Top 4 Reasons Your List Isn’t Growing

Somewhere along the way, someone told you what great things email marketing can do for your business. So you took their advice, read the Getting Started Guide and got to work crafting emails. People subscribed, sales were great and you were happy as a clam, but then something happened. Sign-ups dwindled. Now, you get a few new subscribers here and there, but your list isn’t growing. Here are some really simple things you can do to rev up your list-building engine and attract new subscribers.

Somewhere along the way, someone told you what great things email marketing can do for your business. They explained that you’ll get lots of new leads and sales will soar, just by sending a monthly newsletter and keeping customers in the loop.

So you took their advice, read the Getting Started Guide and got to work crafting emails. And they were right! People subscribed, sales were great and you were happy as a clam…but then something happened. Sign-ups dwindled. Now, you get a few new subscribers here and there, but your list isn’t growing.

We’ve heard this before! Not to fret. After the initial flurry of sign-ups when your list is new, it’s completely normal to have a slump in growth. Lucky for you, there are some really simple things you can do to rev up your list-building engine and attract new subscribers. Keep reading to find out why your list isn’t growing and how to fix it!

Your Form Isn’t On Every Page

This is the simplest part of growing a list, yet such an oversight for so many companies. They know that it’s important to have a web form in a prominent location on the homepage, but forget that most people visiting their site won’t always land there.

When coming from Google, Facebook or a link shared on a blog, visitors will very rarely end up directly on your landing page. They’re probably directed to an article, or a specific page on your site that relates more closely to what they are looking for instead.

Plan of Action: Put your inline web form in an easy-to-find, consistent spot on every single page of your site. In most cases, the web form should be above the fold – the section of your site that is visible without scrolling.

Remember that not all visitors have the same screen resolution, so the location of your form can change. Using website analytics software such as Google Analytics, you can see what percentage of your users use different resolutions, then if you use Firefox you can use the Firesizer add-on to see what your page looks like on different resolutions.

Your Offer Isn’t Compelling

Take a look at your current web form. Do you request only a small amount of information, or do you ask for specifics? Although the information you’re trying to collect is certainly helpful after the fact, requiring a lot of your visitors at sign up can also be seen as a barrier to entry.

No matter how much value you’re delivering to your subscribers, your emails still take up real estate in their inboxes. Visitors to your website, who haven’t yet experienced the value you’re delivering in your messages, already get a ton of emails every day.

Plan of Action: Give visitors a reason to subscribe. Clearly and concisely detail the benefits of subscribing and use bullet points and bold text to tell them why they’re going to be better off getting your emails.

Tip the scale in your favor by offering an incentive to people who fill out your web form. This is something in addition to your original offer. Then, split test different versions of your form to accurately track which incentive works best.

You Aren’t Using Social Media

According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, over 70% of email marketers surveyed by consider “competition with social media for recipients’ time and attention” an important challenge for 2010.

If you’re on the fence about using popular services like Twitter and Facebook, now’s the time to test the waters. You may have existing customers on your email list, but social media instantly puts you in the presence of thousands of potential subscribers who are already spending their time on these social networking sites.

Plan of Action: Make sure you put a web form on your Facebook fan page and start posting your email newsletters to Facebook when you send them to existing subscribers.

On Twitter, make sure you’re automatically tweeting your newsletters when they go out, and also occasionally tweet a link to a hosted web form so that interested followers can sign up for updates.

You Don’t Encourage Forwarding

Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest and most powerful means of advertising, and email offers the perfect venue for suggesting it to your subscribers. If they’re on your list and getting value from your messages, chances are they know others who would also benefit.

Plan of Action: Devote a section of your current newsletter to encourage subscribers to send the message on to their friends by forwarding it. Then, include a link to your sign-up page or hosted web form so that new readers can sign up right from your email.

Note: This isn’t the same as a “tell-a-friend” form. You should only email people who are asking to be subscribed. Any message that you send to someone who hasn’t asked for it is spam, and spam is not good for business. Capiche?

Sound Familiar?

List building isn’t easy. Demonstrating why someone should give you direct access to their inbox is hard work.

If your efforts don’t take the above circumstances into consideration, try a few of our suggestions, then come back and tell us how they worked!


  1. Sean Breslin

    11/30/2010 11:16 am

    4 Good points and the first about the form above the fold on every page… has been on my to-do list for ages!

  2. Maureen

    11/30/2010 11:25 am

    Great suggestions! It always comes down to good communication!

  3. Joseph D. Shiller

    11/30/2010 11:49 am

    Don’t all the new sharing options take care of the forwarding issue?

  4. erecia

    11/30/2010 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the tip guys. Love the illustration. @ Joseph. I think Even though the sharing options are there, sometimes people still need a little push 🙂

  5. Haroun Kola

    11/30/2010 12:43 pm

    I think Social Media is key to any email marketing strategy one should have. Nice article

  6. Tengku Faris

    11/30/2010 12:54 pm

    Woww! This is GREAT INFORMATION.. Thanks AWeber! 🙂

  7. Carolyn Small

    11/30/2010 1:08 pm

    GREAT tips as always. Thanks guys.

  8. Farnoosh

    11/30/2010 1:08 pm

    I need to do the very last one. Thank you for great tips here!!

