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June 2, 2008

List Building – Proven Strategies From The Trenches

List building is one of the most vital elements of
any business – online or offline – mainly because
building a responsive customer/contact list simply
means money in the bank. It is a proven marketing
tactic that works.

List building can take on many forms and can be as
simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
Unfortunately, for most webmasters, it only means
slapping an opt-in form on their site to build a
simple subscriber list that allows them to send
out a weekly or monthly ezine/newsletter to entice
these subscribers back to their site or to buy a
recommended product.

For other webmasters and marketers, including myself,
list building can be taken to a whole new level. They
fully exploit list building for its many benefits and
rewards. For them, list building is a powerful and
effective marketing tool that simply delivers more
traffic and sales.
 

Some History

List building is close to my heart. It was the first
“serious marketing topic” I explored when I first
started marketing online. It was a very tangible
topic since my goal was to build a list of 1000
subscribers for my site’s newsletter. Just the
act of accomplishing that feat told me most of
what I needed to know about list building. And
it sparked my interest.

List building is now one of my targeted keywords;
so you know I make it a point to read and absorb
everything I can possibly get on the topic. It has
proven itself to be a very lucrative education,
as I now owe much of my online earnings directly
or indirectly to list building.

Building an Opt-in List Is Very Easy

I found building a list very easy to do. Here are
some of the most effective ways or things you can
do to build your list quickly:

1. Have an opt-in form on EVERY page of your website.
Make it double opt-in and remind subscribers that
they have to confirm their contact information.

2. Offer something FREE. Whether it be a free ebook,
ezine, tips, guides, software… just make sure you
entice your visitors to sign up or opt-in. I find
giving a visual, tangible image of your ezine or
guide will increase your conversion rate, so invest
in some good professional graphics.

3. Use simple psychology. People want to be a part
of a group; they want to be in the know… offering
secrets, private memberships and access to valuable
information will always draw in the most subscribers.

4. If you have your own product, doing joint ventures
with well-established marketers is the fastest way to
build your list. Don’t forget the squeeze page where
you collect the contact information; again offer a
special bonus to further entice people to opt-in to
your list.

5. Use pop-up or slide-in forms. I have found these
will greatly increase your sign-up rate. But don’t
rely only on gimmicks; offering useful, relevant
content on your pages will always help you garner
the most subscribers.

6. Social media sites, videos, blogs, forums… don’t
forget the new “Internet” is an excellent hunting
ground for building your list or lists. Make sure
you at least have a blog and RSS feed connected to
your site to help spread your content around the
web and gather subscribers.

7. Never forget that the web is the best “viral medium”
we have ever had. Always encourage your present subscribers
to help spread your message and content. If your ezine/content
is first rate, people will recommend it to their friends
and colleagues. Let your subscribers build your list for you.

Building a Responsive Loyal List Is the Hard Part

I have always found building a list is the easy part;
however, building a responsive list that’s loyal is
the real hard part. Keeping your subscribers interested
in your information and getting them to respond to your
“call to action” is the difficult part.

I have found only good, informative content will keep
your subscribers coming back for more. If you bombard
them with “product offers” week after week… they will
just unsubscribe from your list or simply stop reading.
So try to limit your offers to products that you have
tested and used.

Keep in mind that almost everyone is now operating a
list and your subscribers will probably be bombarded
with hundreds of offers when a major launch is done.
I personally ignore most of the major launches these
days, which takes you out of the marketing loop; but
everything has become so satiated lately with so many
well-known marketers jumping on the bandwagon, it is
turning many potential buyers off.

Instead, whenever I find any good free resource,
product or marketing tip – I pass it along to my
subscribers. Over time, this has a way of building
some good loyalty and good will, resulting in the
occasional sale when I do offer a product recommendation.

The Art of the Follow-up

Having said all the above, there is one aspect of
list building that has proven very effective and
very lucrative for me. It is a little different
from offering an ongoing ezine or newsletter and
has to do with the simple follow-up.

I call it micro-list building (for the lack of a
better word). I build hundreds of separate lists
dealing with the different niche products I market,
micro-marketing and micro-targeting to interested
prospects. These are follow-up emails (10-20 or more)
offering valuable information on the product being
promoted. These follow-up emails also usually contain
or offer special deals, bargains, bonus products and
coupons if the prospect buys from your link.

I use an unlimited Autoresponder system (Aweber),
which lets me have countless campaigns ongoing at
the same time. These follow-up campaigns do require
some “set-up” work since you have to write at least
7-10 emails for each campaign; but once they are in
place, you can forget about them.

