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List maintenance is one of the most important subjects in online marketing. Your list is your number one and most basic bottom level output for your promotions. It’s expensive and time consuming to gather, but forms one of the most powerful resources and profit potential you have.
For this reason, we need to understand exactly how it works. Throughout my time in online marketing, I’ve tried many different formats. There are clear differences that allow some methods to come out on top, while some fail miserably.
Depending on your business, there are several solutions that might be right for you. For this reason, we need to look at the big five to allow you to decide which one is going to make you the most cash.
Let’s do it.
Overview of List Management – Part 1
- To show you why you need to decide which method you're going to use to maintain your list before you even start building it for maximum positive effect.
- To explain why it's so hard to change mid flow, once you've already started.
- To show that to get people to listen and take notice of you and avoid complaints, there's a few things that you'll need to tell the customer beforehand.
- To set solid goals for your list, and map out where you want it to go in the future.
- To show you how powerful your list actually is to you, and to display how much more earning potential some methods have over others, and how you're going to capitalize on that.
- To introduce the rating system which will be assisting your decision on how you're going to maintain your list when from the moment the first subscriber arrives.
- To talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the first list maintenance type, a standard e-zine or newsletter to your target market.
- To reveal the first of the most powerful list type that you could possibly have in your hands, and how to deal with the subscribers and make the most cash out of it.
Understanding List Management 1
Let’s discuss the various methods of list maintenance that have proven successful for many marketers, and the up sides and the downsides that come with them, because to be totally honest with you, there's no way me, or any other person or guide can ever tell you what’s best in this situation without knowing you, your business, and your future plans, and what you're going to use your list for.
Please understand that this is no technical report. I won't be showing you around auto-responders or telling you the best ones to use, or how to use them. No, this is far more important, and will generally form the shape of your future promotions and of course how successful they will become, and in what way.
So without further ado, lets get talking about the fundamentals and the type of things you should be looking at for a start. During this guide we'll be looking at how each management technique affects your response rate, your customer loyalty, the amount you earn from your list, and what type of promotion it's suited to, such as your own products, joint ventures or purely affiliate marketing. We'll also take into account the money you can earn from selling ads to that list, which isn't quite as important as you may think right now.
Always Be Truthful
So, lets get started. The number one thing that I need to tell you right now, before we even look at these methods is to make 100% sure that the people signing up know what they're getting themselves into. For example, how many e-zines or newsletters have you ever subscribed to only to find out that they're not actually e-zines and newsletters, just ad lists (which to be honest aren't all that bad in particular situations, but we'll be getting to that in a moment).
The choice you make now will shape your business far in to the future, but more importantly whatever you tell your customers and subscribers they'll be getting will shape your response rate considerably, and that's obviously something we'll want to take into account from the very start. So there we have it. Rule number one, never tell your customers they're getting something then deny them that, or send them things that they haven't requested or didn't know about, because not only will that get you into trouble, but it will also affect the loyalty and trust these customers and subscribers have with you, which is so important.
What we’re aiming to build here is a targeted and effective list that has response rates through the roof depending on what you're promoting. Don't forget this also includes affiliates, and may form a large part of your affiliate base. Which brings me onto one more point, before we look through the four majorly used techniques for different types of lists through different marketers.
The Role of Your List Should Always be at the Front of Your Mind
What's your list there for- Promotion and to allow you to make money from the subscribers selling products that either you've created, or affiliate products in your target market, to build joint ventures, and of course increase your affiliate numbers and quality. But there's one more thing I want you to be aware of. Where do I get all this information- Through ad tracking, true, but my list is also a very important part of this.
Listen to Your List & Reap the Rewards
I know what to sell to them because they tell me what they want. I know when my websites suck or look plain ugly because I ask them. I know what they're interested in buying, the most effective headlines and language to use when typing out ads in relation to my list, who are in effect my target market. So you see, again we're promoting not just for profit, but to learn valuable lessons at the same time. Your list provides as much useful data as your advert tracking, no matter how small. This Is your key to developing a successful business that is aimed at your target market, and creating a sales system that works, not just in your eyes, but in the eyes of the people that are most important to you. And that's your customer, the person who at the end of the day is going to make you a whole lot of money if treated right.
So here's the deal. Ask. Don't feel stupid about sending out mails to your list that aren't adverts, or that might seem like random babble to you. To them, not only will they feel closer to you personally, no matter what technique you use below, (which in turn will have them reading more often) but it'll give you really important results about you newest product, your website or even an idea that you have for a product that you'd like feedback on before you even start. Use your list in this way.
