Great news! You’re getting new people into your lead list! Whether you ran ads, did a webinar, had a great partnership, or any of the other traffic-generating ideas we talked about before, new people are coming into your list. Awesome, right?

Here’s the thing though. The people who make the choice to opt-in to your list can leave you as quickly as they appeared.

Your lead list will wither away if you don’t treat those people right, and you’ll have to keep adding people just so you can stay even. Think about it – unless you have a list of millions, it’s hard to see your list of REACHABLE leads (not bad emails and not opted out) NOT growing, but rather shrinking or holding steady, even though you are constantly adding people into your list. Or worse – your reachable leads number looks like it’s growing, but your open rates and click rates keep going downhill. That’s a sign, by the way, that your emails are not getting to the inbox like they once did.

There are a few scenarios we typically see. Read carefully – are you doing any of these things?

#1 – Ignoring the New Leads

New leads join your list, and beyond delivering the document they opted-in to receive, they hear nothing from you. Crickets. How long will they remember you? There’s a real answer to that question – 42 days. If 42 days pass and you’ve not been in contact with them, they won’t remember who you are. They won’t remember why they’re on your list, and they likely won’t pay attention when you finally do send them an email.

They might stay on your list, but they won’t open your emails – and your emails will migrate from their inbox to their other folders and eventually land in the spam or junk folders.

#2 – Sending a Sales Pitch

When someone joins your list for the first time – likely because you created a piece of content they wanted – they are most likely not ready to buy from you. One opt-in does not mean you have a sales-ready lead. Yet the default position – especially if you follow the advice of the funnel-builders – is to drop them right into a sales page or suggest they make an appointment with you. TOO SOON!

Before someone is ready to buy, they need to know more about you and learn that you are trustworthy. Turning into a pitch machine upon “meeting” someone for the first time will turn off a huge percentage – as many as 96% – of your new leads. Sure, you might get a sale to the 4%, but the rest of your list will stop caring about what you have to say.

#3 – Sending Offer After Offer

So many organizations try to engage their leads with sales offers – over and over again. Whether selling the same thing in each pitch or different things, people get fatigued when they’re only ever asked to buy something. If your outreach strategy is to announce special offers, sale prices, or deals, you’re burning through your list. People don’t like to be sold. Period.

Think about how YOU treat the emails you receive from certain retailers – if you’re not in the market for coffee, do you open every email you get from Keurig? If you’re not in the market for gifts, do you open every email you get from Bath & Body Works? You don’t want your audience relegating your emails to the “I don’t need this right now so I’m not going to open it” pile. You want engagement. And yes, you’ll get it from a few people who ARE in the market for whatever you’re selling – but the vast majority of your list will tune you out until and unless they decide they need you.

And, by then, your competitor might have engaged them on a different level – and THEY will win the business.

What’s the Cure?

One simple word – engagement. If you can engage your leads with valuable content, they will get to know you and learn they can trust you. They will be more open to a sales pitch or a new offer when you have also provided them with content that answers their questions, confirms their pain, or helps them identify a new path forward.

Imagine how you would feel about those emails from Keurig if they occasionally sent out an email with a recipe in it, or an idea about a new way to serve coffee. Would that cause you to pay more attention when you get one of their emails in your inbox? (I would!)

What if YOUR emails were met with eager anticipation by an audience ready to absorb your latest nugget of wisdom, a new idea, or a new story to which they can relate?

Of course, you can take engagement a step further – by ensuring that your emails are related to the interest of any particular lead. Because yes, sending emails that are NOT relevant to your leads is another sure way to kill off your list – or at least that portion of it that has no interest in a particular topic.

Content that will provide value to some or all of the people on your list, and segmenting that list so you can provide value ONLY in the interest areas of each lead – those are the keys to engagement – and engagement is what keeps your list alive.

We call that a “forever funnel.”