5 Reasons Why People Don’t Subscribe to Your Email List (with Solutions)

Top 5 Reasons Why People Don't Subscribe to Your Email List (with Solutions)

In this post, I’ll show you 5 reasons why people don’t subscribe to your email list.

You’ll learn technical, psychological, and marketing reasons.

Exactly how to fix these mistakes.

And by the end, you’ll have everything you need to put an end to losing subscribers.

Let’s dive in.

Low Content Value

Do you have a blog?

Are you getting good traffic?

If yes, and people don’t subscribe to your email list, the issue might be your content.

Specifically, it may not be as valuable to your audience as you think.

What does that mean?

A valuable piece of content should be…

  • Educational
  • Entertaining
  • Relevant
  • Clear
  • High-Quality
  • Detailed
  • Honest
  • Unique

Let’s take a deeper look.

Does your content tick all these boxes?

If not, make fixing these mistakes your next priority.

This might be the reason why people don’t want to get on your list.

Also, pick up this book called Valuable Content Marketing.

It will help you immensely to better understand what good content is.

Lack of Sign-Up Forms

How many places do you have sign-up forms?

Two? Three?

Do you have one in your footer?

On your about page?

Resource page?

See, one of the most common reasons why someone doesn’t get enough subscribers is…

…they simply don’t ask for it enough.

They feel like it’s too “pushy” or “salesy”.

They say it “repels” visitors.

Here’s the deal.

You give valuable information to your audience.

You have a product or service that helps them achieve their goals.

By giving them more of what they’re already searching for you’re only doing them a favor.

Now, if you decide that you won’t be afraid to ask for subscribing…

Here are the top 10 places where you should add sign-up forms.

Messy Website and Technical Problems

Technical issues are conversion assassins. 

They mess up your numbers without you even knowing it.

Here are a few clues to look for if you want to catch them.

Slow Website

Your website’s speed is incredibly important.

Google uses it for search engine rankings.

It affects the user experience of your website.

But more importantly, it influences conversions.

In fact, according to a study by Portent:

  • 0-4 second load time is best for conversion rates
  • The first 5 seconds of page load time have the highest impact on conversion rates
  • Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-5)
  • Website conversion rates drop by an average of 2.11% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-9)

In simple terms…

The longer your visitors wait, the higher chance they’re going to leave.

Now, on to fixing things.

You have two options.

1. You can make small changes to your website.

This will improve your speed here and there.

But it takes time and the difference won’t be too significant.

2. You can focus on what’s making the biggest impact.

Namely, your…

  • Hosting
  • CDN
  • Theme
  • Caching
  • Image Optimization

These will affect your website’s speed massively.

Improving any of these can give you visible results.

I focused my efforts on these 5 core elements too when building my blog.

And to give you a hint, it made my website mind-boggling fast:

GTMetrix scan of BenSallai.com
GTMetrix report of BenSallai.com

Hosting

Web hosting is the backbone of your website.

Your hosting provider stores your website’s files.

And this is where visitors connect to view it.

If you invest in a quality hosting provider…

  • Your website will be faster
  • Users will have a better experience
  • You’ll have better search engine rankings
  • Fewer people will leave
  • More people will subscribe

…and all this affects your revenue at the end of the day.

There are many hosting providers to choose from.

If you have a WordPress website, go with Kinsta or WPEngine.

They’re the two major players in the game.

I use Kinsta and I must say, I’m very happy with it.

They use Google Cloud which makes hosting super fast.

There’s a complimentary free migration if you’re moving from another provider.

Free daily backups.

Free hack fix.

And above all… 

Stellar support!

One of their features, that makes my life so much easier is “staging”.

You can clone your website with it, make changes and publish the results to the live site.

This allows you to develop your website, without having to worry about crashing the live site.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

If part of your audience lives outside your home country, you should get a CDN.

I’ll explain.

If your website is hosted in the United States, local visitors will have fast access to you.

