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Today, we’re going to look at how you can maximize your list building efforts. We’ll be looking at the tools you can use to build a list, where best to put your opt in forms (The forms that get people’s information), what you can do to increase the amount of sign ups you get, and much more beside. So read on for more information.
Aims Of This Lesson
- Traffic Retention.
This lesson will help you build a group of repeat visitors to your website.
- Community Building.
This lesson will help you build up a loyal community.
Benefits Of Building A List
So before we go any further, I think it’s important to know why you are going to want to build a mailing list for your business. Here are the main reasons:
- You Get To Encourage Repeat Visitors & Maximize Revenue.
If someone visits you website on a one off occasion, you might make a sale from them. This is good at the time, but a waste in the long run. Why not try and get this person to buy from you on a regular basis? If you can get that person on your list, you can remind them that your website exists so they become a repeat visitor. You can also let them know of any new products relating to the one they initially purchased, encouraging repeat sales and a loyalty to your brand.
- You Get To Reach People On A Personal Level.
While social media has become a popular tool for marketing, email is still one of the best ways to reach a potential customer directly. If you use the internet, most likely you have an email address. After all, you need an email address to sign up to social media sites, membership sites, and more or less any other sites you want to join right?
Most people check their email to see what’s going on at a glance, as more or less everything goes through there in one way or another.
While sending people messages on social media sites can easily get missed if they’re not online at the time, sending someone a message to their email inbox is a lot harder to miss or ignore. It’s also a lot more personal, and there are a lot less distractions for the reader.
- You Become Less Reliant On Google.
As much as I love Google and all the fresh meat they send you on a daily basis, having your sites be 100% reliant on them is not an ideal situation to be in. If they one day decide your website isn’t suitable for their visitors any more, you’re traffic disappears, and you’re left with a good income source depleted.
If you’ve taken the time to build a mailing list however, you can use that list to make money for a while to come. While it won’t last forever, it can help you carry on earning until you set up another project you can earn money from. You can then refer your mailing list to this new project you set up and get it an instant influx of traffic to get things moving (Sharing, sales etc).
- You Build Up A Relationship With Your Subscribers.
If you operate you mailing list correctly, you have the opportunity to build up a relationship with your subscribers. Having a strong relationship with these people will increase the chance of them coming to your business when they are looking for the goods or service you provide. If you have already given them freebies and they like what you have to offer, why wouldn’t they come back to you when they are ready to buy? This is a great way of keeping your customers focused and brand loyal.
Having a mailing list can earn you a lot more money, and help build up a relationship with your visitors and customers. And you know what they say: “A happy customer is a repeat customer”.
They do say that don’t they? If not, then they should…
What Types Of Tools Should You Use?
Ok, so let’s look at the tools needed to build a list. Manually sending emails from your GMail account isn’t practical at all, so you will need tools that are specifically designed for the job at hand. There are two paths you can take when building your list: Using self hosted email marketing software, or you can use an email marketing service. But what is the difference?
- Self Hosted Email Marketing Software.
Self hosted email marketing software is software that you download onto your hard drive. It allows you to run your email marketing campaigns directly from your computer, and leaves you less reliant on other people to get the job done.
You usually pay a one off fee to buy the software, plus a monthly or yearly subscription for extras such as analytics.
- Email Marketing Services.
This is what most people with a knowledge of internet marketing use. Email marketing services are websites such as Aweber, that deal with the technical side of things for you. You are left simply to log into their site, create an opt in form with a few guided clicks, and send out your emails.
You usually pay a recurring monthly fee based on the number of subscribers you have. Analytics is included as standard.
In this article I will be talking strictly about email marketing services. The reason I recommend using them over the self hosted option, is because the ease of use. With the self hosted software, you often have to set up a load of scripts and processes to get things to work right. This can be a real headache, and one that a lot of people won’t have time for. Email marketing services however deal with all of this for you. The most you have to touch code is simply copying your opt in form HTML then pasting it into your website. This is a task you will most likely have done before if you own a website, and easily learned if you haven’t.
Another reason to use email marketing services, is it saves on time and resources. If you’re to send out say 1000 emails on your self hosted software, you will need to leave your computer on until all of them send. Not only will this mean you have to leave your computer on and ensure you stay plugged up to the internet, but it will also use up a lot of the data transfer for your website hosting package (With most you need to hook your software up to your hosting’s email account). This may not sound like a big deal initially, but imagine you have 10,000 plus HTML emails to send a few times a week? This is a lot of usage, and one your hosting company might not be able to take. Worse case scenario? You will be made to pay a higher cost for your hosting, or have to move your hosting account all together.
With email marketing services however, you don’t have to worry about leaving your computer on or using up a lot of data. Once you click to send your email, you can log off the site and carry on about your business. All the sending is done on their side of the server, meaning you can turn off your computer and your emails will still get sent. You also don’t have to worry about going over your memory limit, as all the data is distribute on their side of things. You will however have to pay more money as you get more subscribers on your list, but it beats some of the hidden costs you get with self hosted email marketing tools (E.G You have to pay for analytics). You will also save a whole lot of time in terms of sending out emails, and a lot of stress in terms of setting things up.
When all is said and done, email marketing services are the best option for time conscious internet marketer.
My Favourite Email Marketing Services
While there are a lot of email marketing services out there, there are two that I recommend above the others. In no particular order:
Both of these tools offer everything you need from an email marketing tool. They both provide you with tools to capture people’s email addresses, and they both have in depth statistic capturing so you can see how you campaigns are going. They both have a good email delivery rate, and are companies that have proven to be around for the long hall.
