Capitalizing on your own List...
With very, very few exceptions, if you asked
any of the Internet Marketing experts what is the one thing
they’d want to keep if they lost everything else, the answer
would be “my list.” (Or, “Lists.”)
The experts will tell you …
- If you’re using the GoogleCash approach, you MUST (in
their view) have a Landing page between the Adwords Ad and
the Merchant site … to collect e-mail addresses.
- If you’re doing Affiliate Marketing, you MUST be
collecting e-mail addresses from your site.
- If you’re building software-generated Adsense-income
sites, you’ll multiply your income many times over if you
use the generated pages to also collect e-mail
- If you’re selling information products, somewhere on
your 1-page sales letter you should be capturing e-mail
addresses. And if you sell via Clickbank, then when the
buyer lands on a “Thank you” page you should be making sure
you get their e-mail address.
- If you’re selling physical products, you should be
capturing e-mail addresses.
In fact, most experts would gladly forgo an immediate sale
in order to have the potential buyer’s e-mail address. In line
with this, one of the common techniques emerging in the past
year has been the “Name Squeeze” approach where some e-mail or
ad captures your attention with some attractive benefit, you
click … and get taken to a page that basically says “There’s
something really valuable behind this door, if you want to know
more, give me your e-mail address and I’ll let you through the
door!” You KNOW this turns some people off from going to the
next stage … but the professional marketers' attitude is,
if they won’t give us their e-mail address, we don’t care.
So, what’s so important about this
One Direct Marketing fundamental issue is that many people
who buy from you, will not buy until after they have had
several e-mails from you. Start with the recognition that even
on a web site with a decent conversion rate, 98% of the
visitors won't buy anything on their visit. Combine this
with a recent study, in line with many others, that
indicates that more than 81% of purchases are made after
the 5th contact. Think about that from a different perspective
… if the visitor to your site came, didn’t buy, and moved on,
and you didn’t collect his e-mail address and follow up …
your sales may be only 1/5th of what they would
A different perspective again: more than 80% of people who
buy something, buy it from someone other than the person or
company that first brought it to their attention! Why? Some of
this is inevitably due to people finding other products they
prefer,… but how much do you think is attributable simply to a
lack of follow-up? It’s huge.
But this is only the beginning.
Consider this: if you have a quality list, and manage
it effectively, a certain percentage of the people on that list
will buy a product you recommend every time you mail to the
list. The usual figure quoted by Direct Mail specialists for
any list is that 2% is a good-performing list. Well, with a
good quality list you’ve built, and serviced well, where the
people like you and trust you and feel there is actually a
relationship with you … a 5% response is not unusual. 10%
happens. Even 15%. There are a few lists where, when the list
owner makes a recommendation (which they don't do too often, to
be fair), almost 100% of his list will follow the
recommendation! Pretty darned rare, of course, but you get the
But let’s not be greedy. Say you have a list of 5,000 names,
you mail twice a month, in the mailing you provide great reader
value in terms of content they really appreciate ... and you
also make a recommendation about a certain product for which
you are an affiliate and make $40 on a sale. If you
recreate these conditions then a 2.5% conversion rate
translates into an income of $10,000 a month.
The nearest thing to money on demand?
Having a quality list IS the nearest thing I can think of to
being able to make money on demand. Well, almost on demand. If
you have a quality list and you don't abuse it, you can
literally turn to the list with a decent offer with confidence
that the offer will be accepted by many of them; that orders,
or affiliate fees, will start rolling in.
Launch New products To A Waiting
Now think about this … if you develop a new product of your
own, relevant to your list, and roll it out effectively, the
mailing to your own list could bring you far more than a 2.5%
conversion rate, AND you get to keep 100% of the selling price.
Among the people releasing new products to the Internet
Marketing fraternity, which is a very unusual fraternity by the
way (and one you should probably not set your aim for … these
guys are very, very good and it’s not easy to compete with
them), it’s not unusual for a new product launch to net
thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands of dollars,
sometimes hundreds of thousands in the first week just from the
mailing to a proprietary list. One new product launch just sold
several hundred thousand dollars of product in the first 9
Can you see the beauty in this? 99% of businesses don’t have
enough customers and don’t know where to get them. But with
your own list, instead of having to go hunting for customers,
you already know exactly who they are! And, they are waiting,
even eagerly waiting if you’ve done your job right, for you to
contact them and tell them about your new product!
But this is just the beginning.
