What is a mailing list to you? If you think of your mailing list as something that you can use in order to promote your products and try to get sales, then you may be missing out on the true potential of this incredible asset.
In reality, a mailing list has much more potential than just a means of selling and if you know how to get the most from it, then it can be the difference between being a small website and a huge, international brand.
The reason for this is simple: mailing lists allow you to build a more meaningful and more personal relationship with your readers than any other form of marketing. This is a form of marketing that allows you to communicate directly with each subscriber, right inside their inbox. Your messages will be rubbing shoulder with messages from friends and family and what’s more important still, is that you’ll be able to actually get responses as well.
How to Think of Your Mailing List
To get the most from your mailing list, you need to change the way you think about it and the way you approach it. That is to say that your mailing list is something that you will use in order to open up the lines of communication with the ‘insiders’ in your group. These are your truest fans and in that way, they almost have some level of ownership over your site. They’re a part of a movement and they’re there to contribute their ideas and suggestions as much as they are there to buy from you.
So, write to your mailing list as though they were your friends or your business partners. Let them know what’s new for the brand and ask for their input. Most importantly: when they respond, write back.
By doing this, the recipients of your mailing list will feel as though you really care about them and as though they can really trust you. This not only makes them much more likely to buy from you in the long run but it also turns them into ‘true fans’.
And if you’ve ever read the book 1,000 True Fans, then you’ll know that it only takes 1,000 such followers in order to accomplish global success. True fans are fans that will share your content, that will spread your message and that will read every message you send. This is much more valuable than making a few direct sales!
When you get an autoresponder, you will gain access to a large number of different features and options. Autoresponders can be used simply to send bulk emails but more than that, they can also be used to handle subscriptions, to track data like open rates and much more.
And one of the most important features you should be using with your autoresponder is the ‘double opt-in’. This is a two stage sign up process for your mailing list that will invite the user to first enter their details and hit send and then respond to a confirmation email by clicking the link.
This is opposed to a more old-fashioned immediate form of sign-up that accepts the new member as soon as they hit send.
Why This Matters
A lot of new marketers will look at double opt-ins and be confused. On the face of it, this seems like a bad thing. After all, why would we want our users to have to take more steps in order to sign up? Surely the easier it is for them to get involved, the better it will be for our mailing list?
This is missing the point. A good mailing list is not a mailing list that is as big as possible, but rather one that is as targeted and as engaged as possible. In other words, it really doesn’t matter how many people sign up – rather how likely those people are to read your messages.
Double opt-ins prevent people from signing up who aren’t really interested in your messages. They also prevent people from entering bogus details and they prevent people from accidentally typing the wrong message.
Without a double opt-in, someone might sign up for your mailing list on a whim and then never read any of your messages again. But with the double opt-in there, they are now forced to take a look at your message if they’re serious and to demonstrate that they do actively check their emails.
By doing all this, you have immediately improved the quality of your mailing list so that you will have fewer messages that bounce and fewer that don’t get opened. This will help you to improve your sender reputation and will make sure that your metrics stay as accurate as possible.
Don’t focus on the number of emails – focus on the quality. And start with a double opt-in.
Email marketing can be used to do a lot of things from building trust and authority in your niche to helping you to make more direct sales.
Whatever you end up using your mailing list for though, you first need to encourage people to sign up in the first place. This can be easier said than done, especially as most people are dubious about giving out their personal details. After all, most of us get enough spam as it is!
Here is some advice that can help you to get around that objection and grow your list nevertheless.
Sell the Value Proposition
The value proposition is the thing that makes your list worthwhile and the thing that will make it stand out. This is not simply the sum of its parts. A value proposition cannot be ‘getting lots of free emails’ but rather it is what those emails do for the reader.
For example, if your mailing list is about fitness, then the value proposition comes from the fact that your messages will help the readers to lose weight and build muscle, thereby becoming more attractive, more confident and more successful.
