How Internet Marketers Are Misleading People With Tiny Email Lists (And How To Recover)

So, I just spoke with a consulting client. She ran a coaching business. And she had questions about how to properly handle her email list in terms of autoresponders, the content of the emails, etc. Like a lot of people, she had her email list hosted with Mailchimp. She had a list of 224 people….

So, I just spoke with a consulting client. She ran a coaching business. And she had questions about how to properly handle her email list in terms of autoresponders, the content of the emails, etc.

Like a lot of people, she had her email list hosted with Mailchimp. She had a list of 224 people.

The thing is… she has had very little contact with this list. She was rather defeated about it. She felt like a list of 224 people was too small… almost inadequate.

She had seen some internet marketers out there talking about their huge email lists with tens of thousands of people on there… then looked at her own list of 224 people almost as if it was a joke.

So, I told her something. And I’ll tell you right now…

Don’t let those internet marketing folks mislead you, and don’t jump to the conclusion that their way is the only way.

Hell, don’t even jump to the conclusion that they’re successful! The way a lot of those internet marketers treat their lists, they probably can generate very little revenue out of those big lists they claim to have. After all, just spitting out daily affiliate promos at a bunch of people isn’t very personal and is going to alienate folks unless you are just AWESOME at getting them to bond with you.

In short, there’s a lot of people in non-internet marketing niches who can SMEAR a typical IMer across the floor in terms of revenue-per-subscriber.

Realize that, when you pay attention to an internet marketer (and, by this, I mean a person who TEACHES internet marketing), you need to pay attention in terms of how those techniques apply to YOUR business. But, don’t try to mimic them. They are in a different line of business than you are, most likely.

So, for this lady I had on the phone, I gave her an analogy. She told me this analogy completely changed the way she thinks about her email list.

As a coach/consultant, she was in a people business. A 1-on-1 business. It is very common for many coaches to be FAR more successful closing a deal in person than over the Internet. If that coach can have a person on the phone or across the table, they are FAR more likely to close a consulting deal.

So, look at each and every person on your email list as “prospect” in the same vein.

A living, breathing human being. With certain wants and desires. Certain concerns.

And, treat them – and look at them – just as you would as if you were meeting them in a coffee shop.

If you take 224 people and look at them this way, you realize that 224 people is a lot of people! Imagine meeting with 224 people. Imagine if you had a physical place of business, and having 224 people come through. Imagine being in front of a room, with 224 sets of eyes looking at you.

Think 224 people is too small? Too inadequate? Not worth thinking about?

Sure, if you just ran up to 224 people and yelled “Buy my shit!” at them and ran away, 224 would seem like a small sample. That’s what a lot of typical marketers do. And, if that is your sales tactic, then you’re going to need a lot bigger sample. 😉

But, if your email marketing comes across as very personable, is very targeted, and you’re able to tailor the emails they get based on their interests and the things they’ve told you (via tagging and segmentation), then you can actually get pretty close to having an email exchange be close to as personal as a meeting at a coffee shop.

That’s what you WANT them to feel like.

Email marketing should be simply about using systems to scale up your personal interactions.

Talk TO them. Not AT them.

Get them to talk back to you. And answer them.

And, if you’re in the consulting business, start inviting people on your list into a free strategy call. Then, you’ve just upped the level of interactivity from email to a true real-time conversation. Then, do your thing. 🙂

So, don’t look at your email list as a bunch of numbers. Your subscribers aren’t just a big pool of people to send your pitches to. Quite frankly, the marketers who have been treating their lists that way are getting BURNT right now with falling delivery rates and the like. Don’t envy them with their big lists. A lot of them are struggling to eek out a decent living with those big lists they abused.

Treat your list like real people. And bring your interactions with them to the level of a meeting in a coffee shop.

Then, even the tiny lists can represent some significant revenue for you – potentially.


To learn how to treat your email list, what to say, how to say it, and how to attract more people…

Check out my mini-course, Master Your List. Don’t waste this valuable asset.


  1. Hey David, my list is very small as well, I think I have around 180 customers and about 150 blog subscribers.

    But now that I come to really think about it (and after reading your article) they have endured all my e-mail screw ups, affiliate offers I’ve sent and even every single thing I have sent that is not even marketing related (like mindset stuff, etc)

    So man, 300+ people are indeed a ton of people to talk to, if I was to talk with each one of them in a personal level but it’s something I’m willing to do.

    Thanks for the very cool article man, already gave me a few ideas on what to do next!


  2. I don’t think that size matters in this case. You can have a list of 10,000 people who are not your target customers and be a worthless list. On the other hand, you can have a list of 224 people who are very targeted and love your material. The 224 people will most likely convert at a much higher rate than the 10,000 and it costs a lot less to maintain the smaller list.

  3. I think email list with 5 people can be better than list with 1000 people – it really depends how lists convert. Thanks for sharing this
    Best Regards

  4. Great post, it’s all about the relationships we have with our list and if we a solid niche and have a targeted list the better. There are plenty of people that make a reasonable amount of money from small lists. 🙂

  5. Such a great reminder! People get so caught up in the size of their lists as opposed to the quality of their lists and just speaking and relating and serving them. Thanks for sharing this! I’m a fairly new follower and enjoy your perspective.

  6. I’m really glad that I stumbled upon this post on Google Plus today because it led me to reading a lot of your other posts as well. I like this approach. I often feel myself that my list isn’t really a “list” like everyone else in marketing talks about because it isn’t huge. But I do get a good response from the people that read my posts (even if it is not a tremendous number!). Your analogy is perfect and one that I need to keep in mind!

  7. You hit the nail right on the head David!

    I’m so glad that people like you are saying this out loud. It’s never been about the size of your list, it’s about what you do with it — cultivate and nurture to turn those people into raving fans or abuse as so many IMs do. I’ll choose cultivate and nurture any day.

  8. Excellent point David,

    It’s funny to see the types of crap that most “Professional” IMers blast out every other day to their lists.

    They’re playing a numbers game but what type of impression are they making?

    As hard as it is to get a subscriber why would you want to waste an opportunity?

    I try to not send an email unless it’s important.

    So far I’ve been writing broadcasts to get a feel for my list.

    My plan is to write my auto responders based on the results of my most popular broadcasts.


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