What Software Can You Use to Build Your Email List?

There are a variety of programs available to manage your email list. They can help you with every step from managing subscribers to processing the opt-outs.

Here are some of the functions a good email software program will provide:

  • Manage opt-ins
  • Send a message to confirm opt-in
  • Send a message that requires action to fully opt-in (double opt-in)
  • Personalize the messages with the subscribers name
  • Automatically manage un-subscribes (removals)
  • Allow uploading of existing email lists
  • Remove any duplicate subscriptions
  • Include additional subscriber data
  • Handle deployment of messages on their servers

There are many programs you can purchase to perform these functions. Some solutions are ASP-based, which means they are web-based. These programs operate by accessing them through the Internet. You don’t need to download any software and updates to the program happen automatically. I prefer these solutions and most of the top programs operate this way.

You need to be careful when selecting a software program that uses an ASP platform. These systems support many users. They all deploy email messages from a specific IP or range of IP addresses. If someone on the system abuses their list or doesn’t follow permission rules their subscribers could complain and have the service black-listed. When that happens, many Internet Service Providers will block the mailings.

You need to be sure the service you select works hard to maintain a good reputation with the ISPs and keeps their users from abusing the system.

All in all, building your own email list can be easy, effective and fun and it can save your company lots of money in rental fees.

7 Secrets to Writing Killer Email Copy

How can you dramatically improve the performance of your email copy? The following tips have been used for many years in print and are especially true when trying to get the attention of a busy online audience. Keep in mind that some people get upwards of 50 emails each day! It’s important to take the extra time necessary to tweak your copy and make the offer solid.

After you sell an audience with your subject line, they will open your message and – once again – you will need to sell them. In this sale, your audience will glance at your email copy and determine if they have time to read it now or… “save it for later.” I’m putting the words “save it for later” in quotes because the truth is, it doesn’t get saved for later. It either gets deleted immediately or it hangs around the inbox for a week, maybe two, and later gets tossed in an inbox cleaning session.

So how do you get the audience to make time now, to read your message?

This effort requires following two points…

  • Make it readable!
  • Make it easy for the recipient to take action now.

The following tips and strategies have been used for years by professional copy writers in direct marketing. In this report we adapt them to email. So sit back and get a highlighter ready – here are some things professional copywriters do to make copy sell.

How to Get the Ball Rolling

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Here are a couple of techniques I use to get the ball rolling and help me jump start the creative process when I have a piece to write.

It can be a daunting task to start from scratch. Sometimes what I’ll do is go into my file of email I’ve received that I thought were good. I begin by tweaking it, as though I were correcting it, for my own product. I’ll change some words and rearrange some paragraphs. When it is finished, it bears no resemblance to the email I started with but gives me exactly what I need.

Another technique is to review any sales materials related to the product or service you are promoting. I write down the points I want to highlight in my email message on index cards. Then I arrange them into the order from most important to least. This sets up the structure for your information to appear and begins the paragraphs.

In the movie Finding Forrester, a legendary writer tells the boy he mentors to get his pen rolling by typing his way through another piece of work written by someone else. Getting started can be the hardest part. The act of starting to retyping someone else’s work can help trigger thoughts and get you into the groove. This is just an exercise to get started. I’m not talking about plagiarizing someone’s work. When you are finished, your work should bare little similarity to the work you started with.

Another way to use someone else’s work to get your inspiration is to take an email message that you felt was effective and use it as a style guide or template. You will find a number of sample email messages at the end of this course that you can modify to make your own.

A review of prior marketing messages from print and online works can also provide a point from which to get started. It’s not so important how you start, just get going.

One final tip about getting started…

I’ve found that when I need to write something it helps to get out of the office. I’ve done extensive mathematical calculations to determine that one hour of work at Starbucks is equal to four hours of writing time in the office. By getting out, you remove any distractions and increase your ability to focus on the project. You can tell yourself, “I’m not leaving here until this is done.” I also think the smell of coffee really helps the writing process, but that’s just my opinion.

