Every company or business owner should have there own dedicated list of customers, members, or perspective customers. For all my years doing Internet development and marketing, I believe that list building is one of the best ways to generate interest and sales for your products and services. In a number of cases a well build list can significantly reduce and in some cases replace the need for traditional advertising. For all the benefits a dedicated customer list has there aren't that many businesses that build a list. Even fewer businesses properly manage and leverage their list. Below are a few consideration that almost anyone can easily implement.
Permission Based List Building
If you are doing any type of list building, make sure it is permission based. Always ask for permission and acknowledgment from every person you add to your list. For list building purposes, acknowledgment comes in the form of the double opt-in. In a double opt-in the person is asked to verify their intension with an email send back to them. Most bulk email programs have the double opt-in as a standard feature.
If people are signing up for an email list, make sure they white list you in their email and SPAM programs. Contact information is no good if you can make contact with someone.
Start with The People Who Know You
The easiest place to start list building is with your existing and perspective customers. If you have a traditional brick and mortar company like a restaurant, consider asking your patrons to sign up first. It is much easier to get emails and mailing addresses from people who have an affinity for your product. If you have an event web site that has been running for a few years, consider asking all the people that emailed you to become subscribers. It is important that you ask people to sign up for your list. Because someone emails you doesn't give you the right to automatically add them to a subscriber list.
Use a Contest or Promotion
Remember when the Nintendo Wii or the iPhone was released? People will jump through hoops to get something they really want for free. It might be worth giving away a highly sought after product or service in exchange for people subscribing to your list. Consider running a promotion or giveaway to collect email addresses.
Consider a List Broker
List brokers are a great way to jump start your list building endeavors. You can give a list broker specific demographic parameters and for a reasonable fee they will return target list of prospects. If you're just starting with list building a broker might be the easiest way to go.
Go Old School For Big Returns
There are so many businesses that are currently using email marketing that you might want to consider going retro. Some of the savviest Internet marketers use the web to generate leads online and then follow up with snail mail. For some this might be counter intuitive, but it really does work. One of my client's enjoyed a 1200%+ return on investment by leveraging one of her mailing lists with traditional snail mail. In today's digital world people still like tangible items.
Think Small for Big Returns
An intriguing question for any list builder is the quality versus quantity dilemma. Some would argue that the bigger the list the better. Interestingly enough smaller lists have proven to be diamond mines for a number of Internet Marketers. A small highly focused list will always get you more than a large board list. You are better off building a solid relationship of trust and credibility with a smaller list, as opposed to a general list
I'll be revisiting the notion of list building in future posts. There should be enough information above to at least get you thinking about setting up and refining your own list.
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