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Email Marketing Tips: List Building

Email Marketing Tutorial

Welcome to part 2 of the Email Marketing Tips series. In the introduction of this we looked at what email marketing is and the benefits of email marketing. Let’s now look at building an email list.

Building your email list is perhaps the most compelling issue facing anyone looking to email marketing. It could be argued that building your list is not the most important issue, but it is certainly for most people the most pressing.

After all, with no subscribers, it doesn’t matter how good your content, copywriting or offers are.

So as I kick off this email marketing series for real, I thought I would start with what the majority of people new to email marketing want to know; how the heck do I get started? How do I get people onto my list?

Starting Your Email List

As with most things, getting started with email marketing can seem to be the hardest part, but it is simple really.

Once you decide that you want to start marketing via email you quickly realize that to do it properly, you need to spend some money on a decent email service, and you need to select the right one.

As you would expect, I have a favorite provider in Aweber. It is quickly growing to be the standard, Darren, Shoemoney, John and Yaro use Aweber too. While there are other providers, and people often start out using their standard email client and off the shelf PHP scripts, in my mind nothing beats Aweber. I think right now they even provide a free trial.

Once you have your account, all you need to do is add a new list, fill in all the details like list name, etc, then grab your sign up form HTML code to paste into your site.

Aweber Web Form Generator - Edit

This form is crucial as it is the main way you will gain subscribers through your site. You can play with the look and styling as much as you like providing you don’t break the form submission, you don’t want to be losing submissions while you wonder why nobody is signing up.

At this point you have done the basics. This is how it tends to work:

Aah, those last two points are a touch vague, eh? πŸ™‚

As many people who have tried this process will tell you, just having a sign up form is not enough!

Getting People to Subscribe

The number one reason why people do not subscribe to a working and open email list is because you don’t tell them why they should.

In fact, you first need to tell them that they can.

  1. Tell people about your list – Don’t just say “Subscribe Here”, describe what they should expect
  2. Give reasons to subscribe – What are the benefits?
  3. Inform them that it is free and safe – You know you are not a spammer, you know there is no charge … do they?
  4. Make it easy – Don’t make your sign up form like filling out your taxes
  5. Make it obvious – Are you hiding your sign up form away? Make it stand out and refer to it in numerous locations

Seems common sense but so many people fall down just at this level. Never assume that the reader will find the benefits of your list self-evident. They won’t, and often will be deeply suspicious of it.

You at least need to reference your sign up form in your side bar, in a subscription page, under your posts, and perhaps occasionally within a post.

If you make it obvious, beneficial and easy you will get more sign ups.

List Building Short Cuts

Danger! Danger! There are people who will tell you that you don’t need to build your list the hard way. Why, you can have tens of thousands of happy, targeted subscribers over night.

When anyone tells you that be suspicious because they usually want to sell you something that could land you in spamola territory.

  • Only import lists you have grown yourself over time using double opt-in
  • Add only people to your list who have expressly given permission to do that
  • Do not purchase lists
  • Never take part in any scheme that charges you per email address or “opt-in”

I used to work for a direct marketing company. We would buy lists on behalf of customers. They never worked as well as home grown lists. The only time I would even consider it would be in a business-to-business context, and even then I would take some convincing. While they can have positive ROI, it was usually at the expense of over half thinking of you as a spammer. Reputations are too precious.

This goes for adding everyone who gives you a business card to your list too. They gave you their card, they did not say “Please rush me your sales letters now”. Have some courtesy and you will be rewarded, treat your list as captive victims and expect to pay the price.

So what can you really do to grow your list fast?

In the next part I will go in to detail on growing your list, but right now I will tell you the best thing you can do to get people on to your list …

Sell it.

Add incentives, like a free ebook, audio recording, video, auto-responder series. Provide something of real value.

Offer discounts, coupons, special deals, exclusive offers, premium content.

Make your list so compelling the readers mouth waters at the thought of it.

Yes, even free needs to be sold.