Write In Short Paragraphs Of Varying Length

Shorter paragraphs help improve the readability of an email. You can get more people to read two short paragraphs than you can to read one long one.

Shorter paragraphs also offer more gratification to the reader. There’s something enjoyable about completing a paragraph. Work to break up the paragraphs into no more than 4-5 lines of text each. This also creates more white space and allows the text to “breathe” so that copy is not dense and intimidating.

Varying the length of your paragraphs is one way to give your copy texture, which enhances the readability.

Do Your Research and Align With Your Audience

Take an afternoon and go to the library or Barnes and Noble and dedicate an hour to going through trade magazines and books that most interest your audience. You will find that certain trends begin to develop. What subjects are they talking about? What fears do they have? What goals do they pursue?

The next step is to determine how your product, service, or information can align with those needs.

Other great places to learn about the interests and motivating factors of your audience are in chat rooms, discussion groups, and interviews with members of your target audience.

There are two different types of needs that you can appeal to, personal and corporate.

Corporate needs include:

  • Addressing job-related issues day-to-day
  • Achieving objectives that are common among people in your industry
  • Desire to stay up-to-date on hot industry topics right now in your industry.

Personal needs may include:

  • The desire to get a raise
  • The desire to look good in front of your peers or boss
  • The need to feel secure in your occupation

The most effective advertisements appeal to both personal and professional needs. People will be more motivated by personal needs, but they will justify their purchasing decisions by satisfying corporate needs.

Lead With A Quote

I learned this technique from a newsletter that I subscribe to called the Hype Wire. You can subscribe at http://www.hype.com. It does a great job of starting off each issue of the newsletter with a thoughtful quote.

Isn’t the objective of the first words in an email to say something strong and profound? By launching with a time-honored quote you can do this with relative ease.

People love quotes. I’ve got an outstanding book of quotes called The Forbes Book Of Business Quotations. It’s as thick and heavy as a dictionary and has 14,173 quotes nicely categorized. It’s a great way to get off on the right foot.

Focus on One Strong Call to Action!

There is great power when you deliver a focused email that has one strong call to action.

Emails that have too many different requests and calls to action tend to confuse the recipient. “What should I do with this?” By not guiding them with a singular call to action and copy that supports that one call you will find your email can fall short.

The best email messages I’ve seen have a single call to action that appeals strongly to the core audience. I see email all the time that confuses me about what the advertiser actually wants me to do. I don’t like being confused by advertisements.

Another shortcoming of emails that have multiple calls to action is that the first one always gets more attention. Sometimes the reader assumes that the first call to action is the only call to action so they pursue that, never to read any further.

People don’t like multiple steps, so make it simple. Ask for something simple, but focus your email on that request. If, after they complete that response, you wish to follow up asking them to do something else, it’s easy to do.

If you are having trouble deciding what that call to action should be, make a list of potential calls to action and have a small focus group of your current customers decide.

Some of the most effective calls to action ask the audience to:

  • Download a FREE white paper
  • Sign up
  • Complete a website form
  • Register
  • Request more info
  • Request a free consultation
  • Schedule a demonstration

Failure to include a clear call to action is the single biggest reason I see most email campaigns fail. What do you want your audience to do? There are two questions your audience will ask themselves as they look at your email.

1.) Why should I continue reading this?
2.) What do I need to do?

Your call to action deals with point two. Ask yourself at the beginning of your message what you want the audience to do. Do you want them to sign up for a conference? Complete a questionnaire? Download a software demo?

Not only should your entire text be focused on selling this action, but it should be clear to your audience that this is what you want them to do. Feel free to ask for it more than once.

Some effective ways of selling an action and getting people to do what you want them to do NOW, is to offer an incentive for taking action now vs. later.

The Negative Consequence Approach

You’ll remember we talked a bit about the “negative consequence” approach in the previous section on subject lines. When you use this approach for your email copy, you’ll want to start off with some credible information in your first paragraph. If the subject line is something like “Avoid and IRS audit” then the first paragraph should discuss some statistics related to the number of people being audited and how inconvenient it is to be audited.

