If you want to start on the road to building a successful online business, the first thing you should have on your website is an opt-in box. If what you are offering is any interest at all to your visitor he will add his email address to your list. The norm today is to make that a double opt-in, which means the visitor will receive an autoresponse reminding him that he opted into your list and confirming that he did so. He is now a qualified visitor and a potential customer. He is valuable to you and should be treated as an asset.
All of the major email processors such as Yahoo, MSN and Earthlink have processes in place that discard anything that looks like spam and by using the double-opt in method, your email address should be added to your recipient’s whitelist. Your outgoing email should also include an unsubscribe option. If your visitor gets annoyed for any reason and you don’t have an unsubscribe option, you could be reported for spamming!
Never be tempted to buy email lists. They can be purchased cheaply yes, but not one person on those lists knows who you are or what you are selling, and even if you are the most honest person in the world, you will be treated as a spammer, so save your money.
Manual methods are slower but can be more effective
The first thing you should do is go through your contact lists and send an email asking permission. “Add me to your whitelist” is a simple way of getting permission, at the bottom of a helpful and informative email. Don’t use this first email as a sales pitch! You won’t get many permissions that way. You could start out by offering something for free – the most effective sales hook.
Offering something for free is also a good way of getting people to sign up on your website, but understand there are a lot of people who are only interested in free, they are less likely to buy than people who sign up without an incentive.
Always try and address your emails to people using their first name – and make sure their name is spelled properly! I have received emails addressing me by my last name – guess where they went!
The machine-generated or third party way
Too busy to use manual methods of generating your list? There are plenty of software packages that can be used such as ListSpawner or Endless Optin that will build your email subscriber lists for you.
These are two of the better companies, and like everything, there are plenty of lousy list building services out there too. It is up to you to research these companies and find out if they are legitimate and will add genuine, current and qualified prospects to your list.
You should also find out how good they are at giving refunds if you discover you don’t like their service. If you can pay on a monthly basis I would do so, even better if they have a first 30 days or x amount of additions free. But I’m sorry; I still don’t trust most of these services completely. You must also find out who owns ‘your’ list and whether the companies will be using ‘your’ list for other purposes.
Personally I like a more hands on approach, but I only have a small number of websites. I don’t envy people I know who have up to 400 websites. Sounds like an e-nightmare to me!
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