Value propositions work because they are what provide the ‘emotional drive’ behind your product. This is the hook and it’s what will get your potential buyers daydreaming about what life could be like when they sign up.
So, sell this vision in your copywriting and make sure that your audience knows just what an exciting opportunity this is and how it is going to improve their lives.
Use the Right Incentive
An incentive is a freebie that you will give away in exchange for people signing up to your mailing list. Very often, this will be something like an ebook or a report. What’s important here, is to make sure that your incentive is something that will attract people and get them to sign up when they were otherwise on the fence – but not something that will be too valuable and encourage people to sign up who otherwise wouldn’t have been interested at all. Otherwise, you will end up with subscribers who are only there to get the free gift. Not only that, but if you give away something like an ebook or online course entirely for free, then you will actually undermine the value of the things you sell later on.
Your sender reputation is a little like a credit rating. This is a score that will be shared between the different email providers and that will be tied to your IP address and domain. Things that can hurt your sender reputation include having lots of emails that bounce, lots of complaints from contacts and a low open rate.
If your sender reputation gets too bad, then you risk becoming blacklisted and the number of messages that will get through to your audience will go down significantly.
So how do you prevent this from happening? How do you keep your sender reputation in the black? Here are some powerful strategies:
‘Warm Up’ Your IP
One advanced technique that many people aren’t aware of, is to ‘warm up’ their IP address. This means that you’re going to give your emails the best start possible and the way you’ll do that, is by starting out with a very small mailing list that is filled with only your most engaged fans (and maybe even some friends and family!). When you do this, you’ll build up some positive ‘credit’ as it were and this will then help make your address more resilient against future negative influences.
Keep Friends and Family Involved
This is one reason it can be a good idea to invite your friends and family onto your mailing list. What’s more is that if you keep them there subsequently, you’ll then have at least a few opens and reads guaranteed. This is a good way to avoid a scenario where you get zero opens and every little bit helps!
List hygiene simply means that you are looking after your mailing list by removing the contacts that never read a single one of your messages or that always bounce. This is a simple matter of logging into your Autoresponder and deleting those users but it will make a big difference.
Finally, it is crucial that every single email list these days use a double opt in. This means that your new subscribers will need to confirm their email address via a confirmation message and that in turn ensures that the email address is real and also that the recipient checks it often and that they really are interested in signing up.
These small changes can make a massive difference to your deliverability, so get started right away!
You can spend months or even years building a massive mailing list and create something that is highly targeted and filled with incredibly engaged and interested readers.
But while this is true, it still only takes a single message to bring your hard work crashing down! Some mistakes are so destructive that they can destroy your chances of running an effective email marketing campaign. Others will simply prevent you from making the progress you should be.
So, check and see if any of these mistakes sound familiar. If so, change your ways!
Buying links is one of the very worst strategies of all when it comes to building a big mailing list. The reason for this is that bought links are essentially still ‘cold’ leads. That means they haven’t heard of your brand before and they never gave you permission to contact them. As such, they will likely ignore your messages and may even report you as spam!
Selling Low Quality Products
If you sell a product or promote an affiliate product and you don’t 100% believe in it, then that is always going to come across in the way that you present the message. People can tell whether you really believe in something and if you don’t, they’ll feel as though you’re just trying to wring as much cash out of them as possible.
Even if someone buys from you, they will likely be so upset by the low quality of your product as to be sure never to buy again. Suddenly, the CLV of your contacts goes down massively – and so does your profits.
Similarly, destructive is to forget about your mailing list for an extended period of time. This might sound obvious, but it’s a mistake that a lot of people make – simply forgetting to update their list and thus allowing time for your readers to become disinterested and to forget who you are or why they followed you in the first place. Now if you send another new message, they’re not going to care!
Spamming might mean sending too many messages or it might mean trying to sell things that no one asked for. The key to good email marketing is to respect your audience and to take seriously the responsibility that comes with being able to access their inboxes. Always provide value, or you’ll quickly lose those hard-earned followers.