3 Reasons No One Is Subscribing To Your Email List (& How to Fix Them)

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Email lists are key drivers for both sales and customer retention, but building your email list is brutal. People get more emails daily than ever before, and the last thing they want is more.

So, how do you get people to subscribe to your email list?

It all starts with adding more value. Not sure how you can do that? I’ll show you.

I’ll cover three reasons why no one is subscribing to your email list, and teach you how to fix each one starting today. Sound good?

1. You’re ignoring user intent.

User intent is simply what the user is trying to get out of their action.

It also includes what the user expects, and what they’re capable of doing in their stage of the buying journey. Your job is to facilitate a great experience that matches their intent.

Intent can be derived from keywords - what people are searching for to find your website, for instance. Take the keyword, ask “What are they trying to accomplish?” and then provide a call-to-action on your page that will help them accomplish that goal.

How can you tell if user-intent lines up with your value?

Let’s say you published a top-of-the-funnel blog post on “generating more blog traffic.”

That’s a pretty low-intent topic. Why?

Because the people searching for it are likely beginners, and because that topic's been covered thousands of times before (see: four million blog posts published daily). Even if someone finds that post, they likely:

  • Don’t know you, your brand, or your value yet
  • Are not “warm” enough to give you their info

They’re probably just looking for a quick answer, not for what your brand can specifically offer them. At that stage, they aren't ready to get more than 88 emails per day, so your efforts are better spent elsewhere.

Number of emails sent and received daily per business email account

The trick, though, is that all of this depends on your call-to-action. To win, you have to offer viewers something they will find valuable at their stage. So ask two questions:

  • What are users going to get by subscribing to your email list?
  • Does that line up with their intent?

How do you align call-to-action with user intent?

Here’s an example of mismatched intent: reading a post about SEO for e-commerce...

...and recieving a newsletter offer of “digital planning templates” in exchange for my email.

Do you see the mismatch?

While the tactic of offering a content upsell to generate newsletter subscribers is effective, the CTA for the newsletter is unrelated to the actual post I’m reading. It’s generic and doesn’t even mention e-commerce SEO, the original topic that drove me to the page.

What if I’m only interested in e-commerce SEO? Not a chance I’ll be signing up for the newsletter.

Now compare that example to this, from Drift:

On a post about chatbots, a chatbot asks me if I want to sign up for their newsletter about chatbots, detailing the direct value I’d receive and how I can easily toss it in the trash if I’m unsatisfied.

Ah, much better 😍.

Intent is about matching your content and call-to-action to user expectations. Ditch your generic calls-to-action and focus on providing more value that’s tied to the content readers are loving.

Your conversion rate will thank you later.

2. The perceived value of your offer is too low.

People are carpet-bombed with emails on a daily basis. It’s why Gmail had to switch to three tabs on their platform, just to stop the madness.

If you are simply asking people to sign up to your email list because you provide “insights” or “great articles,” think again. Chances are, nobody is signing up for that.


Because the perceived value is far too low. What do I mean?

You aren't offering me anything interesting. I can find “insights” and other articles with a quick Google search. Why should I let you bombard my inbox for that?

If you want a real shot at landing more signups, create more perceived value. How?

Offer content that’s exclusive - things that can’t be found on regular pages on your site (or anywhere for free on Google, for that matter).

A great example is from Freshdesk. On a post about writing a resume for customer service jobs, they offer a customer service resume as an editable download if you sign up for their email list.

This hits both perceived value (it’s unique and helpful to the viewer) and user-intent (it aligns with what they’re trying to accomplish), like we discussed in reason one.

How can you create more valuable offers?

Struggling to produce ideas on what would be valuable to your potential customers? Start with competitor research.

By analyzing SERPs and organic keywords, you can put yourself in the shoes of the user to better understand what would solve their problem. Take this keyword, for instance:

What would a user searching for that keyword want?

Maybe they’d like a checklist they can download and use to audit their current progress. Maybe they’d like a step-by-step infographic on how to tackle those factors.

Perceived value can come in almost any form depending on your niche or industry. But the goal remains the same: Give the user and potential customer something that…

  1. They can’t develop on their own without spending money
  2. Is too time consuming to do on their own
  3. They can’t find anywhere else
  4. They can genuinely use to solve their pain points

While your offer will come in many shapes and sizes, it should always match those four statements. Do that, and you’ll be converting email signups like hotcakes.

Related: How to Create (& Target) Custom Buyer Personas

3. You’re leaving out new (and effective) methods.

Sometimes you do need to reinvent the wheel. As tactics gain steam, their impacts produce diminishing returns.

Case and point: banner ads. They used to generate massive click-through-rates. Now? You’re lucky to get above 1%.

As more people use the same tactic, users tune it out. And people are really good at tuning out subscriber request forms.

So instead of going straight for the email signup, switch it up and capture users with text message subscriptions first.

89% of consumers prefer getting SMS updates from companies over every single other form of communication. Plus, 99% of texts are read, and most are read within five seconds.

Texts are just as dynamic as emails, allowing you to send promotions, links to your website, online review requests, and more.

You can also schedule texts in advance like emails. So instead of asking for an email signup (and producing a long-winded sigh from viewers), offer value in the form of SMS.

E.g. let people to text your business for more information.


Or offer them coupons in exchange for signing up:

Any offer that provides value to your target audience will get the job done. And since text messaging is heavily preferred for business communication and is far less saturated, your odds of generating a signup are instantly improved.

This is a strategy that Air Tailor used to double business growth in a single year.

Later down the line, once you’ve built trust with your audience, you can ask them for their email and get the best of both worlds: text and email lead gen without annoyed users and wasted time.

One for the Road

Email lists are a double-edged sword.

They are a fantastic way to drive recurring sales without spending money on advertising. But they are also brutal to develop due to constant email spam and a weary consumer population that hates giving out information.

If nobody is signing up for your email list, it’s time to rethink your approach!

Are you adjusting your offer for user-intent? Are you maximizing perceived value, or are you just asking for their email?

Last but not least, are you taking advantage of new methods, or are you expecting decade-old tactics to still work like a charm? Hint: a little bit of change is good!

At any time, the best way to get more email subscribers is to be a genuine source of value.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing a Blog Post for SEO Success