Promote to learn, not to make a profit, and you'll end up with far more cash at the end of the year than if you just assume, guess or don't bother (Which seems to be many marketers out there). Don't be one of them. Get the knowledge you need to succeed from your customers before they even hand you their money. It works wonders for you, your reputation, your knowledge and your pockets. Ask your list if you're not sure. It's so powerful that it'd be a complete waste if not utilized properly. If you're right, great, go for it. If you're wrong, your list will tell you so, great again. You can fix it and pocket the cash at the same time. I can't think of a fairer deal than that. Keep it in mind. Your list is more than a bunch of names. It's a bunch of opinions, and real important ones at that.
Next up, I'm going to talk to you about the four main methods successful marketers use to maintain their lists. Each one with a different use and purpose, and each one has its ups and downs. Granted I'm biased towards two of them, and I'll tell you why when we get there. But like I said, there's no way for me to tell you how to run your business. All I can do is tell you the most effective ways of going about it, and let you decide what's most convenient for you and where you want your business to go.
The Rating System
Let's also have a little bit of fun here, too, and introduce a rating system to make things interesting. As we discuss each of these techniques, I'll talk to you about their pros and cons, and where they would most likely be used, and you can decide if it'll be relevant to you. I'm also going to give these a starred rating system that will show you the most significant stats related to running such a list. Understand that each list will vary, and these star ratings are only to give you an idea after talking to over a hundred successes with their lists in the following categories. The star rating will be one to five:
Unsubscription Rate: One star means a high unsubscription rate per mailing, and five stars means the best, a low unsubscription rate per mailing.
Subscription Rate: How easy it is to get people to subscribe to the list using a variety of different methods. The subscription rate at one star is the hardest, and at five stars is the easiest.
Ad income: Ad income is the amount of money that's earned through selling adverts to the list. One star is the worst, or the least amount of money earned through ad selling, and five stars is the best, or the most amount of money earned through ad selling.
JV Circle: This is the ease of using your list as a bargaining tool, for example in ad swaps or product launches, and specific joint venture opportunities. One star is the worst, which is also the least valuable in terms of gaining joint ventures, and five stars is the best, the most valuable that marketers want to get their hands on for joint ventures.
Response Rate over Time: Response rate over time, measures how quickly the quality of the list diminishes, for example when sending endless paid for ads and nothing else, the response rate goes down over time. One star is the worst, where response rate over time goes down badly, five stars is the best, where people keep reading and even wait for your mail to arrive in their inboxes in the morning.
General Usefulness: For things such as research, surveys and requesting information, testimonials etc. Five stars is the best, easiest to get results from. One star is the worst, the hardest to get results from.
Maintenance Time: The time it takes per issue to put together and send out. One star is the worst, taking a lot of time to prepare and send. And, five stars is the best, the fastest, and the easiest to prepare and send out. Important note here: These are base figures and your exact results may be higher or lower than the following. It's more to give you some insight into aiming your business in the right direction than to give you exact figures and numbers and guaranteed base earning, response rate, income, number of JV prospects etc.
The Four Methods of List Maintenance
E-zine Or Newsletter: The e-zine, or newsletter, is a list of people that you gather, and send information related to your target market on a weekly, biweekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. The idea is the useful content that you send them will have them want to keep reading and open your mail each time, keeping your response rates and read rates high.
Ok so here we have it. The staple of most online marketers before they hit is big, and sometimes even after, the well-known e-zine list. I'm sure you'll already know from reading the intro here that this method in itself can actually become a lot of work. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of work, obviously, seeing as I'm sitting here writing a half million word report spread over 15 manuals, but when it gets to a particular point, it may not be prudent for you to run an e-zine anymore. This however is a good place to start if you have the time.
Expect to have to present an issue of your e-zine every week or two weeks and avoid leaving long, long gaps in between mailings, otherwise, quite simply people will forget you. This is a great place to start if you're starting out, for the simple reason people like free info, and it's so much easier to get people to subscribe to this type of list compared to others, even when there's freebies involved. Of course, you will have to know a lot about your field of expertise to present regular useful issues, or even pull in outside articles from publishers to use as content.
The catch is you'll have to be on top of things, and it does take some time to come up with good content for issues. The up side to this is people will be waiting for your e-zine. If it's good and keeps people reading content wise, it's a surefire way to keep response rates up and to make a connection with your subscribers, the personal touch, which in turn will add up to trust and a higher purchase rate for your own products.
