Everywhere you look, there are Internet Marketing experts telling you that “the money is in the list,” and that in order to have a SUCCESSFUL online business, you need to build a large mailing list. Many of these top players claim to have lists of over 200,000 subscribers, and sometimes even over a million. And yet, there are many who have lists of less than 1000 subscribers when there is absolutely no reason for it.
In this article, I’m going to show you an easy way to quickly build a mailing list. In fact, by using this simple process, I was able to build a list of 1800 subscribers in less than 2 weeks. The principles are easy to understand, and may be adapted to any niche, and may be put into action by anyone with a few dollars to invest. Although it’s possible to do this without spending any money, the truth is that you’ll get a lot better results when you can invest in building your list.
Why a large list is important
Before we get into the actual mechanics of how this process is set up, let’s take a quick look at the value of having a large mailing list, and what it will be worth to you. After all, before you make a decision to invest any money to build a list, you probably need to know what kind of return you’ll get from your investment.
The best way to demonstrate the value of a large list is to report the results of a few promotional events. Being someone who runs an affiliate program, I know firsthand exactly what types of results were obtained by a number of affiliates across several promotions.
The first example I’ll share with you is a sale I ran right after reading Willie Crawford’s report, “Really Fast Money“. In his report, Willie describes a process of creating windfalls of cash by running a special sale event. The simplest execution of the principle is to simply reduce the price of an established product for a short period of time, and so I decided to run a sale on my KTP Mastery System product. This was in July, 2007.
Those in my affiliate program know that I pay commissions of 40% plus bonuses. At that particular time, bonuses were awarded on monthly sales, and could actually double the commission percentage.
At the end of the July 2007 promotion, my top affiliate walked away with over $1000 in commissions from the sale of a $27 item. Considering that he had a mailing list of 90,000 subscribers, this came as no surprise. The number 2 affiliate had a mailing list of 25,000 subscribers, and earned over $600 in commissions from that one event. Other top affiliates also had large mailing lists, although none as large as these had. With very few exceptions, the larger the mailing list, the more they made.
With such successful results from that promotion, I ran a similar promotion the next month with a different product. This time, I reduced the price on my KTP Persuasion course from $97 to $37 for a week, and that’s when the excitement really began! (Incidentally, we did $5000 in sales the first 24 hours of that event, and over $15,000 for the week.)
For this event, my affiliate with the 90,000 subscriber list didn’t participate as he had prior commitments, and the affiliate who came in at number 2 for the first promotion came in first for this one, which was no surprise. What WAS surprising, is that he was responsible for half our sales that week, and earned a commission check of over $5700. And all that for just sending out a couple of emails to his list.
On the other side of this business, as a product creator, whenever I create a new product, I can announce it to my own list for quick sales. And obviously, the larger my list, the more sales I make.
Are you sold on the idea of having a large mailing list?
Basic principles behind building a list
Now that you understand WHY you want a large mailing list, let’s get into the HOW. Rather than just give you the step by step process, I want to give you an UNDERSTANDING of what you’re doing, so you can modify the process and still make it work.
Core principle: Most people are busy, and simply want a solution to whatever problem they may be facing.
Although a lot of people surf the Internet as entertainment, we generally make our money from people who are looking for a solution to a problem. And when they start looking, they find that there are THOUSANDS or even MILLIONS of websites claiming to offer a solution. With time being in short supply, they don’t want to waste any trying to figure out what any particular webpage may be offering. The offer must be clear, direct, and seem to be exactly what they’re looking for.
Secondary principle: Most people assume the answer they seek may be found for free.
Although enough people understand the value of their time and eventually realize that it’s better to just buy a solution to their particular problem, there are many others who think their time is worthless and are willing to spend hours looking for a free solution, even if a $7 solution is presented to them. Even if someone only searches for a short time, they will pass over paid solutions if found early enough in their quest. And rarely do they ever bookmark such a site to go back to it when they’ve given up searching.
