Master Your Email Marketing List: How to Automatically Import, Copy and Remove Subscribers

By Matthew Guay - Published February 8, 2015 -

You are reading: Chapter 5 of 12

There's a service that 92% of online adults use, with 61% of them using it daily for an average of 13 hours weekly. This service has click-through rates that are 6-times better than social networks, and on average it sees a 94% return on investment.

The service is email, and those stats—compiled by email marketing giant Campaign Monitor—illustrate why you should be employing email in your marketing strategy.

But with no free time in your work week, how are you going to implement effective email marketing tactics?

Zapier. That's how.

With Zapier, an app integration tool, you're able to connect your email marketing software to the other apps you use—such as online forms, eCommerce platforms, CRM apps—and begin to rapidly grow your email list. You'll also be able to copy contacts from one list to another, automatically remove contacts, and stay off spam lists.

This post takes you through dozens of ways to use Zapier to help you manage your email marketing like a pro.

Add Subscribers to an Email List from Any App

Rebecca Decker
Rebecca Dekker uses Zapier to automatically add her Gumroad customers to an AWeber list.

Adding contacts to your email lists doesn't sound difficult, but imagine what you'd do if you had thousands of contacts to manually add in one day? That's what happened to Rebecca Dekker, a PhD-prepared nurse who runs a resource site about childbirth. She made a PDF download that was so popular, it crashed her server. So, she turned to email marketing software AWeber to let her fans know that they could still get the PDF from Gumroad, a tool to let visitors download a file. The campaign yielded nearly a thousand downloads, but the success came with extra work, too.

"I was able to download a spreadsheet from Gumroad with everyone's name and email address," says Dekker. "It was too time-consuming for me to sit down and figure out who was already a subscriber and who wasn't, and then hand-enter the new people into my AWeber account. It was kind of discouraging that I had this huge surge of people submitting their email addresses, with no way of quickly and easily adding them to my email list."

The next time she released an extensive article download, Dekker was armed with a new weapon: Zapier. "I signed up for the basic plan and integrated it between Gumroad and AWeber," Dekker says. "A large number of people either downloaded the PDF for free, or for a fee, since it was 'pay what you want.' These people were all automatically sent an invitation to join my email list."

After her second campaign, Dekker turned a list of new email addresses into her next opportunity. "This task was really important to me, because once somebody downloads or buys something from you, they are likely to do so again in the future. It's critical that you capture their email info before they disappear into cyberspace. And I'm too busy to do this by hand!"

Your site visitors, customers, conference attendees, and more provide you the same contact with people that you can turn into a lasting customer relationship—and you, also, likely are too busy to do it all by hand. Here are some of the many ways you can automatically add subscribers to your email lists like Dekker did.

Send Form Entries to a List

BillCutterz has an email subscribe option as part of their signup form.

Whether it's a contact form on your website, a "Let me know when it's launched" form on a landing page for your new projects, or a detailed survey to offer quotes to potential clients, forms are your best ally in email marketing. All you have to do is ask for people's email addresses, and then let Zapier copy their address over to your email list.

That's how web design firm Opus Media keeps forms from dozens of websites connected to an email newsletter app. "Our client runs a network of over 60 websites, so having the ability to tether Emma to each individual site (ala Zapier) is a huge benefit as we don’t have to replicate files, or worry about coding conflicts," explains Jason Werner, principal of Opus Media. "Zapier just works."

Just be sure to make sure your form respondents know they're getting signed up for your emails, and use double opt-in to make sure you don't run afoul of anti-spam laws. With that, your forms are the perfect place to get new email addresses for your list.

Add Survey Respondent to a Subscriber List

One of the best ways to find out what your customers think about your products, services, or just about anything else is with a survey. They can be as long or short, as specific or generic as you want—and they can give you the perfect opportunity to ask for their opinions via email. In fact, you can use their answers to put them on the perfect email list for their tastes, now that you know so much about them.

As with a form, just be sure to use double opt-in or have a specific box on your form so your users will know they'll get emails from you. Do that, and you'll be able to keep in touch with people who fill out your surveys—and you may be able to get them to fill out another survey in the future to further hone in on what they think.

Connect a Landing Page to a List

Planning on launching a new product? Don't wait until your launch to gather new email contacts—instead, put together a launch page with a teaser about your product and a signup form to let people enter their email address to get updates.

