This guest post was written by Neil Matthews of WPDude.
Are you protecting one of the most valuable assets of your blog—your email list?
The majority of us rigorously backup the content of our blog, but do we give the same thought to our email lists?
Why back up your email list?
“The money is in the list.” is a mantra we often hear in Internet marketing circles, and we hear it so often because it is so true. An email list is still the best way to communicate with your tribe and to make offers to them. Those people are on your list because they know, trust and like you, and are prepared to give you their attention.
Our attention is the most valuable thing we can give to a marketing message. Bombardment with online ads and the resultant ad-blindness means your list is incredibly valuable. You should be protecting this golden asset: the details of those people who have given you their attention.
You email list also represents a huge investment of time. Over the months and years, your list has slowly grown because of all the work your have done creating quality content on your blog and sending great newsletters.
Don’t let your list slip through your fingers! What would happen to your business if you no longer had that asset?
How you can damage your list
There are a number of ways you could kill your email list.
You could accidentally delete all of your subscribers. Email software systems such as Aweber or Mailchimp are not the easiest user interfaces to navigate. You could accidentally wipe your email list.
If you go against the terms and conditions of your email provider, there’s a chance that you could be banned from that service and lose access to your list. This is not a far-fetched as you may think: one time I sent out an email to my list which generated a 1% unsubscribe rate, and Mailchimp temporarily suspended my account. I was given the IT equivalent of a call to the headmaster’s office so I could explain my actions before my account was re-instated.
Persistent breaking of your mail service’s terms and conditions will result in your being banned from that service—and the loss of your entire list.
Your list is held by a third party, and can be taken from you if you fail to pay for the mail service because, for example:
- you have no cash
- you forget to make the payment—perhaps when your credit card expires.
Don’t loose your entire list because of a temporary glitch in your finances or oversight with your credit cards.
How to back up your list
All of the mail services I have used have an Export function. When you create an export, your email data is exported from that mail service as a CSV (comma separated values) list, which can then be stored away from the email provider as your secure archive.
Here are links to the major email providers’ support documents on exporting a CSV of your email subscribers:
Once you have your CSV file, you can re-add your subscribers should you accidentally delete your list or move it to another hosting provider if you’re banned.
How often should you back up?
The answer to that question really depends upon your list. If you are adding a substantial number of subscribers to the list per day, you’ll need to back up your list more often; personally, I do this once per month.
But if a recent marketing effort has added a large number of people to you list, do an ad-hoc backup to protect this work.
Even though your list is one of your most important blog assets, I bet many of you don’t back your list. When was the last time you backed up your list. And how did you do it?
Neil provides WordPress coaching and technical support services at WPDude.com.