If you're a blogger or online entrepreneur I think you've heard it a billion times, you need a mailing list.

You do NOT need a big following to have a mailing list. You don’t need tons of products or services that you’re selling to have a mailing list. But, you need to start building a list. Your mailing list is your ticket into the inboxes of the people who love what you do and who you are – whether that’s 5 people or 5,000. Mailing lists allow you to stay front of mind of these people- your most invested audience. It allows you to let them know about new posts, announcements, and so on.

That being said, once you venture down the road of mailing lists and sending emails to them, you may find yourself making some of these big-time no-no's in the world of mailing list etiquette.  I'm here to tell you the popular mailing list mistakes and then tell you how to avoid them!

Mistakes You're Making With Your Mailing List 

Adding People Without Their Permission

An email is considered private information.  In order to add someone to their email list, you HAVE to have their permission to do so or they must have given you their email themselves (whether through an opt-in form, subscription button, or otherwise.)  

Not only is adding someone to your mailing list without their permission bad for business, it's also bad for the health of your mailing list. People who haven't given you permission are more likely to report your email as spam.  Getting reported as spam can land your email on blacklists which will make it impossible for future emails to reach even the people who DID give you permission to email them. 

Buying Mailing Lists

OMG no! Don't do it!  Buying a mailing list might seem like a good idea when you first start out and have a mailing list with just your mom and best friend on it. But, rest assured, just like with buying followers on Instagram, it's not the way to grow an authentic mailing list.

The first reason buying a mailing list is no good is the reason mentioned in the point above. You should NEVER add someone to your mailing list without their permission. They are more likely to report you as spam and get you blacklisted.

Next, you have no way to verify the authenticity of these email addresses. No reputable source will sell someone's emails, meaning you can really only buy them from non-reputable sources. This means you have no way of knowing what kind of email addresses you're getting. On top of that, there are organizations out there designed to catch spam. They will create emails and plant them on these "for purchase" mailing lists to catch spammers. 

Lastly, these people don't want to hear from you. Not to be a blow to your ego but it's like someone who sells a very specific item, such as jackets for small dogs, and just going out into the streets and hoping to find people who to buy their product.  Even if your list is only 5 people, at least those are 5 people who want to hear from you and will open your emails.

Relying Solely on "Subscribe" Forms

Don't be mad at me for saying this but if all you're doing to grow you email list is putting a "subscribe to my newsletter" on your website then you are NOT going to grow your email list. About 1% of people will sign up for a newsletter just for the sake of getting a newsletter.  You need to be offering incentives or opt-ins to get people to sign up. Opt-ins or content upgrades are things (typically a digital product of some kind) you give someone as an incentive for signing up for your mailing list. This could be a free printable, an e-book, free stock photos, or so on. Want an example, oh...just keep reading...

Not Sending Anything At All?!

You set up the mailing list. You have your opt-ins. Now what? You have a list with people who want to hear from you and no idea what to send them.

Don't worry, I gotchu. I created a list of 25 email ideas and you can download it right now!

Not Taking Advantage of Your High Traffic Posts

Remember just a second ago when we talked about using opt-ins? Now think about where you should be putting those opt-ins! Use analytics to know which of your posts are most popular and get the most traffic and think of a great opt-in to put on those posts. 

You don't want to miss out capitalizing on the posts that get the most eyeballs and you don't want those people to slip through your fingers by coming to your site and then leaving, never to be found again. Creating an opt in for these popular posts seeks to get them adding to your mailing list so you can continue to connect with them.

Missing These Key Email Footer Items

There are a few things every footer (or at least the bottom of your email) should have.  These are things that mainly help you stay out of spam filters so you can reach more inboxes. Almost all people who send out email correspondences to a mailing list eventually run into some type of issue with spam filters.  In fact, many company's stats report only about 75%-80% of "permission-based" emails reach inboxes. That being said, there is a lot you can to do improve your chances: some talked about above, others you can put in your email footer.

The first thing you need in your footer is an unsubscribe button/link.  Spam filters look for the option to unsubscribe and give lower scores to those who don't. Someone should always have the freedom to opt out of your emails if they don't want them.

The next thing you should have at the bottom of your email is your name/signature. This is another thing spam filters look at to help distinguish fishy emails from valid ones.

The last thing to consider is an address.  A physical address immediately gives you a little more clout as a real-life person. I know most people like to keep their address private and I join you in that. But, consider getting a PO box of some sort. That's what I do!


There you have it, six common mailing list mistakes...and how to fix them. While we're on the topic, consider joining over 1,000 others and subscribing to my mailing list to get weekly newsletters about lead generation, social media, blogging tips, and more!

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Meet the Author

Post by: Kallie Branciforte

Kallie is the writer behind the lifestyle blog But First, Coffee, and the creator of the But First, Coffee YouTube channel. In 2016 she launched Caffeinate and Conquer. Read full bio...