Building An Email List - Fundamentals      Send It To Me!  
Christiaan Stoudt

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Don't Make These 14 Mistakes While Building An Email List

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Have you had this dream to start your own email list? One where you can just send off an email that results in multiple sales and allows you that so called "freedom lifestyle." No more Corporate day job or annoying boss! Or maybe you have finally made that plunge and have an email list but just aren't getting the results you expected.

At a base level you probably feel good about the list decision but aren't happy currently with the response or reality of the problems you are facing. Honestly, it is not entirely your fault. It is getting harder to get subscribers added to your email list, and getting them to even respond to your emails. But, can you blame them?

Every website has an opt-in form with some sort of lead magnet on it or some suggestion to join their mailing list and learn about such-and-such. I wouldn't doubt that you are on a bunch of lists yourself. So how can you blame your own subscribers when they are in the same boat as you. But, of course you do, because this is YOUR LIST and you NEED THEIR MONEY!

Well there are ways to fix the situation you are in and develop the right relationship with your email subscribers so they are engaged and purchase your offers. There is not best way to build a list, instead you just have to make sure you are doing things in a way that is conducive to growing your list and providing real value to those on it. This results in increased revenue and explosive growth of your brand and business.

So what is the difference between a successful email list and a failure?

Those that are successful have a strong email marketing strategy that they follow on a regular basis. A majority of people make some or all of the following 14 mistakes while building their email list and business. So in a way you can see them as email marketing best practices that you need to make sure you follow the correct way.

01) No Clear Goal And Strategy With Your Email List

Have you taken the time to really understand what the goals and overall strategy is for your email list? Mostly people just gather subscribers via some sort of free lead magnet or video series. After a few emails of "value" they then focus on trying to sell something. Weekly they might provide some other content that they consider as "more value" and then repeat the sell email.

This isn't a real strategy even though in some cases it can return results and revenue for your business. A real strategy focuses on understanding what your audience truly wants and is built around a solid monetization process. This takes time to create and requires you to really understand your top business priorities over just "making money."

Take some time to really map your higher business goals into your email list and find ways that their outcomes match. If you do this, in the long run, you will become more successful and increase the value your email list brings to your business.

02) Not Targeting The Right People And Prospects

This is where many people go wrong. They spend all their time trying to grow the numbers of their email list and not caring as much about the quality of the actual leads they are getting. As long as the people on the list are "interested" in the topic the owner of the list feels that should be enough and that they must be "interested in buying" from them.

But, this is farther from the truth! Not having the right people on your list can lead to a series of problems - spam complaints, bad reviews, unsubscribes, low conversion numbers, wrong problem definition, product sprawl, etc. The end result is you are just wasting your time and that of those on your list.

Usually this whole problem is a result of business owners not being clear on the goals of their business and living in fear of not earning enough. So they do whatever is needed to try to sell whatever they can to whoever will buy it. Don't allow yourself to become one of these business owners. You just won't really become successful.

Make sure that your lead magnet is focused on a select group of people that will be interested in it. Then make sure that your lead magnet and email sequence really drives those people toward wanting your core business product. If the people you are targeting for joining your list are not massively needing your offer then you really don't need them on your list.

A small list of people fully interested in your product offers can outsell and earn a list 10x bigger with those marginally or not really interested. If is critical that you take the time to understand who you want to join your list and then find ways to attract that type of person.

03) Not Tracking Your Results

How can you improve anything if you do not know where you currently are? Proper business management is setting goals and key performance indicators (KPI) to track where success is. This is true for email list management as well.

You should determine what success looks like and find ways to track those result. Look at things like sign up conversion, email open rates, link click through rates, the segmentation of your list and who responds and doesn't, etc.

Without taking the time to understand what is working and what is not, you will never be able to scale your business correctly. With information like this you can make changes that will increase conversions that can ultimately lead to an increase in revenue.

04) Asking For Too Much Personal Information

We have enough issues with privacy in our culture, and you don't need to be another person trying to get additional information out of your prospects.

When engaging with a cold prospect all you need is their email list. Maybe their first name if your really want it. Anything else is just over kill because you don't even know if this person will turn into a warm lead or is just here to get a copy of your lead magnet, etc. Until you have built a better relationship with them, it is just a waste of time trying to gain more personal details.