  9. Holly Berberich

    11/30/2010 1:16 pm

    Love this article – you guys should do one on "Top 4 Reasons Your List Is Shrinking" and include reasons like… not setting proper expectations with your welcome email(s), providing great content, email frequency etc.

    The "Your Form Isn’t on Every Page" point is also a great scenario to test the location of the form on the page as well as colors, copy and fonts. (And also testing the compelling offer, as in your second point.)

  10. Top 4 Reasons Your List Isn't Growing

    11/30/2010 2:47 pm

    […] Top 4 Reasons Your List Isn

  11. Michele Welch

    11/30/2010 3:22 pm

    Hi Rebecca,

    Great tips you’ve shared here! I do however, have one question.

    I’ve always been reluctant to use the ‘tweet your newsletter’ function b/c I’ve felt what I share with my subscribers are for the most part exclusive for them. I also may occassionally share links that I don’t want to be shared with the public such as a report.

    Do you think adding this function would dilute that exclusivity? Also, last I check you can’t pick and choose which to share and which not too… it’s set globally. Am I correct is saying this?

    Thanks again!

  12. Rebecca Swayze

    11/30/2010 3:24 pm

    Thanks everyone!

    Joseph – Ereicia is right, it never hurts to give people a little push to forward your email.

    Haroun – I agree, social media is becoming more and more important to email marketing.

    Holly – Great article idea! And it’s true, testing can be very helpful.

  13. Stan Young

    11/30/2010 3:52 pm

    Thanks for the great tips my list building has hit a brick wall so hopefully some of these suggestions will help.

  14. jim cockrum

    11/30/2010 4:53 pm

    Having an email following is better than a large facebook or twitter following for several reasons, but I love that you are pushing people toward social networking with your suggestions. Go to where the crowds are and then recruit loyal followers. Great tips.

  15. Michael

    11/30/2010 8:37 pm

    This tips are quite useful. I’ve done most of them for a long time and its helped me to be over 100,000 subscribers.

  16. Rob Harrison

    12/1/2010 4:11 am

    4 Great points and simple to implement. I believe that Social media and Email marketing, when working together, can be a very powerful strategy.

  17. Mark Harris

    12/1/2010 6:14 am

    Nice article with some very useful tips, as you can never have too many people on your list.

  18. Luke McCormack

    12/1/2010 8:20 am

    I particularly like your point about the compelling offer. I would advise that people try and write their own report (or at least rewrite a plr product) to make the offer stand out and unique.

  19. Bev Locsin

    12/1/2010 12:09 pm

    Great tips Aweber! This is all stuff we know we should be doing but sometimes it seems insignificant. Clearly, it’s the little things that really make a big difference over time. Thanks for the reminder.

  20. April

    12/1/2010 1:40 pm

    I like this! I have my capture form in my header and also also a freebie in the side bar. Works great!

  21. DeeMarie

    12/1/2010 6:00 pm

    Thanks for the useful tips Aweber. I’m just getting started on building my list and especially like seeing a ‘plan of action’ breakout for each tip. Nice layout, easy to read and follow.

  22. Charles

    12/2/2010 7:42 am

    Thanks Aweber! Now that I’m retired I actually have the time to implement your suggested strategies. Aweber user for over six years.

  23. Patrick Moore

    12/2/2010 3:25 pm

    Thanks Aweber. I have recommended tons of people to use your services. I never ever thought of telling my readers to forward the emails. I can’t believe I missed that one. I can already see how powerful and viral this is going to be with my campaigns. Thanks!

  24. Sunny Loh

    12/2/2010 7:05 pm

    Thank you for such an informative source for learning. Yes, this is a WOW learning place.

  25. Teasa

    12/3/2010 8:10 pm

    I’ve been shy. I need to encourage forwarding more in my emails.

  26. Bri Rogers

    12/4/2010 3:46 pm

    I’m grateful for the tips. Anything to help gain optins is worth learning about.

  27. Lisa

    12/5/2010 1:53 am

    This is great info, thanks aweber.

  28. CT

    12/6/2010 12:22 pm

    These are great tips! I want to add a newsletter sign up form to each of my pages, this has given me the incentive to do it!

  29. Robert Simpson

    12/7/2010 4:05 am

    Excellent tips which I will definitely be using and sharing with others…

    I’m still very new to AWeber and building my list but for the first time I see some development in my email marketing, my visit to your blog tells me this. 🙂

    Out of the four "Forwarding" is most definitely my weakness…

    I will start rectifying that problem as of today!

  30. I.D.

    12/9/2010 6:51 pm

    Great tips… we use them ourselves and recommend AWeber to all of our real estate agents and brokers.

  31. Kevin J. Timothy

    12/13/2010 10:42 am

    This was great to see! The last tip about forwarding has been overlooked for quite some time. Thanks, Aweber for your outstanding service, product, and blogs.

  32. Tammy

    12/13/2010 6:12 pm

    Thanks for this reminder… I now must revisit my site and make sure the form is in every page… quite a job for a 150+ page site, but surely is worth the time and effort.

  33. Naleem

    12/13/2010 9:53 pm

    Your suggestions are appropriate and productive. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  34. Phil Burrows

    12/16/2010 8:50 am

    Very useful and informative, I should make more use of Social Media, but I do detest Facebook, ah well needs must. Thanks for the article.

  35. Sandipan

    12/25/2010 1:35 am

    These tips are really helpful. Thankyou