially what these terms mean.

A cold list could also easily be called a bad list. Cold lists are bad because they contain contacts that you haven’t spoken to in a long time and probably don’t remember they are signed up. Whereas a warm list is considered good because they are fresh contacts or contacts that you have had regular email marketing contact. You are much more likely to get a conversion from a warm list than a cold one.

Your aim is to create marketing email lists that are warm and incredibly segmented so that your prospects are receiving regular and relevant content.

What if I’ve got a cold list and want to contact them?

There is nothing that is stopping you from contacting people on a cold list, however you probably won’t get a good interaction with those on a cold list. Because the email list hasn’t been used much the chance of getting out getting a reaction is slim, this makes the list pretty useless.

Most of the time, and more recently with the implementation of GDPR, the best thing to do with a cold email list is to delete it and start again. A mailing list is like rice, once they are cold it’s hard to heat up again.

This is where good email list management comes in

With the introduction of GDPR, the European privacy legislation, list management has become critical to marketing. Although I think the new legislation helps businesses become better at being relevant to prospects. It is a shame that massive fines from the EU is what convinced people that it needed to happen.

When it comes to list management, it kind of does itself if you have regular contact and your list is warm. A warm list will regularly be contacting people and if they have left or deleted their email they’ll be cleaned off. This also stands if they don’t want to hear from you anymore, people will just unsubscribe.

This is where relevance and timing becomes important. If your emails aren’t relevant or there are too many of them then you’ll lose more subscribers, however, if you have a good rhythm (once a month, say) and you’ve segmented well then you’ll keep more and convert more.

A good warm list, that is well targeted will have very few unsubscribes per send and a good conversion rate. This is the aim for your email lists.

Should I buy a list?

Never. You’ll likely see a growing number of people offering you lists, these usually come around events that you are attending. They’ll offer some kind of “double opt in” list the size of your arm, but it’s mostly useless to you.


How do you feel when you get an email from a business you don’t know? It’s likely that if you get a list from someone they’ll have no idea who you are and feel exactly the same way as you.

The likelihood of you getting any form of conversion from a list like that, or even some form of interaction is incredibly slim. These lists can also cost a fair amount, I’ve seen some that cost £5,000+. You’ll never get your investment back.

I wrote more about mailing lists, back in June, if you are interested in becoming more knowledgeable about them.

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