Me, who lives on the other side of the globe… Not so much.

Why?

Because the data have to travel longer to reach me.

Even though your website may be fast (to you and your local visitors), it may be very slow on my end.

This is where a CDN comes into play.

A CDN will take parts of your website and scatters them on dozens of servers around the globe.

When someone visits from outside your country, he will be served the data from a server closest to them.

This will make your website equally fast for them, even though your website is hosted far away.

Still confused?

Here’s how it works.

There are a few options for using CDN.

1. Hosting provider

Your hosting provider might be affiliated with a CDN company.

I suggest checking this out first because they likely offer a hassle-free installation.

Along with some discounts.

Kinsta has its own CDN which can be turned on with a click of a button.

2. Cloudflare

Cloudflare is one of, if not the largest CDN providers.

They have various plans, including a free option.

If you want to save some cost, this free plan will be a great choice.

3. Rocket CDN

WP Rocket makes the best caching plugin for WordPress.

(Which we’ll also talk about in a second.)

They have a CDN option, that you can turn on easily inside their plugin.

It costs $7.99 a month.

Theme

The theme you’re using has a large impact on your website’s performance.

Pick one that’s built for speed and not for fancy looks.

Design can be always tailored to your liking.

This, this, and this article will help you pick the best theme based on speed.

If you’re wondering, I’m using Astra.

It’s among the top 3 fastest themes according to every list.

And I can say after building websites for 17 years… 

It’s one of the best themes I ever worked with.

Caching

Have you noticed that when you visit a website multiple times, it’s significantly faster?

This is due to caching.

Your browser makes copies of files from the webpage.

When you visit next time, it can load it from local storage.

Caching is a complex subject.

But what’s important is that if you use it properly, it makes a huge difference in your website’s speed.

You have two options here (if you’re using WordPress).

1. Free Plugins

The best ones are W3 Total Cache, Lightspeed Cache, WP Super Cache, or my personal favorite WP Fastest Cache.

WP Fastest Cache easy to set up even for non-techies.

2. Paid Plugins

If you make money with your website, I highly recommend investing in a good caching plugin.

The most popular is WP Rocket.

This is what I’m using too and you’ll find it on most large WordPress websites.

Install it, check a few settings and your website will be instantly faster.

(And in case it’s not, they have a 100% money-back guarantee.)

Image Optimization

Every image you use on your website must be compressed.

Compressing is the process of optimizing an image for small size while keeping its good quality.

A small image loads quickly, which ultimately makes your website fast.

You can do all your image processing on autopilot, with two free plugins.

1. reSmush.it

Install the plugin and enable “Optimize on upload”.

This will automatically compress your images when you upload them.

(Please note, that uploading images will take a bit longer with this feature switched on.)

While you’re there make sure to hit the “Optimize all pictures” button.

This will compress the images you already have on your website.

You can also enable statistics if you’d like to know how much the plugin helps you.

Next up, grab the second plugin.

2. WebP Converter for Media

Install this plugin to automatically turn your images into WebP format.

If a visitor’s browser can view WebP images, he will be served that.

If not, he will be served the original image.

“Alright, but what is WebP?”

WebP is a compressed image file format made for the web.

It’s exceptionally small in file size.

And because WebP is developed by Google, it is favored by the search engine.

Now that you’ve finished all steps, your website should be swift as a black mamba.

Let’s move on to the next issue, which is…

Bad Design

The second website-related reason why people don’t subscribe to your email list is…

Your website is not conversion-focused.

In other words, it’s not designed to turn your visitors into subscribers.

Now, conversion rate optimization is a giant topic of its own.

Which we can’t cover here.

But I won’t leave you empty-handed.

I have a free ebook called…

“15 Opt-in Boosting Hacks to Get More Subscribers”.

It’s packed with practical strategies to improve your conversions right now.

Along with examples and a checklist.

