Biz Tips: The Problem With Building an Email List

Biz Tips: The Problem With Building an Email List


The Problem With Building an Email List

For Busy Creatives and Small Businesses

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You’re going to hear it a lot. Whether you are a busy creative or a small business, people are going to tell you that one of the most important things you can do is to build an email list.

It makes sense. It’s comforting to have a database full of interested parties for whatever you might want to give them. From eBooks to classes to just plain wisdom. Of course they want that.

None of us are remotely oversubscribed in this tornado of a digital landscape. No, of course not. We all have room for one more email list. Especially if we have to sign up for it just to get a small PDF. Totally on board.

The problem with building an email list is that it’s not as important as everybody tells you it is. Especially if your goal is not sales. If you don’t have sales metrics to meet now or in the future, why are you building a list?

The Problem With Email

Email was so awesome when it came out. Especially for us introverts who had to suffer through more one-on-one contact than we ever wanted to. Now we could just slip back into our cubicle and send out an email. F*cking eureka!

But then it grew. And grew. Do you even know anyone who can maintain inbox zero? I don’t. I do it in my business email, but my personal email is like Troy Polamalu’s bedhead — out of f*cking control. I can’t even look at it.

I used to teach productivity classes and the first thing I would ask everyone to do is to open their email. Once they did, I asked them to read me the amount of unread emails they had pending. It was always in the thousands. Some in the ten thousands.

Is this you?

This is the problem with email. No one can read it anymore. Even if they want to. They can use redirects, boomerang, filters, groups, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because everyone in the f*cking world has an email list and you are on it. All of them.

Every shirt you bought. Every restaurant you wanted the 10 percent discount at. Every coach you liked for a quick second. Even your f*cking dentist is spamming the crap out of you with her weekly healthy mouth emails.

The problem with email is that it’s not as useful as it once was. Maybe a 1% click through rate works if you are Target, but not if you are a small business or busy creative. Because you could do something better with your time for a 1% click through.

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

The Problem With Building an Email List

It actually takes work to build an email list. And some gentle begging. Let’s be real about it. How many posts do you read that have some light begging at the end?

I know you have sweet tips and all, but I have 11,361 unread emails in my inbox. I really don’t need another daily dose of inspiration. I already unsubscribed from Darren Daily. So what do you have to offer me?

You have to continuously and consistently pepper your best articles with a call-to-action at the end. And no matter what anyone tells you, an article with a call-to-action at the end reduces the value of the content.

How Your Call-to-Action Is Bastardizing Your Content

Because if I am inspired by what you wrote and then the post-conclusion is a gentle reminder about your email list or 5-day course, that’s the taste I am left with. Do you understand this? The last thing I read was about you trying to sell me. The content is lost. Or overshadowed. Or at the very least, mildly corrupted.

The problem with building an email list is what you have to do to your content to build it.

The Problem With Your Email List

Fine, you didn’t listen. And you built an epic email list. You have 7,199 people counting on you for weekly email content. Which of course has to be different than everything else. Because that’s the only way it will stand out.

The problem with your email list is maintenance. Now that you went ahead and did it, you have to maintain it. And it’s not as easy as you think. Because for email to be effective in this day and age, you better be sending some really f*cking compelling email.

And to do that you have to go into your clickbait bucket. Because I can assure you that your email header isn’t going to stand out in a sea of 7,344 unread email unless you clickbait the sh*t out of it.

And now you are back to square one. You are spending all this time trying to come up with a catchy headline for an email 14 percent of your recipients will read and 1 percent will click through to your tasty prize.

Or you are outsourcing your personalized emails to a system that will drip, drip on your most loyal customers. They know it’s not you. Most people can detect a bot these days. And if they can’t, they aren’t going to be a long-term relationship. Because it was too easy.

5 Solutions For Your Sh*tty Drip Campaigns

So if you are a busy creative or small business, is this really worth it? The time spent making a headline. Building an interesting email. Not to mention all the time you spent building this behemoth. What if you made direct calls to your best friends or customers instead? Because they don’t read your email anyway. They already know you.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Why Busy Creatives and Small Businesses Don’t Need an Email List

Because everyone has an email list. Don’t you want to be different? It’s crazy how many lists we get put on. And how many we are too lazy to unsubscribe from. Do you want to be part of that inbox cesspool of unwanted inquiries?

If you are a huge business, it’s a quantity play. And it can work out. But not for busy creatives and small businesses. Because you can use your time better than spending two hours crafting something that will really reach only a handful of people.

Busy creatives should be creating, not emailing. Small businesses should be networking, not emailing.

The next time you are sitting at your computer about to send out a weekly email blast that you know is boring AF, come back and reread this. You will get it more then, if you don’t right now.

If you liked this, you might like this as well:

The Art of Micromarketing and Why You Suck At It

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