5 List Building Mistakes That Kill Your Sales (And How to Avoid Them)

Building your email list is the key to boosting your sales.

Email marketing is an opportunity to directly engage with potential customers. With this communication channel, you become a trusted friend in your subscribers’ pursuit to find the right product solution. Entrepreneur VIP contributor Susan Gunelius offers her perspective:

“Email marketing doesn’t work unless you build a list of people to send messages to who are interested in your products or services. If you’ve captured email addresses from your prior customers, then you have a great head start.”

Steer clear of roadblocks when building your list. Here are five mistakes to avoid.

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Mistake #1: Buying Email Subscribers

As a business, it’s tempting to take the easy route. You’re juggling multiple responsibilities, and a quick growth hack seems reliable.

Most companies will attempt to buy their email subscribers. But honestly, that’s not a sound business idea.

For starters, these subscribers didn’t sign up to receive messages from your brand. Sending unsolicited emails may result in legal violations, while annoying people.

Subscribers who haven’t expressed interest in your products are less likely to engage with your messages. Everyone involved loses and lots of precious time gets wasted.

So, what happens to your unsolicited messages? They end up in a person’s spam folder, never to be read. The result equals no sales for your business and a poor brand image.

buying email lists end up in spam

Rather than purchasing subscribers, work with your team to capture consumers when they visit your blog, exit a product page, or scroll down a sales page.

Building a co-marketing campaign with another brand is also a creative way to cultivate your list. This strategy will introduce new buyers to your product offerings and get potential consumers excited to receive your emails.

Are you seriously thinking about purchasing subscribers to build your list? Skip the hassle and grow your list in an organic way.


Mistake #2: Asking for Too Many Details

List building is very much like a friendship. When you’re getting to know someone, you don’t bombard the individual with intimate questions. If that happens, you may startle the person and never hear from him or her again.

In a similar manner, you can scare away potential subscribers by requesting too much information up front. It’s not necessary on the first encounter to ask for an individual’s mailing address or phone number.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but more choices is not better for your users. In fact, the more choices you give people, the less likely they are to take action. And even if they do ultimately make a decision to take action, they will be less happy with that decision than if you had only given them one choice,” writes Mary Fernandez, a professional blogger.

Moreover, you want to minimize the time it takes to subscribe. Requiring only a name and email address takes a few seconds, while a laundry list of form fields may take a few minutes.

Progressive profiling is one solution to gaining more details about your subscribers. It’s the process of requesting additional information at specific points in the consumer relationship. For instance, you may send an email talking about the origin of your business, leading your brand to ask for the subscriber’s birthdate.

Be mindful of when and how you ask for consumer information. Give the subscriber time to learn about your brand.


Mistake #3: Offering a Weak Incentive

Nowadays, your consumers understand how marketing works. You can’t trick someone (nor should you) into being part of your mailing list. It will quickly damage your brand reputation.

You can entice customers with an incentive. But if you’re wanting to give away a superficial trinket, your business should rethink that strategy.

Competition is stiff across several industries. So, copying your competitors’ tactics will not work for your business either.

To join your newsletter, consumers want more than empty promises. Instead, they desire information that will strengthen the brand-customer relationship.

Your action plan may translate into offering offering 15% coupons, invitations to brand events, or even access to exclusive product launches. The goal is to give subscribers a compelling reason to sign up and stay on your list.

Below is a pop-up box on the Nike website. The footwear and apparel company tempts consumers with “exclusives, offers, and the latest” from the brand.

email signup pop up

Strong incentives will satisfy your subscribers and persuade them to buy from your business. Plus, your consumers will likely spread the word to their friends and family members, resulting in more sales.

It’s time to drop any and all weak incentives. Do the research to learn what will attract consumers to join your brand family.


Mistake #4: Failing to Send a Welcome Email

Once a consumer signs up, your team’s job isn’t over. You must follow through on your promise to send an incredible email marketing campaign.

Let’s begin with the basics. You need a welcome email that will deliver your incentive and intrigue your new subscribers to not touch the delete button.

Treat your welcome email as a greeting and as an add-on to the onboarding process. Subscribers should feel delighted to join your brand’s journey. Bria Sullivan, Constant Contact contributor, explains in more detail:

“A welcome email is the perfect way to greet your new subscribers and ease them into your list before they start getting your regular communications. With a welcome email, you increase the likelihood that your subscriber stays engaged with your business and becomes a great, loyal customer.”

A captivating welcome includes an engaging subject line, relevant visuals, concise copy, and a clear call to action. If you promised a $10 off promo code, be sure to add it to the message.

Welcome emails serve a distinct purpose in email marketing. Use them to your advantage to connect with consumers and earn their trust for future sales.


Mistake #5: Forgetting to Ask for Feedback

Your email list is only as valuable as the insight you receive from subscribers. Learning how and why they remain on your list and buy your products can help you make better business decisions.

Feedback loops are an integral part of your marketing and sales funnel. It’s the cycle of asking for feedback and receiving it.

When asking for feedback, stick to one topic. You don’t want to flood your consumers with various questions. Also, keep your feedback survey short. It should take less than 5 minutes to complete.

Below is a feedback email Little Black Bag sent to its subscribers. It expresses how much the brand values the consumers’ thoughts.

email feedback request

Learning about your flaws isn’t helpful to customers if you don’t take action. After you receive their suggestions, you’ll want to take steps to rectify their concerns.

For instance, customers may demand your support team offer more ways to communicate. If your team adds a live chat feature as a response, you’ll want to notify your customers of the improvements.

Feedback is a valuable asset for your brand. By learning from your subscribers, you walk the path to increasing your revenue.


Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

Email marketing plays an essential role in growing your company’s sales. It’s your chance to connect with your target audience.

Stay away from buying subscribers who will delete your emails anyway. Avoid offering a sign-up incentive that doesn’t correlate with the consumers’ needs. And always immediately send a welcome email.

Build your email list, and boost your sales without the mistakes.

Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities. Connect with her on Twitter at @shaylaprice.