Conversion Optimization, Email Marketing & User Experience Tips

Email List Building Mistakes Beginners Make

6 Email List Building Mistakes Beginners Make

The bigger your email list, the better.

It allows you to send highly targeted visitors to your website whenever you want.

Launching a new product?

Send thousands of targeted visitors to your landing page with just one email. All of whom are ready to buy what you are selling with their wallets open.

Published a new post on your blog?

Send thousands of readers who are hungry to consume your content with just one email. If you have an email list, none of your blog posts will go unread.

The benefits of having a big, engaged email list are AWESOME. But getting to thousands of email subscribers is hard.

Getting to a thousand email subscribers is hard. These Six Mistakes Make It harder.Click To Tweet

It can get even harder…

… if you are making these six mistakes I am about to share.

If you are making any of these mistakes, don’t worry. You can fix them all in less than a day.

Before we get started, if you have just started building your email list, check our article, 7 Highly Actionable List Building Strategies.

So, if you are ready, let’s dive in:

Just One Call To Action

Here’s the deal:

Slapping an opt-in form in the sidebar of your blog isn’t going to work.

This is a mistake most beginners make…

… they offer just one opt-in form on their pages.

If you want people to hit the subscribe button, you need to offer them multiple chances.

What do I mean by that?

In addition to your blog sidebar, be creative and place opt-in forms at places where they will grab the reader’s attention.

Want to get your creative juices flowing?

Here are a few places where you should try placing an opt-in form:

A Featured Box

Want to grab your reader’s attention?

Grab it before they even start reading your content. The best way to do it is with a featured box. A featured box is simply an opt-in form (box) you place right below the header.

Here’s an example from SmartBlogger:

Example of a Featured Box

Can you see how hard it is to ignore that featured box?

In-Content

If someone is reading your content…

… you already have their attention.

This is the perfect opportunity to ask them to sign up.

In-Content Opt-in Form Example

The above screenshot is from MuscleForLife. This site places opt-in forms strategically in-between the content. These opt-in forms might break the reading flow but gain the reader’s attention. There is no way this in-content call-to-action can go unnoticed.

After Content

When a reader finishes reading your article, one of these is possible:

  • They liked the content and want to know more about you…
  • … or they want to leave a lovely comment.

Whatever the reason, you can use this opportunity to grab their attention and go for the ask.

Here’s a great example from Social Triggers:

After Content Opt-in Form

Footer

I know.

Your site’s footer is the last place people look at. But it can help you grab a visitor’s attention.

List Building Opt-in Form In The Footer

The above screenshot from Muscle For Life is a good example of a footer opt-in form. An opt-in form in the footer of your website won’t double your email list growth overnight. But it will give your readers an additional chance to subscribe.

Using a Generic Offer

Look:

A generic offer like “Start Getting My Free Newsletter” doesn’t offer the visitor an incentive to join your email list.

Want people to subscribe to your email list?

Give them a good reason.

While a generic offer is much better than no offer at all, you can always spice it up and improve your conversion rate.

How?

Use an enticing offer that your readers can’t say no to. For example, if you are in the fitness industry, try using an offer similar to “Sign Up For My Exclusive Weight Loss Tips.”

Now, in this example, you are not doing anything special. You are still asking the readers to subscribe to your email list. But this time you are offering some value.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Get My Best [Industry] Tips Delivered To Your Inbox
  • Sign Up For My Exclusive [Industry] Tips

Not Offering a Juicy Lead Magnet

Want to skyrocket your email list growth?

Start offering a lead magnet. A lead magnet is simply a bonus you offer your readers for subscribing.

Don’t know what a lead magnet is?

Check out this lead magnet Unbounce offer on their blog:

A Good Example of Lead Magnets

Their audience consists of marketers looking to up their conversion rate. This lead magnet offers exactly what their target audience wants.

If you want lead magnets to work for you…

… you will need one that your target audience actually wants.

Ready to make your first lead magnet?

All you have to do is find something your audience wants and offer it in exchange for their email. If your blog is about Weight Loss, your lead magnet could be something like “5 Easy Ways To Lose 5 Pounds In Just 5 Weeks.”

Now, your lead magnet doesn’t have to be unique. It just has to be something your audience wants.

Here are a few ideas for lead magnets you can create today:

  • Repurpose a popular blog post into a Downloadable PDF file.
  • Create a bonus for your blog post that includes a few more bits of content.
  • Offer a free template or a cheat sheet.

Don’t know how to create a PDF?

Try PrintFriendly.

It’s a free tool that will help you convert your web pages into a downloadable PDF file.

If you can’t offer a Lead Magnet, at least don’t use a generic offer like “Subscribe To My Email List.” Have a look at the previous section for ideas on how you can spice up your offer.

Not Using Popups

Most Bloggers hate popups. They think popups are obtrusive.

But here’s the deal:

They just work.

Popups are one of the best ways to convert your website visitors into subscribers. They work because they grab your visitor’s attention.

