It's Not About The Size, It's How You Use It

by Justin

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Let’s talk a little about list building tonight. I don’t exactly have the same views as most people and it seems to be working out for me.

You see… When someone mentions listbuilding most of us, including me, immediately starts thinking of a big huge list. However, I’m here to say that I’ve found in my daily experiences that it’s not about the size it’s about the way you use it!

Now before we get started we should talk a little bit about sizes. I mean how do you know if yours is big or not? No one really ever walks up to you and says, honestly, “wow yours is big” or “wow yours is really tiny.”

When I tell someone that’s new to Internet marketing that I have just over 7,800 subscribers they usually drop their jaws. Then when I tell my mentors that my list is just over 7,800 subscribers they give me a pat on the head and say “yours will be as big as mine one day, don’t you worry.”

Yes, I’m purposefully pushing the line on these phrases! ;-)

List size is really very relative because to a rookie 7,800 looks gigantic, but then you’ve got guys like Russell Brunson, Tellman Knudson, Mike Filsaime, and many of the other big shots with subscriberships of over 200,000.

It goes even bigger then that though becase Arcamax, a newsletter publishing company, has over 5 million subscribers over their whole network. So really where is the line or how far up the ruler do we have to measure before we can call ours big?

Forget About Having a Big List…

Size isn’t what matters, what really matters is your subscribers. Before I get started down this road lets show a little proof that it’s not all about size…

That screenshot is one I took of my email on the last day of Russell’s “DoYouSuckAtMakingMoney” launch. If email marketing was purely about who’s got the biggest list, then I surely should not have been #5.

Just look at the names on that list! I’d be making a very safe bet if I said that positions 11-18 on that list would have over 1 million subscribers combined.

What Do I Do Differently Then??

It’s my belief that it’s all about responsiveness, and I’m in no way bragging. Half those guys on that list taught me everything I do today. It was Russell who told me to build a relationship with my list, it was Russell who told me to get my subscribers used to clicking on links in my email.

That image above is not the only trophy I have from the power of my list either. I’ve been in high positions for Matt Bacak, Jordan Hall, and lots of others. All because of a very specific recipe I have for building the responsiveness of my subscribers.

I’ll share my recipe in just a second, but first I’ve got a little rant thats been building up inside me for quite awhile. I can’t bite my tongue any longer, it’s time for an Adswap revolution!

But at the same time I am sick and tired of people with 20,000 freebie seekers that are abused with nothing but sales pitch after sales pitch, telling me that because I only have 7,800 subscribers, they’re only going to mail a section of their list for me when we do an Adswap.

I’m standing my ground, planting my flag, and saying from now we should be asking “how many people open your emails on average” or even better “what’s your avg. click thru count.”

The other thing that scares me is, well if you’re reading this, chances are you are one of my subscribers. Which means I’ll be revealing the coersive tactics I’ve been using on you. That scares me because what happens if revealing the magic trick makes it not magical anymore?

The latter doesn’t worry me as much because when you see what my recipe is, even revealing my secret shouldn’t affect how my subscribers react. Time will tell ;-)

My Email Marketing Recipe

First and foremost my biggest belief is that whatever lure you used to get your subscribers with is the lure that’s going to work the best in the future to get them to respond again.

For example if all you did was offer them a freebie, then that’s really all they’ll want in the future. Sure, you’ll catch a few buyers in the midst but the majority will just be freebie seekers forever. Now if you made them buy something to get on your list then you’ll be able to get many more of them to buy something again.

When I tell my coaching clients to stop letting people onto their list for free and instead make them buy something. The first thing they say is but then it’ll take me forever to build a big list.

IT’S NOT ABOUT A BIG LIST!! (forgive my outbursts please this topic raises my blood pressure!)

Plus, it’s entirely possible to have the same high conversions you can get with a freebie as it is with something that the browser has to buy. You just have to make sure the value of your offer is much higher then the price you are charging.

Ingredient #1 is stop letting people subscribe for free.