The second paragraph then alludes to the fact that you have a solution for this problem and begins to highlight the benefits of your solution and how it is actually far superior to risking the negative consequence.

Offer Something FREE

This has got to be one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s darn effective. Actually it’s an incredibly powerful tool to all advertisers in any medium. “FREE” is the most powerful word in advertising.

Offer something informational for free that is of great interest to your audience as an incentive to complete the desired action.

Offering a FREE white paper can be a great incentive for your audience to give you their contact info.

Make it known that you are giving this away FREE. Don’t be bashful about using the word FREE. It’s a powerful word and you want people to know that something is FREE.

Two more little tips about FREE.

1.) If it’s something you can assign a value you to, do so. If you are giving a report away that you feel you could charge $60 for, then say something to the effect of “FREE Report (A $60 Value).” People need to know that just because you are giving something away for free doesn’t make it worthless.

2.) Use free whenever possible. Are you offering an online demo of your software? Then it’s a FREE demo. Are you offering registration to your online database? Then it’s a FREE registration. Don’t forget to use the word FREE.

In the body of an email, the word “free” is less likely to be filtered than if you use it in the subject line, as discussed in Chapter 13.

Use Words that Have Punch

Depending on the desired tone of your email, you will want to use language that has punch.

It’s critical to do this in your email subject line, but it’s also important to do it throughout your body copy to maintain their attention. Use verbs that are vital and strong. Try these: “Learn,” “learn how,” “increase,” “decrease,” “grow,” “explode,” “reduce,” “double,” “triple,” “save,” “discover.”

For additional wording purchase, the book Words that Sell by Richard Bayan. This book and other great marketing books are available at the Business Email List bookstore at: http://www.businessemaillists.com/books .

Remember to Add “Please Respond By…”

It happens all the time. The marketing director sends out an email to the house list for a specific event to occur on, let’s say, the 15th. The mailing goes out on the first and for two solid weeks the director sweats it out, with very few sign-ups. Then, the day before the event, everyone signs up.

Could this have been avoided?

Yes. If you want to help condense your response time and get a better idea of the attendees or registrants early you will need to incentivize your audience to respond by a certain date. You can simply say, “please respond by…” or you can say, “to receive a free gift…report…discount… or whatever, respond by…”

It can work wonders, and might save you a lot of sleepless nights.

Embed A Referral Link

Here’s a great technique for embedding a link that will make it easy for others to “refer a friend,” sometimes called viral marketing. The HTML is simple and can be added to any page.

Here’s the HTML String:

mailto:yourFriend@address?subject=Take a look at this great website!&body=Hi, I thought you might be interested in checking this out. The site is called http://www.businessemaillists.com and has a bunch of great info.

When someone clicks this link, it will automatically create and send an email with the intended recipient’s email address, a preformatted subject line, and a body message.

For more custom applications, you can contact http://www.ReferralBlaster.com/. It specializes in building viral marketing components for online campaigns.

Be Sensitive to the Business Climate

Pick up a newspaper, read time magazine, check out the latest trade journals to identify the hot buttons for your target market. Then, engineer a subject that promises the answer. Here are some examples:

  • How to Recession Proof Your Business
  • 3 Ways to Prepare for the New XYZ Regulation
  • Fight Rising Fuel Costs with This…
  • The 5 Most Popular Expansion Strategies [details]

There are many ways to do this, but it allows your message to be seen as timely and sensitive to the audience’s needs in a particular business climate.

Sell with Benefits

This is one of the biggest selling strategies that people miss. You can give me a laundry list of features, but unless I’ve already been considering your solution, I may not be familiar with how those features will benefit me.

Benefits are not always obvious. Spell them out.

Are you promoting a seminar? Don’t just review the topics covered. What do the people stand to gain by learning this material? How will it make them better, more productive, wealthier?

Are you promoting a new software package? How will the new features make their job easier, save them time, eliminate headaches, allow them to grow their business?

Here is an example of a Features/Benefits analysis of a cell phone.

Feature: Compact design
Benefit: Easy to put in your pocket so you don’t look silly with a cell phone “holster.”
Easily fits in your purse so you don’t have to carry it.

