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Marketing Through Opt In Lists

I’m a bit of a radical, I do not believe that an opt-in list is an essential online marketing tool. I do believe that it is a helpful tool for SOME businesses, and that if it is used correctly, that it can increase your earning power. But let’s make one thing absolutely clear (plug your ears if you’ve heard me say this before!).

The Money is NOT in the List! The BUSINESS is in RELATIONSHIPS.

To state that the money is in the list depersonalizes your customers, makes them an object to get gain from, and gives you a completely false impression of what an email list is to be used for. The statement refers to the mistaken belief that some Internet Marketers like to perpetuate, that you cannot run a successful business without a large opt-in email list. This is a false premise to begin with.

Yes, an email list CAN enhance some businesses. It is a waste of time for others. And it is always a waste of time if you have such an inconsiderate attitude about it, because you will never see your way clear to using it in a way that your customer actually appreciates if you think of them as a piggy bank, instead of as an individual with needs and desires which you can help to meet in an honest and genuine manner.

People Don’t Care Unless YOU Care

I cannot tell you how many email subscriptions I have canceled due to a selfish attitude on the part of the publisher. I could care less about what you want to sell me. I don’t care about your latest thing that you want me to buy when you just sent me an email three days earlier about some other latest thing that you wanted me to buy then. And I REALLY don’t care (in fact, it ticks me off) when you tell me about something, then remind me a day later, then warn me two days later that it is almost gone, then send me more warnings that I’ll miss it if I don’t get it now! I didn’t want it the first time, and I am even less interested the fifth time!

Build A Relationship!

To use a list properly, you need to use it to build relationships. Let them know who you are, and that you have hopes and dreams that they can identify with. Drop a note at the bottom that a specific item is on sale, or available, or tell them where they can find something related to what you want them to know, but do NOT make that the focus of the email! Give them something they WANT to hear – knowledge, instruction, humor, entertainment, etc. Give them a little piece of yourself that enhances their life in some way. You then are beginning to build a reciprocal relationship with them. If you want something from them, you must demonstrate a willingness to give first. And you must give them a reason to trust you – your information must be reliable and useful, or you must show constancy in being there on a regular basis even if it appears that you are not getting anything in return.

Your email list consists of people. You should feel that they are people that you care about, and want to help. That you want to make them smile. That if it were their child’s birthday, you’d want to tell them to have a great day. If you don’t feel that way, then you’ll not ever realize the potential of a list, because you’ll offend without having a clue how you even did it.

Realize That It Is For THEIR Benefit First

A list has to be reciprocal. It is not just for your benefit. It is primarily for THEIR benefit, or it won’t be read. They’ll buy from you when they care about you, trust you, and feel that you understand them.

If you have a business that can benefit from a list, then make the signup page accessible from every page in your site. Put a Privacy Policy link on the signup page, or print the privacy policy below the signup form so that anyone who wants to know how you intend to use their information will be reassured.

Make It Able To Go Viral

Put a notice on each newsletter that the email can be forwarded to anyone as long as it is intact. Put an invitation to authors for content, and an invitation for others to use your content as long as they leave your signature line in place. These elements won’t have a huge effect, but they will lay the groundwork for growth beyond the confines of the list itself, giving it just a bit of viral potential.

What About The Format?

Whether you choose plain text or HTML is a matter of preference, and of targeting it to your specific audience. Either way, you’ll want to lay out the issue intelligently, and make sure that there is a listing of articles at the top of the page so that impatient readers can see immediately whether or not there is anything they need to read – if you DON’T put that, then impatient readers will just delete your email! It is an act of courtesy to tell them how to find what they want quickly.

Test with emails that contain full articles VS emails with short article excerpts with a link to the full article and see which format products better results.

Put ads between the articles, and at the end. Don’t break articles with ads, people rarely click on them anyway if they are interested in the article, and if they are not interested in the article, they’ll not get that far. Ads should be there for those who want to see them, but easy to scan past for those that might be annoyed by them. Some people disagree with me, and say that you should put ads where they cannot be ignored, but for many audiences, this is a fatal tactic, as the only people then who will read your emails at all are those who don’t mind being bugged all the time. They won’t necessarily be the quality readers who will convert to valuable customers!

Keep your mailings considerate, and give the reader what THEY want first. Work what YOU want in around them.

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