List Building, the Essential Foundation of All Business
Lists are critical to any business. Without a list of valued and loyal customers, you have no business. When I first started out, I had no clue about lists or the value of them. I had a product, an e-book. ONE product, so I thought it was not necessary to keep a list, as I had nothing else to sell. The customers that emailed me, I would always email back, and I built up some great relationships that way, but I never stopped to think of the value of a list or how essential it was for my business …
I can not believe it when I look back now, but at the time I did not know that I did not know, and ignorance is bliss, until you find out all the mistakes you have made and all the potential business you have lost from not knowing!
If you are like I was, there's a huge group of people who may be interested in your business but you'll never know it because when they visited your website there was no offer for a complimentary giveaway with a sign up form attached. They visited your site for a few seconds, then left, never to return. You never captured their details, and so had no way of selling them anything at the time, or in the future …
If you have a website, it is crucial to be able to capture a visitor's email address the first time they visit your site, as it may be the only time. Connecting with your customers and community on a consistent basis and offering information which is both interesting and beneficial to them, is the way to grow your list and your business. Email marketing provides the most direct line of communication for turning interested people or "leads" into sales, and is the method most successful entrepreneurs prefer.
The one thing you have to realize, when you're starting out, is that no one starts with a list. We all have to start building our lists from the first name. If you know how to encourage people to join your list, then you will start to notice it growing, one name at a time. There are many different methods of finding and recruiting subscribers to lists, but usually most people on your list would have been generated through a "lead magnet". The idea of ??a "lead magnet", is to offer something of value, for free, in exchange for the person visiting your website, "signing up" and providing their details so you can add them to your list. Usually it's enough just to capture their name and email address. The lead magnet that most marketers use is a downloadable "special report" provided in PDF form. A lot of the time, these free reports are in video format, as video tend to have a greater impact and is perceived as great value. Videos are also a more personal way for your customer to "meet you" and to put a face to the business they are interested in. It's important to ensure you have a powerful, impressive video, if using this method.
Ideas for lead magnets that can be used when building lists are: free reports and e-books, free software, widgets and plugins, free informative videos, presentations and competitions. Start off small and offer people signing up to your list something for free or low-cost. Once your potential customer trusts you, they will be more comfortable purchasing more expensive products. Initially, you would begin by sending out informative emails, casual and inspiring. If your emails are not of sufficient value to people on your list, they will quickly unsubscribe, so it's important that your potential customers look forward to your emails and start to trust your opinions and advice. Be careful not to send out too many emails, as people find this annoying.
Generating a list is not only about getting as many people to sign up as possible, but you need to be sure that the people who are signing up are genuinely interested in what your business offers. You will need to qualify your customers. There is no point in getting people to sign up for something that would not be of interest to them.This is why it's important that they actually "opt in" to your list themselves. Email is universal, widely used, and still the primary place where business is connected online. A powerful email list can be the best distribution channel for content and updates and building a relationship with potential customers. By using multiple social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn you're spreading your audience across multiple platforms, which is more difficult to manage. Of course this also has great benefits, but it has been proven that reader engagement via email is more powerful than by any other means. It is just far more personal.
Timing is also crucial to the success you will have in building your list. You can manage your list through companies that are equipped to handle large lists. This will take all heads out of trying to mail and manage your list yourself and you can set up the timing for follow up emails to go out when you want them to. It is also possible to create sign up forms for your website, as well as other great features. Most mail response systems are set up to automatically follow up with your subscribers and deliver information and value, but it's really important that you engage your list on a personal level and start to build relationships with your customers to dramatically increase conversions. Add personal details to the bottom of your emails and include an email address that they can email you back on, as a lot of mail services have a "no reply" email address that the mail is sent out from. You can also include a phone number and an address, which could be a postal address. Definitely add your website address and blog and perhaps Facebook and other social media urls too. Update people on your list about your business and your life, and let them start to see you as a friend. Occasionally share photographs, videos or posts you think may be useful to them and be natural and down to earth. Whatever you are comfortable with that allows your customer to discover more about yourself and your brand. If you are promoting affiliate products, always purchase the product yourself to test it first, as you need to know that you are promoting a great product and you need to believe in it yourself in order to sell it. Remember that YOU are your brand and are the best representation of your business.