5 Important Keys to Growing a Healthy List
Our host today is Mitch O'Conner. If you're interested in getting in front of the readers of Site Sketch 101, check out our guest posting invitation here.
To which mailing lists do you belong? I can tell you right off the bat that I am a member of 15, none of which have ever had any success converting me on anything – from yet another terrible PLR content-generated ebook to offers claiming that I’ll be rich overnight without leaving my couch. And yet, I stay a member of these super-secret online societies. Maybe it’s because I like to see what others are doing wrong, and maybe it’s because I’m waiting for that one offer that changes my life with cheap car insurance.
But in the midst of a sea of special offers I don’t need, I have learned one thing. You absolutely must maintain a healthy relationship with your list in order to make it worthwhile. Keep in mind, though, this is not a matter of hiring an expert copywriter or abandoning all hope of ever selling anything through email. There are five ways that you can keep your emailing list healthy and keep your messages from being forever designated to the bottomless pit of woe known as spam folders.
Create Content That Requires Action
Think back to all of the advertisement emails you’ve ever received. What was one thing most of them had in common? They were actionable. Email marketers do this for a very good reason – it works. Actionable phrases accomplish the following:
- They create urgency – “Act now to take advantage of this limited time offer!”
- They give the reader something to do – “Grab your copy of my new book today!”
- They make the reader feel special – “Exclusive to my members only, take an extra 15% off your next purchase!”
Actionable text doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a sale. In all reality, new members of your list might need time to trust you before taking action. You can sort your list based on how long your recipients have been on it and consider action they’ve taken in the past before sending them offers.
Let’s suppose you are emailing a list of people and you want to get them to buy Halloween costumes (I bet you didn’t click that link because you don’t trust me yet). Consider using the first few emails to butter up your list with some valuable content, like how to alter normal Halloween costumes for our plus sized friends, or a list of the 15 most creative Halloween costumes ever. Once your new readers trust that you have some valuable information, you can start sending some actionable links for them to click.
Finding the Right Email Frequency Balance
The amount of emails you send to your list depends entirely on the people on the list itself. But not emailing your list enough can make them forget that they ever signed up for your list, resulting in some potentially costly spam complaints. On the other hand, emailing your list too often can be just as costly, especially if you’re not providing valuable content. The best way to find this balance is to do some testing:
- Split your mailing list into several different groups, but try to group people based on how long they’ve been on your list and their previous responses to your emails.
- Create around five emails that you plan to send in the near future.
- Set a different schedule for each group. You might send one group an email every month, while you send another an email every week.
- Monitor your conversion rates with each group (and other email data like whether the recipients open the email, delete it right away, or mark it as spam).
After a month or two, you should have enough data to set a permanent schedule for your list. If the data is inconclusive, you might need to extend the testing period – or even keep the testing schedule the same if it seems to be working just fine with each group.
As far as gathering this data goes, there are a variety of different programs that can help you out. Most Internet marketers tend to stick with the following four:
Choosing the Right Offers to Pitch
One of the trickiest parts of maintaining a healthy relationship with your list is choosing the offers that you pitch. There are several easy and important rules that you should follow when choosing pitches:
- Never try to pitch something from a different niche (trying to sell $250 watches to a baking list).
- You can, however, pitch across horizontal niches (pitching a Thai cookbook to a Chinese cooking list).
- Try to push products that you would buy yourself (your genuine interest will show).
- Better yet, push products you already bought because you liked them so much.
- Support your pitches with real, valuable content – not just other pitches.
- Try a variety of different products (like ebooks, physical products, and exclusive videos).
Just keep gathering data about your list’s spending habits and activities after receiving your emails. Eventually, you’ll naturally know what your list likes to purchase.
Use an Autoresponder
This tip is especially for those who have an enormous list (even those among you that might have bought your 100,000 email list from a spam company, you sneaky buggers). Especially in the early contact phases, it’s important to keep in touch with your list, even if it becomes a nightmare to respond to complaints, questions, and comments. Using an autoresponder with prewritten messages can help you seem like you are getting back to your list members right away, even though you aren’t.
Using this tool isn’t an end-all method for not having to respond to anything your list sends you, but it does help cut time spent responding to the same questions – giving you the time to come up with your next email. A popular email tool that has some good options for autoresponding is AWeber.
Act Like a Real Person
If you skipped right over the last tip because you want to truly be in touch with your list, congratulations. If not, read carefully. You will not realize your true conversion potential until you build yourself into a trustworthy and credible brand.
If you don’t have time to create entirely custom emails, even little things can make a difference. Use a mass emailer program to put members’ first names in emails, for example. You might even surprise a few members by sending an entirely customized email once in a while, especially ones with a long conversion history, offering a special deal only for them.
Part of this involves making absolutely sure that your list knows that you are a human. This doesn’t mean you have to send them each a hand-drawn Christmas card every year – use stories from your own life in your emails to relate to a product. Use a badge system to give list members an incentive to keep responding to your emails and buying the products you pitch. Above all, be as personable and real as possible, and you will find the members of your list that are willing to convert, even if that cuts your list down by thousands. After all, I’ll take a list of 100 that convert after every email over a list of 1,000 that might buy something down the road.