Studies have shown that it usually takes 6 or 7
follow-ups before a prospect will buy. Having all
these lists of prospective buyers will increase your
traffic and sales. This is one major reason for you
to start building your lists today. If you’re like
me and make your living with online affiliate marketing,
list building is something you simply can’t afford not
to do. Your livelihood will depend upon it.

Cookie Your Lists

If your objective is to make money from your list
or lists – here is my number one proven strategy
for monetizing your list.

Your lists are simply a way of gathering prospective
buyers for the products you’re promoting. Your goal
is to get them to buy directly from you or thru your
affiliate link. One way of making more sales is to
“Cookie Your List” – most affiliate products will set
a cookie when a prospect arrives at their site from
your affiliate link – this means no matter when they
buy in the next couple of days or months you still
get credit for the sale.

I usually pick and promote affiliate products that
have a 90-day cookie or more. This cookie is very
important because if the prospect buys in the next
90 days… you receive credit for the sale. A special
few marketers and companies will even give you a
lifetime cookie.

One tactic I use is to promote 4 or 5 different but
related products in a niche market – pointing out
the benefits and disadvantages of each. You remain
neutral but your goal is get your list’s prospects
to visit each product’s site so that they can be
“cookied.” Then it doesn’t matter which affiliate
product they finally purchase since they are
“cookied” and you will get credit and the sale.

Let’s face it, when we’re in the right mindset to
buy a product… we usually do it within a few months
of considering the idea. That’s why the “cookie” is
so important to your overall sales. Combine this tactic
with your list building and you will greatly increase
your sales.

For me, the object of list building is to find those
prospective buyers when they’re ready to buy. Then give
them valuable, helpful information, along with bonus
gifts or special coupons/bargains to sweeten the deal.
And I make sure all the prospective buyers are “cookied”
with my affiliate IDs.

As I mentioned before, list building can be as simple
or as complex as you want to make it. The possibilities
are endless, but I would suggest anyone with a website
should have a rudimentary subscriber or membership list
just to build a sense of community and to take advantage
of repeat visitors. Anyone who is doing affiliate marketing
should definitely explore all the different avenues, like
the one above, to fully harvest all the rewards list building
will give them.

9 Responses to “List Building – Proven Strategies From The Trenches

    Thanks for the terrific article on list building. Although many of the basic steps you mention are well-known, I was blissfully unaware of the role cookies can play in your affiliate sales. I’m going to have to make sure of how this is implemented in my own affiliate program, and check into it with others I join. Great stuff!

    Stacy

    Titus has put together a really good summary on the main strategies of list building. I learned a new one recently from one of the listbuilding gurus, Tellman Knudsen that he calls “golden rule” traffic. This is where you agree with someone else who has an autoresponder that you will mention/review/recommend their product (or affiliate link to a product) by referring your list members to a signup page of their autoresponder, and in exchange, they do the same for you (include your autoresponder address promoted to their email lists via their autoresponder). This makes traffic generation a “cross-promotion”, and if you have several of these in a (long) series of autoresponder followup emails, the traffic and business (and the LIST) keeps building automatically for all the list owners involved in this “golden rule” traffic.

    However, I would caution that a signup form on every page of your web site just makes you look a little “desperate”. I would suggest a subtle link to a signup page, something simple, like: “If you’d like to get more information on this subject, click here for ongoing updates.” (and link that to a single signup page, or at least the signup page for that topic if you are following Titus’ suggestion to “micro-market” to a lot of different categories, also a good idea, but be careful not to get carried away a neglected list is less likely to respond that one that receives regular “care and feeding”.)

    Love and warm wishes to your success,
    Stafford “Doc” Williamson
    http://abundance.winfotech.com/entry2.html

    avatar norm bdinka says:

    I have had my website up for about 3 months now. I do not have list as yet. I have an auto-responder with get response, but have not got around to using it yet. I am receiving about 30 e-mails a day from being on the list of others. Most of these are trying to promote thier own products. I think that I might put them on my list? I understand that it is very important to have a list. I have to thank the Doc. for guiding me along.
    norm.

    avatar Edguider says:

    Great tips thanks. I am going to have an opt-in list for every single page on my site. I am currently building a list and this sure clears things up, thanks for the great tips.

    EDG

    Thanks for that very informative text.

    avatar Website and Hosting says:

    I will start putting this in practice.

    avatar HoN says:

    Good stuff. Keep it up!

    avatar Techy says:

    Wonderful advice, I will try to apply to my learning German page and learning Spanish page.

    avatar shawn says:

    Hello there! Your write-up rocks at the same time as getting a reputable superb understand!??

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