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List Building And The Hard Sell

Apr 3, 2008
Internet marketing has become a bit cutthroat in the way lists are built.

My best personal view on list building is through organic measures. Essentially that means that you only send to individuals who sign up for email correspondence. This includes both opt in and opt out procedures.

Many businesses seem to believe in this too, but they draw individuals to their sites with very few scruples intact.

This is typically done through squeeze pages. These are pages that you appear to need to fill out in order to access the page you're looking for. This is different than a membership sign up page.

Some businesses also signify that individuals can receive free items (i.e. cameras, trips, computers, etc.) for taking an online survey. The first rule is to get the individual to sign up. Once this is accomplished it becomes clear that the restrictions on the prize are so many that it is virtually impossible to claim the prize.

This works beautifully for the business because they are able to gain new names for their email marketing lists and the customer who held so much hope walks away with nothing but new emails in their inbox.

The concept seems to be to do virtually anything you can to get individuals to sign up. Appealing to common greed seems to be an effective way to accomplish this goal. The problem remains that the customer receiving your email messages will still not generally be motivated to respond favorably to your forthcoming email messages.

There may not be anything improper about the way many companies derive their lists, but many customers are not especially happy with the end result. It can be hard for many to come away with good feelings about a business that indicates they are providing a prize of value and then makes it extremely difficult to claim. Once the claim is abandoned the unhappy customer is still barraged with marketing messages from a company they don't like very much.

If, however, those individuals clicked on a banner ad that flashed a 'free prize' notification it is possible the consumer may never really know what their sign up meant and who they will be getting emails from. Nor can consumers be sure that their email address wasn't sold to third parties. If this happens they will be the proud recipients of bulk spam.

In a perfect online world list building would be the consummate form of developing trust with individuals who are actually interested in your marketing message and/or product.

For many businesses that are fighting this type of list building practice it is important to let visitors know that privacy is important to you and you will never sell their information to a third party. Many of these businesses will also let customers know they may leave the list at any time.

To be fair virtually all email messages have an opt out plan. However, many of them are written in small text and are hard to find in the email. Sometimes those opt out links do not work and some actually take the visitor to a business site. In frustration many just try to delete the messages as they come in or assign them to the spam folder.

Wouldn't you rather have your email messages hitting customers who know who you are and are interested in hearing what you have to say?
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