Building that Mailing List

22 Dec

The fastest way to print cash on demand is to promote something to your list of email subscribers. To do that though, you need to first have a list.

Are lists really all they are cracked up to be? If so, how does one build one? More importantly, how does one nurture the relationship with said list?

Let’s look at each question in more detail.

Proof Lists Work

It’s 2011. My wife and I had been married for 11 months when we boarded the plane for Thailand. Our plan was to spend 6 to 12 months in Krabi, Thailand before returning home to Canada.

We didn’t have huge savings. We also didn’t have parents supporting this adventure financially. We didn’t have social programs paying us despite neither of us having a job. What I did have though was a small list of approximately 1500 people who had bought a software product from me.

In internet marketing terms, this was considered a “buyers list”, because these subscribers proved to have buying powers when they purchased that software from me.

About once a week I would send out an email to this list of mine, promoting an affiliate product I believed they would be interested in. I didn’t know much about email marketing at the time, but I knew if I presented an offer they would be interested in, chances were good they would buy it, causing me to earn a commission.

In hindsight, I promoted way too many products and didn’t offer nearly enough freebies, but that is besides the point. The point is – instead of staying in Thailand for 6 months – money earned from regularly promoting to this list allowed us to travel Asia for 17 months.

My beautiful wife and I traveling SE Asia in 2012 - living the Internet Marketing lifestyle!

My beautiful wife and I traveling SE Asia in 2012

It worked so well, I referred mailing that list as “milking the cash cow” 🙂

Jim Rohn always said “There are pennies in a sale, but fortunes in the follow up!”

I could not agree more. Selling the software initially as a nice chunk of change, but wasn’t half as valuable as the money I earned from regularly following up with (mailing to) that list.

I recently read a Dan Kennedy quote that went something like this: Many marketers acquire customers to make a sale, but the clever marketer will make a sale to acquire a customer!

How to Build that List

My dad always said “there are a dozen ways to skin a cat.”

What a horrible expression, but the point is the same when it comes to list building. There are many different ways of doing it. There are just as many ways of NOT doing it though!

I remember back in the day when I dabbled with MLM, my “upline” would recommend I buy lists of “biz op” leads to blast an email to. Truth is, he was asking me to blatantly spam the hell out of people’s email addresses although they NEVER agreed to receive emails from me. This never works and will – if anything – get you into heaps of legal troubles. I’m still sometimes wondering what he was thinking.

I still see people occasionally claiming they have a list of hundreds of thousands of people but then I find out it is one of these “biz op” lists. They never actually built that list themselves. Whatever you do, stay clear of such lists. Build your own. There are ways to shortcut the process of building your list, but this isn’t it.

So how does one build a list?

For starters, if you have a site that gets traffic – even if just a little bit – you will want to give your readers a chance to optin to your list. The most common way of doing this is to add an optin box on the site. If you notice, I have an optin box on the sidebar of this blog.

You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. - Al CaponeUnless you consistently post VALUABLE content on the site, no visitor will opt in to your list just for the fun of it. So incentivize them by offering something cool (for free) if they opt in. This could be an ebook you wrote, a collection of your best posts put together into an easy to read PDF, a new software, or anything else your visitors would like to have.

I myself am in the process of writing an ebook that I will use on this blog to do just that.

Having said that, you will not get a lot of opt-ins from your sidebar, no matter how compelling the offer is, just because internet users have developed a sense of banner blindness when it comes to the navigation bar.

You will want to get more aggressive!

Force Users to See Optin Offer!

A good tool I recommend for this (assuming you use the WordPress platform for your blog) is: Optin Monster

I currently don’t use it on this blog (yet), but we set it up on my wife’s blog – added a compelling offer that pops up just minutes after the user lands on the site – and her optins went through the roof. Instead of getting 30 some optins per month, she now gets around 500 per month.

Same traffic, same message, just a little more aggressive way of showing it.

We made sure each user will only ever see that pop-over message once just so we don’t ruin the user experience on that site for repeat visitors.

Buyer List?

If you are selling products online, make sure you have your customers opt-in to a different list than what your freebie seekers opted in to. Why? Because they are twice as valuable. They have proven to have purchasing powers.

They are your buyer list!

If they bought from you once and had a pleasant user experience, they will very likely buy from you again. So the key here is to nurture your relationship with that list so that they will love and trust you enough to buy on your recommendation without hesitation.

But, how do you…

Nurture the Relationship with Your List?

First of, think of your subscribers as you would of a bunch of teenage girls. Not to the extent where you send them pictures of Justin Bieber’s latest tattoo every day, but to the extent where you know you have to stay in regular contact with them for them to know you still think and care about them.

SEO-FriendsRemember when I told you how my wife and I traveled Asia with nothing more than a list I emailed a couple times per week? I used to think that I would burn that list out by promoting too much stuff to them (which can happen), but I found it never stopped responding. Sure, the response rate went down, but it never stopped.

When I stopped emailing them weekly though and only emailed once in 6 – 12 months, they stopped responding.

When heroes disappear, people find new heroes. Be the hero that never leaves them hanging. I learned this the hard way!

Secondly, be their hero. Don’t pretend you’re invincible or that you have everything figured out, but give them what they signed up to get from you. If it is a solution to a problem, actively lead them (by example) to attain that solution.

Lastly, be value driven. Send out emails that truly help your list. Avoid emails that come across as “salesy” or that are not at all related to what they showed interest in to begin with. People love to buy, but they hate being sold to. So picture yourself as their advisor or consultant, not as a salesperson trying to make a quick buck.


Lists work. Ask any established internet marketer what their most valuable business asset is, and they will all tell you “My email list!”

The best way to get people to sign up to your list is to ask them, then incentivize them to do so. Make sure they first of all see the offer, and also make sure that it is something they will hate missing out on.

Finally, building a solid relationship with your list is critical if you plan on making money off of it. You do this by staying in touch like any good friend would do and by sharing legitimate solutions to their problems.

Konrad Braun

I'm an entrepreneur at heart & have been a full-time internet marketer since 2009. I specialize in SEO & affiliate marketing. I married the most amazing woman I ever met & travel the world with her. I love my life!

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