Your subscriber pays with their email address, they pay by giving you permission to talk to them, by giving up their attention. Make it worth their while. Make it obviously worth their while.

Look out for the next part of this series where I show you how to grow your list without resorting to spammy and/or expensive methods. If you haven’t already, subscribe so you don’t miss it πŸ™‚

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Comments

  1. Thanks for a great post with perfect timing. I plan to start my first email newsletter on Monday.

  2. Thanks for a great post with perfect timing. I plan to start my first email newsletter on Monday.

  3. Both these articles are great. I do know a lot of the tips but I always enjoy learning something new. Keep em’ coming.

  4. Both these articles are great. I do know a lot of the tips but I always enjoy learning something new. Keep em’ coming.

  5. Hey Chris,

    Great tips on selling people on the subscription. It really does make a difference in how many people will take you up on the offer, and it doesn’t have to be pushy.

    Strange timing – I’m actually in the midst of publishing a series of tactics that we’ve used at AWeber to double our own blog newsletter list. The first post in the series is linked via my name above, if your readers want to see what’s worked for us.

    Meanwhile, I’m excited to see what other ideas I can glean from your experiences πŸ™‚

  6. Hey Chris,

    Great tips on selling people on the subscription. It really does make a difference in how many people will take you up on the offer, and it doesn’t have to be pushy.

    Strange timing – I’m actually in the midst of publishing a series of tactics that we’ve used at AWeber to double our own blog newsletter list. The first post in the series is linked via my name above, if your readers want to see what’s worked for us.

    Meanwhile, I’m excited to see what other ideas I can glean from your experiences πŸ™‚

  7. Chris, I’m trying to work out something here that you’ve done. Are you saying that Aweber actually sends out your blog posts too, to your subscribers, or is that separate again in which case you’re handling your list twice? I currently have blog subscribers at Feedburner but it never notifies me of new signups and I don’t believe I can send an autoresponder with it that offers a giveaway.

    I also have an account at 1shoppingcart.com (which I love as much as you love aweber) but it doesn’t have the ability to pick up blog feeds to send out to subscribers – I’d have to do that manually although it will do the autoresponders and broadcast emails for me.

    So, I’m really interested in your response please – are they two systems or have you found a way to operate them both as one?

  8. Chris, I’m trying to work out something here that you’ve done. Are you saying that Aweber actually sends out your blog posts too, to your subscribers, or is that separate again in which case you’re handling your list twice? I currently have blog subscribers at Feedburner but it never notifies me of new signups and I don’t believe I can send an autoresponder with it that offers a giveaway.

    I also have an account at 1shoppingcart.com (which I love as much as you love aweber) but it doesn’t have the ability to pick up blog feeds to send out to subscribers – I’d have to do that manually although it will do the autoresponders and broadcast emails for me.

    So, I’m really interested in your response please – are they two systems or have you found a way to operate them both as one?

  9. @Writer Dad – Good luck with the newsletter πŸ™‚

    @Alex – I intend to πŸ™‚

    @Justin – Great stuff, and keep up the good work at Aweber πŸ™‚ While you are here I can’t miss a chance to grumble πŸ˜‰ I just wish Aweber didn’t require me to paste my html into the excerpt field – some days I forget and people get a partial email πŸ™

    @Kathie – Yes Aweber does both for me, but as I grumble in the comment above, you have to paste the html from your article into the excerpt field BEFORE you publish (if you forget it is often too late) otherwise your recipients will get a partial message not the full article. Lots of people have unsubscribed from my blog because of thinking my email is a partial rather than full feed. It is full feed … when I remember to copy and paste!

  10. @Writer Dad – Good luck with the newsletter πŸ™‚

    @Alex – I intend to πŸ™‚

    @Justin – Great stuff, and keep up the good work at Aweber πŸ™‚ While you are here I can’t miss a chance to grumble πŸ˜‰ I just wish Aweber didn’t require me to paste my html into the excerpt field – some days I forget and people get a partial email πŸ™

    @Kathie – Yes Aweber does both for me, but as I grumble in the comment above, you have to paste the html from your article into the excerpt field BEFORE you publish (if you forget it is often too late) otherwise your recipients will get a partial message not the full article. Lots of people have unsubscribed from my blog because of thinking my email is a partial rather than full feed. It is full feed … when I remember to copy and paste!

