Everybody (myself included) is always going on and on about how important it is to have a mailing list for your business. It’s the easiest way to keep in touch with your audience and it nets the highest conversions when you’re selling things. The draw to build your list’s subscribers is heard far and wide. But not many people talk about how not to grow your list.
When someone subscribes to your email list, they’ve just given you a sacred bit of permission.
Your subscribers let you appear somewhere they spend a lot of time (their inbox) and in turn, you promise not to abuse your newfound power.
Too often though, I see people taking their subscribers for granted, or worse, treating them like shit.
Stuff like this:
An ecommerce transaction isn’t the same as subscribing to a mailing list that sends out frequent emails. If they’ve already bought something from you, include your mailing list as a link in the receipt or as an opt-in at checkout. At most, email them ONCE to remind them if they bought something from you, they may also be interested in your main list.
This happens a few times a week to me. I get an email from a mailing list I didn’t subscribe to, only to see that they subscribed to my list the week before. Not only is this a jerk move, it’s also stupid—it’s fairly obvious the first email I get that you added me without my permission, and I’m immediately going to report it as spam.
This is also a different type of transaction. Emailing you once isn’t the same as giving you permission to add them to your mailing list. Unless my email starts “I DON’T WANT ANYTHING EXCEPT TO BE ADDED TO YOUR MAILING LIST”. Otherwise, don’t do it.
See points #2 and #3. This is a separate and different transaction. Total jerk move.
If you have event-related emails, like a venue, date, time, speaker change, that’s exactly what you’ve got my email address for. If you want to sell or give my email to your event sponsors, that’s not cool at all. If you want to email me after the event with product announcements, blatantly trying to sell me things that are totally unrelated to the event I attended? Definitely not cool.
I know I unsubscribed. I don’t need to be reminded how much I didn’t want to be on your list. You’re not going to win me back with one final plea. We broke up. Move on.
If your list uses goals to track subscriber activity, you don’t need to remind me every few days that I haven’t done what you wanted me to do. You can’t control me – you’re not my mother!
I signed up for one list, not ALL of your lists.
If there’s no clear and visible link to unsubscribe, you’re violating lots of email rules and etiquette. Worse is having a link to unsubscribe but not taking people that click it off your list. There are several lists that I’ve been added to and every week I click “unsubscribe” and the following week I still get emails. Make damn sure your unsubscribe link works. Otherwise, look out for emails from me that start with excessive cursing.
If we connect on social media and it’s on a network that shows my email address, our online friendship doesn’t give you permission to put me on your list. If you do, P.S.: our friendship is over.
Look, I get it. I do.
Spoiler alert: The only way to do this is by being a real and decent person about it. No jerk moves. No shady tactics. Just provide so much value that people actually want to sign up for your list.
Even if you find success using the methods above, it won’t last. And, you aren’t a jerk. Plus, people will think you’re a total jerk and your email mistakes will hurt your business. And when was the last time you bought something from a total jerk?< Return to articles · Get Mailchimp training