Can Your List Be Too Big?

I know, I know ... what a silly question, right? Of course your list can NOT be too big!

Or can it?

When it comes to lists, I believe there are five excellent reasons why smaller can actually be better.

Before we get to the reasons, let me clarify exactly what I am talking about.

No matter your list size, the list needs to be cleaned regularly for you to succeed long term.

Here's an example. I almost never mention specific figures from my business but I will tell you that my CORE mailing list is under 20,000 people strong. 

To be transparent about it, that's not my entire list. We have more paying members than that number. But that is my active engagement list - people who have asked for specific information.


It shouldn't be. Remember, I wrote the book about making Big Profits from a small list. And I walk the walk too.

Heck, I used to make a full time living with a list of about 6000. That's why I wrote the book in the first place!

I have a friend who has a list of over 800,000 people. Impressive, isn't it?

But consider this - my little list outperforms his on a regular basis.

Why? Because the people on my list open and read the emails I send.

They do that for a combination of reasons. But that's for another article.

So, to be clear, I'm a fan of HUGE lists IF they are cleaned regularly.

In an upcoming article I will show you exactly how to clean any list.

For now, here are five answers to the question "can your list be too big?''

You pay less with a smaller list

As you may know, I changed autoresponder companies in the last year. What you might not know is that my bill at the old company was running over $600 a month.

That's over seven THOUSAND dollars a year to send email.

Why so high?

Because that company has a policy that if one person is on many lists I have to pay for them many times. They counted each subscriber on each list as a new person. 

I disagree with this way of doing business so I voted with my wallet.

Here is my advice. If you are with a company that charges you for every subscriber, even when the same people are on multiples lists, count the costs and decide if you want to change. 

If you don't change, you might consider how you are mailing them and when to remove them from which  lists.

I know sounds complicated but it's not. There is actually a formula for this.

If you want it, leave a comment below and I'll publish about it.

Your statistics are more accurate with a clean list.

This is much more important that people realize. Having accurate numbers is vital if you want to succeed online long term.

Here's why.

Let's say you have a big list of 50,000. But it's not a clean list, so you get low opens and clicks.

Now let's say you send a solo to the list and get 500 opens and 200 clicks.

Is that good or bad?

Well, 500 opens is 1% (.01) which is pretty bad. And 200 clicks is 4 tenths of 1% (.004) which ain't great either. That's how we say it in Texas. 🙂

But here's the thing - those numbers are TOTALLY misleading because of the dead wood in your list.

It would be much better to remove those who have not opened in the last 60 days and then have a smaller, cleaner list.

Let's go one step further and say you clean your list and end up with 15,000 and not 50,000.

Sounds horrible, right? It's actually wonderful.

Here's why.

Now you send a solo to your list and get the SAME opens and clicks. But this time, you know that your open rate is actually 3.3% and your click rate is actually 1.3%.

Much better!

But why does it matter?

  • Because now you know the truth.
  • And now you can pay less.
  • And now you have an accurate starting point.

The surest path to failure is not dealing with real numbers.


See how my list building service can position your blog to be a list-building profit-making machine!

You avoid getting labeled as a spammer.

Here's the thing to know about email marketing.

You WANT to send to people who WANT to hear from you.

But you do NOT want to send to people who really do NOT want to hear from you.

Even if they are on your list. 

The more you send to people who are not engaging with your email (not opening or clicking) the more risk you run of being labeled a spammer.

Here's how that happens.

Fred subscribes to get your super-neat lead magnet (free gift) and reads it right away.

Then he forgets he subscribed. 

Two weeks later he gets an offer for your spiffy new online course. Not remembering that he is the one who signed up to your list, he clicks "spam" in his email program.

And when that happens often enough, you are labeled as a spammer.

Now please understand these important facts.

  • Fred signed up for your list. He is a legitimate opt in.
  • You have a record of his IP address and the date he joined. You can prove he took the action.
  • Your offer is 100% relevant to Fred because it is based on the lead magnet HE requested.
  • You are not pounding Fred with 14 emails a day about your offer. In fact, you are following best practices.

So, you have done nothing wrong and yet ...

It does not matter to the company that sends your email!

It's true. They are focused on one thing only. THEIR ability to send email. If you mess with that, even accidentally, they will take action against you.