The next upside to this is that you can sell ads for cash. To whom- To your subscribers of course. It's an instant quick way to earn cash, by selling large solo ads that go out separately from the e-zine, to smaller ads that precede each issue, and even cheaper, mid and smaller ads contained within the issue. It's a good all rounder in fact. The downside here is many e-zines turn into ad lists (Category 4, which we'll talk about later). When the ads massively outnumber the useful content, subscribers start to feel cheated and leave. I've been there before, and if you've tested out or subscribed to some e-zines before you may have seen this.
Another great thing here is prospects. Your e-zine is attracting people who are in your field of expertise and may have lists of their own. This in turn increases your prospects for joint ventures, meeting new contacts that can sometimes spiral into full blown products (This course for example is a product of such a case).
Another great thing about the newsletter and e-zine is it can be quite personal. As the readers and subscribers get used to you as a publisher, and you become white listed (In their spam filers and in their minds) you'll see a greater interest in your products, because after all, you're not just another marketer out there spouting rubbish to everyone to make a quick buck. You're a trusted publisher in an authorititative role, and people will listen to you, and buy your stuff. This takes time though. Don't expect to become well know to all your subscribers overnight.
Unsubscription Rate: **** Many e-zines have become successful because of their great response rates and low unsubscription rates due to good content. A small lapse though and this can all go pear shaped, especially when it starts to turn into an ad list and subscribers trust is broken.
Subscription Rate: **** A higher than average subscription rate is good news. Reasons for this include people liking to get useful content for free.
Once you've proven to them that this is the case, it's not unlikely they'll tell their friends. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. With so many dud e-zines out there that are just ad lists, it can be hard to persuade people that your list is quality. Use example issues, or a website of back issues to combat this and prove you are what you say you are.
Ad income: ***** Excellent and steady ad income from your subscriber base. Compared to other lists that don't even sell ads, this is a great way to bring in the few extra thousand dollars per month. Be careful not to over do this though, as subscribers may start deleting mail from you on the basis they think it's an ad rather than anything useful.
JV Circle: ** Only two stars here for a few reasons. The main one being if you're already selling ads, it's quite likely that your joint ventures or any ad swaps you may do with other marketers may reflect the cost at which you sell your ads. Personal non public lists are far more desirable in general, and are much more valuable when put on the bargaining table. There is, however, an income to be had here through joint venture affiliate promotion, a free ad for a percentage of the profits. If your list is particularly good though, and your ad cost low enough, the promoter may instead opt just to buy the ad themselves and bypass the need to pay you a percentage of each sale.
Response Rate Over Time: *** Response rate over time is again higher than average. Of course this stat varies a lot depending on if your subscribers are actually interested in what you're sending them or not. If not you may see your response rates dwindle. Another danger here is the use of freebies. Get a list of non spenders and freebie seekers, send too many special offers, and they'll come to expect it, which will also have an effect on your profits. This also applies to outside ads that people may have no interest in that you may be selling. This can only be bad for your subscriber base.
General usefulness: *** Very handy to get that all important information from your subscribers. Many have asked why their subscribers never write to them. I tell them that they need to ask them to write to them about something that affects them, and they will. Again, third party ads can be a distraction, but all in all, if your content is good and people are reading, this is prime research material, albeit not quite as personal as some of the other list types, which can bring in a lower response.
Maintenance Time: * One star. Ouch. You want people to keep reading your e-zine- Well you have to make sure they stay interested, balance the amount of adverts with the amount of content, write articles or organize consent from third parties. If you're a writer and enjoy this, great, go for it. But many of us just don't have the time to write a full fledged e-zine every week, because we're busy with other products and projects. It's hard work alright, but if you don't believe there's anything more productive that you can be doing, or enjoy writing and editing your e-zine, keep at it. The results and income both from your own ads, and paid ads is worth it in the long and short term.
Summary: A great place to start if you have no list at all right now. The ease of pulling subscribers when you're giving them good content beats any other type of list out there. If you don't mind high maintenance and putting a lot of time into this, the e-zine or newsletter may just be for you. If however you're short on time, or don't enjoy writing articles particularly, the other lists may be more up your street. The results, however, from running this type of list are plain to see and are very encouraging. Just be careful how you balance out ads and content. And hey, if things get too much in the future, you can always slowly evolve the e-zine into one of the other list types, which is how many marketers start out. It is hard work, but a great little earner, and an investment for the future.
Personal List - Mixed Content
Personal mixed content list is a list gathered by you, that you don't use to sell outside ads to on a regular basis. Mailings contain research, new product information for your customers, a few articles that you write, the odd tips here and there, testimonial requests, and of course the ads for your own products. Mailings are very similar to an e-zine, except for the mixed content and the lower sales of ads to third parties. They also require less content on your part.