Don’t you just hate websites that make you sign up first and give away your email address just to peek at their stuff? I know I do. I thought I was alone. A friend shared a photo of colorful Converse sneakers today on Facebook. I wanted to see how much they cost because you know, you can’t have too many pairs of purple shoes. So I clicked on the link. What popped up? Not the sales page for the sneakers, but the home page of the site with a mandatory pop up box that demanded I reveal all my contact information and opt in for their emails.  No, thank you. I left without even looking at the sneakers. I’m sure I’ll find them elsewhere, and more easily find the price.

So I left without shopping or sharing, and guess what? Looking at the comments on Facebook, a lot of other people were equally displeased.

Engaging readers using Pinterest, Facebook and myriad other social media tools is only part of the equation.  Once you’ve engaged your audience, you must welcome them once they get to your website.  By not welcoming new customers and in fact putting up a hurdle to jump before you could even see their wares, this website lost business.

Why do companies put up those annoying pop up boxes that demand email sign ups, anyway? Because somewhere along the line they’ve either discovered or were told that such boxes can help them boost their email list. Many of these companies are using email marketing very heavily to promote their products, and clothing companies love email marketing.  Hey, I love their email marketing, too; this morning, I clicked on two emails in the 40+ in my person in box just to see the sales.

But that’s really the point, isn’t it? There were 40+ emails from my “favorite” clothing companies, and I had time to click on just two of them. I didn’t sit down and read every single one. So I may be on their email lists, but I’m not particularly engaged with their brand.

Build up an email list takes time and hard work.  Forcing customers to join your email list just to look at your products is a no-no in today’s world of internet marketing.  It’s off putting and will do more to hurt your social media and digital marketing efforts than many other mistakes.

The Do’s and Don’t of Email List Building


  • Offer customers an incentive to join your email list, like a free book, coupon or something else great.
  • Send only emails out on the promised schedule; don’t bombard customers with emails.
  • Publish a privacy policy and terms, and follow them carefully.


  • Make people disclose an email address just to look at your site. Most people won’t bother.
  • Share your list with other vendors UNLESS you have revealed you may do so in your terms when customers sign up.
  • Send emails too frequently. How frequently is too frequently? Check your list stats. Declining open rates and high opt out rates may indicate list fatigue, a term which means you are sending too many emails out.