If there’s one thing I learned about learning internet marketing, it’s this – never take a marketer’s point of view without caution (unless of course if it’s Frank Kern or Dean Hunt and the likes that are talking).
Take list building for example.
Left and right, we’re literally swamped with list building tips from so-so marketers.
I wouldn’t even attempt googling the topic – you won’t find much credible, current, let alone free information on it.
So, where do you really learn it? And I mean the real deal?
Well, aside from the trustworthy experts (and there are only a handful), the best way to learn it is from the end-user’s perspective.
Yes, that’s right. People like you and me.
After all, aren’t we all targets of someone’s list?
There are two essential parts to the list building puzzle.
The first is about the obvious list building, that is making people sign up for your newsletter. Or should I rather say the reasons why people would even bother to put their coveted email address into your form.
The second one is about the art of retention.
It’s about making sure you’re not operating a cold list (a list that’s useless and with virtually zero subscriber action) and keeping people glued to your next email.
Okay. On to the first one.
Why Would Someone Bother Signing Up to Your List
Chances are the answer is no one.
I mean, ask yourself: how many newsletters have you signed up for the past week, let alone the past month?
The truth is we’re all reluctant to give away our key information, except if we come across something really special.
List Building Don’ts
1. When we are fed up with getting even more tips in our inbox.
Check various blogs right now with newsletter opt-in forms.
Usually, they would say something like “sign-up to receive more <insert niche here> tips!”
Personally I think it’s not a well-thought catch phrase (if not lousy). The blogosphere is a dump site of virtually endless tips and you’d still want to chunk that to my inbox?
I don’t think so.
2. Lack of call to action.
Your opt-in form is just sitting right there, at the sidebar.
I get it – it serves a function being there at the sidebar. Someone might sign up just by seeing it, right?
Yes, probably. But let’s admit it, what kind of conversion rates would you get without actually asking people to sign up?
I’m not saying you strip it right now. My point is that you should never depend on just having your opt-in form plastered in some part of your blog.
3. Traditional internet marketing.
No innovations. Boring.
“Sign up to my email list and you’ll get my perfect money-making system right in your box – for FREE!”
People would generally avoid lists like these like a plague that they are.
List Building Dos
Of course, there are some instances, in which we’d be more than willing to give up our private info and then some. Usually, these scenarios are reserved for newsletters by niche experts.
But who says you can’t copy their strategy?
1. Exclusive information value.
In Brian Clark’s newsletter, for example, the first couple of lessons are published in the blog (as teasers), but once you get hooked, you have to sign up to read the whole sequence.
2. A possibly good return.
Again it’s all about exclusivity.
Do not present your newsletter as yet another information source that you can find anywhere else.
Instead, position it as something that can bring exclusive benefits to subscribers only.
For instance, if you are an email subscriber at Traffic Generation Café, you might get a free blog audit – something that a reader in general won’t get. For free, that is.
3. Immediate return.
This one is much more common.
Subscribe to get a free ebook, a free course, a free access to videos, etc.
Effective? Yes. A bit overused though, don’t you think?
Unless, of course, you step it up a bit and come up with something more exciting… something like this:
4. Give ‘em a free gadget.
Okay maybe not a gadget, but a prize perhaps?
Organize an outrageously good contest to spike attention to your newsletter subscription list.
For instance, John Chow gave away a free iPad 2.
Before that, ShoeMoney once gave away lots of Flip Mino HDs to spike up the number of his Twitter followers.
Seriously, if you have some funds to spare, this strategy will work wonders.
How targeted of an email list you’ll get? That’s another story.
5. Create a squeeze page without making it look like a squeeze page.
I’m sure everyone’s familiar with your typical squeeze page.
Single-page site, big bold headers, green check lists, the why-it-is-important’s, and of course that very prominent subscription box.
Glen Allsopp has recently tried this method and reported a 64% conversion rate. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
6. Use the link to your squeeze page (or any page with your sign-up form).
Instead of your home page, that is. Places like your social media accounts or in your comments.
Everyone can get nosy at some point. That’s why people click on your Twitter bio link (for example) or your comment name to see who you are and what you are about.
Why not lead them straight to the page where they’d be enticed to sign up? Might as well convert every little bit of traffic you are getting.
7. Try testimonials.
Why not collect positive testimonials from the people who’re already on your list?
There’s nothing known to marketing right now that beats social proof and a word of mouth.
How to Retain Your Subscribers
While you’re trying to get more and more people to sign up for your list, hope you realize that there are already those who are in it and need some attention as well.
There are two no-no kinds of lists.
The first is the cold one – the list that really doesn’t convert into actions or clicks (or worse, is not even being read at all) and the dying one – where your subscribers just go *poof* one by one.
You won’t want to end up with either one.
Therefore, how do we retain subscribers and keep the list hot?
1. No crossing fingers.
Simply put, deliver what you promised when they signed up.
2. Observe the right frequency.
There isn’t a standard, but see to it that you send at least an email a week (take note the word at least) just to make sure they don’t forget who you are.
My personal sweet spot is 2-3 times per week.
3. Keep them on the edge of their seats.
Email them something you don’t post on your blog, for instance.
I do it all the time. Or email them a post or a tip that you haven’t published yet and make sure they know it.
“Being included” is a very powerful social trigger.
4. Don’t spam. NEVER EVER.
It’s not easy nowadays to seduce your readers into giving you access to their inboxes.
The trick is you’d have to give them a clear incentive to do so.
Of course, make sure you’re true to your word and to never keep your list stalling.
Always, always promote and keep the connection to your existing subscribers.
There. Off you go to build your very own responsive list.