In a different section, Joint Ventures, I take this a large step
further; when you have a list, you can Joint Venture with
others to sell their products to your list. You can Joint
Venture with others to sell your product to their list. You
can do combined mail-outs … you get together with a group of
people with lists aiming at the same market (but with
products that don’t compete head-on), and agree to create
(for example) a 5-part mini-course. Each of you contributes
one of the 5 parts … addressing your particular
specialty. The course is sent to each person’s list,
and the individual sessions offer an inducement to all the
readers to visit the contributor’s site … and be persuaded
through good copy and a valuable bribe to join his/her list!
So you can multiply the size of your subscribed base
One very clever list-growing exercise was started by a guy
called Mark Hendricks (I mention him in the gurus section). He
has a “12 days of Christmas” promotion where he gets a LOT of
other Internet Marketing specialists to join him and donate a
valuable e-Book, report, mini-course, or software program.
Then, each contributor promotes the 12 days of Christmas
program to his or her own list.
On the first day of Christmas, people get an e-mail offering
them a freebie with a high perceived value. If they are
interested, they click and get taken to a page promoting the
day 1 freebie (donated by some of the group members). If the
visitor wants the freebie, all they have to do is leave their
e-mail address, and it will be e-mailed to them (or a link to
the download page will be e-mailed to them).
On the 2nd day … 2 freebies. And so on. By the 12th day, if
they stick to the formula (in fact they tend to add bonuses,
too) there have been 78 give-aways, and potentially 78
marketers (it’s less, because some donate multiple products)
have had the chance to have their lists expanded by the other
77 or so marketers promoting the promotion to their lists …
sheer brilliance, and also well executed. Hendricks is a
For a time I had more than 50 newsletters arriving regularly
from a bunch of marketers, and many came from this promotion!
They were delighted, and so was I … I got to learn a lot about
a wide range of topics for free, got to observe the experts at
work to convert me into a customer, was able to compare styles,
see what worked for me and what didn’t and … ultimately …
unsubscribe from the lists of people with the least value to me
in their newsletters.
How Do You Go About Building a List?
Ok, the 12 Days of Christmas was clever, but for most of us,
starting from scratch … how do you go about building a
Well, you don’t actually have to have a full web site to
gather names; if you are willing to spend money to get your
list you can simply place Adword ads and direct people to a
name-squeeze page. You pay Google 5 cents a click, and hope
that your subscription percentage plus the eventual value of
the list itself will prove to be more than the cost of the
And if you are willing to pay, and looking for speed,
there’s also an approach called co-registration; you can pay to
be an add-on (the “co” bit) to someone else’s registration
(“click here if you also want to receive …”). This way you can
get a LOT of names, very quickly … but they are from people who
did not explicitly ask to be e-mailed by you, so they might not
be a very responsive list. And, many of the people receiving an
e-mail from you may consider your e-mail Spam and report you …
which can have some unpleasant side-effects. There ARE ways
around these problems, and some Internet Marketers swear by the
Co-Registration route, and certainly profit from it.
But most often you will be looking to grow a high quality
list for free (or close to it), and the starting point is to
have a website.
Bribery is a Good Thing When You're Building a
Now, if you want people to give you their e-mail address,
especially in these days of growing distrust because of the
dislike of Spam and concerns over security, you have to give
them some strong inducement to hand their e-mail address
There are many ways to get people’s e-mail
addresses, but by far the most common way is to offer a
free newsletter that is clearly of value to the prospective
subscriber. Offering a valuable newsletter on a topic that
clearly interests people has some advantages over saying "give
me your e-mail address so I can pitch to you over and over
again." But it's sometimes not enough; so to take it a
step further, it's common to offer a valuable free download of
some kind, too - a special report or white paper or
mini-course, for example - as an even stronger inducement.
And having persuaded them to subscribe, you want to keep
Unfortunately, the newsletter route has become so
common that many newsletters are of really poor quality … I
read somewhere that more than 70% of all internet users have
unsubscribed from something, some time. In fact, I just saw
recently that you can get software that will machine-generate a
newsletter for you! I can see this being of some use if you
have some low quality lists that you don't want to pay much
attention to, basically you're just aiming to milk them ... but
that would be suicide with a good list.
If you want the newsletter route to work, you must make sure
that your newsletter offers a clear and compelling value. This
might take the shape of industry news, or resource guides,
special tips, special “subscriber only” deals, and so on. All
of which mean understanding your market very well. And putting
some time into the newsletter.
I can tell you from experience at the receiving end, there
are some newsletters that, when they arrive, I’ll stop almost
anything I’m doing to read them that instant. Others that I’ll
move into a “read soon” section. And some that just never get
read. You want to be one of the "stop everything to read this"
Take this even further; take the business of getting
subscribers to your List so seriously that you’ll build a
full-page sales letter to back-up your offer (your bribe),
selling it as passionately as you’d sell a purchased product.
