Sending messages and information to people who have given you permission to contact them is a great way to build the kind of relationships that will encourage a steady flow of traffic to your website... and greatly increase your online sales!
All online businesses can benefit from having an opt-in mailing list of some kind! Opt-in email lists generally fall into 4 categories?.
New Content Notification - You've probably seen sites that offer to notify you whenever they have new information, products, or content. To tell you the truth, this is probably the least effective kind of opt-in list, simply because most people won't sign-up. Instead, they'll bookmark your site thinking they'll just come back from time to time - but don't count it! Of course, there are certain kinds of sites that CAN benefit from this form of opt-in list. For example, if you have a site that runs contests, you can offer to notify people whenever a new contest begins.
Free Report - Another kind of opt-in list involves the offer of a free report, or series of reports. However, be careful with this! By offering a free report, you are restricting the number of times you can mail to your list ? it's not a good idea to capture the names and then bombard them with a continual stream of sales material when they were only expecting one or two reports. This would be considered spamming! If you offer a free report, it should contain "real" information and a reason for them to visit your website again.
Resource Updates - You can offer to update subscribers on various issues or resources. For example, if you are in the real estate business you could send people a list of current mortgage rates for the top 10 or 20 financial institutions. You could send this out once a week, once a month, or whenever there are significant changes in the rates.
Free eZine/Newsletter - A great way to build an opt-in list is by offering a free subscription to an electronic newsletter or ezine. Newsletters are a really good way of regularly reminding your subscribers about your website and products. By writing a newsletter that contains copy which is both informative and compelling, you draw subscribers back to your website again and again! I have a huge newsletters devoted specifically to explaining how you can develop a fantastic newsletter and get thousands of people to subscribe to it! Having an ezine/Newsletter is one of the best ways to build credibility and rapport with your readers and customers. If you understand the value of a "Lifetime Customer", then you know exactly how powerful an ezine or newsletter can be!
Once you determine the kind of opt-in list you are going to have, you need to automate it. Why? Because one of the secrets to running a successful online business is to automate as much of the routine work as you can!
At your site, put up a simple CGI script designed to capture people's names and email addresses. This information will be sent to your email address so that you can add it to your database.
You can get great CGI scripts for free! Simply go to resourceindex and look up "Mail List Management" to find dozens of free scripts.
When people sign-up, you should immediately send them a confirmation email using an autoresponder. In this email, you should remind them that they have signed up and have asked to be on your list. Let them know how to unsubscribe (this information should also be in every email you send them). Restate the benefits they will experience by participating in your opt-in list. Let them know how often they will hear from you - will it be once a day, once a month, or only when there is something new to report? You should also confirm that you will not sell or let anyone else use their email address.
Good software will subscribe and unsubscribe people from your list automatically. It will take the information sent to your email box by the CGI script and add or delete it from your database. Doing this manually can quickly become overwhelming - particularly when your subscriber list begins to grow! These are the kind of tasks that you want to be automated - your time will be better spent on other things, like promoting your business!
Sending email to your list should be an easy process. You should be able to simply merge your message with your address list, click a button, and send them off! We recommend 1shoppingcart because, in addition to automatically subscribing and unsubscribing, it makes the task of merging and sending personalised Email messages very easy. It also allows you to set-up an unlimited number of autoresponders... plus a whole pile of other things I do not have room to list here.
Once you have your list set-up and automated, you can concentrate on WHAT you are sending your subscribers. They have subscribed for a reason. You made them promises, now it is time to follow through!
Your message, your report, or your eZine/Newsletter should be content rich.
It should relate closely to the theme of your website and to what your audience is interested in. It should help them in some way!
The information must be timely and relevant.
And? it should draw people back to your website, as I do on my web site http://www.my-mortgage-loans.co.uk!!!!
By building an opt-in list, you are building the future of your business. People have invited you to send them information. They have invited you into their homes or offices! Your messages are a constant reminder for people to come back to your website and visit again and again.
When they come back, you have another opportunity to build rapport with your visitors. You also have another opportunity to sell them your main or backend products!
Now, I'm not going to try and tell you that building an opt-in list doesn't require a whole lot of work. It does! But it is an important step in building a successful, long-term business. It is definitely worth the work! Add an opt-in list to your website and you will be well on your way to building a very valuable asset - a customer list that you can sell to again and again, year after year!
Brians William, Editor