Monday, 1 August 2016

What are the essential things to know about list building?

Here are the three essentials, from my experience (I think understanding these three Big Issues, as an overview, before thinking about any "operative details" at all, can help anyone) ...

1. Don't depend entirely on SEO traffic, to build your list. For two main reasons ...

  • SEO traffic is low-quality: it converts worse, opts in less, and buys less often, than traffic from almost any other source (I suspect this is a "little secret" unknown to many people whose measurable, analyzable quantities of traffic have only ever come from SEO!)
  • as so many Warriors have been discovering over the last year - some of them to their very great cost, with all the Panda updates and other changes going on - a business that depends on Google for its primary traffic is only ever going to be one algorithm-change away from a potential accident (or even a potential disaster)
2. Don't assume that the biggest list necessarily equates with the biggest income: this can easily be untrue, and often is, and there are good and valid and reliable reasons for that.

3. Don't assume that a squeeze page is the only way to build a list. It isn't. It's often not the best way (after all the lengthy split-testing I've done in separate, unrelated niches, I stopped using squeeze pages for list-building altogether when I eventually worked out what they were costing me - and it was far from easy to work out).

How well you do, financially, in the long term, from list-building, is fundamentally about "a process of continuity". Personally, after all the testing I could be bothered to do, in a few different niches, without getting significant unsubscriptions and so on just from "testing", I now send email on days 1, 3, 6, 10 and 15 and thereafter at 5/6-day intervals (never 7-day intervals, because of the "same day of the week" problem).

I think many of the most worthwhile ways of keeping people on your list (as well as keeping them opening and reading your emails) relate to things you need to do before people opt-in, not after. It's about setting expectations, establishing reliability and credibility, and earning people's trust.

These things all vary according to the traffic demographics, the opt-in incentive and maybe even the niche, too.

These are the kind of things I normally suggest to people who ask ...

(i) Explain really clearly to people that they're going to get regular emails from you, in addition to the "free report" or whatever carrot you're giving them in exchange for their email address;

(ii) Explain openly roughly how often you'll be sending these emails, and stick to what you've said;

(iii) Explain what information/materials will be covered in your emails, and why (obviously making the whole thing sound as attractive/appealing as possible);

(iv) Make sure that the "free report" is designed specifically to make sure that its recipients open and read the subsequent email series (failure to do this is a seriously missed opportunity which leads to unnecessarily low open-rates and less income);

(v) Always use a reliable autoresponder with good deliverability, never a free one which may send spammy junk of its own out with your emails (opt in yourself, under a few email addresses, and see how they look and whether they reliably hit your inboxes);

(vi) Make sure there's as good a match as possible, in tone, style and presentation, between (a) what attracted people to your site in the first place, (b) what they saw when they got there, and (c) what you send by email - this can make a huge difference to keeping people subscribed and opening/reading your emails, because continuity matters;

(vii) As well as all the more obvious things like reminding people who you are, why they're receiving it, how to unsubscribe and so on, put a little "feeder" in each email for the next one, so that it'll be expected and welcomed when it arrives (can also make a big difference);

(viii) Don't use people's first names when you send them autoresponder emails: marketers (often) love to do this, or at least the ones who are naive enough to imagine that people think it "makes it look more personal" - it does no such thing. People aren't stupid and they know that it's automated and means nothing. Customers often think it "just makes you sound like an insurance salesman" and it puts them on their guard - exactly the opposite of what you ought to be doing. (You can also build bigger lists by not asking for their names - an email address is all you need, and more people will opt in if that's all you ask for);

(ix) Don't try to give your emails "clever"/"tricky" subject-lines, or be misleading in any way in their titles: not only does this not work at all, but if anyone ever complains about it, your autoresponder company may (rightly) drop you like a stone;

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