  11. That’s what I thought might be happening. Thanks for sharing Chris.

  12. That’s what I thought might be happening. Thanks for sharing Chris.

  13. Hey, Chris. You’ve got a lot of great content on your site. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if you’d be interested in submitting content to The 60 Second Marketer? We’re an online magazine with short video tutorials and articles on the latest tools, tips and techniques in marketing. Lemme know if you’re interested in submitting an article — one of our categories is email marketing. Thanks, Jamie Turner P.S. I sent a post a minute ago, but I think it was deleted. If this is a duplicate, I apologize.

  14. Hey, Chris. You’ve got a lot of great content on your site. Thanks for sharing. I wonder if you’d be interested in submitting content to The 60 Second Marketer? We’re an online magazine with short video tutorials and articles on the latest tools, tips and techniques in marketing. Lemme know if you’re interested in submitting an article — one of our categories is email marketing. Thanks, Jamie Turner P.S. I sent a post a minute ago, but I think it was deleted. If this is a duplicate, I apologize.

  15. Chris, I’m still researching looking for that one-stop option to automate things. Have you seen http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe2/?

    I was told about this via a forum and thought I might explore it. But there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of feedback showing up in Google about it – more references on where to find it.

  16. Chris, I’m still researching looking for that one-stop option to automate things. Have you seen http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/subscribe2/?

    I was told about this via a forum and thought I might explore it. But there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of feedback showing up in Google about it – more references on where to find it.

  17. Great tips. This post comes at the perfect time. I’m actually just starting to build my list.

    Do you know of any alternatives to Aweber? I’d really like to find something that I can host on my own server.

  18. Great tips. This post comes at the perfect time. I’m actually just starting to build my list.

    Do you know of any alternatives to Aweber? I’d really like to find something that I can host on my own server.

  19. Hi Chris

    would you mind if I don’t understand what you mean by having to copy the html code in your message for blog-broadcasts?
    If you set-up a blog-broadcast in AWeber you use the rss feed – Feedburner is a good combination in this – select your default settings for the broadcasts (when to send out: immediately or not – so you can add extra text in the message, etc) and whenever you publish a new post the feed is picked-up by AWeber (through Feedburner). Your subscribers will receive the email notification that a new post is published, click the link to your post and that’s that.
    (So hope you understand my confusion about your remark having to paste the code in)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  20. Hi Chris

    would you mind if I don’t understand what you mean by having to copy the html code in your message for blog-broadcasts?
    If you set-up a blog-broadcast in AWeber you use the rss feed – Feedburner is a good combination in this – select your default settings for the broadcasts (when to send out: immediately or not – so you can add extra text in the message, etc) and whenever you publish a new post the feed is picked-up by AWeber (through Feedburner). Your subscribers will receive the email notification that a new post is published, click the link to your post and that’s that.
    (So hope you understand my confusion about your remark having to paste the code in)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  21. @Kathie – Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

    @Jamie – I am really short of time right now developing the Authority Blogger course, so much so I am struggling to keep my own blog content updated πŸ™‚

    @Kathie – Might be worth a try, a while ago I tried a couple of plugins but they didn’t work for me

    @Entrepreneur – Sorry, not any that people actually recommend πŸ™

    @Karin – It does send out articles automatically drawing right from the feed, but unfortunately if you do not copy and paste the HTML into the excerpt field Aweber only sends a couple of lines, not the full article. So you MUST copy and paste if you don’t want to lose subscribers. Every time it hasn’t worked or I have published and not caught it in time I have lost people who have complained about it not being full feed, even though the FeedBurner RSS they are drawing from is, Aweber Blog Broadcast is not by default. Make sense? Hopefully the Aweber technical bods will use the article content from the feed instead of the excerpt in future, but right now, copy and paste is the only solution.

