3 List Building Screw-Ups You’ve Already Made (And How To Fix Them, Pronto)

Experts say “the money is in the list,” and they’re right. Your list provides the opportunity to contact subscribers regularly in their inboxes, rather than only on a social platform. There, you can offer up tailored solutions to their problems… IF you aren’t screwing up.

Here are the 3 most common screw-ups almost everyone’s committed at some point in their list building journey and what to do about them.

Screw-Up #1: You Thought Of You, Not Your Audience

When you created your opt-in incentive, who were you thinking of – you or your audience?

Let’s see…

  • Do you know exactly who your ideal audience is?
  • Did you create an opt-in incentive that was just easy to set up, or was it something absolutely valuable to your ideal audience?
  • How did you offer to deliver the value to your ideal audience?

Can you honestly answer that ALL creation and implementation of your opt-in was in the best possible service of your ideal audience and their needs?

For example, don’t write a whitepaper for parents looking for help with child rearing. They’re overwhelmed as it is without you trying to give them the War and Peace of raising children. Why not opt for quick checklists or templates that are easy to follow and confirm the parent’s progress instead?

Don’t forget that your subscribers are also the people you want to become leads and eventually convert into clients. If your incentive isn’t truly in service of them, you could be leaving people behind and money on the table.

Author quote

Take Action: Review and refine your opt-in incentive to further appeal to who it’s meant for. Better yet, interview your existing subscribers and clients to find out what they did and didn’t respond to and cater it directly to them.

Screw Up #2 – You Expected Your Ideal People To Magically Appear

You’ve built it and are now expecting they will come… in a rush.

Are you nuts?

Sure, I imagine Seth Godin and Mari Smith are to the point that their lists would continue to grow without effort on their part, but you’re not Seth or Mari. (Or maybe you are in which case I apologise for the assumption.) If you’re just sitting around waiting for your ideal audience to subscribe to your list, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

Take action: Grab a piece of paper and a pen right now. Write down 10 places you could reach out to your ideal audience to promote your opt-in incentive. Pick one and do it today.

Screw Up #3 – You Thought That Once People Were On Your List You’d Be Done

Oh no you didn’t!

by pumpkincat210 on Flickr

by pumpkincat210 on Flickr

Yes, you’ve got yourself some subscribers, but your work has only just begun. It’s all good and lovely to have subscribers, but you’re building a business, not a hobby. And businesses only exist by having paying customers so it’s time to start moving your people from subscribers to leads to clients.

Your subscribers joined your list because they were seeking guidance and answers. Offer them the help they are looking for and be rewarded (with cash) for your efforts.


Create an autoresponder series and/or send consistent broadcasts to promote relevant offers. Include an upsell within your opt-in incentive. Don’t be spammy, but also don’t be frightened. Be bold.

Make sure you include a persuasive call to action. No ‘click here’ or ‘submit’ allowed.  You wouldn’t catch Laura with a weak call to action so don’t you be caught either.

Take Action: Design a sales funnel today and implement. You’ve delivered so much value already; don’t leave your people without a path to pursue this late in the game.

You Can Do This

If you’ve committed the screw ups listed above, you might be wondering if list building is all too hard… but don’t be disheartened. Approximately 93% of business owners do the same when creating their initial list building strategy. (Ok, I may have made that up but it’s got to be close, if not higher).

Grab yourself a copy of your opt-in incentive and compare it against this list. Read through the post again and make any updates or changes as required. Every action will move you closer to more ideal people knowing about your incentive, having a greater conversion rate, a larger list to identify leads from, and increased sales

Good luck!

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Caylie Price

Caylie Price is a lead generation specialist and the owner of Better Business Better Life. Caylie helps energised entrepreneurs create opt in strategies that result in a steady flow of red hot leads. For further help check out her list building and lead generation resources page.



  1. Great post!

  2. Thanks Fit Missy! What opt in do you offer?

  3. As an artist, I know the general profile of my buyers, but I have little idea why they buy…

  4. I definitely need to work on #3! Great points….

  5. All I can do is chuckle and pat myself on the back. I’ve recently revamped my opt-in offer (thank g-d), and can fortunately say that I am no longer making ANY of these mistakes! Hallelujah! LOL. Thx for the tips!