Do’s and Don’ts of List Building

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The Do’s and Don’ts of List Building: One of the most powerful tools in online marketing is list building. An opt-in, or mailing list is simply a database of people’s names and email addresses. Usually, this information is collected from them via a web form, which gives the list owner permission to send subscribers periodic emails on specific topics that interest them.

The best part of this powerful tool is that it gives the list owner the ability to communicate and build a relationship with people who are interested in their business, products, or services. When it comes to effective list building there are a few do’s and don’ts that you should know before you start your own opt-in mailing list.

List Building

List Building “Do’s”:

  • Always, inform people that they can subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. Be sure to let them know that their information is safe and that you will never rent, sell, or share their email address with anyone.
  • Make sure that let your subscribers know what you will be sending them. It is important that you ask people permission to send them a promotional email when they subscribe to your mailing list so that you can reduce your risk of being accused of sending SPAM.
  • Be clear about how people can benefit from subscribing and how often will you contact them. Let them know exactly what they will be receiving.
  • If you can, contact a new subscriber as soon as you can. Welcome them with notes and tell them what to expect. A good mailing list service will help you do this automatically.
  • Make it easy to subscribe by having a highly visible subscription form or link on the main pages of your website. Signing up should take as little time as possible and don’t ask for too much information right away. A name and email address are all you need to get started.
  • After someone subscribes then you should collect more data. For instance, you may want to know their company name, industry, or location. You can do this by including a survey in your emails to gauge interests. It’s important to understand where people are coming from so you can make adjustments in your communications or promotions.
  • When you write an email, put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ask, “Why shouldn’t I hit the delete key right now?”  They have a reason for wanting information from you. It could be to save time, money, or effort, or improve productivity and success. Your emails must be compelling enough to convince people to sign up, valuable enough to keep them wanting more, and useful enough to pass along.

List Building “Don’ts”

  • Don’t add everyone who has ever emailed you to your list. Always ask permission first.
  • Don’t abuse the trust of your subscribers. This is a sure way to ruin your reputation, business, and your chance of success. When you abuse your subscribers and bombard them with unwanted email, they will ignore your messages, unsubscribe, or even worse report you as a spammer.
  • Don’t offer a ton of free incentives for subscribing. Although this may seem like a great idea, you will end up getting subscribers that only want the free stuff, not to learn valuable information about what your business, products, and services can do for them. Instead, use incentives that are useful such as a free report, seminar, or more information about your products & services.
  • Don’t bombard your subscribers with too many emails. How many are too many? This will depend on your message. During the subscription process, let people know what they are getting before they join.  I, as a subscriber, and as a list manager, prefer to send only 3-5 messages per week, on specific days.
  • Don’t be reluctant to address the needs of your subscribers. Keep your information focused. It is important to give them what they want. This will keep them on your list and be wanting more. If your information drifts off-topic or is too generic you will lose subscribers as fast as you get them.
  • Don’t create long-winded emails.  The average reader spends less than 15 seconds on an email.  Make your emails scannable with headlines and bullet points.  Get to the point quickly.
  • Don’t include too many options.  You should use one call-to-action (CTA) for the reader to follow.  Include links to social media, etc. in your signature.

What other “do’s and don’ts” should you abide by when building your list?

Are there any pet peeves about being a subscriber you wish other biz owners would stop doing?  Let me know in the comments below.

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