Why List Building Is Important

Today we’re going to talk about list building. And yes, I know that just about everyone in online business is talking about the exact same thing right now. But that’s why we need to do this!

If you’ve been in online business for a little bit, you’ve probably noticed the emphasis on building your email list as a major contributor to your success. Maybe you’ve already set up an email provider to start building, and if you’re really in the game you’ve got your lead magnet set up and the subscriptions are rolling in!

But, do you know why you’re doing this? Other than because all of the blogging and ecourse gurus told you to, I mean…

First things first, list building is not just a trend. It’s actually an important and integral part of most healthy online businesses - which is why it’s important to understand how and why to do it right.

If you’re trying to sell a service or product, your email list is your sales base. They’re the people that have already invited you into their inbox, probably after expressing interest in whatever your opt-in incentive is. That makes them some of the easiest folks to sell to and some of the most likely buyers.

With this in mind, your email list can help you do a few different things once you learn how to use it, namely:

  • Accurately track your growth & progress as your list grows
  • Set reasonable and achievable goals
  • Build a more stable income model

Sounds good, right? Let’s do this!

Think In Percentages Instead of Hard Numbers

If you really want to understand and predict the behavior of your email list, then you may need to dust of your calculator. List behavior is best understood through percentages, and more specifically through conversion rates.

A conversion rate is the percentage of people that complete a specific action. For example, if you send an email to 500 people that you have a new blog post and 50 people click the link to read said post, the conversion rate was 10%. 

Make sense?

So, in order to really track your progress as your list grows, you want to look just as closely at your conversion rate as you do at the number of subscribers.

It’s important to remember that as your list grows, your conversion rate won’t necessarily stay the same. However, if it drops significantly, that could be a sign that your list is growing but your subscribers are not engaged - maybe time to adjust your strategy. On the flip side, if you conversion rate increases as your list grow, you know you’re reaching the right people and giving them what they want - keep it up!

Use Your List to Set Your Goals

Now that you know what a conversion rate is, you can figure out roughly where yours is and set goals accordingly. If your sales efforts typically convert about 5%, you can use that when setting a goal for your new product. 

It’s not uncommon for clients to come to me disappointed that they didn’t hit their sales goals. But when they realize that their goals required a conversion rate four times what they typically do, that completely changes the conversation and the strategy. 

If you’re new to growing your list or have yet to actually launch a product or service to your list, it can be tough to get a handle on your conversion rate. So, while everyone has a very different experience and there are lots of factors (niche, audience, promotion, price, etc.) that determine a sales conversion rate, expecting anywhere from 1% - 5% can be a good way to set your preliminary goals.

You may have read Melyssa Griffin’s post about her $100k launch of the Blog Hive at the end of last year. Super impressive, right?! When you crunch the numbers, Melyssa made that money with a $500 product and a list of about 20k people - meaning she converted right around 1% of her list. 

Now, if your heart just sank to your stomach because you were hoping to sell way more than that in your upcoming launch, stay with me.

If your list is on the smaller side and you’re concerned about meeting launch goals, you’ve got a few options to consider:

  • Move your launch date back and ramp up your focus on list building in preparation for your launch
  • Create an extended promotional strategy that has a strong list-building component - think email courses and webinars that directly funnel to your product
  • Adjust your launch goals (but plan to increase with your next launch!)

Bring It All Together Within Your Income Model

Once you have a clear idea of your email list’s activity, you can factor that into your longer term goals too. 

If you’re able to plan out your next 3, 6, or even 12 months in terms of what you want to offer when, try to create some list growth goals that stretch along the same timeline. You can use your list to estimate projected sales and adjust as needed.

No more launching into the black hole that is the internet and simply crossing your fingers!


List building is valuable no matter what type of online business you run. But knowing the why is just as important - if not more - than knowing the how.  Your list, no matter the size, is a super powerful tool that can help you plan your trajectory towards the success you're looking for.

Ready to start building your email list?