List building is probably the most popular and ultimately profitable form of internet marketing. There is a very old saying ‘the money is in the list’ which many full-time IM businesses have been based upon.
No matter which area or niche you are in, you should be building a list wherever possible.
Why is List Building so Important?
We need to go back a step to a time before the internet was in everyone’s homes to understand the power of lists.
Old fashioned direct mail (or junk mail as it was known) used to come through everyone’s letter boxes at an alarming rate. There was a massive reason for this. It worked!
Plenty of businesses understood the power of mailing lists and spent a lot of money on campaigns like this.
It is purely a numbers game. If you get your message in front of enough people, then someone will be interested and ultimately buy whatever you are promoting.
Fast forward to today and there are similar principles at work, just using email rather than the postal service.
The beauty of using the internet and email to build a list is that anyone, and I mean anyone, can build a profitable list as cheaply or as quickly as they want.
So List Building is Spam?
Categorically no! There are very strict rules about what constitutes spam and list building does not break the rules. It is perfectly legal and, more importantly, when done properly it has a far more profitable effect than spam ever could.
There are two ways you can get a subscriber onto your list. One is called ‘single opt-in’ and the other is ‘double opt-in.’
A single opt-in subscriber puts their email address into a box on a website and is automatically added to the email list.
A double opt-in subscriber puts their email address into a box and gets sent a confirmation email. In this email is a link which the subscriber must click in order to be added to your email list.
Is Single Opt-in or Double Opt-in Better?
This is a debate which has been going on as long as the two options existed. You will end up building your list quicker if you use single opt-in. However, you are more susceptible to having your list suspended because of spam complaints.
With double opt-in, your list builds slower but you end up with less spam complaints as you can prove that the subscriber confirmed they wanted to be on your list.
In an ideal world, you want double opt-in subscribers on your list but that is a slower and more expensive way to build your email marketing list.
What is ‘The Proper Way?’
The most important aspect of building a list is to have people on your list who want to hear from you.
Having a list of 100 people who are engaged by your message, interested in your content is far more valuable than 10,000 random people who couldn’t care less about your emails.
There are some old school marketers who have been building lists for years who will have such huge mailing lists that they don’t really have to worry about engaging their subscribers. However for a beginner just starting out, engagement of your subscribers is crucial to start making money from your list.
How Do I Build a List?
Firstly, you will need to subscribe to a service called an ‘autoresponder.’
An autoresponder is where your subscribers are stored and allows you to email them all at once with your content and offers.
As your list is so important to you, using a free autoresponder is a false economy. If there is one thing you must pay for to start your internet marketing business, it is an autoresponder. Just Google ‘autoresponder’ to find a service which suits your budget.
There are a few options that work when you want to start building your list. You can create a product to sell and collect the emails of the buyers of your products. You can put an opt-in box on a blog so that visitors can be updated when you add new content. You can offer a ‘freebie’ in exchange for a visitors email address.
Ultimately you want to use a combination of every method mentioned above but to start with, the ‘freebie’ method is the most popular place to start. For these examples, I will assume you are using double opt-in as it is what I use:
The Freebie Method
This involves setting up a page called a ‘squeeze page.’ This entices the visitor to enter their email address in return for a free report, video or something else of value.
When the visitor enters their email address, they are redirected to a ‘thank you page’ which tells them to confirm their subscription in the email they have just been sent. When they click on the confirmation link in the email, they are taken to a download page for the report.
They are now a subscriber on your list.
The Product Method
This system is a lot more complicated as it involves you selling a product to visitors who then are added to your ‘buyers list.’
You need to create the product, the sales page, set up payment buttons and deliver the product paid for. That’s a lot of work.
However, a subscriber on the ‘buyers list’ is proven to be more likely to buy something else from you in the future. If they bought your product, they are more likely to listen to your recommendation for another product.
This is the most valuable type of subscriber you can have on your list.
The Blog Method
If you have a blog, you can put an opt-in box in the sidebar or header so that visitors can be updated when anything changes etc.
Think about sites like Amazon and Play. If a DVD is listed in pre-release you can enter your email to be informed when a launch date is added to the film.
Similarly you can ask visitors to opt-in for updates on the blog, or possibly a freebie as detailed above or maybe a free training course.
It doesn’t matter what you offer, they will be targeted to your niche as they joined the list from your blog.
What Do I Do Once I have Subscribers on my List?
This depends largely on what type of internet marketing you are doing.
You could just send promotional emails with your affiliate links embedded in them. This tends to get you a lot of unsubscribers and spam complaints so it’s not recommended for beginners.
Sending emails with valuable training or information that doesn’t require your subscriber to buy anything is a good place to start. You can then send the occasional promotional email, say 1 in every 6. This way the subscriber gets value from being on your list and is therefore more likely to buy something when you recommend it.
When recommending a paid product, it is useful if you have bought it yourself. That way you can give a unique spin on the product and personalise it for your list.
How you engage with your subscribers is too big a subject to get too detailed about here. It is a science in its own right.
Advanced List Building Techniques
Whichever method you use to build your list,you need traffic. Here’s where it gets interesting…
What if you could also make money from that traffic whilst also building your list? That would be perfect wouldn’t it?
Well it is a fairly easy process to make a little extra money even when offering a free product on a squeeze page.
When using the double opt-in system, after entering their email address your visitor goes to a thank you page.
A great way to make some money is to make that thank you page a paid product which is relevant to the freebie you are offering.
It is important to make the connection between the freebie and the paid product. There is no point having an offer here if it is not relevant to the freebie the visitor is subscribing for.
It can be your own product or an affiliate offer.
You can also advertise some products (using your own affiliate link) on your download page. Again, it is important to keep them relevant.
If you are giving away a free report, why not include affiliate links in the report too. If you are directing the reader to a particular site, use an affiliate link.
When building a list remember that the subscribers are an asset. A very valuable asset.
Never treat them with disrespect. Never lie to them. Always try to give them valuable information. Treat your subscribers as you would like to be treated yourself.
Every marketer should be trying to build their list all the time. Whether that be passively with their blog or actively with advertising campaigns.