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Christopher Knight

Busting Through An Email List Building Plateau: 3 Tips
By Christopher Knight

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I seriously question if "lists" themselves plateau or do their owners plateau in their indifference towards building their list while simultaneously wondering why it's not growing? Let's look at this issue and I'll give you 3 tips to bust out of your list stagnation to get back on a strong growth curve.

There's no doubt that in some vary narrow niches, you will reach a saturation point in your market and your list will plateau… but that is less common for the greater majority of ezine publishers and email marketers who all experience a list plateau set point at some point in their list building efforts.

This question came to me recently from an Ezine-Tips member:

We have a niche email newsletter for serious home woodworkers. It's free. The weekly emails have been sent out for 4 years. The list hit 51,000 about a year ago. Since then, it has stopped growing. How do I know if that's about all it's ever going to be?

My thoughts: Have you gone back to analyze what happened a year ago in terms of your list building efforts? Did you stop taking action to grow your list or did you just learn that your current efforts were not producing an increase in membership and then not change your approach?

List Plateau Busting Tip #1 Shocking Your Email List Building System

Email list building is a lot like body building/sculpting. I love working out in the gym and my muscle growth goes in spurts whenever I give them attention and you can guess what happens when I don't give weight lifting attention: I lose my muscle growth.

If you've done resistance exercise, you know what happens when you lift the same weights over and over again and you don't get a different result: You've got to shock your system by doing something that causes your body to be forced to deal with the change. Email list building is like this in that you must continually be monitoring your results and take alternative actions to create different results.

Body sculpting/building requires a "system" to be effective. That system might include a quality protein diet, consistent schedules for your weight lifting and cardio sessions, proper stretching, and proper training (through a private coach or self-education).

The same goes for email list building. You must develop your own "system" if you want to achieve consistent list growth, especially when your list plateau's.

List Plateau Busting Tip #2 No Such Thing As "Passive List Building"

There is only active email list building attention or you're on auto pilot ignoring your list. In most cases, if you ignore your list building efforts, list churn creeps up and all of a sudden you'll be in a pattern of losing more members than you are adding.

Let me put this in another way: Monitoring your list growth or lack thereof is passive but it can turn to "active" if you take action upon measuring your results.

I recommend monitoring your list growth at least once per week. In my case, I had our programmers create a report that gets sent once a day at midnight via email that tells me the current membership levels of every email list that we manage and an activity report on the deliveries for the previous day. This information is critical for tracking performance and matching the results against our list building and delivery goals.

List Plateau Busting Tip #3 Plan for and expect growth

Unless you've reached a 100% share of a market, you should expect and plan for growth.

Email list growth never happens in a vacuum or without a plan. Every single one of my 100+ email lists stagnate instantly if I don't plan for growth and the same goes for your ezines.

What are some strategies that can help catapult your list size? How about acquiring a competitors list? What about testing co-registration services to supplement your list? What about a sponsorship ad swap with an ezine publishing peer? How about promoting your list to your other list memberships or other related websites that you own or control?

Putting your email list building on "project" status really means creating campaigns to ensure your list grows faster than your list attrition rate (the rate that you lose subs due to legitimate members who unsubscribe and those that abandon their accounts).

In coming issues, I'll be addressing how to reduce your list churn rate. A sub saved is a sub you don't have to earn again.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for March 17, 2005

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