Connect that to your email marketing app with Zapier, and you'll be able to send updates as your product progresses. You could even offer subscribers a special discount when your product launches, and keep them updated about the latest features you've added going forward.

Share Links to Build Your List

Sniply allows you to collect email addresses when you share a link.

It's easy to share links to interesting articles and content on Twitter and Facebook, but a quickly shared link is typically not that valuable to you. Your followers will see your post, click the link, and that's it.

Or, you could share your links with an app like Sniply, which lets you add a tiny form to any link that you share. You can share the same great articles and videos that you would have shared otherwise, but this time there will be a pop-over box where your followers can enter their email address to get other great content from you.

That's your chance to connect the Sniply form to your email marketing app, so you can keep in touch more directly with your emails.

Add Event Attendees to a List

There's one thing that email can't beat: in-person interaction. But your events and conferences can still be a great chance to put email marketing to work. You can ask for attendee email addresses—either in a signup form, or using a dedicated app like Eventbrite—and then send them email updates as the big day approaches. And, of course, you can follow up after the event with your regular emails.

Doing all that manually could take hours—or up to one day per month, as Chris Rickett, manager of entrepreneurship services for the City of Toronto, found out.

"Prior to using Constant Contact and Zapier, our team spent close to one day a month sending out our newsletter to our contacts and adding / removing contacts to the list," says Rickett. "With Constant Constant Contact and Zapier, staff don't need to worry about managing contacts and can easily send our newsletter via Constant Contact in under a hour."

These Zaps—or the form Zaps above—can help you save that much time with your own events.

Upload Business Card Contacts to a List

In-person meetings aren't always planned in advance, and they're not always in a group. It's those spontaneous meetings where, over a handshake and a business card, you get to talk about your product and perhaps get someone's interest that otherwise would have never heard about your company. And now, you can keep that connection going by adding them to your email lists.

Typing in every email address from every business card could be a daunting job, but there's an app for that: FullContact Card Reader. Connect FullContact to Zapier and all that's left then is the easy task of taking a picture of the card you want to add to your mailing list.

Add Appointment Attendees to Lists

For the most personal marketing, you'll need to spend time on the phone and in meetings with your potential customers. That one meeting isn't enough, though; you'll want to keep the connection going long after you've hung up the phone or left the restaurant. Zapier can help.

"I would spend an hour or two per week mining my contacts that had previously scheduled appointments with me," says Third Coast Training founder Johnny Shelby, who schedules meetings with each of his most promising leads. "Not any more, now that I have Zapier to handle this function for me." This one automation has freed him up over a hundred hours a year, giving him more time to spend with his contacts.

Just schedule meetings with your contacts, and then let Zapier add those contacts to your email app so you can keep the conversation going.

Pull Email or Support Inbox Contacts Into a List

Or perhaps, you've never actually met your new contact—not in real life, anyhow. Instead, you've chatted a bit on Twitter, then jumped over to email to continue the conversation. Or perhaps, they emailed you first with a question about your product or for support with a problem they've had. You already know they read their emails, which makes them perfect people to add to your email list.

You can connect your support system to your email list with Zapier, or have Zapier watch your inbox or a specific label for new contacts. Then, you can add them to your email newsletter app—being sure to select double opt-in so your newsletters don't get marked as spam—and keep the conversation going automatically.

Parse Emails And Add Them to Lists

Sometimes the important contact info in an email's From line isn't the important part of the email. If you receive notification emails from your apps, or have a contact form that sends an email to you with info about the person who wanted to get in touch, it's the email address in the email's body that really matters. For that, you'll want an email parser.

Zapier offers a free Email Parser that can read the email messages you send it, copy specific data from them, and then use it to integrate with your other apps. You'll just have to set your email app to forward those notification or contact emails to the Email Parser, then teach the parser which parts of the email messages are important, and then connect it to your email newsletter with Zapier. That way, you can add subscribers to your lists even if their email address is buried in a message.

Turn New Sales into New Contacts

Whenever you sell stuff online, you have the perfect opportunity to stay in touch via email. It's likely your payment processor already asks for email addresses during checkout, so all you have to do is have Zapier send your customer's info to your email list. Add some drip emails for new contacts in your email app, and you'll have an automated way to welcome new customers and help them get started with your products.

