7 Reasons Why You Might Be Struggling To Build A List

This is a guest post by Richard Adams. Unless you've been living under a rock then you've no doubt heard the phrase "the money is in the list" over and over again. And yet if you're reading this post right now it's also likely that you're struggling to build your list either because you haven't yet got started or, almost as bad, because you followed all the advice of the "gurus" and you're still barely seeing a single subscriber joining your list each day.

This is a guest post by Richard Adams.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “the money is in the list” over and over again. And yet if you’re reading this post right now it’s also likely that you’re struggling to build your list either because you haven’t yet got started or, almost as bad, because you followed all the advice of the “gurus” and you’re still barely seeing a single subscriber joining your list each day.

Wrong “List Type”

Typically, when we think of a mailing list, we think of a big database of names and email addresses that we can use to contact people at will. That’s mostly true. However, that’s not the only type of list you can build.

Building up the number of subscribers that your blog has, increasing the number of people who have “liked” your Facebook Fan Page or who follow you on Twitter – all of these can be sources of instant contact with interested readers and prospects.

Furthermore traffic can often be “recycled” through these different media to improve your results. For example, scripts now exist so that when someone “likes” your Facebook page, their email address is added to your autoresponder. Or when someone signs up to your email list you can use your “thank you” page to promote your Facebook page, blog or Twitter feed.

Try experimenting with different “list types” to see what gets you the best results. It may be, for example, that getting people initially to subscribe to your blog may be the first step. Thereafter you can use one of the freely-available Wordpress plugins to add a short message to the bottom of your RSS feed offering a free gift to your blog subscribers if they also join your email list.

Test out different approaches to see what grows your “list” as quickly as possible.

Wrong Freebie

Many of us use a free gift of some kind – such as an ebook, video or small piece of software – to tempt people to sign up for our mailing list. But it might be that the people you’re attracting simply aren’t interested in your freebie or would prefer it in a different format.

Try polling your existing list members and website subscribers to see what sort of information they are really hungry for and then create a freebie that perfectly answers the most common question your visitors have.

Personally, I have added a contact form to my “thank you” page so that as soon as someone signs up to my list they can send me a personal message about the sort of content they’d like to see. Over time, this ensures that not only do my subscribers get exactly what they want but I can learn what type of freebies will be tempting to my visitors and which will be of little interest.

Bad Salesmanship

Maybe your freebie is right on the money, but if you don’t use the right wording to promote it you may be significantly harming your results. Try using different headlines, different product images and different bullet points to see which combinations draw the most people possible into your sales funnel.

Fortunately, using one of the popular autoresponders like Aweber, it can be easy to split test your mailing list signup form and track which one gets the highest response possible.

Untargeted Traffic

If you’re giving away a free ebook about dog training but you are promoting it from your general pet website it follows that a lot of your visitors won’t be interested in joining your list. After all, I love animals but I don’t have a dog so you’d never tempt me to join.

Test different traffic sources to get the most targeted traffic possible to your site and even consider segmenting a large list (e.g. pets) into a number of smaller lists (e.g. dogs, cats, fish etc.). Instead of giving away a single freebie for joining a single list, set up a range of smaller, more targeted lists and give away a very specific freebie to people who join each one.

Low Traffic Levels

No matter how great your freebie is and how targeted your traffic is, if you’re only getting a handful of visitors each day you’re going to struggle to build your list quickly. After all, even if you manage to sign up 50% or more of the people who visit your squeeze page, if that page only gets two or three visitors a day it’s going to take you forever to built a significant list.

So, put the effort into article marketing, guest blogging, SEO and social networking to grow the traffic to your website as quickly as possible. Because once you’ve got the traffic, turning it into subscribers is typically the easy bit.

Low Visibility

The more people who learn about your mailing list (and freebie), the more will sign up. On too many occasions I have found a blog or static website where the mailing list signup form is hidden away somewhere on the site and is almost impossible to find.

To get the most subscribers possible, you should aim to make your freebie and signup form as highly-visible as possible. Experiment with layouts but consider placing a signup form at the top of your navigation menu, at the bottom of every article on your site or even using popups or sliders to ensure every visitor sees your message.

Wrong Niche

I built my first website 11 years ago and in that time I have created literally hundreds of sites. Sites in all sorts of different niches and used them to build targeted mailing lists.

But here’s a little secret that I haven’t heard anyone else mention. Quite simply, some niches are more likely to sign up for a mailing list than others. Sure, there are things you can do to affect the signup rate to your list. But there are several niches I have gotten into in the past where no matter what I tried my visitors simply weren’t interested in joining a list.

Some people in some niches simply shy away from giving out their email address and there’s not a whole lot you can do to influence that. Assuming you’ve tested and tweaked all the other elements listed above and you’re still not getting the results you’d like, then it’s entirely possible that this is your problem and you may be better off trying to build your list in another niche altogether.

Richard Adams writes about lifestyle design and passive income creation. Visit him to find out how he generates 232,000 free visitors per year to his blogs.


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  1. The right and wrong way to build a list can make or break you. U can’t live without a loyal list.

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