“Can I build an email list WITHOUT a lead magnet?”

Someone asked me this question recently. Before I answer, let’s look at WHY building a list without a free bribe feels like such a formidable challenge.

Because it DOES, doesn’t it?

I mean, how many people do you know who DON’T try to butter you up with a PDF, video, or template to get you on their list?

(I’m choosing to ignore the far more important questions you should be asking, like: “Is having more subscribers REALLY the goal? Shouldn’t I be focusing on building a loyal fanbase of people who love me and my work?”

The answers are of course “No” and “Yes” respectively, but let’s gloss over that for now. Just remember I mentioned it and move on will you?)

If you take a step back – away from the world of online marketing for a second – you’ll see evidence everywhere that building an audience without a lead magnet is not only NOT a formidable challenge…It’s actually the norm.
“NOORRRRRRRRRRRMMMMMM!!!!!”
How can you build an email list without a lead magnet?

How do newspapers get subscribers without a lead magnet?


How do YouTubers get subscribers without a lead magnet?

How does Apple have customers clamouring for the new iPhone before releasing any of the specs?

How do movie producers sell-out screenings for their next blockbuster before releasing a trailer?

When you take a wider look, the answer suddenly becomes clear.

You get subscribers by creating something people WANT.

You write great news stories… build awesome phones… make amazing movies…… or write good emails.

Want to build an email list of engaged and happy subscribers?

Write emails your people ENJOY reading.

Useful emails – ones they’re happy they opened.

The kind of emails they’d miss if you won the lottery tomorrow and packed it all in, so you could finally live the life of your dreams and buy a semi-detached house in Falkirk.

Just. Write. Good. Emails.

That’s how you build a happy list of subscribers without needing a lead magnet.

Now you might be thinking…

“I can see where this is going…“

He’s going to transition into a pitch for his email marketing course, ‘Sent.’.

“He’s going to say something like, ‘… and if you’re looking for a simple approach to writing good emails…’ or something like that.

“Then he’s probably going to ramp up the urgency by reminding me it’s only available for a few more days at its bargain price…

“I bet he also mentions the amazing testimonials on the sales page too – all from business owners like me who’ve used ‘Sent.’ to get more engagement and sales…

“… before rounding it all off by asking me to visit https://insertgaghere.com/sent/ before the deadline on 30th November.

“The bastard…”

You might think that…

… but you’d be wrong. 😉

Have a good weekend,

John Holt