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.
"The money is in the list." Are you sick of hearing it yet? Well, brace yourself because you haven't heard the last of it. It's true. You start making easy money – literally while you sleep – when you have built a responsive list of people who know, like and trust you.
Notice I didn't say you need a huge list. Numbers help, but ultimately, your relationship with that list is what matters most. I've heard people estimate that you make $1 every month for every person you have on your list. On the other hand, I've also heard of marketers making tens of thousands of dollars from a list of under 1000 people. Now THAT is one responsive list.
Building, growing and nurturing a list takes time and effort. Don't let this scare you.
Rather, let this motivate you to begin right now. This is the most important thing you should be doing for your Internet marketing biz.
Here are a few essential things to remember as you start creating your profitable list:
1. Your Attitude.
I want to get you started with the right attitude. I know you've been brainwashed with "the money is in the list." But I don't want you to see your list members as mere dollar signs or cash cows. I heard a wonderful statement the other day: "Your list is your community." That's a terrific attitude to have towards your list members or subscribers! Right away, you realize that you share a bond with your them. You don't have a mere seller-buyer relationship. Rather, you know and support and help each other. Sure, one of your goals is to earn money from this list. However, the premise is that you do so only to the extent that your list members BENEFIT from being in your community. This attitude is crucial for the success of your list.
2. Your Focus.
Once you start a list, it should be your top priority. This means promoting it every chance you get: on forums, your Email signatures, article resource boxes, social networking sites… everywhere! But, of course, make sure the list you're promoting is relevant to where you're promoting it. Being focused on your list also means always being on the look-out for how you can build your community, increase interaction, and give more. Which brings us to the third item….
3. Your Value.
Say this to yourself 100 times: "First I must give, before I can receive." What value are you giving your list? Before you can expect somebody to entrust you with their name and Email address, you must first offer something of value to them in exchange. This could be a free E-book, an E-course, a special report, access to an audio or video recording, a discount coupon – whatever you think your prospective list member would be interested in. Offer something that you would not be embarrassed to sell. In fact, they say you should give away your BEST stuff. Then your community members will think, "Wow, if his free stuff is this good, then how much better his paid-for stuff must be!"
Once you have a person opting into your list, you must continue to provide value. Don't embark on a pitch fest and send Email after Email just trying to sell them stuff. I've been on the receiving end of that approach and, let me tell you, it's really annoying! That's the fastest way you can get your list members to click "Unsubscribe". Every Email you send to your list should be helpful, useful, or informative. At the very least, be entertaining! And then, if you must pitch a product or service, make sure it's something that will help improve the lives of your community.
4. Your Effectiveness.
Unfortunately, Email marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Let me rephrase that: email marketing isn't as easy as it used to be. First off, you need to use a reliable email service that will deliver your messages successfully to all your list members.
I use and recommend Aweber. Then your email has to go through the spam filters of various email service providers.
And then, you have to get your subscriber to actually open and read your Email. Think about it: when was the last time you read every single one of your Emails – even those you subscribed to? We've all gotten way too busy, and our in-boxes too full, for us to pay attention to every single one. This means that your Emails are competing for your subscriber's attention. You need to learn the art of writing subject lines that attract attention and compel the receiver to open the Email.
At this point, your work continues – the reader must read your message – and carry out the desired action, usually to click on a link and buy a product. Remember, most readers nowadays skim through their Email messages (admit it, you do too), so you have to be able to direct their attention to your most important points and your call to action.
5. Your Offer.
You have to make an offer to make a sale. There are several ways of making an offer. Which approach is the best with your community members? Does a masculine, hard-hitting offer work with them best? Or are they turned off by it? Perhaps, they prefer a more feminine, subtle offer? It's your task to find out how your list wants to be sold to. And, yes, they want to be sold to; you just need to do it in a way that actually works with your community.
Does all this seem like hard work? It is, but the time and effort you put into it is worth it. And as with everything else, it gets easier the more you do it.
List building is one of the most – if not THE most – important Internet marketing strategies. Beginners can find it daunting to even get started because of all the unfamiliar terms about list building. Below is a list of the most common words and phrases about list building, and their definitions:
Autoresponder – An autoresponder is an Email service that allows you to send messages to a number of Email addresses automatically and at a pre-determined schedule. For example, you could send a "Thank You" message to each new subscriber. An autoresponder also allows you to send a series of Emails: Message 1 will be sent 2 days after the "Thank You" message; Message 2 will be sent 2 days after Message 3, and so on. Autoresponders are used to automate an E-course.
I recommend this one: Aweber
Black List – Black list is the act of blocking an Email sender from your Email program.
Bounce – Bounce is when an Email is not delivered successfully. This could occur for several reasons, such as when the Email address is no longer valid.
Broadcast – A broadcast is a message that is sent to all list members at the same time. This is used for time-sensitive campaigns, such as special sales, or offers made specially for particular holidays.
