Top 10 List Building Mistakes

Are you waiting to build a list?

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The money is in the list.”

This is one of the most popular saying in the world of business, and it’s absolutely true. Content may be king, but the list is the Supreme Chancellor.

The fact is, having a list is far more important than having a large fan base on Facebook, a lot of traffic on your blog, or a lot of followers on Twitter. List subscribers are people you can reach at any time. You don’t have to get them to be on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. You only have to get them to open their email, which is something most people do at least once per day.

Let’s say that on average, each email subscriber you get can generate approximately $1 per month. That means if you have 100 subscribers, you could make $100 per month. 1,000 subscribers could make you $1,000 per month. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good general guideline. It could be less, but it could be much more depending on your niche, your offers, and how you treat your list.

In this guide, you’re going to learn about some of the biggest mistakes people make when building a list and marketing to that list, and how you can avoid making these killer mistakes in your own campaigns.

Let’s begin…

Mistake #1 – Waiting to Build a List

You may think that because your website or blog is only getting a handful of visitors that you shouldn’t bother trying to build your list yet.


No matter how much traffic you have, even if it’s one visitor, it’s never too early to start trying to build your list. You never know when that one person who would buy absolutely everything you promote might come along, so it’s a good idea to get up a squeeze page and a lead magnet and start trying to gather subscribers immediately.

Let’s say you decide to wait until you are getting 1,000 unique visitors per day to start building your list. And let’s say it takes you a full year, 365 days, to reach that point. And let’s say you got an average of 100 visitors each day before that point. And let’s say that your squeeze page would have converted 10% of those people to subscribers.

10% of 100 visitors per day (10) x 365 days = 3,650 subscribers

Remember how I mentioned that the average subscriber is worth $1 per month? That’s $3,650 per month worth of income you could be missing out on! This is just a simple example, but you can see my point, right?


Mistake #2 – Bad Lead Magnets

A lead magnet, in case you’re not aware, is whatever you’re giving away as an incentive to get people to join your list. This might be a free video, a report, an eBook, a multi-day email course, or perhaps just a free coupon or discount offer.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they can throw together a 5-page report that offers very little real value. While it may work to get people to join your list, it isn’t going to benefit you much for the long term.


Because your lead magnet isn’t only to get people to join your list. It’s also a preview of what you know. It’s a preview of what kind of valuable things you might offer in the future. It lets people know you’re an expert in your field.

Your lead magnet should actually be of such high quality that people would be willing to pay for it. The higher the quality, the more people will want to buy whatever you offer for sale later, because they will automatically think, “If the freebie is this great, the paid stuff must be freaking incredible!”

Want high-quality lead magnets? Check out the done for you packages here


Mistake #3 – Bad Squeeze/Landing Pages

A bad squeeze or landing page is going to kill your list building efforts faster than anything else. If your landing page is poorly constructed, you could be losing out on a very large number of subscribers.

Let’s look at the example from the previous section. Those 3,650 subscribers would be half that (only 1825) if your squeeze page converted at 5% instead of 10%. That’s potentially a difference of getting $1,850 on average per month instead of $3,650 per month!

You probably won’t come up with a perfect squeeze page right off the bat. It might take testing several iterations before you come up with the right version. But you can use A/B split testing to determine which version converts best for you. You could even send some paid traffic to your squeeze page iterations to test them before you start using them.

I’m sorry that there’s no one be-all, end-all squeeze page example I can give you that is guaranteed to work in any niche. Different markets will respond better to different tactics. That’s why you should test different styles, different headlines, different images, different colors, even different lead magnets until you get a squeeze page that converts well.

Check out the easiest squeeze page web app here. You can create  stunning squeeze pages in minutes!

Mistake #4 – No Autoresponder Sequence

Okay, so let’s say you have built a list of several hundred (or thousand) people. Now what?

If you’re not using an autoresponder sequence, you’re really missing out on a lot of potential from your list. The reason for this is that you want to keep your list warm until you’re ready to send out your next offer.

What do I mean by warm?

Well, let’s say you join an email list to get a free report. You read the report and like it, but you don’t get any emails from this marketer for several weeks. Then suddenly you get an email selling something.

You may have forgotten who this person is. You may not immediately remember that free report you got, or where it came from. Now suddenly this person seems like a spammer. You hate spam, so you just click the “spam” tag in your email and you don’t get any emails from that person anymore.

Do you want this to happen to you? No? Then keep your list warm by using an autoresponder follow up sequence to send them interesting, valuable emails every few days for a while after they join to keep them warm.


Mistake #5 – Using the Wrong Service

Did you know that the autoresponder service you use can make a huge difference to the success of your email marketing?

Some email services have taken measures to ensure their emails are whitelisted by a lot of the major email providers and ISPs. What this means is that your emails are a lot less likely to be marked as spam, which means your emails will be seen and read by more people.

The one thing you should not do is to use one of those scripts that run on your own server. Just don’t do it! You won’t have the automatic whitelist power that a good email service provider has, and you’ll potentially be the target of spam complaints that could get your hosting account shut down or even get your domain name taken away!