Of course there are times when more information and insight is needed. If they are purchasing something, then get all requirements. If they are applying for something, then get information so you can contact them. That type of stuff is acceptable and people understand the context of the situation and why they need to provide information.

There are also times when you are trying to qualify people or put them in different funnels, so you ask some other questions. This can be helpful but can lead to less opt-in conversion because if there are too many questions, then it is over kill.

Simplify your lead acquisition process to something like: beginner, intermediate, advanced. Then after you have built some level of a relationship with the lead, you can get more information from them. Also when you bucket at this level it becomes pretty obvious what their initial generalized set of problems are anyways.

05) Sending From

The reality is that No-Reply@ or DoNoReply@ sender email addresses are not a great way of introducing yourself. It creates an environment of an one way conversation that people just do not like. It means you will email me to try and get something from me (my money) and you don't really care to talk directly to me (to help me solve my problem).

Yeah, we all know that this initially started because your email address is put out there to all these people and the spam bots could get ahold of it and flood your inbox with spam. But is this how you want to portray your business of a one way conversation?

You need to available to your customers if you are going to build a relationship with them. Sure you can do it in a way that doesn't overwhelm you as well. But, you need to send your emails from a mailbox that can receive a reply!

In fact, you want to be hearing from your customers. How else can you fix problems or get more information about what their real immediate issues are?

06) Your Emails Do Not Showcase Who You Are

It is important to make sure any email you send is written in a way that portrays your personality and the culture of your business. Even though you are primarily communicating for a business goal, doing it in a way that helps build connection with your subscribers will help a lot.

Many times people sign up for your list because they want your point of view, liked how you voiced something, or even felt that the way you did something would be of value to them. By not keeping your own perspective and personality in the fore front you run the risk of sounding like everyone else.

Remember that your subscribers get many other emails and newsletters. So make sure you bring a different spin to things so that you really can stand out - as long as it is authentic to who you truly are.

07) Treating List Building As A Task Of Things On A Long List Of Responsibilities

As a business owner your "to-do" list is multi-miles long. It is very easy to get caught up in the mindset of just executing against that list to check things off. Don't let communicating with your list come off like you are trying to check a box. A list needs to be nurtured!

When someone on your list buys a product, it is their hard earned income. Not some cash they found on the street. So respect them by putting a healthy amount of effort into your emails to them as well as a massive amount of your own heart. Your email list is a valuable asset and it should be kept close to your heart as such.

Companies that take the time to correctly nurture their list can generate 50% more sales-ready leads and a cost that is 33% lower. These nurtured leads can product 20% more sales than lists that are filled with normal leads.

By taking the time to try to really understand the problems and challenges your subscribers face and giving them valuable solutions you can really make your list profitable. So when was the last time you asked them what their biggest problem in their business or life was?

08) Not Engaging With Your List On A Regular Basis

While it is very important to treat your list as an asset of your business, you must not forget that these are people that are receiving the content you send out. They have their own lives, busy schedules, challenges, ups, and downs.

That connection is best served when you treat it like any other relationship in life. The more effort you put into it, the better it can become. One of the best avenues of effort is to actually engage with your list on a regular basis through content, Q&A calls, and other things that can build the connection.

If you have not been emailing your list on a consistent basis, now is the time to make an effort. Send an email stating that you know you have neglected reaching out, but that you want to change that. Tell them how you want to grow a better relationship between you and them. Ask them how for suggestions on how they would like that communication to look.

09) Not Creating A Strategic Follow-up Strategy

When someone signs up to a list they did it for a specific reason. Is the content you're sending them relevant to that reason?

With most of the lists I sign up for I only get one email (two if I am lucky) that are actually related to what I signed up for. Usually every email afterward is focused on them trying to convert me to purchase a product from them. Or telling me about all these problems I have in my business and how their product can solve them. But, do they even know that I truly have those problems? No.

It can take up to 7 contacts with email subscribers before you have developed the trust for them to purchase from you. If those contacts aren't even related to the true problems they have then no wonder your conversion rate sucks!

So take some time to sit down and develop a good mailing list strategy to actually nurture your list and have a follow-up thread that relates to your subscribers needs and why they signed up for your list.

