If you were to host a party tomorrow with the goal of just impressing one specific guest, who would you invite? What considerations would you need to make when sending out the guest list. If your goal is to highlight you favorably, your guest list needs to include people who (a) can do that and (b) complement one another. It’s a pretty simple concept. Targeted email lists aren’t that different from your goal-oriented party.

The thing they both have in common is a goal.

The key to list management is to first define your goal. Many people will have targeted lists based on location, spending habits, etc. – and that’s fine. But you also want to be more holistic in your approach. Your list isn’t just a list; your list is a driver for your end goal.

The biggest mistake any marketing manager – and in fact, any marketing agency – makes is that they’re not goal oriented. They’re nothing thinking about what their overarching purpose is.

Here’s how that gets translated into an actual campaign:

Say you’re partnering up during the holidays with a coveted business to drive donations. You send out an email campaign for invitations for a local event and you only have room for 30 guests. If you send out a first wave mass email to your local list, you’re running into a potential problem of having too many interested people exciting about attending. You’re going to have to rescind your invite, which reflects poorly on your reputation and will strain relationships.

Instead, using your customer sales management tools (like Salesforce), or even through knowing people personally, your first wave of send out can be strategically delivered only to those people who are naturally involved and invested in philanthropy. Give them a deadline to respond by, then send out a second wave of invites with a note that you have limited spacing.

This way, there’s more of a chance that the guests who attend are philanthropic, reflect well on your ability to generate participation, and may get further involved in future partnerships.

Managing your email lists really boils down to being able to cultivate a custom experience through which to funnel your marketing efforts. And that’s really what drives email marketing and successful engagement – the ability to create connections that are clearly intimate and going beyond the practice of generic or blanket attempts at communication.

This also means that when you’re curating your list, two other things need to happen. First, create check boxes for people based on what your business needs demand. Do you need to know their annual income or would you need to know if they’re interested in any causes? Secondly, work on getting to know people personally as much as you can. Move them beyond just names on a list so you can better understand what motivates and drives them. Part of this also folds back into email marketing in that your campaigns don’t need to be just message oriented that push an offer or update. They can be tailored to be micro campaigns that further better connecting with micro audiences within your list.