If you want to lift your conversions, pop in your address to get your copy for free:

Form Submission Problems

If people don’t subscribe to your email list, it may be because they simply can’t!

Two things can go wrong with your forms.

Field Type

Do you use any of the following input types in your sign-up forms?

  • Numbers
  • Checkbox
  • Radio button
  • Dropdown
  • Range setting
  • Telephone number
  • Time and date
  • URL

If yes, it’s possible that users simply can’t submit your form.

The way these input types work is strictly defined.

A phone number has to be entered in a certain way.

Just like a time and date has to be in a certain format.

If your visitors make a typo and submit your form guess what happens?

They’ll receive an error message… which more often than not they’ll miss.

And they’ll leave the website, thinking they have opted-in successfully.

Privacy Policy Checkbox

If you’re serving an EU audience, you may be required by law to use a consent checkbox under your sign-up forms.

This often causes the same problem as I described above.

Visitors submit their details without checking the box.

And they miss the error message saying they failed to do that.

You have two solutions here.

1. Make your error message distinctive.

2. Check if your email marketing tool has a solution for this.

For example, I’m using ConvertKit.

When I have an EU visitor who wants to sign-up he will see the following message:

ConvertKit GDPR confirmation message
ConvertKit GDPR confirmation message

This is convenient because I don’t have to use consent boxes.

Yet, subscribers can consent to receive promotional emails.

Confirmation Email Problems

You should always use double opt-in in your email marketing tool.

This will keep some freebie seekers at bay.

More importantly, it will help you keep good list quality.

Double opt-in means, the first email you send to a new subscriber is the confirmation email.

They click the button or link, and boom, they’re on your list now.

However, two things can go wrong here.

Issue 1. – Subscribers Stuck at Confirming Their Address

A small portion of your audience will be stuck at this step.

You can solve this by redirecting new subscribers to a “Thank You” page.

This is where you tell them that they need to confirm their address.

And you should also show them the exact steps they need to take.

Here’s an example.

When you subscribe to my mailing list, this is where you land.

Thank you page on BenSallai.com

You should also tell your subscribers to check their spam folders.

And check their “Promotions” folder too, if they use Gmail.

This is how I do it on the second half of my Thank You page.

Issue 2. – You Don’t Deliver the Freebie Right Away

There are three ways to deliver freebies.

1. On your thank you page

This is convenient for the user.

But likely he will forget to confirm his address.

2. After your confirmation email

Your subscriber confirms his address.

Then you deliver his freebie in the next email.

This is also not ideal.

He has to take an extra step before finally getting what he opted-in for.

3. With your confirmation email

This is the option I recommend.

Your confirmation button should take your subscriber to your freebie.

While simultaneously confirming the subscriber’s address.

Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps, if you use ConvertKit.

Step 1. – Edit Your Incentive Email

Open one of your forms.

Click on Settings.

Open the Incentive tab.

Click on “Edit Email Contents”.

When the editor is open, write the copy for your confirmation email.

Next, include your confirmation text where appropriate.

This is what the user will have to click on to confirm his address.

Example:

“Click here to confirm your address and download [the freebie they requested].”

Then, continue with your copy and add at least one more confirmation link later in the email.

Example:

“Once again, here is the link.”

Like so…

Step 2. – Add Your Confirmation URL

Now, we’re hit with an error message, because we haven’t added a confirmation button.

This is what we’re going to do now.

Highlight the confirmation text.

Then, click the last button to add a URL.

Type (or copy) the following text:

{{ confirm_url }}

And click “Edit link” to save it.

(Repeat this step if you added more than one confirmation link.)

Awesome! 

Now there’s just one thing left.

Redirecting the subscriber to your freebie.

Step 3. – Add Your Freebie

Once you finished your email, save it, and go back to your “Incentive” tab.

At the bottom, this is what you should see:

Using this section, you can either take your reader to a URL.