And on your web pages (ideally every one) you need to offer the
subscription opportunity, with an option to subscribe there and
then or else a “teaser” copy to induce them to go to your
one-page sales letter for the subscription.
Where you place the subscription offer is important, too, of
course. Sticking it at the top left or top right will naturally
get you a lot more subscribers than having it at the end of a
Many (most) Internet marketers also use a pop-up type
mechanism to get you to subscribe to a news letter or
mini-course or to download a free report. They almost push the
offer into your face! Now, everybody HATES pop-ups … except the
marketers who can prove to you that they work like a hot damn,
regardless of people’s opinions. And there are ways to do
pop-ups (or pop-unders or pop-overs or slide-ins or hover-ins)
that don’t get blocked by the pop-up blockers, by the way.
Your device to get people's e-mails doesn’t have to be a
newsletter, of course. You could just offer an article or free
report in exchange for their e-mail address and the right to
e-mail to them. I mentioned a multi-part mini-course as an
option, earlier; this is very powerful, because it gets
them into the habit of receiving something valuable from
AutoResponders Become Your Best Friend
Autoresponders are beautiful. An autoresponder set-up means
that when someone subscribes, their name is automatically added
to your List, and an e-mail is automatically sent to them ...
perhaps just acknowledging their subscription. In some systems
the e-mail asks them to confirm they've opted-in to your
list. As soon as they click on the confirmation link, another
e-mail is sent to them, this time including the newsletter, or
perhaps the first lesson in a mini-course, or instructions on
where and how to download the free report they signed-up for,
or how to access back-issues of your newsletter, or ... you get
the picture, I'm sure.
All while you're asleep, or on vacation, or playing in the
park with your kids. Autoresponders are in many ways your
passport to being able to have a life; you can use them to
automate a LOT of your business, if you're wise. For example,
your e-mail that explains where to go to download the bribe can
have a line that says something like "If you have problems
downloading this, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org"
and when they do it simply triggers another autoresponder that
sends an e-mail with a list of tips (such as, "make sure your
computer is plugged in," or the like).
If they elected to receive the mini-course, again this
should all be automatic with autoresponders; the autoresponder
is pre-programmed to send the first lesson out immediately, the
next one perhaps 2 days later, and so on.
You’ll find a lot of free information on List Building if
you search under “List Building” and “Opt-in list” in a search
But if you’re serious about this, the professionals
(naturally) have some valuable information.
If you're looking at the whole Internet Marketing topic,
with List Building being just one element, you’ll also find
there are sections on List Building in many “General” Internet
Marketing Courses. When I first started, I bought the excellent
Insider Secrets by Corey Rudl, which
covers pretty much every aspect of basic Internet Marketing
to an incredible depth, and the two hefty 3-ring binders of
material plus CDs with resource information have proved
to be an absolute resource goldmine.
In fact, despite already being deeply involved in Internet
Marketing by this point, I paid a chunk of money to update to
the current version on a special deal, simply because I knew
that whatever the updates were, they were valuable to me. There
are few better ways to go from newbie to know-how than
The point is that there are a few chapters in there
dedicated to the topic of getting people to give you their
names, and what to do when you’ve got them. Remember, these
books were written by a guy who took his business to more than
$8MM a year starting with a simple book on cars, so Rudl knew
what he was talking about; and Derek Gehl, who took over the
business when Corey Rudl died in a car crash in 2005, has been
deeply involved for years, too.
But there are a few specialist places I’d
First I have to say that probably the best value on the
Internet is a monthly subscription to something called
List and Traffic by Jimmy D. Brown. I
still can't believe he only charges $10 a month; he gives
you some of the most valuable, practical information you'll
find, and a LOT of it is stuff I've never found anywhere
else. He just has a way of looking at things that is
An interesting chap called Joel Christopher has been a
“consultant to the consultants” in terms of list building. He
usually offers an 11-part mini-course subscription on a
site where he sells an audio eBook called Master List Builder. The eBook is
inexpensive and you'd learn a lot, but his site is worth
visiting just to subscribe to his mini-course (and see how
he uses autoresponders; he's doing to you as you want to
learn to do with others!).
In an interview I read by Jim Edwards, he offered the “key”
to an effective mini-course; give away the need (in the mini
course), but sell the solution. I don’t know whether that’s Jim
Edwards’s own, or whether he learned it from someone else, but
it’s extremely valuable and you’ll see it in action all the
time with the professionals. So bear this in mind when you
subscribe to any mini-course from the professionals.
