Once you've decided to start an email list, you'll need a way to manage your contacts so you can easily add and delete contacts, and send them a variety of electronic communications. While some people try to handle their lists through their personal email accounts, when your list grows, you'll soon run into problems. Not only may your internet server flag you as a potential spammer, keeping track of hundreds – if not thousands! – of subscribers would be a nightmare. Make it easy on yourself and start with a robust system from the beginning.
Here are some questions you'll want to ask when evaluating email list management systems:
- Will it generate an online form for installation on your blog or website that allows someone to subscribe and unsubscribe easily, at the push of a button?
- Does it have the ability to send your newsletter in the format you choose (text or HTML, for instance)?
- Will it scale as your list grows (plan ahead – you don't want the hassle of moving your list later on)?
- Does it offer the ability to create autoresponder messages, where you create a series of email messages and new subscribers receive the messages in order, regardless of when they subscribe?
- How much does it cost, and does it charge by list size or by number of messages sent?
- If it is a free service, does it include ads in the email messages?
- What are its statistics for message delivery?
- Can you attach files to messages? What file types are supported?
- How difficult is it to use? What kind of support is available?
A little research online will bring up a variety of options, any one of which may be ideal for your purposes. One of the most popular for Internet marketers is Aweber. Aweber is a popular choice because:
- Outstanding technical support. Live online chat and help lines make it easy for you to get person-to-person support to set up your list.
- Great training. A number of online training videos are available to help you learn the ropes.
- Inexpensive trial. With your first month just $1, you can try the service before you commit.
- Competitive pricing. Aweber's price structure is competitive to services with fewer options.
- Unlimited lists. You can create as many lists as you like – one for each location, product line, market segment, etc. – all for one price.
- Unlimited emails. You can send as many messages per month as you like, for the same monthly price.
- Follow-up series. You can set your list so all new subscribers will automatically receive a series of scripted email messages, regardless of when they join.
There are many other possible email list managers such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, List Mail Pro, AutoResponse Plus, and Yahoo Groups. Do some research and ask pointed questions to determine the best solution for you – not just for your current list, but for the future. Experts say that you lose an average of 50-90 percent of your subscribers when you switch from one list manager to another, so the decision you make today is one for the future as well.
If you've ever entered an online contest, offered your email address to an online or local store, or given the okay for a sales consultant to send you information, you've joined an email list. Email lists are simply the email addresses and names of people who signed up, by one of many different means, to receive emails such as electronic magazines (“e-zines”) or newsletters, electronic courses (e-courses), or product information in their inbox.
Collecting customer and prospect contact information and keeping in touch with them on a regular basis is the key to any online business's success. Here are some of the main reasons to start building your list now:
Presence – An email list that you use regularly gives you an easy way to keep your name in front of your customers and prospects on a continual basis. By making your name top-of-mind, you're increasing the likelihood that your customers will purchase from YOU when they're in a position to buy.
Connection – Say you're a florist. Your average customer may only purchase from you a few times a year. But you continue to stay in touch with her, providing her with quality information that relates to a topic she's interested in – holiday decorations and entertaining tips, for example. When she DOES need a flower arrangement, you'll be the one she buys it from. Why would she spend her money with some website she's never heard of when she knows you, her online friend who sends her useful information every week?
Education – Some products and industries require more education before prospects are ready to purchase. Email lists offer an easy, inexpensive way to provide the information your prospects need, moving them through the learning curve, until they're ready to buy.
Feedback – Do your customers want your next product to be bigger or smaller than what you have now? Do they hate the background music on your website? Do they wish your software was compatible with a platform you don't currently offer? Don't guess — just ask them! Email lists give you a simple way to solicit feedback from the real experts – your customers themselves.
Easy to Share – Word-of-mouth can be your best source of new business. By providing easy-to-share electronic newsletters or product information, you make it more likely that your current customers will pass the word to their friends, without incurring a minute of your time or a penny of your money.
Revenue – Some enterprising electronic newsletter publishers make money by selling ads in their publications to complementary businesses. The larger and more targeted your audience, the higher rates you can command.
Starting, growing, and maintaining an email list of targeted subscribers is one of the most profitable things you can do to build a successful business online. Not every prospect will become a subscriber, and not every subscriber will turn into a loyal customer, but you'll find you're much more successful selling to your list than you are to a group of relative strangers.
Provide subscribers with quality information on a topic that interests them, and they'll gladly allow you to tell them about your products and services, knowing you're an expert at what you do.
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