Email Marketing

Why I Stopped Focusing on Building an Email List

stopped email list building

I know.

It sounds weird.

Hear me out.

First off, don’t just BUILD AN EMAIL LIST because everybody says about building an email list. But rather try to get people onboard who are genuinely interested in your stuff.

Trust me, it doesn’t fascinate me when people brag about 100,000 subscribers email list.

Well… Congrats, if you have one (…and if you genuinely built it)

All I’m saying is that I’m not after that.

Something I have realized is that the email list building isn’t an issue. If you got the right recipe, you can cook it. I mean you can easily reach to hundreds of email subscribers. I’m being practical.

You know, I believe if you finish up reading this blog post because of you genuinely interested in knowing why I say to STOP FOCUSING ON EMAIL LIST BUILDING then you might feel that you can still win.

But if you’re not open to listening to my perspective, you’ll hate me and I don’t want that. Because I care about you and that’s why I’m writing this.

Even if you’re still pursuing the long list building plan, I’m still happy for you.

Because I’ve built a lot of under-500-subscribers email lists through different blogs and landing pages. I can tell you that building an email list isn’t a problem. If I could reach to 330 subscribers through a single blog post that is the only organically popular blog post on the blog then we can do a lot with three highly ranked blog posts. But that’s not the point.

The point being, what to FOCUS and what not to FOCUS!

Please remember that I said I STOPPED FOCUSING on email list building, I didn’t say that I stop BUILDING an email list.

There is a difference in both these situations.

Just clarifying it because a lot of email list chauvinists would show up and they would bash me.

Please be advised that I’m a blogger. I have done a lot of mistakes in the past and might do in the future as well. We learn every day and the process of learning goes on. Don’t take your major business decision based on my opinion whatsoever. My ideas/suggestions could be wrong. You’re welcome to disagree and refuse this. I highly recommend taking the email list building advice from an experienced marketer or an expert.

Here are the reasons why I’m not focusing on building an email list:

Because the connection matters

What would I do if I get to build an email list of 10,000 people in 2 years and I don’t know them? They never reply to me. They never talk to me. They don’t respond to me. In other words, it’s a dead list and God knows how I got those people on my list. I’d rather focus on a 1000-people email list, because they know me, respond to me, and follow me everywhere… of course, not all of them, but a lot of them would.

Because the engagement does the job

The engagement is when you send them an email newsletter with a lot of value in it. They consume it and get back to you whether on your blog or social and tell you that something you said helped them. This is what fuels up the process. The engagement whether via email reply into your inbox or the Facebook group, it does have a significant role in the process. So, what’s the point of building an email list full of people that are not being engaged? I truly have empathy for new bloggers who think ignoring the Facebook messages makes them professionals.

Because the focus is on the Aftermath

I don’t want to build an email of 110,000 people who sign up to my newsletter and never open up the email newsletter. I’d rather prefer 251 people who interact with me and always up for the meetup at a coffee shop of my choice. Because the dead crowd is worth nothing. You can’t sell the number and/or size of your email list to everyone. At some point, you might end up frustrated when only 2,300 out of 110,000 would open up your email. As I said earlier, building an email list isn’t the end result, what you do with the email list is what matters. If they don’t trust you because you don’t teach them anything or you haven’t provided any value to them then they might not show up when you offer them to buy something. That’s why I focus on the aftermath.

Because the lack of clarity kills the process

I’m a big believer in the process and staying in the game. I believe that if you don’t know what your plan is; it just begins to eat your brain. It is obvious. Isn’t it? If you aren’t clear what to do, you might end up frustrated at some point. It’s just a matter of time. I’ve learned along the way that if you aren’t sure what you want to achieve, you don’t get anything done. Because you don’t foresee it and the lack of ambition either detracts you or stops you from proceeding.

Let’s Wrap up

You know it’s just a matter of one well-ranked blog post. You’ll start to receive email newsletter subscribers even when you’ll be in bed. In fact, my friend, Ilyas Tarar, can vouch for that. When he started publishing content, his blog started attracting the email subscribers.

The purpose of my blog post was to infuse the idea of getting focused on WHAT TO DO with the email subscribers instead of keep filling up the email list with people’s email addresses.

If you think this is crap. I implore you to enlighten me on this. Because I’m not against building huge email lists. It’s just I’m not focusing on hundreds of thousands of subscribers who don’t open email newsletters and often end up clicking on the spam button when you send them emails.

I heard someone saying that ‘LESS is MORE’…

I can’t explain how strongly I believe in ‘LESS is MORE’.

Fill me in on what you think about this!