10) Sending Emails That Treat Everyone The Same

Your emails need to be relevant to the subscriber that receives them. People have a wide range of challenges, needs, and levels of experience. You should be focusing on providing content that addresses these situations for each type of subscriber you have. A person that is just starting their business has a whole host of problems that are completely different from someone that is making a million a year.

Segmentation is how you make sure that you are not treating all people on your list the same. Segmentation can be simple or advanced. It really comes down to the type of people you have on your list and the type of issues that your business solves. There is no reason to get super complicated but you need to make sure messages are relevant to the needs of your reader.

By taking the time to develop a segmentation strategy you will get higher click-through rates and more engaged subscribers that will lead to more revenue.

11) Not Taking Time To Segment Your List In A Product Oriented Fashion

We just talked about how critical it is to segment out your list so that you have buckets of subscribers related to different topics, needs, issues, etc. One key thing you need to do in relation to each of these segments is to ensure that you have a product that is associated to each bucket people sit in.

If you don't have a product for that segment, then you need to make sure that you are providing relevant value to the subscribers and working them toward one of your products. Basically solving their issues but making sure that each email identifies new issues that lead them towards the product you are trying to promote.

While you want to move subscribers toward products, if you cannot find a way to do this then maybe you need to question why this segment topic exists or you have these subscribers. You really only want to have subscribers that are interested in products you promote. Otherwise you are likely wasting time.

12) Providing Content That Is About You Over Content That Is About The People On Your List

Your subscribers want to be connected to you and it is important that you showcase your personality in your emails. You want them to value and trust your perspective so that they will want to purchase your products.

Unfortunately, if you provide too much information about you or are always promoting your services, you could actually alienate your subscribers. While your content should showcase you and your business in some way the overall perspective and context of your emails should be about your customers and the challenges they are facing in life and business. You need to find ways to engage them on a personal level so you build a stronger relationship with them. All the while, providing content that helps them with the issues they face.

13) Sending Messages That End Up Alienating Or Cooling Down Your Subscribers

Just like if you talk too much about you or your services you can cool down or alienate your list, you can actually do it a variety of other ways. The most common way is by sending emails that just make your subscribers feel like they are only a number in your business or another email address you happen to have on your list.

Instead, you want to create content and connect with your subscribers in a way that makes them feel that they are valued by you and your business. In fact, you actually want to give them so much value that they move into a phase of becoming a hot prospect for your products and services. When this happens, then emails that are more slated toward your business products will be welcome by them. All because you moved them into a buying mentality.

Remember to never burn them out with too much selling. You need to move back and forth between a sales mindset and a value providing mindset. This keeps the attention of your subscriber and continues to build the trust you need for them to ultimately purchase from you.

Don't forget to segment your audience by the different levels of engagement you have from them: prospects, leads, very interested in a product, and former customers.

14) Not Handling Unresponsive and Unsubscribers Correctly

The people on your list are actual people with real lives that can get busy or change in the direction they are going. So you have to be willing to accept that just because they were on your list for one reason does not mean they will be staying forever. Don't be offended or become concerned if you see people unsubscribe or not engage with you very much.

By segmenting and managing your list correctly, you should be able to take people that are growing in interest with your products and increase their engagement. All those that don't follow that path of increased interaction are more than likely just not a fit for your business. It is in your best interest to let them go.

You want to do this because if you have people on your list that are not really interested then your numbers around open rates, conversion, etc. will actually be incorrect and can cause you to make bad business decisions. Segment out those people that are of low interest to your services and just keep them updated periodically or even ask them to unsubscribe if they don't want your emails. This can be scary to do, but it will help your business in the long run.

Having a list of 2,000 very interested and engaged people will always beat out a list of 20,000 could care less people.

In Conclusion:

No matter where you are in your email marketing and list building journey, it is always helpful to make sure you are not making common mistakes that can hurt your business. Have a solid email marketing strategy that is aligned to your overall business goals and revenue needs. Always remember that on the other side of that email address is a real live person just like you. Find ways to connect with them and build that relationship. Make them giving you their email address a benefit for them and it will ultimately lead towards being a benefit to you.

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Author Christiaan Stoudt

Christiaan focuses on transformation by helping businesses and individuals strategically evolve past their limiting paradigms allowing them achieve their true success and growth potential.

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