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Top Ten Tips for Building Your Opt In List

Jun 24, 2008
If you've been trying to make money on the internet for any time at all, no doubt you've heard the phrase, 'The money's in the list.' The 'list' is a collection of names and email addresses from people who have 'opted in' to your website to get more information about your product or service or to get something free that you've offered them in exchange for entering their information into the opt in form.

Building your own list is one of the fundamental keys to successfully marketing on the internet ... period. There are a number of effective ways to build your list. Some are more effective than others. The main thing is that you have a strategy and a system that makes building your list a priority within your overall online business plan.

It's important to remember that building your list will take some time. But, while it doesn't usually happen overnight, you can build your list to a healthy size relatively quickly with a little effort, a good strategy and a system in place.

The mistake that most people make is that they jump straight into their sales presentation before trying to capture their visitor's information. This is not only a mistake - it is a HUGE mistake.

Most people, as I'm sure you've heard many, many times before, only respond to a sales presentation after they've been exposed to it at least six times. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's a trust factor. Maybe it's just that most of us take a long time to make up our minds.

But whatever the reason, it's important. If you only have one 'shot' at making a sale when a visitor comes to your website, chances are you will never hear from him or her again. If you can convince them to give you their name and email, however, you have a good opportunity to build a relationship with them (trust) and present your offer to them MANY times over the course of time.

I'm assuming here that you already know what an autoresponder is and how it works. Basically, an autoresponder is a program or service that sends out pre-written email messages to people who join your 'list.' For more information, visit aweber.com or one of the other autoresponder services on the web.

So what are some strategies and methods to build your own list? Here are ten techniques, in no particular order of importance, that have been effective for me and many others in building an email list.

1) Offer a Free Newsletter - Offering a free newsletter to people who visit your website is one of the most common, as well as one of the most effective ways to build an opt-in list. Since it's free, more people are more likely to subscribe. This is one of the best tools for building a trusting relationship with your list.

Make sure your newsletter provides real value to your readers. Don't just blast them over and over with a barrage of sales pitches. If you do, you'll have a lot of people hitting the 'unsubscribe' button after the first few emails. Pack your newsletter full of useful information. Offer free resources, tips, tools, and anything else your subscriber list might be interested in.

Also, be sure to make it fun and add your own personality to it. When you do this, your subscribers will begin to look forward to your messages and get to know you (and trust you) at the same time.

2) Include Quality Content - The quality and relevance of the content on your website is probably one of the MOST important factors in getting people to visit and, subsequently, to opt-in to your newsletter or request form. If your content is good enough, other websites will begin linking to your site as a resource, which will drive even more traffic to your site and boost your rankings in the search engines. Eventually, this begins to grow exponentially, helping your list to grow into a virtual money-making machine as you are viewed by more and more people as an 'expert.'

3) Blog - Blogging has become one of the most popular and effective ways to drive people to your website. For one thing, the search engine spiders absolutely LOVE blogs. Every time you post, the search engines view this as 'fresh' content and will revisit your blog, thus helping to boost your ranking. You can either have links on your blog back to your main website or even include an opt-in form right on the blog.

4) Write Articles - Writing and submitting articles helps to establish you as an 'expert' in your field, which, in turn, increases your credibility and the likelihood of readers visiting your website and opting in to your newsletter or request form. Plus, when your articles are published, you will have incoming links to your site which helps to boost your rankings with the search engines.

Make sure the articles you write are offering real value to your readers. Do your research and check your spelling. You should submit your articles to a variety of article directories and ezines.

Writing articles is probably one of the fastest and most effective ways to get quality visitors to your website and subscribers to your list. If your article is good, other webmasters will post it on their own websites giving you even more exposure. The 'resource box' at the bottom of your article provides readers with information about you and how to contact you (i.e., your website).

5) Post on Forums - Forums and topic-specific discussion boards are sites where people gather to discuss issues, to ask questions and to get one-on-one help from other forum members. Most forums offer a relatively high level of interaction among the members, which translates into a high level of trust.

When posting to forums, make sure that you actually contribute to the conversation and don't just drop in a quick sales pitch. The verbal wrath of an active forum can resemble a violent shark feeding frenzy if members suspect that you're crashing their board just to try to sell them something. Ultimately, you'll end up doing more harm than good. Spend some time giving before trying to pitch anything. Usually a simple tag in your signature is enough to get visitors, especially if your contributions to the forum offer real value.

6) Keep It Simple and Easy - To get people to sign up for your newsletter or request form, it has to be a simple and easy process. First of all, make sure the form is easy to find on your website and easy to fill out. The opt in form should be at or near the top of the page or in one of the side margins. Don't bury it too deep in the copy, although you can actually have multiple forms throughout.

Don't ask for too much information. The minimum you need is a name and email address. Sometimes you can ask for an optional phone number, but just be aware that most people either won't give it to you or will give you a fake one. Don't get bogged down with asking for an address, city, state, etc. Most simply won't fill it out and you'll lose them.

Put a quick sentence or two near the top of your form telling people why your newsletter or request form would benefit them (i.e. freebies, access to resources, tips, tools, etc.) The more 'ethical bribes' you can offer, the better your chances that people will give you their information.

7) Write an E-book - Writing an e-book is much easier to do than most people realize and it is an INCREDIBLY powerful way to build your list. You can even hire a freelance writer through a service like E-lance to do it for you for very little. Internet marketers are constantly looking for freebies to give away on their websites as a bonus for purchases or to entice people to sign up to their own lists. An e-book is a great way for you to build your own list by letting other internet marketers give it away.

Your e-book doesn't have to be anything elaborate. It could be collection of your best articles, tips for running a business or a list of motivational ideas you write down during an afternoon at the bookstore. The key is to include links to your own newsletter subscription and website in content of the e-book. You then give it away for free and watch it explode into a viral list building machine for your business.

8) Write a Press Release - Press releases are relatively easy to do and can be free or very inexpensive to release to the general public. They can literally be about anything having to do with you or your business. The best thing is to look at some examples on Google and copy their general layout and format.

Do a short press release announcing your website. Talk about the topic of your website and maybe even give examples of some of the content that visitors will find when they come to your site. If nothing else, you will have some curiosity seekers stopping by to see what all the fuss is about.

9) Build a Squidoo Lens - Squidoo is one of the most popular and most powerful social networking sites on the web. It is similar in many ways to blogging and some of the other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, but offers a much more in-depth format for internet marketers. It is also extremely popular with search engines and is a great way to get more visitors to your website.

There are a number of helpful resources showing you how to effectively use Squidoo. The best thing is to open an account and jump in. You can play around and get everything just the way you want it before you actually 'publish.' Be sure to add links to your website and opt-in pages.

10) Email Marketing - The tried and true road to building a list is to send mail to other lists already in existence. There are hundreds of webmasters with huge lists of subscribers interested in the same types of things that you're marketing. Subscribers in one list are more likely to join another.

There is a huge offering of free 'safelists' where subscribers agree to receive your email in exchange for permission to send you theirs. There are also a number of very inexpensive paid lists that will send your offer to there members for a small fee. If you go this route, make sure your offer is enticing enough to get them to visit your site or to join your newsletter or request form.

So there you have ten of the top methods and strategies to build your opt-in list. Putting these tips into practice as soon as possible will yield dramatic results in building your list and increasing your online profits.

Happy building.
About the Author
Tim Wright, Ph.D. is a freelance writer and busy internet entrepreneur living in Virginia.
Visit his website at: http://decisionsuccess.com
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