Email marketing is a cornerstone of any effective online business, essential for scaling into new niches autand verticals and to increase the effectiveness of your site traffic.

And the first step of email marketing is building a list. Even if you’re not quite ready to engage in an email marketing campaign yet, you should still be building.

After all, if you’ve got a site, you’ve got site traffic, so you’ve already got the most fundamental element of email marketing at your fingertips.

What’s in a list?

When referring to an email list, what we’re really discussing is the database of email addresses, or prospects, your visitors have supplied you, primarily using the following means:

  1. Autoresponders. As we discussed a few weeks ago here at CAP, autoresponders are a powerful tool to building up email lists. Check out that article here.
  2. Sign-ups via your website. Your home page and contact pages, and most all other pages, too, if you can keep it relatively unobtrusive, should enable visitors to enter their email address for additional, exclusive information.
  3. Sign-ups up via an email response. This is usually an email you send to one list you have, to get them to sign up to another. This is a bit more advanced stuff, but once you’re there, it’s one of the most powerful list-building tools.

Keeping it healthy
While setting up that funnel to bring in the email addresses is essential in getting started, it’s just as important to manage that list and communicate with your prospects, to keep it organic and growing.

Once you’ve got a prospect on your list, here’s a list of what to avoid doing to losing it:

  1. Don’t over communicate. Send messages only if you need to. An autoresponder campaign for sign-ups is essential, but from that point, it’s equally important to be careful not to overdo it.Remember, most people will hit the “unsubscribe” button over the slightest feelings of uncertainly regarding your techniques and motives. Or worse, they’ll flag your email as spam, which will hurt your business in the long run.
  2. Don’t sell your prospects. For every list sign-up format you offer, you’ll need to craft language stating that you won’t sell their email address to other parties (you can get more or less specific if you’d like).The reason for this? Most people — yourself most likely included — won’t knowingly submit their email address to a junk list, where they can expect instant increases in spam and other garbage. And that usually goes for their secondary addresses as well as their primary.As with any aspect of email marketing, list building is more successful if it’s as free of spam and shady offers as you can get it.
  3. Don’t use spammy templates or free autoresponders. Building on that last point, your email marketing efforts are going to be way more successful in the long run if you avoid cheap, sloppy techniques.Sure, some of that shady stuff might offer quick bursts of profit. That’s rare, though; the more likely outcome is that you’ll lose the signup and hurt your reputation.The same idea holds true with the autoresponder you use to get signups. It might cost a little more time and effort to set these messages up on your own or with a reputable provider, but you should, at all costs, avoid the free autoresponder templates throughout the Internet. These, more often than not, just wind up in spam boxes. That means the email itself is wasted, never seen by its intended recipient. And on top of that, it’s a pretty terrible association to make with your website, in case someone later finds it there in the spam bin.

So take the time to hook up with a quality list management provider. iContact and AWeber are good examples of these. They’re not free, but quality, effective services rarely are.

What’s next
We’ll get into the more positive aspects of growing your list — and making it profitable — in the next half of this series.

In the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments. Have you begun list building? Have you marketed to your lists yet, and if so, what have you learned?

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