Joel also offers a massive course on the topic that he sells
for US$1,000 or so, with the (continuing) threat of a price
increase to US$2,500. Essentially he's captured, on CDs and
DVDs, an entire conference where a host of the top experts in
Internet Marketing, pretty much a who's who of the industry,
talk about their List Building strategies to practitioners who
paid $3,000 a shot. If you're new to this game (why else would
you be reading this? Doh!) I'd recommend this as something to
consider when you’re fully involved in List building, and
already making money and can see from a much better perspective
what the value is of improving your List Building and
management skills. (Think about this; if you have customers
with a lifetime value of $50, which is very low, and
add 1000 new subscribers thanks to the techniques you’ll learn,
which is trivial … a 2% conversion rate pays for the
I'm mentioning this just to make a point ... the know-how is
so valuable that people will pay 2 grand for a 2-day
conference, and Christopher can charge $1000 for the
But if you ARE considering getting into Lists, there is one
course I recommend even for a newbie, despite it's price
tag. As I mention in the Tools of the Trade, the gold standard
for this topic is a course called List Profit Secrets by Craig Perrine. I
recommend it because it takes you by the hand, step by step,
starting with an assumption that you know bugger-all.
Craig claims that List Building is THE most valuable skill.
Funnily enough, the copywriting guys claim copywriting is ...
but reality is, the combination is the killer. Great copy to a
lousy list gets poor results. Average copy to a good list will
get decent results. But good copy to a good list gets you
explosive results. And that’s what you want. And when the whole
thing is powered by a Traffic generating engine .. that’s a
happy place to be. But even if the traffic engine failed ...
even a small but correctly-established list can generate income
for month after month after month.
List Profit Secrets doesn’t assume you
have a single subscriber to begin with (although if you
have, that’s great, of course). Craig Perrine then walks you
through all the key steps, building you to the point where
you have subscribers joining while you’re asleep or on
holiday; where you have subscribers actually waiting for
your e-mails; and taking the exact action you want when they
read it. Routinely.
The bit I like most is the option of being able to go to the
list in an emergency; you get hit with a tax bill, or a medical
emergency, or simply decide you fancy that new convertible ...
your list is a readily available source of very quick income,
IF you’ve done it right. “Money on Command” is a phrase with a
fine ring to it!
Definitely worth taking a look at the sales page.
As for the tools of the trade … you’ll find you can get a
lot of free autoresponders, just do a search. However, most of
them carry advertising on every mail-out, or limit you in terms
of the number of autoresponders, or both.
One that does neither is Free Autobot. It’s a free service, no
limitations, no ads appearing on your e-mails. Works as
Incidentally, some professionals use it, too … but most use
it for some clever twists and turns purposes, not to manage
their own autoresponses.
Corey Rudl’s company sells software called Mailloop that
handles everything to do with lists and autoresponders
incredibly well, it’s a superb piece of software (I own it and
use it) but there are a few problems with the concept for a
newbie with a home business.
First of all, your ISP can get very unhappy when you start
e-mailing some hefty volumes of e-mails. And, when your PC
takes an unscheduled nap for any of a variety of reasons (can
you say "Microsoft?"), you are s.o.l in terms of a fast
autoresponse. You don’t want to have a product selling at a
steady 2 or more sales a day, perhaps making you $100+ a day,
and discover on your return that your PC went down the day you
left for that 2 week vacation. Also, the harsh reality is that
the abundance of Spam means a LOT of e-mails don't get
delivered, and Mailloop has no defence against this. And a
bigger problem ... even with a list where people have
double-opted-in, inevitably some subscribers forget, see your
e-mails as Spam, and complain to your ISP, or send your name to
one of the several "blacklist" lists out there. This means you
can suddenly find that ALL e-mail from your domain fails to get
delivered in many places. This is not fun. This, in my opinion,
makes it essential to use a professional autoresponder
The pros have their favourites, but chief among them are
AWeber, at $19.95 a month; their direct
competitor GetResponse, starting at $17.95, and
1ShoppingCart that starts at $29.99 a
Now, you can compare AWeber and GetResponse head-on-head;
they are genuinely direct competitors, both have passionate
followers, and if you wander along to their websites you’ll get
a sense of just how much they offer. Theirs is a world focused
on effective capturing of information, effective delivery (no
small task with all the spam filters out there that kill Opt-In
mail as easily as Spam), and ease-of-use. These guys (AWeber in
particular has this reputation) maintain relationships with
ISPs that make them immune from unjustified blacklisting, so
these guys get a much higher e-mail deliverability than almost
There is no simple apples and apples comparison between
either of these and 1shoppingcart, though. 1shoppingcart
is an integrated Internet Marketing system that includes the
sign-up capture and follow-up, but also offers shopping cart
software, tracking, integration with merchant accounts,
download e-Book management, and etc … many sub-systems that all
work beautifully together.
