Don Crowther
Don Crowther

Proven Strategies and Techniques To Build YOUR Business

Proven Strategies and Techniques To Build YOUR Business

Email list building illustration

There's a Cardinal Rule when it comes to list building that you should never ever break. Let me tell you what that is and why it's so important.

Let's start with the why part: most people believe the reason you are trying to get people to opt-in to your email list is so that you can send them emails. But more important than sending them emails is for them to open and read those emails and do what you ask them to do in them.

I know that sounds totally obvious, but sometimes we have to state the obvious in order to understand the key principles behind what we’re doing.

Key Principle: It’s Vital To Train Your Audience to Open And Take Action On Your Emails

Anything you do that causes people to be distracted from opening and reading the emails you send is hurting your list-building process.

So, here's the cardinal rule of list building:

Never, ever give them direct access to what you promised to give them on the thank you page.

Let's say you promised them a free download in exchange for opting in. The logical thing is to  give them a link on the thank you page to download that free report. From a usability standpoint, that makes sense. But, this is one of those times when other considerations need to take priority above usability.

Consider what happens when you give them the ability to download your opt-in incentive directly from your thank you page.

You've just eliminated their need to read that first email you sent them. So, most of the time, they won’t.

And, since what was in that first email is the reason they opted in in the first place, there are many who will never open any email you send them in the future. They’ll never see the amazing information you send them after that first email. 

Basically, by putting a download link on the thank you page, you are training them to not open your emails and setting up your future emails to go directly to their promotions and spam tabs. 

And, you’re telling the Gmails of the world that your emails aren’t going to be read by those you send them to, so they’ll start routing them directly to the spam box, if they deliver them at all.

And, there’s one more subtle thing that happens. You turn your first interaction with them from a relationship-building opportunity into a transaction. People don’t continue to interact with transactional partners. They engage, form friendships with, and eventually buy, from people with whom they have developed relationships. 

The last thing you want to do is to turn that initial interaction into a transaction!

What You Should Do Instead To Endure List Building Success

You need to do exactly the opposite - train them from the very beginning to open and engage with your emails.

The key to doing this is what you give them and the language you use on your thank you page. 

I recommend that you:

  1. 1
    Tell them they need to check their email in 10-15 minutes to get what they requested
  2. 2
    Give them something additional that they will absolutely want to receive
  3. 3
    Make sure that extra information increases their desire to get what is in their email

You can do that with language like, "Thank you, the [thing that you asked for] is going to be in your email in 10 to 15 minutes. In the meantime, let me share something else with you." And then you give them an additional piece of amazing information, that's consistent with what they signed up to receive, but doesn't replace it.

For example, if you got them to opt-in to learn the best foods to feed a pet aardvark, on the thank you page you may want to say something like, "Thank you, your free report on the best foods to feed your aardvark is going to be in your email in 10-15 minutes. While you’re waiting, there’s something else that's really important to understand about feeding your aardvark, which is what time of day to feed them. Because aardvarks don’t eat at the same time humans do, feeding them at traditional human mealtimes can actually make them sick. The best times to  feed them are at..."

By doing this you’re giving them great information they need to know, that’s very interesting for somebody who wants to have a pet aardvark. Plus, that information makes getting the report that’s in their email even more desirable, so they’ll be even more likely to open it, click to download the report, and start the habit of reading and interacting with you through email.

This incremental communication (I like to think of it as over-delivering,) can be short or long, and can be delivered in text form, or better yet, as a video.

It’s also important here to note that this is not an offer to buy something from you. Though some find success in making an offer on their thank you page, I really like to communicate to them right out of the gate that I care about their success, so I’m giving them even more than I promised, for free, as we get our relationship started.

Key Principles


The whole reason you're doing this is to train them to open and read your emails and do what you ask them to do there.

Anything that detracts from that process will hurt your ability to market and sell to them using email forever. So please don't make that mistake.

Don't give them what you promise them on the thank you page.

They have to go to their email to get it.

What are your thoughts about this? What's your experience with it? Do you have this mistake happening on your website right now? How long before you get that problem fixed? Let me know your thoughts in the chat.

This is Don Crowther saying, just go do this stuff.

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