Or you can attach your freebie as a downloadable item.

Meaning, if they click the link, the download will start.

You should not use this feature, if…

  • You plan on updating your freebie
  • You use multiple forms that deliver the same freebie

Here’s why.

If you use a download button, every time you make an update…

You have to upload it to all of your forms once again.

Massive hassle.

Instead, upload your freebie to your website.

And use a URL to take confirmed subscribers to your freebie.

This way anytime you make a change on the freebie…

You just have to upload it to your website once.

Convenient!

Missing Emotional Connection

This section is all about understanding your audience.

And I believe this is the most important part.

Because if you don’t, your…

  • Content
  • Copy
  • Offers

…everything you do, will be off.

If people don’t subscribe to your email list, this might be one of the big reasons.

On that note, let’s see what you should focus on to improve your relationship with your audience.

Understand Primal Motivations

Four core motivations drive people.

Pains, fears, desires, and wants.

Find what drives your audience.

And you’ll find how to communicate with them.

Here are a couple of questions you should find answers to.

Pain 

What is the biggest problem they want to overcome right now?

Fear 

What are they afraid of? Failure, loss, missing out?

Desires 

What do they wish to obtain? Money, power, better looks?

Wants 

What do they need right now to get to the next chapter in their life?

Narrow Your Focus

The more narrow your audience, the easier it is to cater to them.

Beginners are not looking for advanced stuff.

And professionals are over the basics a long time ago.

You need to determine who you want to serve.

When you do…

  • Your content will be relevant to your audience
  • They can look forward to your content because they can truly use it
  • You’ll have a better connection with them
  • Getting more subscribers in the process

Use Your Data

If you’re collecting any kind of data about your visitors, use it.

Here’s what you should look for:

  • Where your visitors are coming from
  • What pages do they visit on your website (Pro tip.: Use Behavior Flow in Google Analytics)
  • Pages and posts where visitors spend the most time
  • Demographics
  • Search terms they use to find your website (Google Search Console)

You can also use heatmaps and make recordings of what visitors do.

Software like Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Mouseflow, or Matomo are all great tools for this.

More Jabs, Less Hooks

Gary Vee laid out a concept in his book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”.

According to Gary, you should “give, give, give” before you “ask”.

Hence the book’s title.

I couldn’t agree more.

Far too many blog posts are focused on promoting.

Rather than bringing value first.

If you feel like you’re guilty of this, maybe this is why people don’t subscribe to your email list.

Don’t Guess, Ask

The easiest way to make your audience happy?

Give them what they need!

Yes, keyword research, trends, and such can be useful.

But nothing trumps asking your audience what they would like from you.

Surveys are great for this.

You can use SurveyMonkey, Typeform or a simple Google Form.

It will work just fine.

Get Personal

This ties with the previous tip.

Some people look at their visitors as numbers.

Don’t be like that.

Get personal and start talking with your audience.

Ask them to leave comments, then reply.

Tell them to contact you if they need help.

Start conversations!

This is how you build good relationships, and ultimately, get them to join your list.

Weak Offer

The last reason why people don’t subscribe to your email list is that your offer is weak.

No, I don’t mean your service or your product.

It is your lead magnet.

What you offer in exchange for a visitor’s email address.

There are 3 core reasons why your lead magnet may not cut it.

Let’s explore and see how you can solve them.

Low Perceived Value

Value is always based on perception.

In other words, people will only opt-in if your lead magnet seems valuable to them.

Remember – this is a decision they make before they sign-up.

You can make your freebie the best in the world.

If you can’t convey its value, people won’t care.

Here are a few strategies to boost perceived value.

Focus on Results

People buy things for what they do, not what they are.

You buy a good mattress because it gives you better sleep.

A stronger vacuum because it can clean your apartment two times faster.

The same principle applies to your lead magnet.

It must either…

  • Help your audience get something
  • Help your audience get away from something

Focus on what your lead magnet helps them accomplish.