Stacey Berriman at Why Weight Solutions uses Zapier's PayPal integration to give them an easy way to email their eBay customers through their email marketing app, rather than emailing each directly in eBay's interface. Without Zapier's automation, says Stacey, "it would take many hours to process this simple task for every customer every day."

You can do the same with your own PayPal, Stripe, Recurly or other payment system integrations, using these or your own Zaps.

Connect Your eCommerce Platform to Your List

Or, if you're using an eCommerce system—including Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Gumroad and more—you can have it send your new customers directly to your email newsletter without having to add each individual purchase.

The Think On! Productions team does something similar with their Gumroad to AWeber integration, which adds new customers to their email list automatically. "I have had a couple customers that thanked me for the ease of adding them to our update list," says Jarrad Markel. "They really appreciated the fact that they did not have to enter the same information more than once."

These Zaps or your own integrations with your payment or shopping cart platform can do the same for your customers.

Copy CRM Contacts Into a List

Or, perhaps your sales process is more involved. When you're selling services or customized products, or are dealing with enterprise-sized customers, then your sales aren't as simple as having your customer click a "checkout" button. Instead, you'll need to lead your customers along a process, weed out the people who aren't really interested, and focus your marketing on the leads that are most likely to buy.

Any of these steps offer a perfect spot to start your email marketing. You could add new leads to your email newsletters, or only start sending messages once a prospect is close to closing the deal. Or, you could wait until you've sent an invoice, and then add your new client to your email list. Either way, Zapier can automate the process so you can focus on your sales.

Add Invoice Recipients to Your Lists

You've finally closed a deal, and have sent an invoice to your customer. Don't let the conversation there. Just have Zapier add your new customer to your email newsletter whenever you generate a new invoice.

You can add them to a new list specifically for your customers where you send onboarding info, or you can just add them to your standard list where you share company news. Either way, you'll keep the connection going long after their payment's cleared.

Keep a List Updated with Automation

Now that new contacts are automatically being added to your email lists, you might soon find that your subscribers list becomes overwhelming. With everyone subscribed to the same email newsletter, and with scant details about each one, you'll be broadcasting your emails but will have little insight about the people you're talking to.

Automation can help here, too. Whenever you're creating a new Zapier integration to add contacts to your email lists, be sure to take advantage of all the contact fields, so you'll have as much info about your subscribers as possible. Then, here are some other ways to keep your email lists up-to-date.

Add Contacts to the Best List

No two contacts are alike, and the same email list might not be the best for each of them. All you need is a system to see what your new contacts are interested in, and then add them to the appropriate email list. That way, everyone will get emails that target their interests, and will be far more likely to open the emails.

If you're using forms, you could have different forms for different interests, and send each to their own email newsletter. Same for sales: have a list for each product category, and add customers to the appropriate lists based on what they've purchased.

For everyone else, you'll need something smarter: a marketing automation app. These apps will watch customers on your websites, see what they're interested in, and tag them appropriately. You can then send those contacts to the correct email list confidently based on their browsing habits.

With this much info about each contact, you should be able to add them to the right list

ORBTR founder Erik Wolf finds this type of targeting especially crucial for some businesses. "We have a customer who runs a technology conference," explained Erik. "When someone comes to their website or opts in to some general marketing list, that individual could be a potential attendee, sponsor, vendor, or speaker and our customer may not know what bucket that person belongs in straight away."

"Each of those categories requires a different type of messaging," Eric continues. "If they see an individual that is looking at all the pages in their sponsorship section, that's a cue that they should be using to trigger a sponsorship-related email message."

So think through your own customer acquisition flow, and then use your marketing automation tool to direct people to the correct list based on what they've browsed on your site—and more.

Know Where Contacts Come From

One contact came from your form, while another bought a product, and yet another was added from a business card. They're each different—and yet, if you only add their names and emails to your newsletter app, they'll all seem the same.

So don't just do the basics when setting up your automations. Most email newsletter apps with Zapier integrations let you add notes about a customer, tag them, or put them into a group. Use those features to know where your contacts come from, and to store any other info about them that you can.

That's marketing consultant Claire Pelletreau's trick to gauging how many new contacts come from her ad spends—and how much they've spent on her site.