Out of my 7,800+ subscribers over 4,500 of them are their because they bought something from me. Which actually leads me into the next ingredient.

Just because someone has bought your products doesn’t mean that’s how the relationship should stay. There are hundreds of other marketers out there doing EVERYTHING they can think of to take your subscribers away. It’s my belief that you need to reward them well to encourage loyalty.

When someone buys from me and becomes a subscriber to my list there are 3-4 unadvertised bonuses given out immediately. I get testimonials all the time about how people are blown away at how much I give them right upfront. This helps me get them to fall in love with me and my emails.

Ingredient #2 reward your subscribers well

The last thing you want is someone scared to open one of your emails because they’re afraid you’ll talk them into buying something. What you want to create is an environment where your subscribers see one of your emails pop into their box and they open it before any of their friends emails, knowing that it’s probably something really cool you are sending them.

Which brings me to ingredient #3…

Ingredient #3 is to deliver consistent content

The majority of my subscribers know and anticipate my emails on Tuesdays and Sundays. That’s because they know that unless something’s happened to me they are getting something valuable on those days.

Every Tuesday morning we do a twenty minute long live show called “The Twenty Minute Tackle” using and every Sunday night we do a blog post like the one you are reading. My open rates and click through rates on those days are through the roof.

We’ve even seen 90% click through rates, multiple times, when we hit the right topic. That’s because doing the consistent content thing does a number of things to your subscribers…

  1. Get’s them anticipating and expecting your email
  2. Gives them valuable content that they enjoy
  3. They respect that you’re not just another salesman
  4. Get’s them used to receiving your emails and clicking your links
  5. It also lets us interact and turns our emails into a 2 way communication

Having that 2 way communication with your subscribers is super important, but I see so many marketers doing everything they can to turn it off. They use noreply email addresses, force you to use help desk software to communicate with them, and even if you get their personal email address it has one of those autoresponders that tell you they aren’t checking their emails anymore.

I’m not knocking those strategies, they can be very effective in automating your business and I’ve even tried some of them. What I’m saying is I’ve seen tremendous benefits from turning those things off. I tested it and I make more money without them.

By having that 2 way communication with my subscribers they trust me more and I know more of what they want. I even answer my phone, which to some marketers is gonzo nuts. However, there is no other marketing tool I own that gives me more insight into who my market is and what they want.

Ingredient #4 is know what your subscribers want

The profitability of my email list skyrockets for the 2 weeks after I survey them to see what they want. Through my blog posts, live Internet shows, and picking up my phone I start to get a sense of their main interests starting to change.

Then I send them a survey to confirm and see what it is they want about that topic. Finally I follow up with a campaign that delivers exactly what they’ve told me they want. It’s so simple but sooo many marketers aren’t doing it or not doing it enough.

I hear business owners telling me they don’t like to sell, but if they just knew what their customers want they’d never have to sell to them. If you know everyone in your local mall is craving white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, then all you have to do is tell people where to get them and they’ll go buy them.

If you showed up with cranberry oatmeal cookies instead, then you’re probably going to have to pull out every sales trick in the book to get them over too you instead. I don’t know about you but I sure don’t like hanging out with someone who’s always trying out a new sales trick on me.

I do like hanging out with my friends and sharing secrets though.

Ingredient #5 is to be friendly and transparent with your subscribers

I’m not the picturesque businessman. I’ve got a bald head, a beard, a little overweight, tattoo’s, I speak my mind, and I use foul language to emphasive my emotions. When I first started out online I did everything I could to hide those things.

As I slowly started letting those things out, scared that it would hurt my reputation, more of my subscribers started to fall in love with me. They didn’t look at me like I was less then perfect. Instead they responded with “hey I’m the same way.”

Sure some people don’t like it, some people are just totally opposite of me and we don’t clique. So they go find someone else that they do clique with and the others bond too me closer then ever before. No matter what you can’t please everyone. If you try to be clean and perfect like Eben Pagan you loose the people that like the Frank Kern style.

