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Email marketing is an important aspect of running a successful online business. We’re always hearing that “the money is in the list” – “the money is in the list”- and so many newer business owners focus on gaining email subscribers- sometimes even over attaining a client directly.

When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and think about what is your business for? Is it to increase profits now, such as with taking a client directly? Or is it to put someone onto an email list, in the hopes they might possibly buy something one day?

To me, it seems obvious that if you have a chance to work with a client directly- easily- and without hoops (and you want to work with them)- you want to find the most direct and simplest pathway to making this happen. In my way of thinking, your email list is for building relationships with people who are just learning about you- who might not be ready to work with you directly.

Yet I have seen (three times this week alone) that business owners have the opportunity to enroll a client directly; as in the client is ready to get started right away- and the business owner sends them to join the email list in lieu of proceeding with the direct sales process.

I think this is not well considered. If you have a client who is ready to work with you, it makes good sense to start working with them, rather than having them join your email list and putting them off to someday.

This is the place where an understanding of your business goals can very much help your decision-making. If your goal is to gain clients and make more money, then you want to try and gain clients as quickly and directly as you can.

If you are over-full with clients, or looking to build for the future instead of right now, then working on growing your email list is important. Email list size used to be a good measure of profitability- meaning that the more subscribers you had, you could reasonably assume the more money you’d make from email marketing. Yet I think the metrics of email marketing are changing- it’s no longer JUST the size of your list- but, rather (and maybe even more importantly), how responsive and engaged your list is with you.

You can make a very good living from a very small list of highly engaged people and a good ladder of ascension.

So if you review your current business model and you decide that your goal is to gain clients and earn money, then you would want to try and accelerate the client acquisition process as much as you can. If a client is ready to work with you, get started with them. If they – or you- aren’t sure yet, then get them into your mailing list.

But try not to sacrifice income today for a bigger list tomorrow.