"Facebook's conversion tracking is limited to a short period of time, which makes it difficult to track the ROI of list building campaigns I ran months ago when people are converting now," explains Clarie. "But since Zapier 'tags' my main subscribers list with any products people have bought as well as their opt-in source, I can see which of my customers came from that investment in paid traffic. It makes decision-making about ad spend extremely simple, by automatically segmenting my subscribers when they buy something something from me with Gumroad."

You can accomplish similar things with your email newsletter contacts. All it'll take is a bit of time to tweak your Zaps that bring in new contacts, and make sure they're adding as much info as possible to your contacts. Then, connect your sales platform and have it update your contacts when they purchase your product, and you'll have a similarly detailed view of your marketing efforts.

Move or Rem.,ove Subscribers from Lists

You'd like to be able to send your emails to as many people as possible; that's the whole reason you're trying to add subscribers automatically. And yet, sometimes it's best to stop sending emails to a subscriber. Maybe they never open your emails, or perhaps your list is just aimed at customers and they've never purchased anything.

In that case, it's time to either remove them from your lists entirely, or just move them to a new list and then remove them from the old list—and it's easy to do that with Zapier. Most of your Zaps likely connect two different apps together, but you can actually use Zapier to automate actions inside of individual apps, which is the perfect way to keep your email lists in order. ORBTR founder Erik Wolf lists this as one of his favorite Zapier features.

"One of my favorite ways to use the MailChimp/Zapier integration is to actually create zaps that integrate MailChimp with itself," says Erik. "For example, I will often create Zaps that will remove a subscriber from list X if they are added to list Y."

Marketer Claire Pells uses the same feature to make sure people are only subscribe to one of her lists at a time. "Zapier also keeps my monthly payment to Mailchimp low because I can automatically delete subscribers from the different lists once they're moved to my main subscriber list," Claire explains. "Each subscriber is only counted one time in Mailchimp's book (which is important when you have a number of lists and fast growth)."

Be sure to experiment with your own email marketing app's Zapier integrations, and see what internal actions you can automate. It'll keep your lists orderly, save you money, and make sure your contacts aren't bombarded with emails from all of your lists.

Take Subscribers Beyond the Email List

Email marketing is great, but it isn't everything. If your only marketing efforts are sending emails, you'll miss out on a lot of other opportunities to interact with your fans, showcase your products, and help out your best customers.

Here are some great ways to move your contacts from your email app to the other tools you use, so you can keep your efforts marketing running beyond the inbox.

Invite to Events

Whether you're scheduling a local usergroup meeting, planning a conference with leaders from your industry, or just running a Google Hangout to help people understand how to use your product, events are one of the best marketing tools. They give you the chance to talk directly to users, while letting you broadcast your message to as many people as are at your event.

You may have added new email subscribers from previous events, so why not market your next event directly to your other email subscribers? Sharing each meeting individually from a list of contacts would take forever, but your email newsletter is the perfect place to spread the word quickly.

That's how the Christopher Harring, director at the office of graduate admission at Maryland Institute College of Art, streamlined the online webinars his team runs each month. "Before our Zaps were running, we would need to manually export email addresses from our inquiry forms, import them into Emma and then distribute invitations," says Harring. "That lead to huge delays, and often we wouldn't be able to invite everyone before the event took place."

Zapier's automation changed the game. "Now we can Zap that data straight from the form into Emma and get that invitation out immediately," Christopher continues. "Our online event attendance grew overnight as a result."

Add Contacts to Your CRM

For marketing that takes a personal touch, you'll want a better place to keep track of your contacts than your email newsletter lists. But there's no reason to manually add people to your CRM: Zapier can do that for you automatically.

That integration helped the Sagsa team follow up with their contacts after attending an exhibition. "Last October, we participated in an important exhibition and received more than 200 visits from potential customers," says Andrea Perini, Sagsa's sales and marketing manager. "Back at home, we inserted all the contacts in our Nutshell database, and immediately sent a "Thanks for visiting email" to everyone with Mailup."

"All the contacts had been immediately updated, allowing us to provide an immediate answer without distracting people from their work," continues Andrea. "A few of them have replied, congratulating us for the fast and quick response!"

