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Why your Email List Isn't Growing and How to Fix That

Sue Dunlevie

One of the most important things you can do to grow your blog is to build your email list.

Without an email list, it’s much more difficult to market your products, to let your existing readers know about new blog posts, and to create a sustainable income from your blog.

But for most beginner bloggers, growing an email list seems like an impossible task.

grow your email listGetting 1 or 2 subscribers a week can sometimes feel like a win.

So what are you doing wrong?

Here are 5 things to change if you want to grow your list more quickly, and fill it with the right people.

1. You’re not getting enough traffic

First of all, in order to grow your email list you must get more traffic to your blog.

Out of your total blog traffic each month, less than 10% of your visitors will convert to email subscribers. In fact, your conversion rate will be closer to 2–5%.

What that means is if you have 1,000 page views a month, you will get around 20 to 50 new subscribers. And that’s if you are doing everything right.

So if your list isn’t growing, the key is getting more blog traffic from the right people.

2 ways to increase your blog traffic without paying for ads:

  • Write guest posts on other popular blogs in your niche
  • Create round up posts on your blog where you interview other bloggers in your niche

Make sure that you are targeted in who you approach for guest blogging opportunities. Because if you get more traffic, but it’s from people who aren’t in your niche, it’s not going to grow your email list.

Want more tips for increasing your traffic? Click here.

2. You’re not giving your audience enough places to opt in

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve looked at a new client’s website and had to actively search for a way to join their email list.

They hide their subscribe box at the bottom of their sidebar underneath 20 Google Ads, and then they wonder why no one is subscribing.

If you want people to subscribe to your list, you must give your readers as many opportunities as possible to sign up.

Include a feature opt-in box at the top of your blog.

boost blog trafficPut your lead magnet in your footer.

attract blog traffic

Add an unobtrusive slide-in box at the bottom of your blog.

boost your blog traffic

You may also want to include pop-up boxes, as long as you don’t barrage your readers with too many of them.

Many new bloggers feel like they are bothering people by giving them so many opportunities to subscribe.

Don’t feel guilty about asking people to join your email list. Once they join, they will get even more value from you, so you are actually helping them by giving them many chances to subscribe to your list.

3. You’re not offering a lead magnet.

Often, once I find a new client’s subscription box, I encounter another big no-no if you want to grow your email list.

MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION FOR YOU  Grow Your Website Traffic: The Ultimate Blueprint

That’s asking people to subscribe to “get email updates” or to “join the newsletter.”

I hate to break it to you, but no one wants email updates any more.

Maybe 10 years ago, when blogging was a new and exciting thing, that would be enough to get someone to subscribe, but now, it just doesn’t cut it.

You must offer something valuable to get people to sign up for your email list.

Examples of good lead magnets include:

  • Free reports
  • Webinars
  • Email courses
  • PDF checklists

Take the time to create subscribers-only content that is truly valuable. That is the best way to grow your list.

4. You’re not offering the right lead magnet.

So now you know that you need a lead magnet in order to grow your email list.

But how do you make sure you offer something that your readers actually want?

It all comes down to understanding the transformation your readers want to achieve.

Your lead magnet should help your readers experience a small win - a taste of the results that you can help them get by working with them.

If you’re not clear about what your readers want to achieve, take the time to get to know them. The key to growing your list - and your blogging business - is understanding your readers extremely well.

Once you know what your readers are struggling with, and what they want, you will be able to create a lead magnet for which they will happily trade their email address.

5. You’re not packaging your lead magnet in an enticing way.

You may be thinking,

But Sue, I do have traffic, lots of subscribe boxes everywhere, and a lead magnet that people want. But I’m still not getting subscribers. What am I doing wrong?

If you have everything else in place, but you’re still not growing your list, it could be a matter of packaging.

Look at your subscribe boxes. Are you effectively highlighting the benefits of your lead magnet? Can your readers easily tell why they should download it?

What about the name of your lead magnet? Is it eye-catching? Does it describe exactly what your lead magnet is and how it will help your readers?

Do you have images that show your readers a visual representation of your lead magnet?

Make sure that your subscribe boxes look appealing to your readers, and that your subscribe buttons are nice and noticeable, as well.

OptinMonster has great templates for growing your list. Check it out here.

Wrapping It Up

Do you recognize any of these common mistakes? Are you making them on your own blog?

Time to get more blog traffic, create a lead magnet your readers want, create subscribe boxes that get your readers to take action, and place them strategically throughout your blog.

What do you do to grow your email list? Share in the comments below.

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76 comments on “Why your Email List Isn't Growing and How to Fix That”

  1. I just cannot believe i am the first commenter here.

    Anyway, you have written this article very clearly and you have pointed out the most weighted factors.

    Thank you

  2. Thanks for the ideas! I'm always looking for ways to improve and am starting to really focus on building traffic and subscribers. This helps!

  3. Sue,

    A lot of food for thought here. I especially like one of your points on creating the right lead magnet:

    "It all comes down to understanding the transformation your readers want to achieve."