So what’s the difference between the two, and which should you choose? Well here’s the thing (And make sure you read this in full before you start signing up to one or the other), MailChimp is free to use right up until you have 2000 subscribers on your list. This is great news for anyone wanting to get started to building a list, but can’t afford Aweber’s starting price of $19 a month for up to 500 subscribers. However, there is a catch. With MailChimp, you’re no allowed to promote any affiliate products in the emails you send out, or promote sites where you’re promoting affiliate products.
If you search “Also, there are some industries that send certain types of content that result in higher than normal bounce rates and abuse complaints” in their terms of service, you will see the types of industries that MailChimp doesn’t allow in their service. Affiliate marketing websites is one of those. So if you’re planning to build your list on an internet marketing blog, going with Aweber is probably your best bet.
My personal experience with this, is you can include affiliate links in MailChimp emails if it is infrequent, if it is masked using say a free plugin like Pretty Link, and if you’re not generally spamming people. After all, how are they going to know? Having said that, use affiliate links in MailChimp emails at your own risk. If you decide to do this, make sure you regularly back up your list just in case they do find out and shut you down.
I have both Aweber and MailChimp accounts. Out of the two, I prefer Aweber. This is because they’re genuinely easy to use. MailChimp, while offering a lot of features, are a bit all over the place. I’ve been using them for years, yet even now (And after a number or redesigns on their part) I still find it difficult to get certain things done. With Aweber on the other hand, everything’s laid out easily, and I can get things done a lot faster and with a lot less guess work.
If you’re not promoting affiliate products and want an account which is free for up to 2000 subscribers, you might want to go with MailChimp. Once you have 2000 subscribers you should be making back your monthly fee anyway if you are email marketing correctly. If you’re planning on promoting affiliate products and are in the internet marketing niche however, your best bet is to go with Aweber. Also go with Aweber if you want ease of use.
Best Places To Put Your Opt In Form
So now we get to the good part. You know which tools you need to make this work, now let’s look at how you go about building your list.
One of the most important things you will need when building a list is your opt in form. This is what you will use to capture your visitors contact details, and should be placed on your website in highly visible locations.
I will assume you’re using Aweber so it saves me from typing ’email marketing service’ every few lines, but if you’re using MailChimp or any other email marketing service then just read that instead. 🙂
You can get your opt in forms from Aweber. They allow you to design the look and feel of your form with their easy to use editor, and let you create as many opt in forms as you want. This is especially handy if you want to build a few different lists, e.g. a new list for each site you own, or a different list for people that take different actions on a single site.
Once you have an opt in form created, the next stage is to put it on your site. Where you put this opt in form is of the up-most importance, as if you put it somewhere that people won’t see it, how many subscribers do you think you’ll get? Not a lot is the answer, so make sure you put your form in places where people naturally look.
But how do you know where these highly visible places are? Fear not, here is a list of places which are great for gaining the maximum amount of subscribers possible:
- At The Top Of Your Sidebar.
One of the most well known places to put your opt in form is in the sidebar of your website. This is a place many internet marketers take advantage of, and for good reason. The top right hand side of your website is a place that people generally do look at as they scan your website. It is above the fold, so instantly visible to people even before they scroll down. Having an attractive image or head line there can really get visitors to stop reading any further and hone in on your newsletter offer. This will lead to more sign ups then if you have your form below the fold.
Another reason this position works so great, is because it’s visible no matter what page it is your visitor lands on. It could be one of your posts, your home page, or a 404 page where one of your old posts isn’t around anymore. Either way, they will still see your opt in form.
- On Your Home Page.
When people are new to your site, there are two pages that they will generally have a look at. One of these pages is your home page. Your home page naturally gets a lot of traffic due to people wanting to see what else you can offer them. If they land on a blog post, they only get a small glimpse of how your website can help them. Therefore the next step is usually the home page for a lot of people.
People that visit your home page are usually pre-sold about the idea of you. They have just read one of your blog posts or pages, and they have enough interest to delve deeper into your site. This is the perfect time to grab their contact details before they leave and forget to come back!
If you want to maximize the number of subscribers you receive, it makes sense to have an extra opt in form on your home page. Make signing up to your newsletter their next logical course of action.
The opt in form should be places at the top of your home page before any of your content has started. You don’t want to make this opt in form so big that no one can see any of your other content, but you want to make it stand out so it catches people’s attention.
- In Your About Page.
The About page is the other of the two pages people tend to look at. Similar to the home page, if people visit your About page they are usually interested in your site, and want to look into you further. This is a great time to grab their email address, so make it seem like it’s the natural thing to do at this stage. Using text like: “To receive more great information you won’t find anywhere else, sign up to our news letter.” People don’t like missing out on things, so making them feel this is the only place to get this information is a subtle but effective strategy.
- At The Bottom Of Your Posts.
A final good place to put your opt in form is at the bottom of your posts. The theory here is that if someone likes your content enough to reach the end of the post, they are potentially interested in the topic you cover as a whole. When they reach the end of your post and the first call of action they see is to sign up to your mailing list, a healthy percentage will take you up on that offer.
Do You Have To Put Your Opt In Form In All Of These Places?
No, you don’t. Having said that, if the main aim of your website is to collect as many email addresses as possible, you should definitely use all of them. Appearing to your visitors at key moments can increase the likeliness that they’ll sign up. The above spots are aimed to capture people’s attention at the time where they are looking for further answers. Through your newsletter you can provide those answers and win a loyal customer.
If collecting email addresses is only part of your strategy however and you want to also sell products directly from your website, you may not want to use all of the available positions for your list building. You may instead want to put an advert for your product below the posts for example, or at the top of the side bar. If you go for one of those tactics, you can still get a decent amount of subscribers by using a light box and squeeze pages. I will talk more about both of these things as the post goes on.
This lesson is continued in Lesson 5 Part 2: How To Add A Mailing List To Your Website The Ultimate Guide.