If you are like Frank Kern you loose the type of people that love Eben Pagan. It’s easiest to just be yourself and let it all just flow out. The bond you create with your subscribers when you show them who you really are is incredible and they’ll buy more from you. Because now they’re thinking, “wow he/she’s just like me and if they can do it then so can I.”

Wrapping Up

If you’ll implement those 5 ingredients into your email marketing I guarantee you’ll see amazing results. With those 5 ingredients you can have a small subscriber base and get the same results of guys with 50x more subscribers then you.

In fact when I launched my SEO Lies ebook in Novemeber, my #1 affiliate had 18,000 subscribers and my #2 affiliate lost by only 1 sale while only having 880 subscribers! Both got nearly the same result but one focuses more on size and the other more on quality.

Imagine what happens when you mix size with quality!

NEW! Readers Talking Back…

Ok ladies and gentlemen, some of our favorite guru’s are doing a great job of giving us exactly what we want. For example I’m loving all the new emails from Rich Schefren, I just wish they were a little more related to what I’m going through right now.

So I would ask him for more of ingredient #4.

Who do you subscribe too that is almost giving you all five ingredients but is maybe leaving 1 or 2 out? What do you like about them and what ingredient would you like to see more of from them?

In numbers we can really make some noise and inspire the change we want. Please nothing negative though, or else I’ll have to delete it. Leave your response below… They’ll hear us thanks to Google Alerts!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony Tan March 16, 2009 at 1:41 am

It’s not really about the ‘BIG’ list but the quality of the list, no freebies seeker. It can be a terrible mistake if all your hardwork (traffic) leads to a huge list of free loaders.

You cant always send sales pitch and affiliate links to your subscriber without giving any values. Subscribers do not always want to receive affiliate links, they want VALUE. (again I mention value)

I am in the process of writing a free ebook for my squeeze page but now I thinking of charging. Digital or Physical I’m thinking.

Eban Pagan’s Clean and Perfect! LOL
Frank Kern’s surfers’ Coolness! Haha

What about Justin Brooke…???


Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 10:49 am

Well i’m hoping that soon enough “Justin Brooke” becomes known as the guy who is always delivering great content. I’m not perfect though, I take it all one day at a time like everyone else and we are working on our branding.


Kat March 16, 2009 at 1:57 am

Thank you for this post,it is good read


Pam March 16, 2009 at 2:11 am

As usual Justin, brilliant and very accurate. I have been learning from a lot of gurus over the last 3 years and I would have to say truthfully I don’t resonate with many of them at all. And the amount of times their communication procedures (or lack of them) has really irked me is too many to mention. Just recently I started following you and Frank Kern and I finally seem to have found people that I just learn easily from. Your no b/s attitude and tell it like it is tutorials really sit well with me and I have learnt so much more in the last 3 months than I have in the last 3 years of going round in circles.

So thank you for being yourself, making learning fun and easy and for giving me the desire to keep going in a very tough and male dominated industry.

Love it. Cheers and I hope your son had a fantastic birthday party.



Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 10:52 am

thanks for being a regular Pammie! And soon enough these “gurus” will realize that it’s going to take more then just sales pitches via email to really succeed. There is a slow building underground movement being built to topple the giants. Wow that came out a lot more dramatic then I thought!


Graham Bell March 16, 2009 at 2:31 am

Very Dangerous Stuff.

Im on 80% of the gurus lists you mentioned for the “DoYouSuckAtMakingMoney” launch. Not going to bad mouth anyone, but I will say it is really annoying, the run up to launch . There are dozens of e-mails saying the same thing.

I tend to buy with the affiliate offering the best bonus for any particular promotion. Sometimes I even avoid an affiliate giving away too many bonuses – like all the plr stuff, stuff thats going to take longer to assimilate than the actual course itself!

Knowing what your list wants and delivering consistent content is much better than being the type of guru who sends you 1-2 affiliate promotions per day and doesn’t really care about you. They are just training you (well me anyway) to hate them.

Learning to click links in e-mails is equally bad – especially if they are rubbish offers – don’t forget there is a small unsubscribe link at the bottom of the page too!

