Stop focusing on “Building an Email List”

Focus instead on “Building an engaged audience”

For an updated version of this article, click here.

Let’s switch the question.

It makes a difference to our strategy when we switch the question from “How to build an email list?” to “How to build an engaged audience?”

  1. When you are fixated on “building an email list” it becomes tempting to do whatever is necessary to get their email address, forgetting that it may actually erode the relationship. Example: A pop-up window asking for your email address is annoying, but businesses still do it because it does build a bigger email list, even if the subscribers are initially reluctant, and increasingly annoyed by unexpected emails. To understand this, and a better alternative, read my post “No More Lead Magnets.”
  2. When you instead focus on “building an engaged audience” you’re thinking about the relationship with your audience — and whether they are engaged with you or not. Your actions will become more aligned with their needs and wants, rather than a soulless numerical metric of “how many email subscribers do I have?”

Meet people where they’re at.

Email list-building was hot in the 2000’s. As the internet grew in importance, it was still kind of novel to get emails from brands you like. Then, I started noticing — as did my marketing friends — that audiences began growing tired of being on email lists. Services like (helping you quickly unsubscribe from many email newsletters) grew popular.

Audiences began to expect brands to meet them where they’re at.

You like surfing Facebook? Great, you’ll see my posts there.

Holding ransom + Steep payment

This is one of the things all of us dislike about marketing:

  1. They then dangle their free report, free video series, free templates — and make us salivate — and then require our email address to get to it.

“But my email list is the only thing I really control!”

…is what the marketer will tell me.

  • …and even if they receive it, you can’t guarantee they’ll open it
  • …and if they open it, you can’t guarantee they’ll care about your message!

The only thing in your control?

It’s whether your content is authentic, relevant, and consistent… or not.

  • Relevance = Caring to find the intersection between yours and your audience’s truth
  • Consistent = So that your audience can depend on the rhythm of your content

When your audience cares about you, they will look for you.

If they surf Facebook, they will be looking for your posts, in the rhythm that they’ve become accustomed to seeing from you.

So… should we build our email list?

If your audience wants to receive your content via email, and if you don’t mind sending a regular newsletter, then yes, offer that service!

I see my email newsletter as a free service of convenience for my audience.

It’s for those of you who like to read email newsletters, and want to keep up with my latest content in that way.

The Bottom Line? Your Intention. Release fear & control, and dive into Caring & Generosity.

My guess is: it’s what you deeply wish for anyway… not having to be afraid your audience might or might not do something, but instead, being able to give your energies over to a caring and generous expression of truth.

Written by

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"

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