It’s for this reason that we must offer SOME kind of solution for free, even if we know it’s not nearly as good as the solution we sell. Think of it as a sampler to your paid product, or at least an introduction to you as a person.
Third principle: People don’t want spam, and won’t give out their email address without a good reason.
In the early days of the Internet, all you had to do was put up a subscription form and people would join your list just to get the emails. Then, email was new and exciting, and something to look forward to. Not so any more. These days, you have to give them a very good reason before most people will consider giving you their email address.
With these 3 principles, you can set up a process to collect thousands of email addresses with relatively little effort.
The process, step by step
Here again, I’m going to describe the process in general terms before describing the specific steps I took. I want you to UNDERSTAND what to do for your own situation.
First step: Decide what type of people you want as a subscriber.
This may come as a surprise, but it’s the key secret behind making money online. Do you want a bunch of freebie seekers as subscribers, or do you want people who value good information and simply want a source of guidance to make good purchase decisions? It’s easy to get freebie seekers. Less easy to get quality subscribers.
Also, this is where you decide on the subject you will focus your mailings on. Will you focus on theory and general principles, or would you prefer to focus on concrete action steps? Will you focus on “how to make money”, or does “mindset matters” appeal more to you? Do you want to focus on YOUR materials, or would you prefer to open your list up to a wider variety of viewpoints? There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these, and you have to decide for yourself how you want to proceed.
I think it’s probably clear what my recommendation is here. Try to avoid the freebie seekers and go after those who are more interested in saving time and effort to solve their problems.
Second step: Choose a format for your mailing list.
Do you want to create a private list, where the only people who get to read your messages are those who are subscribed, or do you want to set up a more public ezine / newsletter? If you want a private list, will you make archives available so subscribers may access them online, in case they want to read something they deleted, or missed because their ISP filtered it out as spam?
This question addresses the technical infrastructure of how your list will be run. I run both private mailing lists and a public one, and there are advantages to both in different situations. My recommendation here is to run a public list as a “front end” to your sales system, and a series of private lists to sell individual products.
Although the subject of setting up the technical side of all this is important, it’s beyond the scope of this article, and will be something I’ll cover in another one. For now, I will suggest that you use either WordPress or Drupal to run a public ezine. Private mailing lists may be run with practically ANY mailing list system. Services such as AWeber, GetResponse, 1ShoppingCart, or PremiumWebCart are excellent when you want someone else to handle the technical side of things.
Third step: Choose a gift to offer new subscribers.
Although this is where most people start, they often give it too little consideration. It’s not enough to offer something in exchange for a person’s name and email address. You want to offer something that will attract the right kind of subscribers, who will be interested in the subject you plan to cover in your mailings.
The best gift to offer your subscribers would be a buyers guide, which offers to simplify the process of finding a solution to their particular problem. This is usually a collection of product reviews, with comparison charts, and enough educational material to help them understand how the information applies to them. A buyers guide is also great when you represent many (if not all) of the products included, since anyone who uses the guide will tend to click on your affiliate links inside to look for more information and to make their purchase.
The downside is that creating a buyers guide takes a significant amount of time to produce, and product creators won’t always make review copies available until you can demonstrate that you are serious about your business, or that you have already published reviews of other products.
Because of this, a buyers guide is best offered as a website, where you can offer a small collection of reviews to start with, and add to them over time.
Other than a buyers guide, the next best subscriber gift would be a sample from a paid product you either sell or represent as an affiliate. If you look at the signup page for one of my mailing lists, at http://www.powerkeyspub.com/WhyBeliefsMatter, you’ll see an example of this. (Actually, that page is a great example of how to structure your signup page. Notice how it is set up as a sales page, with a benefit-laden headline, bullet points, and a call to action. You want your subscribers to be people who respond to sales material, and one of the best ways to do this is to structure your signup page as a sales page.)