Power Drunk Suscriber


Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

Yeah I try not to do too many of those launches and make it as fun as I can, cuz I know how freaking annoying those launch parties can be. The only one it’s fun for is the JV whore (including myself) but I am trying to figure out ways to make it not be like that for my subscribers.


Jaques Cilliers March 16, 2009 at 2:45 am

Hey there Justin, Thank you for the effective to the point way that you communicate to your subscribers. Excellent stuff. Keep sending some more.

Like Pam, I am sure that you and your son had a fabulous time.



Doug Downunder March 16, 2009 at 3:05 am

Hi Justin,
You resonate EMPATHY to me mate !! The big “E” word is utter gold – and here’s something for the side plate … you and I come from different worlds … age … education … etc. etc. yet we have that common denominator …. the knack of getting belly to belly with our prospects !! Belly to belly is where it all happens ….. a unique ability and rare in IM !!…Justin, I’d take you selling with me anywhere…. what an utter rip !!
I’m itching to rant on; but it’s polite to leave space and content for others to contribute …….. I’ve been on the verge of contacting you direct for a little while and need just a little encouragement to chew the fat. … I look forward to the day…. Great Work Mate ….Doug.


Cameron Crosse March 16, 2009 at 5:10 am

As always, awesome – insightful – relavant. This is just reiterating what you said above, but as a subscriber I just wanted to confirm was that the reason I open your emails is cuz its always about good content.

And guess what? you don’t peddle crap. So even if it is a recommendation for a paid product — I know its something that you believe in — and I don’t have a problem taking a look.

Thanks again Justin.



Janice Dugas March 16, 2009 at 5:15 am

Hi Justin,
I gladly admit that the only mail that I anticipate receiving from the IM community, and even thinking in advance that it is close to come, is your Sunday post !

Thank you so much for being yourself. Your transparency and honesty helps us to be a better person all together.

I will apply the above ingredients to the building on my own list and I truly believe that this mutual respect will make all the difference!

Wishing you and yours, all the very best.


Richard Dacker March 16, 2009 at 5:58 am

Hi Justin I trust all is well with Chaunna .
Your timing is great you must have sixth sense. Anyway on the blog ingredients I thank you. I have been thinking about Point 4 seriously with a survey. Ingredient 1 is reality and Ingredient 5 is what I am deciding on at this moment. I am thinking to combine ingredient 2 with ingredient 5 with a product for article and/or resume writing that I can sell for a price and demonstrate a resume I have prepared using the software in addition to PDF manuals with Master Rights.
Now I know I am good to go. Best do a upload starting with ingredient 2 and 5 , I will see what response I get. Thanks for the advice.


Alejandro Reyes March 16, 2009 at 6:54 am

Told ya man. People are passionate about this stuff.

What I dig most about you is that you listen to your community. Thanks for writing what I was too chicken to.

Always keepin it real.



Elmor March 16, 2009 at 7:58 am

Hi Justin

Since I joined your list, I am all ways looking forward to your next blog. I am still trying to set up my website, is there any instruction on how to set up a squeeze page and one other question can I send more then one promotion product to my website?
Thanks for your guidance.
P.S. loved the Matt Davis Marketing program, this answered a lot of question for me. Thanks


DonovanMc March 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

I agree that size isn’t what matters, what really matters is the quality of your subscriber lists and how you use it. I think that Zig Ziglar was the first person I heard make the statement that “people do business with people they like and trust.” I would think that you could be more responsive and better serve a smaller list than a gigantic one. But, we are all capitalist and we are in this business to make a lot of money. You would think that having worked so hard to build a list that you would want to continue to treasure it and nurture it but sadly many don’t.

Justin, you are perfecting the art salesmanship, you are giving content first and then dropping a pitch in there without been too obvious. Like I’ve heard you say before; you’ve got to sell in order to make money, the problem I have is where I am flooded with sales pitches sometime twice a day from some people.

