Everyone (including me!) says to start collecting email addresses right away when you get started in business. They make it sound so easy. The concept may be easy, but in practice, it can be a challenge. 

But so many of my clients end up making building an email list even harder than it needs to be. And then I see them get discouraged.

Many business owning moms start a list without an email marketing plan. They don’t know what they want to send in a newsletter. They don’t feel like they have time for a daily email. And most don’t even have a welcome email campaign when they start to work with me.

If you don’t even know what you’ll be sending, site visitors sure won’t be able to guess. And all of that makes it harder to build and maintain an email list.

Years ago, you could put a small form out on your website with a button and ask visitors to, “Subscribe to my newsletter!” And some would! But that’s just not enough now. Only your BFF and your mom will sign up for the promise of a newsletter.

Keep reading for 3 big reasons you can’t just ask people to “subscribe to my newsletter” to build your email list, and what to do instead.

Pin this to your email marketing board so you don’t forget!

"Subscribe to my Newsletter" doesn't work anymore.

3 reasons “Subscribe to my newsletter” doesn’t work

Inbox overwhelm

In 2020, if you’re trying to build an email list, you’re going to suffer from the past mistakes of others. Other people have overwhelmed your visitors’ email inboxes with junk and no one wants to sign up for any more junk. Your visitors are wary of what you’ll be sending, rather than eager, and it’s your job to change their minds.

Everyone and their cat has a newsletter and most are pretty useless if sent at all. These newsletter senders make the following mistakes and this is what you have to overcome. Make note because if you make them too, subscribers will be quick to unsubscribe. 

Too much irrelevant info. Email marketing is really all about relationship building. So, depending on your audience, it could make sense to include some personal information in your emails. But I have received emails with paragraphs about completely irrelevant information about someone I don’t know well at all. No one wants to read that. 

If you’re circling around to a teaching moment, it’s okay to tell a story, just make it clear that’s what you’re doing.

Inconsistently sent. Have you ever subscribed to an email list and then gotten your first email three months later? It probably started something like this, “Sorry I haven’t written in a while…” 

In 2020, you have to communicate with your email list so they remember who you are! Again, build those relationships by being consistent.

Sending only when they want to sell something. If all you send is infrequent sales emails, no one is going to want to keep opening your emails. That doesn’t feel like a relationship. That feels like advertisement.

Non-compelling offer

“Subscribe to my newsletter” doesn’t offer very much to your visitors. In fact, it’s not really offering them anything. It’s very much about you. It’s clear you’ll be getting their email address, and you’re offering something unknown in exchange.

At a bare minimum, you need to let visitors know what you’re offering to them. Changing the wording to, “Subscribe to my weekly newsletter that gives a summary of everything I’ve written that week,” will get much better results. It may not be super-exciting, but it’s clear what subscribers will be getting.

Try to promise and deliver something immediately. People love instant gratification. Exchanging an email address for something unknown in the future is not compelling. But giving your email address for an instant PDF download is much more interesting.

Your offer should also promise to be helpful to your site visitor in some way. That’s one way to be sure the offer is as much about them as it is about you. If you promise a download of SEO tips on your travel blog, that may not be very helpful to your readers. But those same visitors would more likely find airline discount tips to be helpful.

Make your email list subscription offer compelling – about your visitor, helpful, and immediate.

Not making enough offers

For fear being too pushy, many business owning moms resist putting many subscription sign up forms on their site. They worry they’ll annoy readers and those readers won’t like them. 

The truth is, site visitors skim over email subscription forms all the time. They’re nearly invisible to us because we’re focusing on the content of a site. This is why popup forms are so successful (even if nobody likes them!)

Think about this though. If you’re sending out helpful, targeted emails, wouldn’t it be wrong not to get as many people to subscribe as possible? I get it that more aggressive popup forms might not be what you want. But you do have to put more subscription forms on your site than you think you do. This is just to get past people’s subscription form blindness.

Besides having a subscription form on your home page, add your form to pages like your about page, your footer, your sidebar, on individual blog posts, and other interior information pages. The more your form is actually seen, the more sign-ups you’ll have.

Next Steps

If you don’t already have a plan of what to send out, think about what you’ll realistically be able to send out to people on a regular basis. For example, if you sign up to my email list below, I’ll send out a weekly newsletter on Fridays with a quick note and recap of what I’ve written during the week.

So far, I think this is useful to people. As long as people keep opening my emails and clicking to read articles, I’m concluding that this is helpful and welcome. If I start to see a drop in these numbers, I might need to think of something else.

Once you know what you’re going to send on a regular basis, think about what you can also send immediately that will help your new subscriber. Sticking with my example, I provide a cheat sheet list of things you can send in your newsletter. It helps when people are stuck for ideas.

Then, write out what your new subscribers will be getting for handing over their email address. It is guaranteed to be much more compelling than, “subscribe to my newsletter.”

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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