Instead of hoping your readers find the opt-in form in your sidebar, you can offer them a chance to opt-in as soon as they enter.

In addition to entry popups, you can double your conversion rate using exit-intent popups. An exit-intent popup only shows up when the visitor is about to leave.

Sounds like magic, right?

You can use an exit-intent popup to massively improve your conversion rates. One of the best ways to use exit-intent popups is to offer a lead magnet as an incentive to sign up.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about:

Popup on ramit sethi's blog

The above is an example of an exit-intent popup from Ramit Sethi’s blog. In this guide on building habits, he displays this popup when the reader is about to leave.

This popup contains a lead magnet that his readers really want. The lead magnet is just a polished PDF Version of this guide.

Here are a few ideas for lead magnets you can offer in your exit-intent popups:

  • A downloadable PDF version of your post. It doesn’t need to be unique. All you have to do is convert your post into a basic PDF file.
  • Bonus content that is not included in your article. For example, if your article offers 15 tips, save 3 and package them into a PDF file.
  • A template or a spreadsheet that is related to your article or blog. For example, if you are in the fitness industry, you might offer a spreadsheet to help keep track of exercise or diet.

If you are interested in creating exit-intent popups on your own site, check out our exit-intent extension.

Asking For Too Much Information

It’s a lot of work to fill a dozen fields just to sign up…

… and most people are too lazy to fill that many fields. At least I am.

Here’s an example of a really long opt-in form:

Asking for a lot of information

Can you see how many fields that opt-in form asks?

If you want to improve the conversion rate of your opt-in forms, only ask for the information that you really need. Remember, the more fields in your opt-in forms, the more people will resist signing up.

Here’s a good example of a minimal opt-in form:

a minimal opt-in form

As you can see, SmartBlogger only asks for the email.

The reason is simple…

… they don’t need any other details.

Not even the name. And neither do you.

If your opt-in form contains more than three fields, try removing as many fields as you can. Chances are most of the fields on your opt-in forms are redundant and you don’t even need them.

Remember, you can always add more details about a subscriber to your database in the future. Most email marketing tools allow you to add additional details about a subscriber both manually and automatically.

Not Building an Email List From The Beginning

This is a mistake a lot of internet marketers are guilty of making.

I myself didn’t start building my email list for quite a long time after I started my first blog. I lost thousands of potential subscribers just because of this fact.

Most bloggers believe they need a steady stream of thousands of visitors before they can start building an email list.

But that’s not right. You don’t need much traffic to start building an email list.

Start building your email list even if you are struggling to get even a hundred visitors to your blog. While it is true that in the beginning, you will only get just 2-3 subscribers a day, this number keeps on adding up.

If you are not building your email list from the start of your blogging journey, you are leaving hundreds of thousands of potential subscribers on the table who might later convert into customers.

The bottom line?

Start building your email list as soon as you start your blog.

Conclusion

All of these mistakes are easy to make. If you are making them on your own site, there’s still time to improve. It’s never too late.

Which of these list building mistakes are you guilty of making?

Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Mohit Gangrade is a freelance writer and internet marketer. He writes about SEO and Content Marketing.

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5 Comments

  1. Pedro on October 10, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Hey Mohit,

    Great post 🙂
    You’re so true about email list building. If you’re blogger, writer, content marketer or other online entrepreneur and you’re not building an email list, you’re selling yourself short. The reality is you don’t have a real online business if you aren’t growing a list of email subscribers!

    But then as you pointed out growing a huge list is not a walk in the park. Your prospects are probably already on a hundred and one email lists, and are getting bombarded daily with advertising messages. So the last thing they want is to get more junk in their email inbox from yet another company or individual trying to sell them stuff! That’s why it’s so critical to understand the importance of creating a compelling offer through a killer lead magnet, a point which you dealt with brilliantly.

    As a list grow strategist, I see these common mistakes you highlighted ALL the time! To this awesome list, you can add using the word “subscribe” in your op-tin forms. In my humble opinion and from my personal experience, asking people to “subscribe” is always a turn off. Why? Because people don’t want to “subscribe” to another Newsletter!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Best regards,

    Pedro

    • Daniel Iser on October 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

      @Pedro – Thanks for the great tip, gonna sweep our new site for similar usage of the word subscribe and look at testing it over the next few months 😉 Though I agree, I don’t need any more emails haha.

    • Collins Agbonghama on November 14, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Thanks Pedro for chiming in. I am guilty of asking people to subscribe. Like Daniel, I will change it to something more action driven.

  2. Michael on June 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Do I REALLY need an autoresponder to make money online?!

    • Daniel Iser on June 20, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      There are infinite ways to make money online, so no, you don’t NEED one, but if you WANT to maximize your return on effort then it would be highly suggested. There are a few exceptions if your niche isn’t able to draw direct benefits from an email list, such as one based on a phone or SMS service.

      Hope that helps.

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