Call To Action – The call to action is a specific behavior that you want your reader to perform as a result of reading your Email. Common calls to action are clicking on links, replying to the Email, or calling a telephone number.
Campaign – A campaign is a special effort to increase sales to a particular product or service for a specified length of time. A Black Friday sale is an example of a campaign.
Click-Thru – Click thru is when the reader clicks on a link in an Email.
Click-Thru Rate – The click-thru rate is the percentage of Email readers (meaning they received and opened the Email) who click on a link in your message.
Confirmation – Confirmation is when a person verifies that he or she has indeed chosen to become part of somebody's mailing list. After a person submits his Email address (and other required information, usually a name) to an opt-in form, a confirmation Email is sent to that address. By clicking on a confirmation link, the person verifies that he wants to be in the mailing list.
Conversion Rate – The conversion rate is the percentage of list members who bought a product or service as a result of receiving and receiving Email messages.
Delivery – Delivery is the electronic arrival of an Email message from the sender to the intended receiver.
Demographic – Demographic refers to characteristics of list members, such as age, gender, ethnic origin, geographic location, and others.
Offer – An offer is a seller's proposition to a prospective buyer. An example: "Try Widget A for free for 30 days. If you like it, then I'll charge you $99. If you don't like it, you don't pay a cent."
Open Rate – The percentage of Emails delivered that were opened (and presumably, read).
Opt-in Page – This is a web page that contains an opt-in form, or a form where a person submits his or her Email address and name. Some opt-in pages require other information, but the name and Email address are the most common. Your opt-in page should specific the major benefit of subscribing to your list (usually a free product), some bullet points highlighting additional benefits, and the opt-in form.
Permission – Permission is what your list members give to you when they submit their Email address and confirm that they have opted into your list. By doing these actions, they have given you permission to send them messages, including marketing messages.
Personalization – Personalization means adding specific details in an Email so that it sounds like you are speaking to that specific person. A common way of personalizing a message is by putting the recipient's first name in the subject line and in the message itself. For example, "Lisa, I've got bad news". Most Email marketing service providers will allow you to personalize messages automatically.
Squeeze Page – A squeeze page is the same as an opt-in page. Its purpose is to motivate readers to opt into a mailing list in exchange for additional information or freebies. Not all marketers agree on the definition of a squeeze page.
Subject Line – The subject line is the set of words in the "subject" field of an Email. Writing attention-grabbing subject lines is an essential skill in Email marketing.
Targeting – Targeting means sending messages to lists or list members belonging to a particular demographic, such as those who live in the United States. The ability to target depends on the amount of information you collect from your subscribers. Otherwise, targeting is done before prospects opt in, by driving specific types of prospects to the opt-in page.
Unique Click – A unique click is when one person clicks on a link in an Email message. A unique click counts such person only once, even if he or she may have clicked on the link several times.
White List – A white list is the opposite of a black list. It's the act of allowing an Email address to send messages to your Email. This is usually done by adding the sender's Email address in your address book. It's important to ask your list members to white list you, because sometimes, your messages end up in their spam box even after they have confirmed your Email.
I hope this glossary of list building terms helps you navigate your away around list building. Did I miss some terms? Or did I get some definitions wrong? Please let me know!
In case you're not familiar with article marketing yet, it involves writing informative and useful articles and distributing them to article directories – giving permission to anyone to republish your article as long as your author resource box is left intact.
Why you should consider article marketing:
Free traffic to your site
High authority article directories, like Ezine Articles, enjoy a lot of traffic (we're talking millions of eyeballs every month). Many of those who read their articles invariably click on the links in the author resource box and end up going to those sites. This is free traffic that otherwise they would not have been able to attract to their site!
Increased rankings in Google and other search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) experts say that one of the most important ways to get high Google rankings for your target keywords is to have lots of links from other sites pointing to yours. The key is the anchor text of those links should be the keywords you'd like to rank high for.
This strategy works so well that a Internet marketer once succeeded in having his website rank number one in Google for the keywords "coolest guy on earth" (or something like that!) – just by having all his buddies link to his site with that anchor text. That's how powerful linking is.
These are the same links you get from the usually high-authority article directories all linking back to your website through the author resource box.
Some article directories allow you to link, not just to your website, but to an affiliate product's sales page with your affiliate links. This means that your article gets blasted all over the Internet, thus increasing the chances of somebody clicking on your affiliate links and buying the product. The result? More affiliate commissions for you.
This concept is the essence of the so-called "bum marketing" or lazy marketing, which doesn't even require you to have a website. All you need to do is write and submit articles to article directories and you make affiliate commissions from those articles for as long as they're online. We're talking years here.
Another benefit of article marketing is that you become a published author and, therefore, an expert on the topic. In fact, a friend of mine got interviewed on national TV because the reporter read one of her articles online. That's media publicity that would have cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars! (Unfortunately, I have not had that opportunity – yet)
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