If you don’t have a sample available, you can make do with a similar product, such as an ebook, MP3, or video which addresses the same topic as the product(s) you plan to sell later. With so many products available with resale rights (and even giveaway rights), it’s fairly easy to find things to give away as subscriber gifts.
Fourth step: Create your signup and delivery pages.
Once you have your subscriber gift, you’ll need to set up pages to offer the gift and provide a means to obtain it. Your signup page is where you offer to solve the problem your prospect may have, describe the solution you are offering, and direct them to fill out your signup form to get it. As I mentioned above, you want your signup page to look like a sales page, because you want to attract subscribers who respond to sales pages. You also want to describe your gift as the solution to a problem, and if you’ve picked a good gift, it will solve a problem, although it may be a portion of a larger problem solved by a paid product you’ll introduce later.
Your delivery page may be a simple page which repeats the description of what they get and presents a link to download it. It may also be a page with the contents of your gift right there on the page. For instance, if you offered a buyers guide, the delivery page may be a webpage with links to various reviews, charts, and informational pages. If you offered a video, your delivery page may have the video ready to be played within your subscriber’s web browser with the click of a button.
Overall, you want your signup and delivery pages to make the process as easy as you can, taking into consideration that people want to solve their problem as quickly as possible and get back to more fun things.
Fifth step: Get as many people to your signup page as you can.
Even if you do everything else perfectly, if no one sees your signup page, you won’t get any subscribers. This is also where you can maximize your results when you can afford to invest in building your mailing list.
Before I talk about how to spend money to build a mailing list, I want to touch on some of the many ways you can do it for free. There are many discussion forums online where you may announce free gifts, and those who browse those forums may see your announcement, visit your signup page, and join your list. USENET newsgroups may not be as active as they once were, but are still an opportunity to post a free gift announcement and gain a few subscribers. Other places host discussion groups, with Yahoo and Google being the biggest ones.
There are also many websites that act as directories, listing places that offer free gifts and other resources in a particular niche. Get your site listed on such directories and you may pick up a few subscribers here and there. Along a similar line, there are directories specifically for ezines, and if your list qualifies as an ezine / newsletter (public list instead of a private one), then you can get listed in these directories as well. Some directories offer free listings, although others require a payment.
If you have money to invest, there are more effective means of attracting subscribers.
Obviously, as mentioned above, there are directory sites that require a payment to be listed. Yahoo offers one such directory, and the last I heard, they were charging $300 as a yearly “application fee”, which did not guarantee placement in their directory, just that they would evaluate your site for inclusion. However, $300 per year to be listed in Yahoo’s directory may be money well spent if you have a good offer.
Pay per click search engines, such as Google AdWords, Yahoo (which bought out Overture), and all the rest may also be good sources for subscribers. If your signup page captures 20% of visitors as subscribers (a reasonable number), and you spend 50 cents per click, then subscribers cost $2.50 each. If you end up selling a $50 product to 10% of your subscribers (another reasonable number, representing just 2% of your overall traffic), then your profit per sale is 50%, or $25. Many high-level marketers are willing to spend 100% of their first sale to get subscribers, since they can make so much more on later sales.
Once you know for sure what your conversion percentages are, you’ll know how much you can spend to get a subscriber. Let’s say that spending $2 per subscriber is perfectly reasonable for your situation. You could offer JV partners that $2 for every subscriber they send to you, and you’ll get a BUNCH of people promoting your free gift offer. Of course, it’s also possible to get some people to promote your free gift offer to their list without paying them, since they want to maintain a good reputation with their subscribers. However, you’ll get a lot more JV partners if you can offer them a financial reward for participating.
As an example of this last idea, when Rich Schefren hit the Internet Marketing scene, he produced a valuable free gift offer and paid his JV partners $1 for every person who downloaded the report. He built a mailing list of over 10,000 subscribers in about a week. Luckily, he had the financial resources to spend $10,000 to create his list, and everything worked out because he had a solid business plan behind it all.
The bottom line is that you’ll spend either time or money to build a list, and you can build a much larger list when you can afford to invest some money doing it.
