The Power of a List: Part 3

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 16, 2010 in: Business Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Tips in 10

This is part 3 of a Tips In Ten series talking about a list and why your business needs one. By now, I hope you’re convinced of the opportunity a list provides and you’re thinking about what you can do to create a list of contacts who would be interested in hearing from you.

In this article, I want talk about things you should and shouldn’t do with your list and how you can make your list profitable.

First, let’s talk about the money-making aspect because I know that’s what will probably be most interesting to you.

There are a few ways that you can make money from your list. Here are the four most common ways…

1.    Positioning: This is where you simply use your list as a venue for idea sharing. You never direct sell to your list but rather just add value to their lives by sending them high quality information.

By positioning yourself as an expert, they’ll be more likely to think of you when they need to buy. And, because your content is really valuable, your subscribers will be more likely to save and even share your emails with someone else.

The return on this method is the hardest to measure because, unless someone says “your ezine convinced me to buy from you”, you’ll never really know the impact it had. But,this is also the most trusted and appreciated method of marketing to your list. Your subscribers will be more likely to open and read each email you send.

2.    Selling your products or services: This is where your emails explicitly sell your products, services, seminars, ebooks, memberships or whatever. If subscribers don’t mind getting these offers from you, and if your offers are relevant to them, they will be more likely to read them.

3.    Affiliate offerings: This is similar to #2 except that your emails sell other people’s stuff – perhaps services or downloadable products from another vendor. You are paid per click or per lead or per sale (depending on the affiliate relationship you have).

4.    List rental: This is where you collect a list of names and advertisers pay you to send out an email to your list. This is uncommon in many industries but it is still very common in other industries (such as the investment industry, where it is overdone). This is the least-trusted and least-opened of the four types of email marketing. Note: I DO NOT support, encourage or endorse this type of list. I won’t discuss this option further, but I have had readers ask about this type of list so I am referencing it for information only.

Each of these four common ways to make money from your list could be used by themselves, but probably the best tactic is to use a combination of a few of these models. For example, it is very common to send out positioning content and have a sales offer in there selling one of your products or offering an affiliate product.

The models that I feel are the most effective are:

  • An exclusive positioning-only ezine. This one is going to please your subscribers the most and keep you at the top of their minds as someone who truly has their best interests at heart.
  • A combination of positioning content and selling of your own products or services… with the emphasis on positioning content. For example, your ezine might include a really helpful article and a PS that says “If you think the article was helpful, check out my [product link].” That keeps the emphasis on the content but still offers something you have to sell.

List Do’s and Don’t’s
Now that I’ve given you some money-making tips, here are some do’s and don’ts for your list:

  • Comply with the CAN-SPAM act. If you use a reputable email marketing service like the ones I’ve listed (Aweber, ConstantContact, 1ShoppingCart), they can help you.
  • A double opt-in is a good idea. Single opt-in is when someone goes to your website and inputs their name and email address and clicks “submit” and that makes them subscribers. However, anyone can put anyone else’s email with single opt-in and that makes single opt-in less trusted. Double opt-in is better because once someone enters their name, an email is sent to them that they have to acknowledge. Double opt-in isn’t necessary, but just consider who your audience is. Are they motivated enough by your offer to do the extra step of double opt-in? While double opt-in isn’t necessary, I believe you get a stronger list out of it.
  • Don’t pitch relentlessly or too frequently to your list. I have a few emails that I’ve filtered straight to my trash folder because it’s just one pitch after another. (I could unsubscribe but I was getting 2 or 3 a week from the sender, would have had to unsubscribe from each, and it was just quicker to filter them all at once).
  • The best way to get your list to buy something from you is to first give them value. Give an over-abundance of value and you will become indispensable to them and they will reciprocate.
  • If you’re going to send out a regular email as your freebie (and you should send regular emails), send it out every week or every other week. Those are the best frequencies. If you send it out more often than once every week, you’ll drive your subscribers crazy with an overwhelming amount of information. And if you send it out less frequently than once every two weeks, you’ll run the risk of your subscribers forgetting about you. Note: I should point out that the only exception to this best practice is if you send out regular reports instead of emails. If you send out something larger and more substantial, like a report or ebook, you might consider sending it only once a month. Otherwise every week or twice a month a month is good.
  • It takes time to build a list and it takes time to turn that list into paying customers. Be patient and be consistent. Depending on your niche, it could take months before you have a really good list and even years before they are the high value, responsive, hand-over-their-cash list you need them to be. This is a medium-to-long term investment.
  • While you are planning what to give your list as a freebie, don’t forget to plan how you will attract people to the page that will ultimately turn them into customers. That is an often overlooked aspect of list-building that you’ll want to build into your plan.
  • Be consistent. If you plan to send something out on the same day every week, send it out on that day. Be consistent. Stick to your plan. You’ll “train” your list to watch for your email on that specific day.
  • From time to time, surprise your list with something extra. Maybe another report or a bonus issue or something. This forces you out of the groove of just delivering weekly content, which is all too easy of a groove to get into. Adding value reminds you and your subscribers why you’re doing this.
  • If you’re going to present a product or service, make sure it is relevant to your audience. Don’t offer them something that they don’t care about. Not only will it just waste your time in offering, but it could risk the relationship you have with them if they sense that you aren’t in touch with their needs.
  • Measure relentlessly. Measure the open rate of your emails and the click-through rate (if you include a link in your email). Are there types of subject lines that get opened more often? Are there subjects that are clicked-through more often?

Your list is a valuable asset that, over the years, can pay you back again and again for the investment and effort you put into them. Create a meaningful incentive that they’ll love, give it to them in exchange for their email address, and start building that list.

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