  22. @Kathie – Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

    @Jamie – I am really short of time right now developing the Authority Blogger course, so much so I am struggling to keep my own blog content updated πŸ™‚

    @Kathie – Might be worth a try, a while ago I tried a couple of plugins but they didn’t work for me

    @Entrepreneur – Sorry, not any that people actually recommend πŸ™

    @Karin – It does send out articles automatically drawing right from the feed, but unfortunately if you do not copy and paste the HTML into the excerpt field Aweber only sends a couple of lines, not the full article. So you MUST copy and paste if you don’t want to lose subscribers. Every time it hasn’t worked or I have published and not caught it in time I have lost people who have complained about it not being full feed, even though the FeedBurner RSS they are drawing from is, Aweber Blog Broadcast is not by default. Make sense? Hopefully the Aweber technical bods will use the article content from the feed instead of the excerpt in future, but right now, copy and paste is the only solution.

  23. I’ve discovered that Feedburner linked with Feedblitz will most likely do what I want so am experimenting with that at the moment. I received two email copies, slightly different because one was branded Feedburner and the other Feedblitz for one of my blogs today so I’ll explore to see how it could work.

  24. I’ve discovered that Feedburner linked with Feedblitz will most likely do what I want so am experimenting with that at the moment. I received two email copies, slightly different because one was branded Feedburner and the other Feedblitz for one of my blogs today so I’ll explore to see how it could work.

  25. Hi Chris

    OK, understand where you come from. But…
    Wouldn’t it be a better solution – like most of the bloggers do who use AWeber for blog-alerts – to mention in your broadcasts they can read the whole article ‘live’ on your blog and so increase the chance they will participate in the conversation?

    Leaving a comment in an email message isn’t possible πŸ˜‰

    Karin H.

  26. Hi Chris

    OK, understand where you come from. But…
    Wouldn’t it be a better solution – like most of the bloggers do who use AWeber for blog-alerts – to mention in your broadcasts they can read the whole article ‘live’ on your blog and so increase the chance they will participate in the conversation?

    Leaving a comment in an email message isn’t possible πŸ˜‰

    Karin H.

  27. @Kathie – Cool, I still use feedblitz for my weekly list but I will be migrating over to aweber once the excerpt issue is sorted out. Keep us posted πŸ™‚

    @Karin – People unsubscribe because they want the full article in their inbox, they don’t want an excerpt and a link because half the time they are not connected to the internet when they read. Believe me I go out of my way to talk to people who unsubscribe for reasons I have some control over. Some go over to the RSS reader, some leave and never come back.

  28. @Kathie – Cool, I still use feedblitz for my weekly list but I will be migrating over to aweber once the excerpt issue is sorted out. Keep us posted πŸ™‚

    @Karin – People unsubscribe because they want the full article in their inbox, they don’t want an excerpt and a link because half the time they are not connected to the internet when they read. Believe me I go out of my way to talk to people who unsubscribe for reasons I have some control over. Some go over to the RSS reader, some leave and never come back.

  29. OK Chris. It is just that I (and other bloggers I know) have a different experience. Could be perhaps be related more to the type of readers than to the method.

    Karin H

  30. OK Chris. It is just that I (and other bloggers I know) have a different experience. Could be perhaps be related more to the type of readers than to the method.

    Karin H

  31. Absolutely, each audience will have their own preferences. I know my audience overwhelmingly prefers full feeds but YMMV πŸ™‚

  32. Absolutely, each audience will have their own preferences. I know my audience overwhelmingly prefers full feeds but YMMV πŸ™‚

  33. YMMV?
    Now you’ve lost me, but there you go, I only read/write double Dutch English πŸ˜‰

    Karin H

  34. YMMV?
    Now you’ve lost me, but there you go, I only read/write double Dutch English πŸ˜‰

    Karin H