If you’re using a good autoresponder service, they would field many of the spam complaints. (And you will get them no matter what you do. People may forget who you are, or they will try to unsubscribe and make a mistake and they’ll think you’re continuing to email them on purpose, or they’re just jerks.) A good autoresponder service would be able to be your advocate, because they have many anti-spam measures in place to protect themselves, and that also protects you.

Go here to see our review on autoresponders and the ones we recommended


Mistake #6 – Not Tracking Results

This is a mistake even some major marketers make, and it’s a big one. If you aren’t tracking your results, you could be missing out big time.

Most email services provide metrics. These metrics are there for a reason. They give you extremely valuable information that can tell you how well you’re doing with your email promotions.

Some of the information you may get from your email provider includes:

  • Received Rate – The total number of subscribers who got your email (or at least the total number of messages sent)
  • Opens – The total number of people who opened your email
  • Read Percentage – The percentage of people who read your message
  • Clickthroughs – The number of people who clicked the link in your email

Metrics such as these will tell you a lot. Your open rate will tell you whether your subject line worked to get people interested. Your clickthroughs will tell you how well you did writing the email copy.

Don’t ignore these metrics, as they can help you improve your results considerably!


Mistake #7 – Over-Hyping the Subject Line

The last thing you want to do is over-hype your subject line, because it will only make people automatically think your message is spam. Or even worse, they won’t believe the hype and they’ll think you’re a liar or a scammer.

Take a look at these subjects:

Lose 6 Pounds Overnight? Yes, It’s Possible With NO Dieting!

Brand New Weight Loss Method Shows Promise

The first subject line is probably going to make most people think, “Yeah, right.” There’s no way someone could lose 6 pounds overnight, right? Even if it were possible, the average person would not believe it.

The second subject line is much more believable. It may not be as “exciting”, but it’s much more honest and will probably not upset people the way the first one might.

If you find it is hard to come up with a good headline, then this headline generator will come in handy


Mistake #8 – Promotion Only Emails

Every single email you send should offer some sort of value to your subscribers. Even promotional mails should be of value in some way.

You may think, “But the product I’m promoting is incredibly valuable!”

That may be true, but if you’re not offering some sort of added value, you may end up upsetting your subscribers. At the very least, you will eventually end up alienating people, because they will stop opening your messages.

Instead, give your subscribers a lot of value. Send them valuable information for free on a regular basis. Interact with them. Don’t use as your return email address, because you want to respond when a subscriber emails you! This builds loyalty.

Whenever you send an email, add value.

Here are some ideas:

  • Offer a discount or rebate of whatever you’re promoting
  • Offer a bonus to anyone who buys through your affiliate link
  • Offer a how-to-use-it report to anyone who buys
  • Make a video review of the product

Whatever you do, don’t just send a promotion!


Mistake #9 – Not Using Text

There’s a new trend in email marketing these days to use tons of graphics and completely ignore the text side of things. The trouble is, a lot of people can’t stand graphical emails. Sometimes they won’t pay any attention to them if they are all graphics, or they will get confused and not understand where to click to get more information.

This is why you should always include some plain text for those people. At the very least, be sure you have at least one recognizable text link for people who look for text to click.

Your call to action should always include text. You might think a huge red flashing animated button that says “Click Here!” would be the option that would get the most clicks, and you might be right. But then again, it could be that small, innocuous text link that gets more results.

Just in case, be sure to include the text link alternative. That way, all your bases are covered, and you’ll find that you’ll get a better CTR because you have both options included.


Mistake #10 – Mailing Too Often or Too Little

Finding the right frequency to email your list can be tricky, but in general you want to email them anywhere from 2-5 times per week. Anything less than that and you risk them forgetting who you are. Anything more than that and they are likely to unsubscribe because they will think you’re spamming them to death.

* Every time you send out an email, watch your unsubscribe rate.

If you notice a significant increase in unsubscribes after a particular mailing, you might want to decrease the number of times you email your list. (Unless of course there’s another reason you can pinpoint for the unsubscribes, such as emailing about something controversial.)

If you notice that not many people are clicking your links or opening your emails, it might be because they don’t know who you are. In this case, temporarily increase the number of emails you send each week.

This all goes back to metrics. Pay attention to all of your metrics every time you send out a message. These metrics will let you figure out what you might be doing wrong so you can increase the effectiveness of all of your email marketing campaigns.


Remember, it’s never too late (or too early) to start building an email list. The best time to start, if you haven’t already, is now!

  • Not tomorrow.
  • Not next week.
  • Not “someday.”
  • Now!

Every day you wait is potentially several subscribers you lose forever. Those people may never cross your path online again. Isn’t it better to get those people on your list while you have the chance?

Be careful with your email marketing efforts, because once you alienate a subscriber, they’re gone for good. They’ll hit that “unsubscribe” link, and you’ll probably never hear from them again.

As long as you avoid the mistakes outlined in this guide, you’ll probably find a lot of success with email marketing. Ultimately, if you treat your list like gold, they’ll bring you lots of gold!

Good luck with your list building!

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