5 Things That Will Sabotage Your Email List

Stepping on bananna peel“Build it, and they will come.”

The famous line from the 1989 film Field of Dreams is a nice thought–but not so practical in the real world.

Take building an email list. It’s no easy feat.

It takes time and effort to gather dozens, hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of subscribers.

Whether you’ve created enticing lead magnets, tempting offers, or engaging webinars, you know that building an email list isn’t simply a matter of offering a solid service or product.

Once you have your prospects where you want them, the last thing you would desire to do is drive them away.

Unfortunately, as consumers become warier about email subscriptions, this is all too often the case.

We get it–who likes sitting down to a never-ending list of unread emails in their inbox every day?

To make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste, we’re sharing a few tips we’ve gleaned over the years.

Here are 5 ways people sabotage their email lists, along with solutions on how to ensure this never happens to you.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

#1: You’re sending too many emails



One can only take a certain number of “knock knock” and responding “who’s there?” before he or she stops answering.

You may have some amazing news and insights to share.

You may have one not-to-miss promotion after another.

And yes, it’s always nice to send follow-up emails after a purchase.

However, there comes a point when it’s just too much, and you’ll see unsubscribes faster than you can say, “Wait, don’t hang up yet!”

The numbers speak for themselves. According to HubSpot,“78% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because brands were sending too many emails.”

We wish we could tell you there was a magic number when it comes to how many promotional emails to send.

The truth is, the sweet spot depends on the brand and your subscriber base.

Below are a few tips to help you out…

  • Research how many emails your competitors are sending.
  • Think about the nature of your offering. For example, if your offering is more popular at certain times of the year (such as the start of the school year or holiday seasons), then you’ll want to increase the number of emails at that period of time.
  • Give your subscribers the opportunity to choose the frequency of emails they receive. Give people the option when they sign up for your list, or you can get this information by polling your list.
  • Analyze your open rates, subscriptions, and unsubscribes–the data can provide insight into what your list does or does not want.

Figure out what’s right for your subscribers and your brand…and the results will follow.

#2: You’re sending generic emails

sleepy girl


We’ve all received them.

Those emails that look like all the other promotion emails–same verbiage, sign-off, and expressions.

Are you snoring yet?

When it comes to email marketing, you only have a few seconds to grab your subscriber’s attention and keep him engaged.

Why not surprise, delight, or crack him up?

Why not cause her to do a double take with a meme or image she didn’t expect?

This is your chance to get creative–and remember, creativity doesn’t equate to being unprofessional.

It’s all about maintaining a balance.

Third Love promo email

See in the example above how ThirdLove keeps subscribers engaged with the clean, simple email that…

  • Shares an excellent customer review.
  • Stunning image.
  • Points to a clear call to action.
  • Highlights free shipping over $75 and free returns.

Play around with the way your brand leverages both copy and design to grab your subscribers’ attention. You may just come up with a winner.

#3: You’re too focused on selling products

payment and receipt


As a business, the only way you survive is by selling.

You know this. And your subscribers know this. But they want to know other parts of your brand, too.

They want to see your personality, your ideas, your suggestions.

And they want to be seen as more than leads, prospects, and customers. They want to be seen as humans.

Your emails should reflect this. If you’re only focused on selling, you’ll see your unsubscribes skyrocket in a flash.

Instead, develop a relationship and connection with subscribers that extend beyond a business transaction.

Be personable, be conversational, share insights, and provide value in the form of tip sheets, webinars, blog posts, social media contests, and more.

Which brings us to point #4…

#4: You’re not providing value

dry bones in desert


Maybe you sell kitchenware and know a thing or two about how to cook the perfect lentil soup or bake the most fantastic red velvet cake.

Or perhaps you’re a naturopathic doctor specializing in respiratory health.

Whatever your knowledge base may be, you have value to offer that extends beyond your products and services.

As Campaign Monitor puts it, “the more emails provide value and interesting material, the stronger the bond between recipient and sender becomes.”
Think about your own inbox for a moment. What are the emails like from brands that you look forward to receiving and reading?

Most likely, they provide you with value aside from sales and promotions for their products and services.

On the other hand, maybe all you’re providing is content, while lacking a healthy dose of exciting sales and promotions.

Take the time to communicate how you’ll provide value and build long-term relationships with subscribers–and be sure to include both promotions and content.

#5: You’re emailing people at the wrong time

alarm clock


You wouldn’t stop a busy mother in the middle of her morning routine to tell her about the 5 benefits of weight training.

And you wouldn’t ask for a last-minute meeting with a busy office worker first thing on a Monday morning.

In the same sense, you don’t want to send a subscriber an email at the busiest time of day.

You may notice that certain times of the day and days of the week lead to higher open and click-through rates. You may even notice that timing correlates to unsubscribe rates.

According to HubSpot…

  • 11 a.m. ET has the highest click-through rate for email sends.
  • Marketers who send emails on Tuesdays get the highest open rates.

This may be true for your business.

However, it can vary.

The best times to send your emails will depend on your specific business’s context when it comes to customer demographic, offerings, and more.

Take the time to split-test email send times to determine what performs better–and be sure to measure various indicators.

If you provide a solid product or service–it would be a shame to drive potential customers away simply because you’ve self-sabotaged your email list.

Your email list can be your greatest asset, or your weakest link, depending on how you use it. Take these five tips into account, and you’ll find the former to be true.

Click here to learn about how to turn uninterested visitors into revenue-generating buyers with our Content Conversion Code.


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