5 List-Building Myths Exposed!

You’ve heard it over and over and over again: “without an e-mail list you have no business…”.  So you rushed to start a list, managed to get a small amount of people on it, just to find yourself stressed out and frustrated because your list has essentially become a time-suck for your new business rather than a tool that converts prospects into paying clients.

List-building can be a very valuable resource for business owners, however, it is only one of many strategies and the truth is that for new entrepreneurs who are often short on time and money, it may simply not be the best bet to get the word out about their products and services.

With that in mind, and at the risk of rubbing some people the wrong way because they profit from selling “list-building” programs and services to entrepreneurs at any stage, I am going to dispel some of the myths of list building and help you refocus your energy where it benefits you and your new business the most.

Myth 1 – You need a big list to build a successful business
This couldn’t be further from the truth!  Let me share with you that I initially filled my entire coaching practice with a list of less than 20 subscribers and my first 4 paying clients were not even on my list when they hired me.  List building is just one of many effective ways to market your business – if your new business doesn’t have the tools and resources to support effective list management; you are much better off putting your marketing effort elsewhere.

Myth 2 – Every person on your list is a potential client
I have had everyone from my former boss to friends and competitors sign up on one of my mailing lists.  Just because they sign up doesn’t mean they represent the ideal client for you.  Some will join because they like you and find true value in what you offer, yet many others will sign up for completely different reasons.  Some know they can’t afford to hire you but want FREE advice; others may be in a competing business or plan to model their own freebie after what you are offering.  Of course there are ways to drive better quality leads to your list, but that requires expertise the new entrepreneur often does not have.

Myth 3 – List marketing will build your business quickly
MailChimp published a study at the end of 2012 that shows the average open rate of list generated email is about 35% with an average click-through rate of about 3.2%.  That means if you have a small list of 100 people, only about 35 will open your emails and of the 35 only 1-2 people will click through on any links you included in your email.  Keep in mind that the open rate does not track how many people actually read the email in its entirety – just think of how often you have opened an email, found it to be of no interest to you and promptly moved it to your trash folder.

Myth 4 – The more often you contact your list subscribers, the better
I don’t know about you, but nothing annoys me more than getting daily and sometimes even more frequent emails from lists that I subscribed to.  My number one reason for unsubscribing from lists is “too many emails”, closely followed by “misleading subject lines”.  Cluttering my inbox with informational and promotional messages that threaten to take my time away from serving my clients and working on my business is most definitely not the way to get my attention or my investment for that matter.

Myth 5 – Communicating with your email list will build quality relationships
Almost every day I get automated emails with subject lines like “I know how you feel…” or “I know your greatest fear…”.  Wow, really?  These folks must be psychic!  In reality, you simply don’t know what is truly going on in your prospects’ lives, so stay away from these types of fake, scripted attempts at creating intimacy with your prospects.  Creating genuine, quality relationships requires 1:1 contact with your audience, not a smoke screen of clever words.

The bottom line is, don’t obsess over how to get and keep people on your list when you are just starting out.  Allow your list to grow over time and communicate with your audience on a schedule that works for your business and that does not jeopardize the quality of content you put out.  As you gain momentum and start bringing in revenue, you will be able to hire support and slowly expand your efforts and frequency of communication without losing your shirt or mind in the process.

For more strategies on how to put your new kingdom business on the path to success, I invite you to check out the other articles in our blog and schedule a complimentary business strategy session.

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  1. Sabine,

    You bring up really valid points. I keep asking myself, is building my email list the best use of my time right now? It is the same thing with my blog subscribers. They tell me they like that I don’t send out a lot of email. But with no way to measure the success of what i’m doing, what is the point?

    • Thanks for your comments Julia. For every activity you undertake in your business ask yourself what your ultimate outcome from that activity should be and measure against that. Then do more of what brings results. For example, if all your clients came via networking, do more of that, if they all found you via social media, increase your effort there, etc.

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