    Excellent Point!!

    Thx

    Jane

  4. Thanks so much Sue,

    I'm the guy that asked for a guest post space (Iyiola)

    I love your blog so much and I am ready to take action on this particular post.

  5. Thanks for the article. I like the idea of putting an opt-in the footer, which I know I am not taking advantage of that blank space.

  6. Hi Sue,

    Great post as usual!

    Getting subscribers are essential for the online marketing. Many bloggers made this mistake they don't focus on their email list while it can help them a lot to grow their business.

    Thanks

    Umesh Singh

  7. Sue, love these points! The part about not having the right lead magnet cannot be more true. I've found that simple tweaks to the way you position a lead magnet can help tremendously with conversions too. Off to share this!

  8. Great post Sue! I would add testing what's working and what's not.

    If you are just starting out, don't approach this too scientifically. Just add more opt ins with a good offer.

    If your traffic is growing, you could test the number of opt ins, the type of opt ins, the language used and the package (what's your offer in return for an email address). And probably a lot more. 🙂

    Thanks,

    Paul

  9. Hey Sue,

    Thanks for providing these clear and sensible tips. Many people view list building as some sort of "dark art," but it's achievable if you take the right steps.

    Off to share!

  10. I have a welcome Mat, a top bar, one that slides inn from the bottom when they're 60% down the page and one pop up that shows up after 3 minutes. I think I need to work on my wording for everything except the welcome mat. I think the word newsletter is killing me. I'm off to fix them now. Thanks for the amazing post. You're always so helpful.

    1. The other thing, Stacey... I don't see Welcome Mats converting well for people that have less than 50,000 pageviews a month. You have to have a big audience for it to convert well. Take it off and see how your conversions are. Try a feature optin box like I have coded into your site or use Plugmatter

      Thanks for your comment!
      Sue

  11. Hey Sue!

    Great post.

    You laid down the basic framework for getting more subscribers.

    I'm currently working on improving all of these strategies for my blog.

    I can't wait to launch my new lead magnet!

  12. Hi Sue,

    Great post. Really boils down the basics of what people need to keep in mind when they are trying to convert their audience.

    At the most basic level, you just have to ask yourself why would someone bother giving you their email address? Simply having a form isn't enough because how many of us get emails from people/brands that we don't care about?

    Give them a lead magnet that they can't resist and you are halfway there. The other half is making sure they know the lead magnet exists.

    I agree that you need to give your audience as many chances as possible to subscribe, but you have to be weary with how far you go. I've been on blogs that have a welcome mat, scroll popup, bottom popup, and exit popup. It's almost like they don't care if I read the blog post I came for.

    In my experience, I've found that the more cluttered your site's design, the harder you have to work to get someone to subscribe. If I'm on a page with ads, popups, content, links, sidebar, and footer content, what action do you want me to take? If it's to sign up for your mailing list then all of these other distractions will probably prevent me from doing that.

    Thanks for sharing these insights!

  13. Love this - I'm launching a new course soon on business funnels and working on building up a list for it in advance - building out two lead magnets with Twitter research and Google Analytics help to hopefully pull the right audience. Will take some of this to heart as I put it all together.

    Thanks!

  14. Thanks for the amazing post as always. I love successfulblogging.com because you provide all actionable tips here. I'm missing many of them on my blog. Gonna try all of them there.

  15. Yet to kickstart email subscription campaigns on my new blog. Hence, Sue's pitch steps into my mail box the moment and I need it most.

    Thanks Sue, this is contentfu,l and it gonna save me a hell of time thinking through the 'dark art'.

    Cheers.

  16. Hey Sue,

    Willing to read your wonderful post,

    Email list are really valuable for marketing to your products, it may helpful to grow our income through blog. Guest posts on popular blogs in our niche is really valuable for getting more traffic without any paid ads.

    Round up posts is another way to generate traffic to our website without any more paid ads. These two tricks are really helpful to target traffic.Lead magnets also includes beneficial element to grow traffic and sign up to our email list.

    Eventually, thanks for sharing your valuable post.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

  17. Hello Sue: Your post on getting new subscribers is fascinating and very informative, but I think I must be missing a trick here. Or I have missed out on previous posts? My thoughts are: How do you make money from a blog ? I get a few pence from Google for ads on my blog but otherwise it is a mystery to me how one can get a cash stream running. I have been in the media more years than I care to remember and in the past have earned fees from writing. But, sad to say, the New Media has defeated me as a source of revenue. Then again, perhaps I am far too old to retrain!

    1. Hi, John,

      I'm not big on having ads on your blog. You have to have LOTS of traffic to make decent money. I believe you should do affiliate products and create your own products/courses.

      I hope that helps!
      Sue

  18. Thanks sue,I just started list building last month and I have almost 115 email subscribers but I'm looking for ways to increase traffic to my blog,any suggestion?

  19. Email marketing works great when there is something offer. I have seen many smart bloggers are offering many giveaways or free blogging tips resources by capturing visitors email ids. Thanks for sharing this awesome guide.

