How to Build an Email Marketing List and Increase Profits Online

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Did you know you can send out an email… and make money? No, you’re not sending a message to your buddy who borrowed money from you a couple months’ and hasn’t paid you back yet.

I’m talking about a simple email to a list of subscribers in which you promote a product or service as part of your online business. You’re actively seeking a sale instead of waiting for them to find you online. Another name for this is “push marketing.”

It’s the evolution of traditional direct mail marketing, in which snail mail letters are sent to prospects. But the huge advantage is that while mail is expensive to send… emails are virtually free. And that allows online marketers like you to test different marketing campaigns, offers, and products without much risk… and then fine-tune their approach in building a list of leads and then selling to that list until they have a solidly profitable winner.

What Is Email Marketing?

You may not have heard the term email marketing, but you’ve probably seen it in action. You’ve probably even purchased a product or paid for a subscription of some sort as a result of receiving an email.

Go ahead and check your inbox right now to see what offers are waiting for you. You might find limited time sales related to products you’ve ordered in the past from major online retailers, a product launch with a special introductory offer from an information marketer, an invitation to subscribe to an investment newsletter, or even an invitation to attend an online webinar...

the possibilities are endless.

All those eletters or content messages you receive from different companies are also part of email marketing… a very important part at that, as you’ll see in a moment.

Whatever it is, the basic idea is the same. You get your prospect’s email address using methods we’ll discuss in a moment.

Then you contact your prospect by email. You email them on a regular basis, so they remember who you are and why they signed up for your list in the first place. You provide a lot of useful, free information. And on occasion, you send them sales messages. Then a certain percentage buy. It does take some time. Why the extra effort?

The thing is that many consumers these days aren’t ready to buy when they first encounter your business and its products and services. To be honest, as a small online business, you don’t have the brand recognition of an internet giant like Amazon. You need to create a relationship with them so that they know, like, and trust you enough to buy. One of the best ways to do that is by email.

Given that email has been around for decades, it may seem crazy that it is still a go-to strategy for internet marketers. But, yes, even in this age of Facebook marketing, online video, “Big Data,” and other Web 2.0 marketing methods, email remains a very viable and profitable marketing channel. Consider that…

  • Eighty-two percent of companies still use email marketing.
  • You are six times more likely to get a click from an email than a tweet.
  • Email is 40 times more effective at getting someone to buy than social media like Facebook.

    That’s why major retailers, including Amazon, big box stores, and others still use email marketing. It may be “old school,” but it still works.

    So where do you find these subscribers and how do you get their emails? It’s a multi-step process with several moving parts. 

    How to Build Your Email List

    Back in the day, you could go out and buy email lists with millions of addresses and simply send your sales message and watch the profits roll in. But these days, the average online customer is savvier, and the novelty of buying products online has worn off. It’s pretty standard for people to order stuff on the internet, whether it’s a physical product or something downloaded.

    To create your list, you must convince people to give you their name and email address. (You must have their permission to email them.

    Otherwise, it is considered spam and you could be fined and even be taken to court.)

    Convincing someone to give up their email address is a mater of distinguishing yourself from your competition. It pays to spend some time thinking about this as it will guide everything that you do as you create your email marketing campaign: the copy, the offer, everything.

    So how do you get people to sign up? There are many methods to choose from. And, as always, you must figure which approaches work best for your business through testing.

    The Nuts and Bolts of Getting “Names”

    There are a variety of free and paid ways to add email subscribers to your list. You should know that names you land through free methods are much more valuable than paid advertising. The free ways take longer and require more effort. While with paid methods you see more people sign up more quickly. But those people don’t tend to buy as much. You should try a mix of both free and paid efforts to sign up subscribers.

    On the paid side you could include:

    Free list building efforts could be:

    Search engine optimization, in which you tailor your site or sites so that they appear high in the search engine results when web surfers search related keywords, is a very powerful free list building method.

    It’s important to include a unique link for each of your list building channels so that you can track how many names came from each. That will help you determine which is the most effective for your business so you can run with them… and which methods don’t yield results so you can drop them.

    Many of your list building efforts will link directly to a landing page instead of your regular e-commerce website.

    The landing page is a very simple web page that includes a strong, attention-grabbing headline and some body copy that highlights the main benefits of your product or service. You could throw in some testimonials about your product or service too.