Having said that, there IS a way to get the best of both worlds — letting JV partners make money while building your list. This strategy even has the added benefit of ensuring that you only get subscribers who will spend money to solve problems.
If you haven’t heard of the “$7 Secrets” report, you should find a copy and check it out. Jonathan Leger describes the process of setting up a system where you sell a cheap, but valuable product, and give your JV partners 100% of the sales as an immediate payment when someone buys through their affiliate link. Rather than getting $2 or whatever you would have paid for a subscriber, your JV partners get $7 instead. The downside is that you get fewer subscribers, but the upside is that you get BETTER subscribers. When you get a copy of the “$7 Secrets” report, you’ll find a link inside to get a free script to run the technical side of paying your JV partners and building your list.
Sixth step: Keep your list interested with both content and good promotions.
After you’ve build a good-sized mailing list, you’ll want to keep them subscribed and interested so you can sell things to them over and over again. The best way to do this is to give them good content on a regular basis, and continue to promote good products to them as well.
If you’re really on the ball, the content you give your subscribers will pre-sell them on the idea of buying a product you represent. As an example, you may be an affiliate for a particular type of tool. You may offer articles describing many interesting projects that may be done using this tool. Or let’s say you represent a personal development course. You could offer articles about how people have created highly desirable lives after going through that course. In this case, you could also offer articles that describe small portions of the course, which help your subscribers solve a portion of a larger problem.
As an example, this article offers good, solid content. It’s also demonstrating my knowledge of Internet Business, and serves to ‘sell’ me as a consultant for such work. And when I finally complete my Spiritual Business Kit, this article will serve as a sample of that product. At that time, the end of the article will include a short description of the product for sale, and direct the reader to the sales page.
The more you can mix content and marketing, the more effective your business will be.
How I used this process to build a list of 1800 subscribers in less than 2 weeks
You now have more than enough information to go out and set up a system to build a large mailing list. I know from my own experience that we often need to see a specific example of the process in action before we fully understand the principles involved. So here is such an example, taken from my own experience.
It was December 2008, and I wanted to do some market research to determine what types of products I should create in 2009. I was thinking of switching my focus away from ebooks to audio programs, particularly brainwave entrainment audio programs. I had purchased a commercial license to a piece of software called NP2, and therefore had an easy time creating a bunch of BWE audios as a “subscriber gift”.
Because I wanted to attract people who were interested in brainwave entrainment, I choose to offer a small collection of such audio programs as a gift.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking ahead as much as I would now, and instead of a signup page that looked like a sales page, I set up a survey page instead. A survey served my purpose, since I wanted to do market research, and needed to get feedback from people to certain questions. The bottom of the survey form had a place for the person filling it out to include their name and email address to claim a set of BWE audios as a thank-you gift for filling out the survey.
Those who filled out the survey and included their name and email address were added to a new mailing list.
Once everything was set up, I announced the survey to my regular mailing list of about 6000 people. Since some of my subscribers have mailing lists of their own, I soon noticed that several of them announced the survey and BWE audio gifts to their lists, and with no other effort, I quickly had about 1800 subscribers on the new list.
Notice here that I only promoted the survey to ONE list of 6000 subscribers. Yes, it was my own list, but it could have been a JV partner’s list instead. If I needed to duplicate the experience, and did not have a list of my own, I would approach others who already have lists to offer the free gift to their subscribers. And if I couldn’t get anyone to promote it for me, I’d start posting announcement to forums, discussion groups, and everywhere else I could.
I would even start writing articles to be posted to ezine sites like this one, with a resource box offering the free gift to anyone reading the article.
Alan Tutt, author of “Choose To Believe: A Practical Guide to Living Your Dreams“, offers a free report and audio program proving the power our beliefs have in our lives, beyond what most people think is even possible. To claim your copy of these life-transforming gifts, go to http://www.PowerKeysPub.com/gifts.