List Building – Is it Really That Important?

Except for the whole concept of Internet Marketing, no issue has taken up more of my time and interest than list building. Since the very beginning, list building has been one of those subjects that I am constantly coming back to and redefining.

So much so, that it seems to have taken on a life of its own.

At first, I didn’t really understand list building and why it was so important. So you put out a newsletter and you built up a list of contacts or subscribers that give you permission to email them – big deal!

People can actually make money doing this?

That was my main question at the time, I just didn’t understand how someone could actually make money from sending emails to a list of contacts? And at first, I didn’t make any sales from my list, no matter how attractive the products I was pitching.

In the beginning, I made a crucial mistake, one that many beginning list builders often make, I didn’t realize it is not getting subscribers which is important; but rather it’s the whole process of building meaningful relationships with those contacts that’s the crucial factor.

It’s a lesson I am still learning.

You have to build a connection with your subscribers, you have to build some kind of meaningful relationship with someone who is basically a total stranger. You have to first convince them you’re someone worth listening to; so you have to try and build/have credibility in the eyes of your reader.

Traditionally credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise. You must use these two things to build a relationship with your subscribers. Show your readers tangible examples or successes from your online marketing or sites… if you have achieved top 10 rankings in Google – show them. Showing recommendations and testimonials from ordinary people who have used your site or products is very effective. Video testimonials are even more effective.

Only when you build that relationship and credibility will you truly see why list building is so important. Unfortunately, building that relationship is often the most difficult part of list building.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t get anywhere with building my list of contacts until my main site started ranking high in Google and the other search engines. Which is only logical, someone searching for information in Google and your site pops up, it is a simple way of building instant credibility in the eyes of the surfer. Well, up to a point, your content has to be of high quality and further capture your potential subscriber’s attention.

Then you must follow-up with informative emails or information which that subscriber is truly searching for.

Always remember…

Your subscribers are looking for information – first and foremost. They are not looking for a sales pitch and if you keep trying to constantly sell to your subscribers – they won’t be on your list for long.

Put the emphasis on giving helpful quality information first and do any selling as an afterthought.

Let’s take one of my actual examples of how this list building technique works so effectively for me. One section of my site deals with laptops and computers. Visitors can sign-up to my laptop guide to find out more about business laptops, student laptops… and so on. Just informative information on laptop computers… included in those mailings I give links to some pages containing online laptop deals, coupons and offers from major computer makers such as HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo… where consumers can get $50 – $300 or more off their laptop purchases if they use these online links or coupons.

List building is a very effective way of increasing your sales numbers.

Moreover, since I mainly do affiliate marketing, I have surprisingly learned another somewhat hidden aspect of list building that I knew absolutely nothing about when I first started marketing online.

It has everything to do with the simple “cookie!”

With most affiliate programs when you send a customer to them, these customers are “cookied” with your affiliate IDs. If that customer makes a sale in the following days, you get credit and a commission. Now these cookies can have different lengths – any where from a few days up to a lifetime – however, most are around 30 to 90 days.

Basically, what this means is that you’re building a whole list of customers cookied with your affiliate IDs. I realize the power of this a few years back when my main site went down for over a week – but I was still making daily sales, I couldn’t figure out where these sales were coming from until I checked and found it had to do with these cookied customers who had clicked on my affiliate links weeks, even months before.

This has proven to be such an effective selling technique, I do certain things to take full advantage of cookies. First, I usually only join affiliate programs that have 90 day cookies or more, some even have lifetime cookies. Second, I make sure I cookie my list by sending them to my affiliate links… this can be done with free videos, ebooks, informative articles that the affiliate programs supply to you for your marketing. In the case of my laptop newsletter a direct link to special online coupons and discounts will cookie these potential customers with my affiliate IDs.

In the Internet Marketing field, a common marketing tactic is to produce a valuable report or video which affiliates can use to “cookie” their customers. That’s why you will often be bombarded with these offers if an important marketer is launching a major product – everyone is trying to cookie any potential customers out there. That’s one of the reasons, Internet Marketing has a handful of heavy hitters who usually make all the sales… they reach those customers first because they have enormous lists in the millions. The larger the list numbers, the larger the number of cookied customers, the more sales they make. Simple arithmetic.

And it is also another reason why list building is very important, sometimes it is just a matter of working the numbers. If you have lists with hundreds of thousands of subscribers… there will always be a certain percentage who will buy ANY product.

But don’t get fooled by the numbers… you can have very small numbers and still make plenty of sales. If you have a list of proven buyers who always buy from you then a small list can be just as important. If you have built up a solid relationship with these buyers and they totally trust you, then you can sell to them time and time again, because they know your recommended products are worth buying. Moreover, they will recommend their friends and your list building can take on a life of its own.

These are just a few examples of list building and there thousands of ways to use lists in your marketing. I just hope the information covered here has convinced you the importance of building your own lists. How effective they can be in promoting and selling your site or product to your potential customers. Most of all, I hope you never ever underestimate how powerful list building can be to your online marketing. The money is certainly in your lists.

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