  20. Sue,

    Another great post with great advice. The guest post idea works well if you can get your foot in the door. I took Jon Morrow's Guest Post course and I learned a ton about blogging in general. However, getting your posts accepted by blogs that'll really help your traffic, is difficult.

    So far, the only way I've gotten traffic was from posting on my blog links on comment sections. I think I was able to actually reference a post I wrote on Neil Patel's site, and since it was very relevant, his gatekeepers let it stand.

    This is difficult to do, but when it does work, you do get a good amount of traffic from it.

    Thanks again, for another great post, Sue!

    Elmo

      1. Thanks so much, Sue. I really appreciate the way you respond to our comments. I'll ramp up my commenting to your numbers.

        Thanks for giving me a standard to shoot for.

        God Bless,

        Mark "Elmo" Ellis

  21. Thanks so much for this post, Sue. Another thing I do is offer several different kinds of lead magnets for popular posts. This actually has helped me to see what works for my particular blog, and so far, 30 day challenges have been my biggest converter by a long shot. Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

    1. Great point, Jennie! Content upgrades convert really well.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.
      Sue

  22. I really appreciate this, i wondered why i got just only two subscribers withing two months of blogging, now i knew what i'm getting wrong.

    I'll work on your article.

  23. Yes it’s mainly depend on your product which email list growing strategy works better. For example, Facebook ads are very effective for E-commerce businesses. Earlier a lot focused on guest posting – I’ve seen a good ROI on it.

    Webinars are hands down far more effective than guest posting and you don’t need to slave away creating new content from scratch every time. Quite the opposite – you actually create one pillar presentation and refine and hone it over time, like a keynote speaker or a comedian with one killer set.

  24. Email list are really valuable for marketing to your products, it may helpful to grow our income through blog. Guest posts on popular blogs in our niche is really valuable for getting more traffic without any paid ads.

    It depends on the niche. For example, if you run a deals & coupons website, it’s very easy to gain subscribers. But if you run a news site, it’s harder.

    Thanks

  25. So true, Ryan. LOVE your conversion for the eBooks!

    I so appreciate you dropping by and taking time to comment.
    Sue

  26. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the informative post.

    I stuck with the same problems. I can realize the mistakes done by me.

    Really worth it.

    Thanks Again.

      1. Thank you.

        And You are Really amazing.

        I just gone through most of your arrticles recently. All are having valuable points.

        I just amazed. And I referred to my friends about this blog.

        Keep Rocking Sue.

        Have a Great Week.

  27. Hi, sue.

    Thanks for sharing and it's a nice article as usually you did.

    It's extremely important to talk about growing mailing list. You know? My big mistake is to waste three 3 years with Feedburn without capturing own email list.

    9 of 10 buyers are subscribers and nobody intend to buy the product when it's the first they knew about it.

    Honestly, I'm currently have 5% optin rate. I read Neil Patel article a few week ago and head he can hit 15% optin rate hence I want to do something amazing.

    I'm now working on develop more capture page and free resources for my subscribers. Actually, I love free checklist and training.

    1. Hi, Kimsea,

      You are doing a great job with a 5% optin rate. I'm so glad you are now capturing an email list.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Sue

  28. Hi Sue,

    Nice tips.

    One thing I have found highly effective is putting opt-in boxes directly in my blog content -- especially if I can create a lead magnet (content upgrade) that directly relates to the topic of the blog post.

    Best,

    Brent

    1. Love that idea, Brent! I use Content Upgrades Pro and they can do that.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment!
      Sue

  29. Email marketing on personal blogs is to increase subscribers, its really a long game to earn more visits. Unique contents will drive users to visit the blog often this will ultimately lead to subscription. Thank You

  30. Hey Sue,

    Email marketing is one of the most important parts of an online business. As you have mentioned above that it can be increased only if you get the more visitors.

    The content plays the leading role. The quality should be chosen over quantity. The points mentioned above can help the people to get more subscribers.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Enjoy the day.

    ~Ravi

  31. Great article, thank you. I'm new to blogging and appreciate the learning. I know my email subscription is a weak point, but this article gave me effective pointers as to why!

  32. Sue,

    This is only the second blog post of yours I've seen, but so far I'm extremely impressed! Thanks for putting out such high-quality stuff for your audience!

  33. Thanks for sharing such concise and straight forward advice Sue!

    And i have to agree with you I too have visited many

    bloggers, and left with the impression, their opt i box was

    someone how participating in the "witness protection program." LOL!

    Only because it was almost impossible to find.Strategic list building offers so many

    potentially profitable benefits.Thanks for not only reminding us, but

    for offering some proven strategies for accomplishing it as well!

  34. Great information. How to grow email list building is something every new blogger look for. This information would definitely help anyone to get some idea and works towards that. These days almost everyone offers the free item to get a lead but the thing is that your free item should solve a problem or provide some value to visitors, probably only then they will like to give away their email address.

    Harpreet

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