People tell me all the time that they waste so much writing paper because of the many lists that they have to make.
Some folks, for example, need reams and reams of note paper plus different-sized and colored Post-Its to keep track of all the things that they do every day.
From the moment they wake up, they busy themselves crossing out the things in their list that they have already accomplished and putting marks and what-have-you in the margin to schedule the priority of each new task on the list.
Screw all those paper trails.
Just the way I like it.
A list is useful, yes, but it shouldn’t be so much of a chore in itself that it distracts you from getting the important stuff done. And between you and me, I sometimes think it’s way better to keep a digital list than it is getting a pen and paper to jot down every single detail or task you need to get done each day.
Especially on those days you can’t find a freakin’ pen! (But I digress…)
Although there is something to be said using a basic planner with a pen… I use those too, mostly for long term planning. Daily to-do’s however are going digital!
But lists aren’t just relegated to planning things and keeping track of to-do items. For web-based professionals, I especially recommend applying the power of lists to build a strong network of contacts. Or more specifically, email contacts.
You simply can’t launch an email marketing campaign without a sufficient number of people folks willing to read them.
That’s why building a nice, fat list of email contacts is so very important for e-entrepreneurs. There’s simply no such thing as too many subscribers, too many fans, too many friends and too many followers.
Ya feel me?
How to Go About Building That Email List
It’s not too complicated really.
Start by taking each opportunity to meet new people as a challenge to convert them into email subscribers. You might be pleasantly surprised at the number of people who are willing to join a mailing list that they think is interesting and useful for their purposes.
But, here’s a caveat.
Before you go all ‘list’ crazy and bang away at your keyboard adding people to your newly founded email list, ask yourself first if you’ve asked the email owner’s permission.
They might be interested in seeing what you’ve got to offer them, but that doesn’t automatically mean that they want to be part of your mailing list.
To be on the safe side, always ask people if they’d like to receive regular updates from you via your newsletter. If they want to be part of your list, they’ll be the first to say so. But there is certainly no harm in taking initiative and asking them.
This is by far the easiest, most honest and polite way of building your email list. I know that it’s sometimes hard to resist the impulse to add all the email addresses of people who are very close to you—it’s you who’s emailing them anyway, not some eager beaver salesman from across the continent—but people take a very proprietary stance over their inboxes.
As in, “This is my inbox, how dare you send me something I never asked for?!”
It’s all about them being forewarned and giving their assent to being a part of something. Keep it consensual people.
Remember that your mailing list reflects your target market—these are the people who are most likely to buy your products and services, and you are the type of entrepreneur offering just what they need.
They can be a source of referrals, new business and new suppliers, and even information about your competitors in the market. But… they can also be catalyst to giving you a bad reputation, offer less-than-glamorous feedback and spew out resentful comments.
Any sane online entrepreneur would never risk the wrath of a potential customer by brashly adding him or her to a mailing list without permission. That’s why it’s important to always ask first.
Building your mailing list goes beyond just expanding your contacts—it means really reaching out to people who care about your business, and beginning to build relationships with them.
Your subscribers want to receive an email from you because they want to give you their time and attention. If you just barge into their inbox without so much as a “Knock, knock, can I come in?” how do you expect they’ll treat any subsequent emails and product offers from you?
You’re new label will be the jerk. And their new action will be delete.
Asking Nicely- The ‘New Skool’ Way
So if permission is so vital, how do you go about asking for it?
Good question grasshopper.
In the online marketing realm, we use what’s known as an email marketing system. I recommend Aweber (aff), as that’s what I use, but you’re free to shop around.
Once you purchase said email marketing system… you then set it up with your newsletter content and create what’s called an ‘opt-in’ form. That little opt-in form is then installed on your website to capture names and emails of all who may be interested.
See Exhibit A for an example. (And feel free to opt-in, if you’re so inclined!)
When someone gives you their name and email addy via a form such as that, it’s as good as actually asking the email owner if they would like to receive stuff from you in their inboxes.
Opting in means that yes the site visitor is interested in what you’ve got on offer and yes, they want to know more about you and your biz via your newsletters and updates.
And as double insurance, when they opt-in they are automatically sent what’s called a confirmation email… where they have to confirm they’ve actually agreed to receive emails from you. (Provided you’re using Aweber of course… no promises on other email management services.)
Pretty handy right?
However, please remember that all good things come to an end sometime.
Once you’ve obtained that precious go-signal and your subscriber’s name is on the list, remember that that permission is not forever binding. It’s perishable and it’s entirely up to the email owner if and when they choose to terminate subscription.
To that end, always provide an opt-out link that will allow the email owner to revoke their subscription, and even go one better by mentioning the link specifically in every email. If you use Aweber, an unsub link will be automatically inserted no matter what… but it always pays to mention it specifically in case readers don’t happen to see it.
Tips for Building Your List
If you’re the type of entrepreneur who enjoys attending those big networking events, make your attendance count by handing out your business cards with a link to your website… which incidentally houses an opt-in form to your newsletter.
The more targeted eyeballs you can get on your webpage that like what you have to say… the more likely they will be to subscribe. You can also use social media avenues and host things like contests and giveaways to build an email list as well.
And, if you really want to go all-out on building your email list, put a “Join My Email List” with instructions on how to do so on every piece of printed material you send out, like flyers, posters, email correspondence with your clients and suppliers, brochures, receipts, catalogues, calling cards, advertisements…the list (pun intended) just goes on!
What are you waiting for people… get to list building! It’s exactly what you need to do to expand your reach, build relationships with your people, and increase your bottom line.
How about you?
Already have an opt-in form on your blog? In the process of building your list? Struggling with something? Drop a comment in the box below with your thoughts, I’d love to hear them.