    The centerpiece of the landing page is a sign-up box, where you ask the visitor to submit their name and email address. To compel your prospect to sign up for your list, it’s important to include some sort of incentive. It could be

    Whatever it is, make sure that it is displayed prominently on the landing page.

    You should also include an email sign up box on your main website so that any visitors who come to your site through your search engine optimization efforts have the opportunity to join the list too. Best practice is to include the sign-up box “above the fold” so that the visitor doesn’t have to scroll down and they see it as soon as the page loads.

    You Have Your List – What Do You Do Know?

    So you have this list of hundreds, then thousands of people who have expressed an interest in your product or service. You cannot just send them sales messages. This may have worked in the early Wild West days of the e-commerce. But these days you need more finesse. You must keep the list warm by sending them valuable free information. So what counts as valuable free content?

    You could send them short articles where you offer tips related to your niche. For example, if you sell a natural cure for migraine headaches, you could write an article with tips for using exercise or a certain diet to reduce the chance of migraines happening.  

    The idea is to showcase your expertise, create goodwill with your prospect, and speed up the process of them getting to know like and trust you. And that makes them more likely buy, if not now, sometime down the road.

    When you do send out sales message, make sure they’re the best they can be.

    • You must have a compelling offer. 
    • Create urgency. Have a limited time discount or sale.
    • Showcase the exciting benefits the prospect will gain by using your product or service. 
    • You can’t be boring. Your sales copy must engage the prospect from the get go and compel them to take action now. This will also encourage the prospect to share your message with their network, adding more names to your list.
    • Be sure to personalize your message with the first name (email services can do this automatically). This will result in a higher response.

    You can include the whole sales message in the email if it’s fairly short. The call to action at the end will send the prospect directly to an order page.

    Or you can include a “lift” in the body of the email that acts as a teaser. You’re goal there is to the whet the prospect’s appetite enough so that they click at the end to read your full sales letter, where you do the real selling. It’s best to test different approaches to see which works best for your list.

    Once you find the right offer, copy, and marketing approach that works for your list, you’ll start to see the sales coming in. Again, that’s where tracking comes in. Just as you track which types of marketing works in building your list, you must monitor what marketing approach results in a sale so you can run with the winners.

    If you take this email marketing seriously, the rewards can be tremendous.

    Some last things to consider if you haven’t been convinced to add email to your marketing mix:

    • Email has the highest conversion rate - 60% - when compared to social media, direct mail, and other channels.
    • For every $1 you spend on email marketing, the average return is $44. That’s an amazing ROI.

    Here’s the thing, even under the best of circumstances, a typical email effort will only result in a small percentage of your subscribers actually taking action and buying whatever you’re selling. An even smaller percentage will buy more than one once. And many will actually sign up and then never even open or read your emails.

    So that means you have to constantly be adding new names to your new list to keep your list growing and your sales steady. You can’t ever neglect your list building efforts if you want your venture to be sustainable.

    Managing Your Email Mailings

    Now you’ve probably figured out that you can’t just use your Gmail account to mail a list of thousands of people. That’s where email marketing services like GetResponse (https://www.getresponse.com), MailChimp (http://mailchimp.com), and AWeber (http://www.aweber.com) come in. 

    Note: You can see our complete AWeber Email Autoresponder review here.

    They help you manage your new sign-ups, putting them automatically on your mailing list. Then you use the service to create messages to send to your list. You could have a schedule where you send out a “broadcast” every other day or once a week. Figure out how often your list likes to be contacted by monitoring how many people unsubscribe.

    You could schedule mailings for weeks, even months in advance… so you don’t have to be tied into a daily grind. You could set up mailings so it is all on autopilot, with a very specific sequence of emails going out in order to new subscribers. These are called autoresponders. This series should be carefully calibrated to get the prospect excited and then compel them to buy.

    Getting Started

    As a solo-preneur, you probably don’t have a lot of funds to invest in a huge email list building campaign using paid methods like Google AdWords. So I suggest you start with free methods. 

    First, set up your list building “back office” with one of the email marketing services mentioned above so that you can capture emails. 

    Create a simple landing page and/or add a sign-up box to your main website’s homepage. 

    Then ramp up those free list building methods like search engine optimization and Facebook and send people to sign up to your list.

    Be sure to be ready to broadcast to your list with marketing messages and free content. It’s probably best at first to have a series of messages ready to go automatically. As your list grows, you can then start modifying that with new messages, new offers, and new email marketing strategies.