Please note: Them "taking action" does not happen often and does not mean a lawsuit or anything like that. It just means they will contact you and require you to clean your list. Or, worst case, they may close your account.

The easy fix is to clean your list fairly often and remove anyone who does not open your email within 60 days.

NOTE: You don't delete these addresses. You still use them, just in another way. But that's another article.

You can respond to readers

My readers are often surprised when I reply to their emails. But that's what I love doing, and that's why I am in business.

While I can't teach an entire course in an email reply, I do reply to every email I receive. Many can be handled by my support staff. But any email marked for me gets to me and gets an answer.

I can do that for two reasons.

  1. I have a fantastic support staff person.
  2. I have a small list.

The advantage here is that I can actually have a relationship with as many people on my list as care to get in touch with me.

Am I perfect about answering and never dropping the ball? Nope. Sometimes an email gets filtered or I just miss it.

And I'm sometimes slow, taking a week to respond simply due to work demands. But people tell me my replies are helpful. And I've actually received testimonials about the free advice I gave by email!

That's the power of a small list and great people like you on that list. I'm very grateful for both.

You avoid discouragement

Here is something not everyone will tell you. But it's true.

Making money online is hard. It's lonely and sometimes confusing and isolating.

But when you learn to do it right it creates more time and money freedom than you can imagine.

And one of the real threats to your success is discouragement.

To avoid discouragement in your email marketing it is vital to work with real numbers.

Using only the example below you can instantly see the difference working with real numbers brings.

A 1% open rate vs. a 3.3% open rate. Which would you prefer?

Which would you find more encouraging?

So there you have it, five reasons why a smaller list can be a good thing.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Zechariah 4:10. To paraphrase it, it says to "not despise the day of small beginnings."

When I had $17 in the bank and 4 mouths to feed, not despising the day of small beginnings really mattered.

When I bought the Directory of Ezines from the founder and paid her instead of paying myself, not despising small beginnings mattered more than I can say.

And when my list was 2400 or 4300 or 5000 people strong, loving the day of small beginnings, and remaining grateful for what I DID have saw me through.

Do you have a big list that is not responding? Clean it and work with real numbers.

Do you have a little list and wish it was bigger? Serve the people on your list now and put reciprocity to work in your life.

Do you have no list now and want one? Begin by putting a form on your blog today. Then tomorrow map out a great lead magnet. I have articles on this blog showing you how to do both. 

No matter where you stand right now - whether you are struggling or flourishing, remain grateful and look for opportunities to serve. And focus on list building even more than you are now. 

Because when you have a powerful list (no matter the size) you have a very beautiful thing indeed!

Charlie Page Signature

13 thoughts on “Can Your List Be Too Big?”

  1. Hi Charlie, just like the others that write to you about your articles I open everyone but I’m sure I miss one every so often.
    When I’m on your blog I always have a look around for stuff I missed.
    You have done it again, great article, thanks.

    Mark M

    1. That would be a big mistake in my view. It sounds easy but puts you in the position of being the person who has to make sure you are off all the blacklists and that your mail gets through. That’s a full time job.

  2. Thank you, Chalie, for another great article. I open and read every email from you that I see (I’m sure I missed a few). As soon as I can earn money online I’m signing up for your coaching when next you offer it.

  3. Very interesting article!
    A lot of people Bragg about how big their list is, And they are too afraid to clean their list. What you said makes a lot of sense. Sending a mass Email to your entire list of 80,000 Subs is never a good idea, because people have different interests, It’s very wise to segment and regularly clean your list.

    1. Thank you for your comment. There are times when sending an email to everyone makes sense but generally segmenting is much better. Great marketing is all about permission.


  4. Very helpful, Charlie …thanks!

    Please can you share more on how or when to remove same people from different lists?

  5. Hi Charlie Hi,

    Thank you for another well written, practical article which demonstrates, yet again, that what you say is congruent with how you do your business. That is important to me as I learn from you.

    My list presently is cold and only around 500 emails but I would be interested in learning from you how to use your formula to keep it responsive and profitable as I grow my list.

    Until later, keep up the good work and . . .

    Stay Awesome,

    1. Thanks Dale. I will have an article soon about how to do just that. Appreciate your kind comments.


  6. Hi Charlie,

    Yes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…that should relate.

    Many Blessings,


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