If you have been involved in any type of business marketing before, then you are probably familiar with the concept of lists, e.g. customer lists, email lists, prospect lists, opt-in lists, customer database, etc.
And if you have ever subscribed to any newsletters or update lists from professional internet marketers, you will soon also become familiar with the popular list building edict that “the money is in the list”.
In other words, if you are not building a list for your business, then you’re leaving money on the table. A lot of money!
As most marketing experts will tell you, it is much easier to sell your products and services to existing customers, than to keep investing time, effort and money searching for new customers.
If you offer real value and genuine products and services that benefit others, then it only makes sense that someone who has already bought something from you will be more likely open to hearing from you again, than someone who has never done any business with you before.
Putting this principle into practice, then, means that every time a prospect visits your site or a customer buys something from you, you should get their permission to keep in touch with them (e.g. via email) for the purpose of keeping them informed about anything that comes up in your business in the future that you believe they would benefit from knowing about – like new products, tips, “how to” information, sharing other customer experiences, etc …
To do this requires you to have a process in place to get their contact details (e.g. name and email address), and their permission to stay in touch.
Fortunately, you can incorporate both of these processes into one simple and effective strategy with an opt-in or subscription form, and begin building your list even before someone becomes a customer (i.e. before someone actually buys something from you).
An opt-in form placed on your web site or blog helps you collect the contact details of visitors who would like to stay in touch with you.
Your opt-in form process also includes things like:
- Letting people know why you are asking for their contact details (i.e. what specific purpose you will use their details for, e.g. to send them regular tips and updates, new product releases, etc.)
- What you will and will not do with their details (e.g. you will not sell their details to third parties).
- How they can unsubscribe from your list if they no longer wish to stay in touch with you
Once you have worked out the “front-end” of your customer list building strategy – i.e. where you want to place an opt-in form, and what aspects of your opt-in form process you will communicate to your customers to encourage them to join your list, then the next step is to set up the “backend” of your list building system, which refers to all the aspects involved in managing the information collected.
The most basic types of list management scripts simply collect your visitors details from the form fields you set up on your site, and then forward the information to you (e.g contact forms). You then manually extract the information from the form that is sent to you and input these details into your own list management system, be it an excel spreadsheet, or a more advanced type of application.
Sophisticated professional list management systems will automate all the essential tasks of list building, such as adding new subscribers to your database, setting up and scheduling sequential auto-responders, managing your messages, broadcasts and opt-outs, segmenting customer lists into targeted subgroups, split-testing emails, tracking how many users click on your message links, creating reports, and so on.
The service I personally use and recommend for all of the above is aweber.
Aweber offers a professional and highly affordable list building, auto-responder and email marketing solution. Some of their features include:
- Send Email Newsletters – Aweber lets you send engaging email newsletters to your opt-in subscribers.
- Publish A Signup Form To Your Website Or Blog – Publish a signup form to your site using a simple and intuitive point-and-click Web Form wizard.
- Create Autoresponders – Autoresponders allow you to build relationships with your subscribers. Autoresponders can welcome new subscribers, educate them about your products and services and drive your email readers back to your website, all on auto-pilot.
- Manage Unlimited Email Campaigns – With Aweber you can not only create unlimited sequential email newsletters for your subscribers and set the frequency for each message, but you can also create unlimited lists (e.g. for building lists on different niche markets, segmenting different types if users, etc …), send email messages as often as you want and manage all of your lists and messages from one account.
- Email Templates – If you want to send colorful, image-rich newsletters, Aweber offers over one hundred HTML email templates that have been tested for readability in all popular email clients, or you can paste in your own template, or create one from scratch using their point-and-click message editor.
- Email Deliverability – Aweber has one of the highest deliverability rates in the industry and has built relationships with most of the major ISPs (Internet Service Providers). This means that while many small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to get their email delivered with all the spam blocking and filtering in place, your emails are almost guaranteed to get through just about every time.
- Free Expert Customer Support – Apart from the fact that AWeber is extremely easy to use and offers excellent educational materials such as a blog, knowledge base and video tutorials, they also provide access to free customer support staffed by real people via phone, email and live text chat.
In addition to the above services, Aweber also offers advanced email marketing tools such as:
- Send Blog Newsletters (RSS to Email) – The Blog Broadcaster feature automatically turns your RSS into email that you can send to readers daily, weekly, monthly or whenever you have something new on your blog.
- Email Web Analytics – You can easily see what’s working and what isn’t in your email campaigns with Aweber’s powerful testing tools and easy-to-read reports.
- Easy Shopping Cart Integration – You can integrate e-commerce with email marketing into your business.