When it comes to building an email list there are a number of mistakes I see small businesses make time and time again. The first, of course, is not to focus on it at all. So if this is you make sure you check out last week’s blog post “The Ultimate Guide to Email List Building” Apart from that, there are many little things that can limit the success of our list growth. And often all that is required is a little tweek here and there to get things moving! Here’s the Top 5!

mistake #1: “sign up for my newsletter”

Ugh…. sorry but I don’t want to get another newsletter! I’m going to have to really really love your business to want to sign up for that. Saying you have a “newsletter” doesn’t tell me anything about what you will send me. Is it going to be helpful information? Or is it just going to be self-promotional? Your would-be subscribers need to know what value they will receive for signing up to your email list. In other words, what’s in it for them? If you haven’t done so already, instead try to come up with an opt-in incentive (e.g. a pdf checklist) that you can offer in exchange for their email address.

mistake #2: hidden forms

Where have you placed forms on your website for people to sign up? Is it in a prominent place or is it sitting buried in your footer somewhere? Or, worse yet, does it appear as an instant pop up and then once I hit the X it won’t be seen again by me for another 30 days? For people to sign up, they need to see it! Yes, we need to be careful with this one. Google is penalising search results on mobiles for sign up forms that take up the full first screen (big pop-ups or welcome mats).  But it still needs to be prominent and in multiple places. Here are some ideas:


  • On your home page
  • As a banner across your site
  • In your sidebar
  • Embedded in blog posts
  • At the end of blog posts

mistake #3: not having a dedicated lead page

When you are telling people about your opt-in incentive, where are you sending them to?

Are you sending them to your home page where they can get distracted by all the other wonderful things you have going on?

Or do you have a dedicated lead page?

A lead page is a must-have for list building. This is typically a super simple one screen webpage with no menu and no distractions. It’s sole purpose is to get that email address.

It will have an enticing headline, maybe some bullet points and maybe a preview of the download.

All will be directing visitors to fill in their details and hit that submit button. They literally have nowhere else to go.

Once they hit submit then you can take them to a thank you page which can direct them to those other wonderful things, but at least you have their details first.

mistake #4: not telling anyone about it!

“Build it and they will come” – Well not exactly!

You’ve created this amazing thing so make sure you are regularly sharing it.

So often we create something, share it a couple of times and then it just sits there gathering virtual dust.

Social Media provides a great avenue for this. Here are a few ideas:

  • Schedule a post on it at least once a fortnight
  • Do an Instagram Story or Facebook Live on it
  • Make it your pinned post on Facebook or Twitter
  • Change your Facebook or Twitter cover image to include a promo of it
  • Share it on Facebook Group promotional threads

mistake #5: not sending any emails

This is something that crops up a lot – especially for businesses first starting their email lists.

I mean it’s not really exciting to send an email to only 3 subscribers is it?

But sending regular emails is an important habit for you to get into. “Regular” can mean weekly, fortnightly or monthly but the important part is that you are being consistent.

If you don’t do this and all of a sudden you have something you need to promote, your subscribers can be instantly turned off. They think “Oh that person must be selling something if they are bothering to send an email”. Or worse yet, “I didn’t sign up for this”, because they have totally forgotten filling out that form 3 months ago!

Instead, you need to be providing consistent value. You need to make them want to open your emails because most of the time there is something in it for them to do so.

So just start sending them! Little tips or insights. Maybe some behind the scenes stories. As long as it is something!

A great spin off from this is sending a sequence of welcome emails so that when they first sign up they get a little introduction to your business, why you do what you do and how you can help them. This ensures that anyone who joins your list is informed of the most important things right from the beginning when they are most excited about having found you.


So there you have it, 5 mistakes I see small businesses make with their email list building – which can you improve upon today?

email marketing step by step guide download


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