I’ll see you in the comments below.

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  1. Great approach!

    Focusing on building list that is not going to be much engaged is futile.

    Let me add to your argument. A blogger has 200 daily visitors who stay on the blog for 10-20 minutes on average, leave comments, share content and make an effort to have a connection with him. Another blogger gets 1000 visitors daily. Most of them leave after reading the first paragraph of the landing page, anyone hardly connects via comments and almost none of them cares to share. Who’s better off?

    That’s the case with building list as well. I would prefer 100 people who genuinely contribute rather than 1000 email ids who don’t seem to care.

    I’m not going to focus on building my list either.



    1. Hello, Ilyas!

      Thank you for stopping by.


      I’ve tried to explain that I’m not against building an email list. My point is just that I don’t want to put people blindly on my list. The intent matters. It’s simply quality vs. quantity. The reason I wrote this is that most of the bloggers are after big lists building… I’m just telling that I’m not.

      Thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me!

  2. I got the Point Hassaan, about three days ago I visited a site and what I found there was a premium content box. I was curious to find what’s inside. The only key to open that mysterious box was an email ID for future updates, as I said I was curious so I just put my email in and opened the box. I found something good which I loved, but that was not enough good that I could subscribe to that blog so that I could receive future updates. But I had to subscribe, and what happened when I see a newsletter in my mail after a few days, I just press the Spam button, and that’s it.

    You said this right that we should not just focus on getting more and more subscriber if anyone wants to build subscribers list then they must be real and you should not force them to subscribe.

    Fahad Mirza

    1. Fahad,
      I’m happy that you tried to understand the message and shared your experience. My friend, just keep exploring things. This blog post doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on building an email list but the point is that it should not be the only thing you would be looking at.

      1. Yes, Hassaan Bhai I got your point, I was just adding in, for supporting your point that we should not force visitors to subscribe, although it’s important to get subscribers it shouldn’t be too much critical that we start pushing them to do so.

  3. Hello Hassaan,

    Unexpectedly, it came out an excellent article which i wasnt expecting when i looked on the article.

    As a marketer, list building is one of the solid traffic generation method, i never rely on and i even keep on testing new methods.

    For sure i agree with the point, the idea of just list building isnt good unless and until you have a plan to use it well.

    1. Hello, Mr. Ali,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I knew the title could entice the readers to look at it and your comment tells me that it has started happening.

      But, I’m glad it’s not a click-bait or something. The context of the blog post backs up the message of the title.

      THANKS, again!

  4. Rahima Jahangir says:

    I strongly believe the statement that you mentioned above “less is more”.this what I learned from my experience.
    I also think that making a small circle with strong interaction is much better than large circle with zero interaction,it’s just useless.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment.

      I’m glad to hear that.

      A lot of people go with the ‘cliche’ things — or whatever is in — I don’t.

      And this blog post reflects a bit of it.

      Thanks, again!

  5. Hi Hassaan,

    AAAAMEN Brother 🙂

    I do not blog for numbers. Or email list databases. I blog to have fun and to spread love to human beings. Those humans can find me through carrier pigeon messages; I could give a rat’s fanny how they connect with me LOL.

    I recall deleting 400 subscribers from my list a while back. Who cares? They were not engaging, so we were not a match. Some bloggers consider suicide if 1 subscriber opts out 😉 I dropped a handful and did not think twice. Because I do not help numbers. I help people.

    Many big listed bloggers are just ego tripping. Good for anybody who builds a huge list, but at the end of the day, having fun and letting in readers through 10 or 50 or 200 online channels means everything, and obsessing about inanimate numbers means nothing.

    Thanks bro. LOVE this post 🙂

    Signing off from Thailand.


    1. Hello, Ryan!

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I believe unsubscribers are good for the community that we try to build around our brand; because they walk off without doing the further damage.

      Secondly, I wanted to talk about the email list building for a long time; then finally it happened. You’re right about the numbers-vs-people game, which is why I chose this topic in the first place. The numbers don’t matter, people do.

  6. Hassaan, agreed, it is not the numbers, it is what you do with them and how they respond. I have noticed that even with a small list like mine, it is not an easy task to keep giving your subscribers useful and engaging content on a consistent basis.

    A bold article and honest advice. Cheers.

    1. Ahmad,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I can understand that feeding your subscribers with the quality content on a consistent basis isn’t very easy.

      All I wanted to convey the message is that we focus a lot on collecting the email addresses and piling up the lists, and it doesn’t matter if we don’t know what to do with it.

      I’d rather build a small list with an engaged community than a dead long list.

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