Whether you're adding customers to your CRM first, or to your email newsletter first, the same principal applies. Just have Zapier add each contact to both apps, and you'll be able to continue your automated and personalized marketing at the same time.

Invite Contacts to a Meeting

If you have a small email list—perhaps aimed at one particular niche, with only a dozen new subscribers a month or so—you might want to take your marketing beyond the inbox and reach out to your readers in person. One-on-one meetings are a great time to close the sale or ensure new users are taking full advantage of your products, and Zapier can schedule those meetings for you.

Just create a Zap that adds a new appointment—perhaps at some time in the future—with each new contact on your lists, and you'll be able to focus on your meetings and not worry about setting them up.

Organize Contacts in a Spreadsheet

Sometimes it's not about interacting with your contacts more. What's needed most is a way to analyze your marketing efforts, organize your contacts, and see where everyone came from. For that, the most abused business app is still one of the best: a spreadsheet.

"It's a helpful way of quickly seeing new signups alongside helpful custom field data like location, postal code, Google Analytics UTM variables, and my own custom tracking (see the last column in the spreadsheet attached)," says content marketer Ronnie Nijmeh about his own contact spreadsheet. "This lets me us the power of filtering and sorting in a spreadsheet that I can't easily do in AWeber."

He uses his spreadsheet both as a way to analyze his marketing efforts and contacts, and as a way to connect his newsletter subscribers to other apps in his workflows. "One Zap moved the customer from AWeber to a spreadsheet and another moved the spreadsheet to GoToWebinar—and my customer service staff easily kept track by looking at the spreadsheet," Ronnie explains.

Add your own contacts to a spreadsheet, with rows for any data you'd like to track, and you'll find similar ways to optimize your workflow with the world's most flexible app.

Get Notified When Your List Gets New Subscribers

Getting a new subscriber is a big deal—at least when you're first first starting out your email marketing efforts. Instead of checking your email list everyday to see who's signed up, you can have Zapier send you a notification in your favorite app. Connect it to SMS or a notifications app like Pushbullet to be the first to know when anyone signs up, or send the notifications a team chat app like Slack to let your entire team know.

Or, you could use filters on your Zaps to have Zapier notify you only when specific people sign up. That way, you can watch for VIPs, premium customers, or anyone else you're hoping will signup for your emails.

Add Contacts to Your LinkedIn Network

Those VIPs that have just signed up for your email newsletter are people you should keep in touch with beyond emails. They might be a valuable connection in the future, or they might just keep up with the posts and content that you share on LinkedIn.

All you have to do is let Zapier send each of your new subscribers a LinkedIn invite, and you'll turn a subscription into a connection. You can even use the same filters to only send an invitation to new subscribers, say, from specific companies to build your network and market your products more directly.

Publish Your Email Newsletter

For all of the good things about email, it's still not the only place to reach your contacts. There's people who only check Twitter for news, or rely on LinkedIn InMail for their most important messages, and they'll fall through the cracks with your marketing if you're focused only on email.

You might not have time to make a blog post after spending time on your email newsletters, but that's ok. Most email newsletter apps let you share your newsletter with a link, and Zapier can then share that link with your social networks. That way, your message will get shared with everyone, and you'll only have to focus on writing amazing emails.

Backup Your Contacts

Disaster strikes, your favorite email newsletter app dies, and your meticulously crafted contact lists are gone forever. Unlikely, but there's no reason to risk it. Plus, it's always nice to have another copy of your contacts, whether for quick reference or to easily be able to import them into another app in the future.

The good thing is, backing up your contacts is easy. Just have Zapier copy each new contact in your email lists to your favorite storage option: a Dropbox text file, Evernote note, or have them appended in a contacts spreadsheet for the most flexibility. Or, if you want an easy way to contact everyone on your lists, you could have them added to your address book automatically. Just be warned: your address book might get overwhelmed.


You've learned about the best email newsletter apps, found ways to grow your newsletter lists, automate your work, and make sure your emails stay out of the spam box. But email newsletters are far from the only way email marketing messages. In the next chapter, we'll look at what drip emails are, and help you decide which types of drip emails are right for your business—and then, we'll help you pick the perfect app to send drip messages as well.

Go to Chapter 6!

Zapier interns Nat Eliason and Marissa Daily contributed to this article.

Image credits: Bulk Mail photo courtesy Nate Grigg.


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