Published on 24th Jan, 2009 in Online Marketing

Dear Shama: How Do I Build a List?

Dear Shama,

I would love to get going in email marketing, but I don’t have a list. I don’t think buying is a good idea. How do I build up a list?

– R.L., Accountant

Hi R.L.,

Congratulations on making the smart decision to move towards email marketing. This is a great way to provide value and build a community. The sad thing is that since email marketing has been abused by spammers, many people are shy of giving away their email address. That being the case, you need to first create a plan for the type of content you intend to provide the audience. Setting up a landing page is second. On this page, convey your plan and your privacy policy. This is the ground work for building up your list. Once your page is set, there are a few things you can do to start building up your list of subscribers.

1. The Free Giveaway. This is the most common list building technique. Give away something of value in exchange for someone’s email address. Make sure that this giveaway is 1) relevant to your expertise 2) not a piece of fluff material. Really spend some time thinking about what would provide value to your audience. For example, 10 Ways to Save on your Taxes or 10 Things to Look for When Shopping for an Accountant. Keep the selling or bias out of it.

2. Appeal to Collaborators. As an Accountant, look at who else serves your market or audience. Attorneys? Human Resource Consultants? Find someone who serves the same audience as you do, and approach them about providing value for their clients. Example: “Hey Joe, you know tax time is right around the corner, do you think your clients might enjoy an article I wrote on smart tax planning for your business? I’d be happy to mail it out myself.” This article should not be a selling piece, but an educational piece. At the end of the article, you should include a bio with a link to your landing page. You can also substitute a talk for an article. At the end of a talk, you offer your giveaway in exchange for an email address (or business card).

3. Add Video. Video can really boost conversion rates dramatically. Whenever possible and relevant- tie in video. To learn more about online video, check out Dave at Web Video University.

4. Encourage Forwards. When you do send out content, always invite your subscribers to forward it along to a friend who could use the information.

5. Social Media Marketing. Saving the best for last! Social networking sites are a great way to attract people to your content by your content for more of your content. Did I mention that valuable content is the way to go when building your list? While people may be bombarded by information, they STILL seek it out. The only difference is that they seek it out when they want it and how they want it. So, your job is to always keep putting out fresh, useful, and relevant content. People will find it. This in itself is a great way to grow your list.

Best of Luck!

– Shama Hyder