Six List Building Mistakes and How To Turn Them Around

By far, the biggest list building mistake that I see happen oh so frequently is…

… not building a list.

Those who do are smart marketers. Because, despite delivery problems, spam filters and what else, email marketing still works.

Besides that, it doesn’t cost a lot extra to build a list. You only need a great email management system. Here’s one that you can try out for $1.

Of course you’ll also need a sales funnel system when you’re a list builder. If you don’t have one, you can download your free funnel system here.

Still, with all resources in place, list builders make many mistakes. Let me first sum them up and then give you some great advice.

Here are the six biggest list building mistakes that I frequently see. Since they’re already addressed online, I will refer to the quality posts that I found.

  1. Not having a great sign up (squeeze) page.
    It doesn’t necessarily needs to be fancy, but you must convince your visitors to subscribe.
    Read point 4 of 7 Deadly List-Building Mistakes by Robert Middleton.
  2. Not giving away anything as an incentive to subscribe.
    David Risley describes this (and my other items) very well in 3 Big List Building Mistakes.
  3. Not using a sales funnel system for subscribers who keep buying
    That problem can be fixed quickly. Just download your free funnel system and APPLY it!

    Marketing Funnel
    Photo Credit: dphershman
  4. Not staying in contact with their list regularly.
    That means you don’t build a relationship with your subscribers. Read points 3 and 4 of 5 Deadly List Building Mistakes
  5. They try to sell something in every email
    Well, this goes without saying. If you only send mails to sell stuff, people will unsubscribe in a flash. Same applies to sending swipe email, messages for affiliates composed by the product owner.
  6. Not to segment their list.
    I found this one online, but it’s part of a downloadable file that many list builders use, so I won’t link to it.
    The point is, that you have to separate buyers from freebie seekers, and multiple buyers from single buyers. It would also be nice to segment buyers depending on the product they bought from you.Aweber does a nice job segmenting your lists.

Ok, to recap: not giving away anything is a huge mistake. And even if your subscription incentive is free, you have to “sell” it to your visitors. Therefore you have to use a few sales letter techniques: headlines, bullets, nice graphic, etc.

Which makes me think…

…if I have to “sell” a freebie using all these sales letter techniques, resulting in only a list of mainly freebie seekers instead of buyers, then why wouldn’t I …


You only need a valuable product (as in the free giveaway situation), so you might as well sell it for a couple of dollars. Even a product that goes for $1 is going to be much more valuable than a freebie product. When people pay money for your product, then you know that the people on your list have a credit card or PayPal account available to buy other products or services from you.

SELL your incentive. If you use Rapid Action Profits your list segmentation can be automated during the buying process. By the way, RAP celebrates its fourth birthday with a great discount

The end result of building your lists this way is less subscribers, but now you have a list of buyers that you can throw in your marketing funnel to buy again! Huge advantage.

So, do you make list building mistakes?
Post your comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Six List Building Mistakes and How To Turn Them Around

  1. Most of the people who do send emails to me are always promoting their “products” or their “friends” products. It becomes disgusting. I quickly unsubscribe.

    • Case Stevens says:

      Promoting products in broadcast should be done with care. Not too often and only if it fits well within the topic at hand.
      It should be a sincere recommendation between friends of something that can help to achieve goals.
      Nevertheless, most marketers just promote and do nothing else to help their readers. Shame.

  2. Case Stevens says:

    I ask a question about their experience level when people sign up for my marketing newsletter (not on this blog) and send them over to an appropriate autoresponder series depending on their answers. Works well, because they end up in the right learning curve.

  3. Case Stevens says:

    To build a list, basically you need 3 things:
    1. a sales funnel (your marketing plan)
    2. a prewritten, high-quality message sequence
    3. more products, preferably your own.
    Although it takes time to set this up, once it works it can be fully automated. You then just need to tweak the whole system.

    Yes, Aweber is worth the money, because they have great delivery rates and you can start at low prices.
    If you have your sales funnel in place, don’t you think you can earn that 19 dollars back in one month time?

  4. Michael Stetina says:

    Hi Case,

    I arrived at your site through “Do Follow Diver”. Commenting on list building sites is good for my site’s Page Rank, but the cool thing about manually commenting is I come across good information like your site’s. It’s almost like an added bonus!

    I concur with the great information on your site. I encourage all my clients to get involved in conversations related to their niche. To wit, the name of the free giveaway on my site is entitled “The Seven Biggest Mistakes You Are Making in your Email List Building Strategy”. How’s that for relevance!

    • Case Stevens says:

      Thanks Michael.
      Your giveaway you link to looks interesting, but you’re selling it. I prefer links to high value content, so I linked to your blog.
      I use my blog to link to relevant articles from my giveaways and reports. Makes them shorter and to the point. Is that an idea you can use?

      • Case Stevens says:

        Hey Michael.
        Yes, I realize you’re giving away something in exchange for a subscription. I do the same. But in order for you to get that subscription, you’re ‘selling’ your giveaway using headers, bullet points and sales content.

        Most of my readers just want to learn first before they get sold to something.
        They want to learn something they can use immediately in their own ventures in order to increase their chances to achieve their goals. If they do learn from you, they’re willing to subscribe too. So, the order is: first give (article, solution, suggestions, experiences), then sell. Not the other way around. That’s why I linked to your blog.

  5. Richard says:

    A lot of marketers make too much typographical errors on their squeeze page. Some times i wonder why they don’t double check their text before using it.

    Also, list building methods and practices evolve everyday, i recommend you learn from the experts. That way, you’ll keep improving.

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