atsThis is why I love building email lists: they’re assets. They’re always mine. If Google decides to change its algorithms and screw my rankings, I’ll still have my email list. If Google decides to start charging me $10 per click for my Pay per Click campaign, I’ll still have my email list. Nobody can take that away from me. And, I don’t know about you, but it makes me a little nervous when one of my businesses depends too much on one client, vendor or service provider (*cough* Google *cough*).
The beauty of email marketing is that if you build a great relationship with your list and they see value in the emails you send them, they’ll love you, respect you and do what you suggest they do. That’s a very smart way to build a strong business.
Before I tell you how you can build a killer (and huge) email list in no time, there’s a disclaimer: I failed miserably for 2 years trying to build a big list myself. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. That is, until I discovered what I’m about to share with you. I’ve perfected this formula over the last 5 years and I can tell you that this technique works in any market if you follow all the steps.
Step 1. Create the Content
You’ll need to give people something in exchange for their email addresses. These are my favorite bribes (in order of preference):

  • Reports
  • Videos
  • Tools

Make the reports short (3-7 pages) and address one specific topic. For example, if you’re in the dating industry, instead of “All the Secrets for Successful Online Dating”, create reports like:

  • The One Thing Women Want to Hear from Men on Online Dating Sites
  • Safe Online Dating: How to Make Sure The Guy You’re About to Date Isn’t a Pervert

We did a lot of testing on this, and reports that cover specific topics have a much better response than general reports. Plus, this allows you to create a lot of reports around your topic.
Remember to make the reports short. Most people feel like “if it isn’t long, it isn’t good”. This it nonsense. Just make it short and right to the point.
The same advice applies for videos. Make them short (1-3 minutes) and cover a very specific topic.Tools are a little bit more expensive but not nearly as expensive as you might think. You can get someone on or to create a tool for you for less than $100. These are some tool ideas:

  • Real estate industry: mortgage payment calculators
  • Weight loss industry: calories calculator for different foods
  • Legal industry: a tool that helps you figure out how much you should sue someone for

You get the idea.
There are two ways to get email addresses from a tool:

  • Send results by email (this gives you an excuse to gather email addresses)
  • Free and premium versions of the tool (the free one doesn’t require registration but the premium one does)

Make sure people don’t need to register before using the tool or that will kill your conversion rates.
2. Create a Landing Page
You’ll need a page where people can download your free report (or videos or tool) from. Two tips:

  • What you ask people to do should involve as little commitment as possible (keep forms as short as you can [email address only is best], one-step registration, don’t require email confirmation, don’t ask for money, etc.)
  • Although your stuff is free, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to sell it. You’re asking people to invest time reading your report, watching your video or using your tool. You need to give them a reason to do it. Use an attention-grabbing headline (include the word FREE in it) and use bullet-points to explain the benefits of opting in. Have an obvious and huge call to action and arrows pointing to it. There should be no doubt about what you want them to do.

Step 3. Promote Your Landing Page
These are some of the best ways you can drive people to your landing page:

  • Your contacts: email your entire address book and ask them to spread the word for you. Give them a great reason to do it.
  • Social Media Marketing: post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Forums: post to the most influential forums in your industry
  • Blogs: approach the most respected bloggers in your market, tell them about your free report and ask them if they’re willing to blog or email their lists about it. In most cases, you’ll need to go one step further: create an additional report and give it to the bloggers for them to give it away to their readers. You won’t get any email address in exchange for this report, but here’s a sweet trick: at the end of that report, mention that you have another great report and tell them how to get it. Most bloggers will be happy to give their readers a free report with no strings attached. Some “famous” bloggers will request the report to be exclusive for them. If the blog has a lot of traffic (check the number of comments, or to find out) it’s probably worth it.
  • Groups: use Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups to find communities built around your market and let these people know about your content.

Step 4. Treat Your List (Very, Very) Well
Respect them, send them great content and please don’t spam them all the time with your specials. A good rule of thumb is 95% content and 5% promotional stuff.

How to Know if Something Went Wrong

  • Not a lot of people came to your landing page? Three things might be the cause of this: you chose a horrible title for your report/video/tool, the topic isn’t interesting enough and/or you haven’t done a great job promoting your content (step 3 of this formula).
  • A lot of people visited your landing page but 25% or less opted-in? You need to work on your copy. Read this book or hire a professional copywriter.

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