Once you know what your lead magnet can do for your subscriber, move on to…

Improve Your Headline

I cannot emphasize the importance of a good headline enough.

This should grab your visitors’ attention and convey the benefits.

Writing good headlines is an art.

But you don’t need to be a world-class copywriter to do so.

Here are 22 headline formulas by Copyblogger that will do the trick.

And here’s 3 of my best resources for finding winning headlines:

There are also 13 headline templates in my “15 Opt-in Boosting Hacks to Get More Subscribers” ebook.

(Which you can grab here for free.)

Use Comparisons

Comparisons work so well.

Just think about retail stores!

Something is discounted and immediately you think you’re getting more for less.

You can use comparisons in two ways in your lead magnet.

How Faster Will He Get Results
You can use this comparison in your headlines.

Formula
Achieve [Result] [X] Times Faster

Example
“Get 300% More Subscribers in Just 7 Days!”
How Much Money Worth of Bonuses He Get
This is great for subheadlines.

Formula
Plus Get [X] Valued at (Price)

Example
Plus Get a Secret Bonus (Valued at $300)

Demolish Objections

Some people might not opt-in for your lead magnet, because they have an objection.

  • “It doesn’t work in my niche.”
  • “It must require a lot of technical knowledge I don’t have.”
  • “It will cost me money to implement what I learn here which I can’t afford.”

The list goes on.

Think about the reasons why someone would say “no” to your lead magnet.

Then handle these objections in your copy.

(In the description or add bullet points.)

This is how I did it on my homepage:

Tweak Your Design

You can raise the perceived value of your freebie by using mockups.

Ebooks, cheat sheets and workbooks can be put on a book mockup:

You can also take pages out of your ebook to display what’s inside:

Alternatively, you can use mobile and desktop mockups with a free online tool called Mockuper.

Doesn’t Solve an Existing Problem

Your lead magnet has to solve an existing problem of your audience.

For example…

If you struggle with lower back pain, which ebook would you opt-in for?

A, 56 Things That Causes Back Pain

or

B, 5-Minute Mobility Method: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Instantly Without Taking Drugs

The more specific the problem and the solution, the better.

Problem-solving can also mean saving time or money for your audience.

Great lead magnet formats for this purpose are…

  • Cheatsheets
  • Checklists
  • Swipe files
  • Templates
  • Calculators
  • Summaries

Seems Way Too Complicated

If people don’t subscribe to your email list, it may be because your solution looks too complicated.

If it seems like it involves…

  • Too much time
  • Technical knowledge they don’t have
  • Way too many steps
  • Tools and software they need to purchase

…or it looks confusing, they won’t care.

Your solution has to be simple and easy to apply.

In other words, it has to give a “quick win” to your new subscriber.

The #1 Thing to Improve if People Don’t Subscribe to Your Email List

All of what we discussed points to one conclusion.

Which I’ll get to in a second.

But before that, let’s recap what you’ve learned today.

To get more subscribers, you need to…

  • Create valuable content, so that’s it’s worth subscribing to your list for more
  • Use more sign-up forms, so that you have more chance of getting visitors to subscribe
  • Have a fast, conversion-focused website that is enjoyable and make people take action
  • Have a deep understanding of your audience
  • Build better relationships by giving more and asking less
  • Constantly test and improve offers

Lastly, the number one thing you need to improve in one word is:

Empathy.

The more you understand people, the more you can help them.

When you know their pains, you can offer remedies.

When you know their desires, you can create opportunities.

So if you want to put an end to losing subscribers.

Even better, turn it around and get more than you can imagine…

Practice empathy.

It will make all the difference in your business.

Now I want to ask something — 

What was the most important takeaway from you from this post?

Is there any idea that caught your attention?

Will you try to implement some of the strategies or principles?

Let me know.

And if you used any of these tips successfully, share them here.

I’d love to hear it!

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