My suggestion: Google for "aweber or getresponse," and for
"aweber or 1shoppingcart," "aweber vs getresponse," and
for "aweber vs 1shoppingcart" and take your time looking
through the discussions you'll find in various forums. You'll
learn a lot. Then you get to choose!
OK, some final comments.
- You’ll find lots of opinions on issues of newsletters
or EZines or mini-courses … but one thing that’s essential
is to recognize that in order for your list to become a
goldmine, you have to work at establishing a relationship
with your subscribers. They have to respect your opinion,
and preferably actually like you. You want them to look
forward to your mailings.
- I mentioned that at one time I had newsletters and
EZines coming in from more than 50 “experts.” Naturally, I
deliberately kept track and in short order was able to see
just how many simply e-mailed me “buy this” offers each
time. While others – and I mention these folk in my “Pros
to follow” section – gave me valuable information, useful
tips and pointers, guided me to valuable free resources,
gave away useful software bits and pieces and eBooks, some
just plain and simply entertained me! … and in return I
have spent money with almost all of them. And those I
haven’t, I will … I actually feel guilty at having taken so
much and not bought their products! Can you see the value
of that relationship?
Your e-mail, whatever the format, should aim for something
like a 75% content to 25% promotion ratio. Some will argue
2/3 to 1/3, others 90% to 10%. People aren’t stupid, they
know you’re in business, they will give you the right to
push a product if you’re delivering value in the rest of
the message … but if you get lazy, or greedy, you’ll see
your “unsubscribes” climb like a rocket.
- There is a myth about the size of the list … the
assumption being that bigger is better. In fact, the
quality of the list is a much more important factor; there
are marketers who make a fortune from lists of only a few
thousand names, while others, with lists in the tens of
thousands, do nowhere near as well.
- The one golden rule in this business is that if you
want to have a legitimate business then never, never,
never, never Spam. Do NOT send unsolicited mail. In
addition to the legal issues that will befall you unless
you are confident enough that you can beat the best
trackers-down in the world, the grief that comes from
Spamming will shut your business down … or at least cause a
lot of damage. Recipients will send floods of complaints to
your ISP, who may well shut you down. Your domain will be
listed on blacklists, which means your e-mails – even
legitimate ones – will be trashed before your prospect or
customer ever sees them.
This makes it timely to go a bit deeper into the issue of
Opt-in and Double Opt-in, which remains the subject of some
- Opt-In means, someone subscribes, you add them to your
database and send them e-mails. Double Opt-in means,
someone subscribes, you e-mail them to ask them to confirm
they have indeed subscribed and do indeed want to
receive your newsletters or e-mails, and only on
confirmation (usually it means clicking an e-mail) are they
added to your database and considered appropriate
recipients for your newsletters or e-mails.
- The problem with Double Opt-In is that you lose some of
the people who indicated they were interested. But the
benefit is, that when someone forgets they subscribed (and
many do) and sends a complaint to your ISP claiming Spam or
abuse ( and many will) … you have absolute proof that they
did indeed ASK to be on your list. And as many ISP’s get
very sensitive to claims of Spam originating with their
clients, this is very, very important. (In fact, the
pros will also tell you that if they didn’t Opt-In the 2nd
time, they never really were a subscriber anyway. There’s
some truth to this.)
It’s hard to separate the List Building opportunity from the
topic of Joint Ventures, and Newsletters, but I decided it made sense
to do so. So click on the links if you want to pursue these
areas of interest.
Summary of Resources I mention on this
Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business
on the Internet, by the late, great, Cory Rudl.
List and Traffic - A fantastic source of
information on List building and getting traffic, often not
found anywhere else
Master List Builder - an inexpensive audio
eBook by an expert on the subject of List Building
List Profit Secrets - probably the
single best course in the world if you want to build a List
and make money from it
Free Autobot - free autoresponder
that doesn't put adverts on every e-mail
AWeber - considered by many the best
autoresponder service, period
GetResponse - considered by it's fans
to be the best autoresponder service
1ShoppingCart - an integrated
service, including autoresponders and much more, used by
many Profesionals who offer products for download, need to
accept credit cards, etc.