Because of you I have cut down on the number of list I subscribe to. Besides you and Chauna, two people who I subscribe to, because they give you all five ingredients, are Marlon Sanders and Jeff Wellman. I cannot think of anything that they are leaving out. What I like about them is the fact that they come across as wanting to see you succeed. I know that they are running a business and are going to sell me something, but they have gained my trust so that when they tell me that I need to buy a product or a service, I know that they want me to get it because it’s going to help me in my business or in my life. They have struck a balance that I like.


Justin Brooke March 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

@elmor we give you professional squeeze page templates in as part of your membership
and have videos on how to create your own.

Or if you’re looking for a free option I recommend


Jesus Pina March 16, 2009 at 9:00 am

There is no doubt that what you explained in this post is absolutely true. I am one of those people that wait your posts with anticipation because I know that what you send it ALWAYS loaded with value.

I also agree with the point that you have to be yourself and you also have to sometimes LEARN to be comfortable with yourself because if you don’t do it your subscribers will find out one way or the other that you are a poser and you will lose credibility and therefore lose their respect.
I also believe that in any context, size does not matter, the most important thing is knowing how to use it.
I can tell you that right now I am a little behind in my list building but with this post I will take this newly acquired knowledge to build my list the right way or should I say the “Justin Broke’s” way ;-)

Thanks for all the value given and keep up with the good work.


Jay Jenkins March 16, 2009 at 10:19 am

Hey Justin. Great post. What you’re saying about providing quality information and/or products to you list is dead on. I’d love to have your permission to reprint the post in it’s entirety on my blog for my subscribers, giving you full credit of course. Not many marketers have the courage to lay things on the line like you.

Looking forward to the next post.



jbode March 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

Justin thanks for the great information as always,
I’ve really been pushing to build my list lately.

I think giving great stuff away and making lots of
videos, is proving to work good for me. I love the
idea of having a set day to release a new video and
blog post – I think that’s awesome.

Can’t wait to implement more of these with my list

thanks again,



shane March 16, 2009 at 11:36 am

You are so right Justin. I participated in the give away that happened this past week, and yes I was one of those freeloaders. lol. I looked for some specific products and subscribed to some lists to download them. I gave it a few days to see what people would send me, to see if there was anything interesting. 99% were just sales pitches and I only stayed subscribed to two lists.

And you are right. I so look forward to your guys emails when I get them. There are only 3 people I feel that way toward.

As for myself. Well, I have just finished a 4 part video series and was going to give it away for free to get subscribers. But now, I am going to have to rethink that strategy.

Maybe I will create a pdf report for $9 and have the video series as an upsell.

What about $1 products. Sure these people are buyers but they are pretty much freebie seekers themselves are they not?


PS: I have to convince my father to let me use his card to sign up for

haha! Have a great day.


inthistogether March 16, 2009 at 11:48 am

Good stuff. Not a lot more to say
Just wanted u to know I’m still listenung :-) )


inthistogether March 16, 2009 at 11:50 am

listening listening listening –ahhhh THAT’s how its spelt


Justin Brooke March 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm

@shane The $1 buyers are not freebie seekers. These are
people who have said “I trust you enough to pull out my
credit card” a lot different then just a name and fake email.

Throw in an upsell process and autoresponder series
and you’ve got a killer funnel. I make about $15 on average
for everyone that buys SEO Lies for $1


Ari March 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Justin, your article has much more content than most list building manuals I’ve read in the past. And your no B.S., straight-talk approach makes it a very pleasant reading.
Thanks for sharing.


Matt Davis March 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Great post man!

In the beginning I thought it was all about the size of the list, but after thinking about it a bit, I realized that it’s more about how your list responds.

You are a great example of this and I can vouch for it first hand. Your email can send more traffic than most people with 5X your list size and it’s all because you offer everyone so much value.

Keep the good posts coming!

