Money is in the list – you’ve read this a million times.
And it’s true.
Email list subscribers are the biggest asset for any blog or online business. They’re your qualified sales leads. It’s much easier to build relationships, generate regular returning traffic and make repeat sales to your list subscribers as compared to normal visitors. It is a high priority to know how to grow an email list.
Despite the emergence of social media and other marketing channels, email marketing is still an extremely effective way of reaching your prospects.
Just look at some of these stats
- 66% of online consumers in the US, ages 15+, made a purchase as a result of marketing emails.
- 91% of consumers check their emails at least once a day.
- Over 70% of mobile purchasing decisions are influenced by promotional emails.
So how do you take advantage of this?
If your answer is email list building, you’re only partially correct.
Why list building is useless
List building itself has no value for your business. It is the kind of subscribers in your list that’ll determine if you can make any profits. An email list with irrelevant and uninterested subscribers is completely useless, in fact a burden, for your business.
And this is the mistake that many bloggers make.
They focus so much on list building that they lose sight of their actual objective, which is to make money from the list.
You don’t want people subscribing to your list just for the sake of it. You need subscribers who are potential customers. People who join your list with the buying intention. They are the ones you need to attract, and they’ll make your email list a real business asset.
Don’t forget mobile email
As mobile and smartphone adoption has increased so has it’s importance to deliver email. Making sure that emails are easy to read on a mobile is becoming vital.
Here are some facts about mobile email from an excerpt from an infographic from Visual.ly.
Some interesting email facts
Email is a technology that has been with us for over 44 years. The first email was sent in 1971 but the concept was explored at MIT as early as 1965 which is 50 years ago!
Here are some other email facts in another excerpt from an infographic at sociallystacked.com.
So they are some interesting facts but where do you start to build that quality list?
Create the Right freebie for the Right subscribers
The most common way to attract subscribers is by offering a freebie like an eBook, a checklist, a cheat sheet or something else that holds value.
To attract the right subscribers, the ones who come with a buying intention, you need to create a freebie that actually inducts them into your sales process.
Don’t treat your freebie as just a list building magnet. Make it the first part of your sales cycle. Use it to qualify subscribers and generate business leads.
For this, you need to design your freebie intelligently because it will determine the kind of subscribers you attract.
Use your freebie as a sample of your paid offer
I’ve seen travel bloggers offer SEO eBooks as giveaways. It increases their subscriber count, but adds no value to their business. Because their subscribers are irrelevant and have no interest in the actual paid offers.
The secret to attracting potential customers, not just subscribers, to your email list is to give them a taste of your paid offer. Lure them into your list by offering a limited version of your premium services and then work on them using a series of auto-responder emails.
For example, if you’re offering SEO and link building services, you can create a freebie that demonstrates your authority and expertise in link building, and at the same time get your potential customers interested in it.
It can be an eBook like “10 Link Building Mistakes That 90% Blogs Make” or a checklist “SEO Checklist: 25 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Publishing Your Next Guest Post”.
Both these freebies are actually samples of your paid services. Your ideal customers want to know about them. But instead of giving them everything for free, give them a taste of what you have to offer. Just make them think. This will establish your authority on the subject and immediately get your subscribers interested in your paid services.
Neil Patel does this in a number of ways on his blog. His primary services are SEO, link building, traffic generation and online branding. See how his freebies are actually advertisements of his paid services.
Here’s the other freebie he offers – a free SEO analysis of your website.
When you enter your website/blog here, Neil’s tool gives you a detailed SWOT analysis of your website’s SEO strength. It immediately gets the subscribers interested in his services because of the detail in which the report analyzes their website.
So the subscribers he gets are no freebie hunters, they’re potential customers who’re convinced he can help them grow.
There are a number of ways you can implement this to your business.
- If you’re a freelance copywriter for small business websites, you can create a free content audit checklist as an incentive for visitors to sign up for your email list.
- If you’re selling an eBook, you can offer the first chapter or a summary of the book for free.
- If your product is a premium online course, your freebie can be a blueprint that gives high level information about the course.
- If your services are web development and SEO, you can offer a free website audit.
In all these examples, notice how the freebie is actually an invitation towards the paid product/service. People subscribing to your email list already know that you’re going to sell them stuff. They are no freebie hunters, they already have the buying intention.
Converting subscribers into customers
Once you have the right people subscribing to your email list, more than half of your job is already completed. Your subscribers have the buying intention and, hopefully, after seeing your freebie, they know you are an expert and have real value to offer. Your only challenge now is to convert this buying intention into real sales.
In my experience, you need two key components to trigger this action.
- An intelligent auto responder sequence
- A simple and convenient buying process
1. Setting up the auto-responder sequence
Once you have the subscriber on board, a series of automated emails should be sent to him, aimed at nurturing the lead and triggering the sales action. The key here is to create a combination of engaging, convincing and direct sales emails.
Here’s the typical combination I use.
1) The Congratulatory Email – Telling the subscriber what a great decision he has made to download my freebie and get on the list. This email is about building confidence and establishing trust.
2) The Story Email – This email relates the story of a previous customer who had the same problem that your subscriber has (for example poor copy, poor SEO, no customers, low conversions etc.) and what he did to overcome it (your product/service as the solution). Be sure to add a link to your sales landing page at the end of the email.
3) The Sales Email – This email also relates a story with your product/service as the solution. But this time the tone is more direct and to the point. The link to your landing page is accompanied by a limited time discount offer.
4) The Warning Email – In this email you tell the subscriber what he’ll miss by not purchasing your product. Again, you relate a story where a previous subscriber got on board and got blown away by the results of your product/service. At the end of the email you add a 24 hour deadline before your offer goes down.
5) The Final Call – This email is a small reminder that your offer is going down in 5 hours. Again, the link to your landing page is accompanied by a special discount offer.
You can use paid auto-responder services like MailChimp and AWeber to configure this sequence. In MailChimp the auto-responder feature is for paid members only and the subscriber limit is 2000. AWeber, on the other hand, is a completely paid service. You can go for a free auto responder like SendinBlue which has almost the same features. Its free version gives you up to 9000 emails per month, which should be enough for most bloggers. You can read more about configuring it in this post.
2. A simplified buying process
Almost 68% of online shoppers abandon product purchases just because of a poor buying experience. So you need to make the buying process as simple as possible.
To be precise, your product’s checkout phase should
Be optimized for mobiles/smartphones/tablets
- Be secure and credible
- Involve minimum redirections.
- Offer as many payment options as possible
I’ve personally had an excellent experience with Selz, an easy to use digital selling tool. It covers all the points I’ve mentioned above and is particularly useful for bloggers and freelancers selling digital products. It is mobile responsive, involves no redirections during the checkout phase, and allows you to accept payments with Master Card, Credit Card and PayPal.
Note: Here’s a useful comparison of some of the popular digital selling and ecommerce tools that can used to provide a convenient buying experience.
Wrapping it up
Let me summarize the main takeaways from this post.
- Building an email list is one of the first steps in building an online business.
- To create an email list that is truly valuable for your business and attracts potential buyers (not just subscribers), you need to create a free giveaway that is a sample of your paid products/services.
- Once you have the right subscribers, you can convert them into paying customers with intelligent auto-responder sequences and by providing a convenient buying experience.
Do you invest time and efforts in building email lists for product launches? What do you think is the best way to build a subscriber base that is willing to purchase your products?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Guest author: Jawad Khan is a certified inbound marketer, a freelance blogger and marketing consultant. He helps digital marketing agencies, small businesses and entrepreneurs build their online presence and brand image. Connect with him on his blog,Writing My Destiny and Google+
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