Email List Building Strategy Troubleshooting Guide

Google email list building strategy and see what pops up. When I do, I get a whole list of titles like the following: How to Build an Email List From Scratch 85 Free Ways to Build an Email List Fast Unbeatable List Building Strategies for 2019 22 Incredible Email List Building Hacks It sounds like […]

Written By Matthew Martin

April 24, 2019

Google email list building strategy and see what pops up. When I do, I get a whole list of titles like the following:

  • How to Build an Email List From Scratch
  • 85 Free Ways to Build an Email List Fast
  • Unbeatable List Building Strategies for 2019
  • 22 Incredible Email List Building Hacks

It sounds like if you just follow the guide, read the article and mix up the right mojo, subscribers should come pouring in. But what happens when you’ve read the articles, tried the tips and your email list building strategy turns out to be a lot of work for little return? You’re mostly getting people from another country who don’t even speak your language and no one else seems to be responding.

Common Email List Building Strategy Problems

If you’re not happy with your results, you’re probably facing one or both of these two problems. Either people aren’t subscribing at all or those who are subscribing aren’t converting. Emails go unread and after a while they unsubscribe.

When people aren’t subscribing at all, that indicates a problem with the tools or offer you’re using for list building. Either the process is too complicated, the offer isn’t tempting enough or you’re not catching their attention.

However, it’s not enough just to get people to opt-in. You could have a long list of subscribers, but if they don’t read your email and take action, it’s just a list.

Let’s troubleshoot both issues, starting with the email list building strategy that isn’t getting people to subscribe at all.

Why No One Is Subscribing to Your Email List

It’s kind of like when you have a medical problem. There’s no rule that says only one thing can be wrong at a time. Skim the following list of reasonsand you may find more than one applies to your email list building strategy.

Nobody Wants Your Freebie

Next time you’re at the mall or the football game, sit back and watch what people do when someone approaches them with something “free.” You don’t have to be close enough to hear their conversation, their body language tells it all. A person might be handing out coupons for free oil changes or giving out perfume samples to those in the area, but it’s hard to find takers.

When they approach, their intended victim sees it coming. They don’t make eye contact. Their shoulders hunch in and they edge away like they’re trying to sneak by or become invisible. They start shaking their head before the person is even close.

We’re suspicious of free. Even if the offer sounds attractive, we’re looking for the catch. Your prospective customers are no different. Maybe you offered a free subscription to your blog or a free e-book download. If they’re not responding, something about the bait you’re using is turning them off.

Troubleshooting Tip: Research your target audience. Find out what’s driving them crazy, what makes them salivate, what causes them fear, pain and hope. Then build on that.

Don’t be generic, offer them value in exchange for their email address. Your blog or e-book might be just what they need, but they won’t know unless you tell them. Just inviting them to join your list isn’t enough.


You’re Asking Too Quietly

If your offer or sign-up form is in an unobtrusive place, audiences will tune it out. Don’t put it in a sidebar or a popup that sits meekly at the bottom right of the screen. That’s too easy to ignore.

Troubleshooting Tip: Communicate your offer clearly on strategically placed popups. Yes, popups are annoying, but they’re also effective. They force the user to make a choice. We use one on our home page because we have an offer that provides real value (our SEO checker) and we don’t want people to miss it. We put it smack in the middle of the screen and it doesn’t close until viewers hit the big white “X.”

There’s no rule that says you have to quit after visitors refuse your offer once. Place multiple opportunities throughout your site. Use a popup, an opt-in form and multiple calls to action. Place an opportunity to sign up within your content. Put one more in your footer, just in case they get to the bottom and realize they want more.

Set up an offer to appear on exit intent. If they’re leaving, it might be your last chance. Make it an offer they can’t refuse, then keep repeating it until they respond.

Your Form Is Too Complicated

Look at every field in your form and get rid of everything you can do without. The more fields you require them to complete, the lower your conversion rate will be for a number of reasons.

First, more than 63 percent of internet users are browsing on their mobile device. That number grows every day. Those visitors are squinting at their tiny phone screen on the subway or at the restaurant or before they go to sleep at night. They’re typing with their thumbs. They’re busy, stressed and tired.

They didn’t come to your website to sign up for more email. They’re visiting because they need something.

Second, the more information you ask, the more obtrusive and nosy you seem. You’re going more for knowledgeable, trustworthy and friendly.

If your offer is dazzling and intriguing, you might grab their attention. If it’s tantalizing and juicy, they might think about subscribing. Don’t kill all that momentum with a long form. Leave it there sizzling, then help them reach it.

Troubleshooting Tip: If you can make do with just their name and email address, don’t ask for anything else. Don’t make them fill out their position, median household income, business challenges, budget and number of years in business. That’s too much.

When You Keep Losing Email Subscribers

If your email list building strategy gets people to sign up, you’re halfway to email marketing that gets results. If after that they unsubscribe, you know the problem isn’t with your initial offer. It’s with what comes after.

Before we get into why people unsubscribe and how to stop them, let’s first talk about consent. Make sure your list comes from people who intended to sign up to receive email from you.

Don’t automatically add them because they sign up for a free download. Make sure when they do, you’re clear about the fact you’re adding them to the list. Offer them that little checkbox where they can indicate whether or not they want email from you.

You also shouldn’t buy email lists or steal them from another source. Only email with permission.

If you first got their permission and they still unsubscribe, it could be for a number of reasons. When you keep losing email subscribers, look for the reasons, then make adjustments.

Your Subject Lines Are Boring

Have you ever subscribed to a list thinking you were really looking forward to receiving that content, then you never got around to reading it? We all have. We’re too busy to get to all the things at the top of our list, so the non-essentials get buried fast. If your subject line is “May Newsletter” or “Spring Sale,” it’s going to blend.

Think about how much junk email gets past your spam filters every day. If it’s not top priority, you only open it if you’re motivated.

Troubleshooting Tip: Write compelling, time-sensitive subject lines that beg to be opened. Pique their curiosity. Get personal. Appeal to their vanity or greed. See also 20 Email Subject Lines That Get Opened, Read and Responded.

You Don’t Deliver What You Promised

If people open a few of your emails, don’t take action, then unsubscribe it’s because they didn’t like what they saw.

Troubleshooting Tip: If your subject line promises an easy solution in just 30 days or the best price in the state, your email had better deliver. If you can’t back it up, don’t write it.

You’re Emailing too Often

There’s a fine line between being present, helpful, available and attentive and pestering your audience. A study from TechnologyAdvice talked to adults in the United States to find out why they unsubscribed or marked email as spam. The biggest reason was the company emailed too often. Forty-five percent of respondents said they received email too frequently. When asked how marketers could improve, the top answer was by sending messages less frequently.

Troubleshooting Tip: Evaluate your timeline for every campaign. There’s no one correct answer for how often you should email people on your list. Sometimes we create a campaign that’s something like Create and Optimize Your Google My Business in 7 Days to offer real value quickly, then we’re done. We also allow readers to subscribe to blog posts, and they receive one about every week. Consider asking for subscription preferences. Always only send email when you have something of value to offer, never just because the calendar says it’s time.

Email List Building Strategy That Gets Results

Email marketing is about making connections. At Spade Design, that’s what we help our clients do. If your current strategy isn’t working, we can help you get their attention and earn their business. Get in touch to find out more about our lead generation process today.


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