Matt Davus


David King March 16, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Great stuff man!


normz2 March 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for a very good read , it makes perfect sense. I enjoy your comments. They say over and over again that the money is in the list! If you look after your list you will do well. Some of the big gurus do resort to automation, but they lose the personal touch and often lose track of where they are at, especially if the have enormous lists. This has been my observation.
I am receiving over 150 e-mails a day. It is not possible to read them all. I only read the most interesting ones. It is interesting to see the different sales pitches, some really grab you.


Stephen Dean March 17, 2009 at 12:52 am

Dude, you’re really impressing me with your blog posts.

I love this post. I definitely understand conditioning your list to respond… via clicks, purchases and so forth.

But what’s the harm in adding freebie seekers? It doesn’t cost any more to send your emails out to them. And certainly a percentage of them will buy…

…Less than your previous customers no doubt, but still a good return on investment, no?


Allen Hollywood March 18, 2009 at 4:08 am

Justin you big loveable/hateable guy. I read your post regularly. It is interesting because so many of the lists I am on are work to read. Yours is always easy to read and I get something out of it.



Maggie March 19, 2009 at 12:09 am

Fabulous, informative and honest as usual. No wonder I have unsubscribed from all other “Lists”!

I am learning so much, after paddling the canoe in circles with “The Other Big Boys”

Many thanks.


Lucky Balaraman March 19, 2009 at 9:52 am


Your blog posts are unique (because they’re in your personal style) and valuable (because they offer knowledge gained from testing). They are a pleasure to read and learn from.

Keep it up, dude!

Lucky Balaraman


Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 11:04 am

Thanks so much Allen, Maggie, and Lucky… The compliments are awesome and we’ll do our best to keep getting them out of you through more blog posts like these! hahaha


Karla & John March 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm


I wanted to add my two cents for what hey are worth. I have been a big fan of you and your wife for some time now. You really give a lot in your blogs and videos. I want to thank for that. My husband and I would like to do more but money has been tight and even more so now. I am losing my job soon and my husband had to tkea lower paying job and due to his health issues, he may not even be able to do that much longer. I understand that freebie seekers are everywhere. Most people want something for nothing but as you talked about before, if you continue to give good value , sooner or later they will become customers. I have not been able to buy a lot due to finances but you and chaunna are he first ones on my list to buy from when finances allow.

Thank you for all that you do,

John and Karla


Henry Zeng March 22, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Hey Justin,

Thanks for your helpful listbuilding post.

I’ve got a list that the same as your size and I wish I could make it as responsive as yours.

The idea of building a buyers list is a real killer!

Thanks again for your great info,



Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 11:02 am

Ahhh here is Henry Zeng… Sorry I was reading the comments backwards and didn’t get to yours yet. You have a nice blog I just went and left a comment on there.


Jeffery Wood March 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

When talking about sweeping the floors I said, “Bigger is easier but a real man knows how to handle undersized equipment.” :)

Thanks for reaffirming that concept.

– Jeffery


Lisa Wood March 23, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Great read – I appreciate your step-by-step honest approach.


Ms.Liz March 24, 2009 at 8:11 am

Hey Justen, #1 is such a key point, it’s funny how we don’t stop to consider the quality of a list, we just want the biggest one we can get! Of course when it comes to email lists, that’s one time bigger is not always better.

You know how to create those light bulb moments, as usual, thanks for the enlightening post.


Joe Stewart March 24, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Oh man!

Is that what you’ve been doing? I can’t BELIEVE I actually fell for all that shmoozing!
:-) (smiling)

You’re a stand up guy Justin, that’s why I’m here.

By the way, Henry Zeng! I just sent your report to my disturbingly (is that a word?) small list, branded of course. You did a good job on it. It’s a good read.

Until next time….



Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 10:58 am

Not really sure who Henry Zeng is but hope he’s cool. Thanks for showing some love, hope I can return it somehow.


James Delong April 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

This is great information.
I have a few smaller sub-lists and they perform better than some of the larger ones I have.
Your key points will help me out big time.

Thanks for the FREE and extremely valuable info.


Justin Brooke April 13, 2009 at 10:56 am

Thanks for stopping by James and leaving a comment… I hope to see you around more often and can’t wait to hang out when I move back to Florida.


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