Feature: Lighted display
Benefit: Allows you to make calls at night or in a dimly lit disco club.

Feature: Headset jack included
Benefit: Finally you can drive safely by operating your phone hands-free. Enjoy the
comfort of a headset without the neck cramping or ear discomfort.

Feature: Vibration alert
Benefit: No more missed calls when you are in a noisy bar or a busy construction site.
You can also avoid embarrassment in a movie theater or library.

You may still highlight features in your email body copy. But translate the features into benefits for your audience, because your benefits are not as obvious as you might think.

If you are selling a service, there are many benefits you may be aware of because you’ve seen others enjoying it. Talk abut the benefits of owning your product or service.

Benefit statements start like this…

  • “Enjoy…”
  • “Take advantage of…”
  • “Stop missing…”
  • “Reduce unwanted…”
  • “Cut down on…”

And there are many others. See the section on bullet points later in this chapter for a more complete list. When using benefits in a bulleted list, it’s best to start each statement with a verb, as the examples show.

Finally, it’s important to include the right benefits. How can you tell if you’ve selected the right ones? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the benefit an important one?
  • Is the benefit associated with the use of our product our service?
  • Are there benefits that appeal to the personal interests of the individual as well as the corporate interests that they represent?
  • How specific are the benefits?
  • Do your current customers view the benefits you listed as their reasons for buying from you?

Gain Trust or Go Bust: Ways to Establish Credibility

Credibility is key to getting trust online. Any skilled salesperson will tell you, trust is critical to generating sales.

Here are some simple ways to separate yourself from the millions of shady online companies through effective trust builders in your copy.

  • Introduce yourself and use your real name
  • Tell them how long you’ve been in business (making customers happy)
  • Talk about who some of your customers are.
  • Include testimonials
  • Show a photo of your facilities
  • Offer a guarantee
  • Show a photo of you if you’re the expert/product

Trust can take you a long way on the Internet and converts to better relationships and more sales. Make sure your email messages and your website have ample trust-builders.

Finding the Right Email Newsletter

Picking the right audience for your company’s offerings is very important. Your objective should be to find a newsletter sent to individuals that have the need for your services and the power to buy them.

Here are a few questions to ask prior to doing a placement in a newsletter:

Who are the subscribers?

You’ll want to know where the subscribers to the newsletter came from. Find out if the recipients asked to receive the newsletter. Ask your newsletter representatives to describe their audience. If they don’t have demographic studies – and most don’t – ask how they know about their audience.

How many advertisers are accepted per issue?

Sharing the newsletter audience exposure with six other companies will yield fewer results for you than if you are the only advertiser. Steer clear of newsletters that have too many advertisements. Newsletters with too many ads look sloppy and just don’t generate results. You need to strong content-to-advertiser ratio.

Where will my ad appear?

The ideal location for a newsletter ad placement is after the first one or two paragraphs of content. You want your ad to be sandwiched in between content. If your ad appears immediately at the top, you risk getting scrolled off the screen immediately as the reader makes room to show more of the newsletter content and dives into the articles.

What’s the Average Response Range?

Ask the newsletter sales representative about the range of clicks that advertisers can expect to receive. This answer will give you a better gauge for the value of the newsletter than the actual circulation numbers. Ultimately, where you fall in that range will depend on how appealing your offer is to your audience.

These are some good questions to get you started. Other questions may include, what “repeat advertisers” promote with them.

Tips and Techniques for Advertising in Email Newsletters and eZines

“What’s the first step in planning an email campaign?”

Define your target audience. “Who is your ideal target audience?” A good way to answer this is to think about your current clients and what is similar about them. With this information and a target budget a representative will provide you with some detailed list recommendations for your review.

“Can I take possession of the data in the opt-in email lists?”

With list opt-in email list rental, you provide the message and select the appropriate list for your message to be delivered to. All of the deployment is handled by the list rental firm. One of the primary reasons email list rental companies don’t sell contact information is to protect your results.

If these opt-in lists were allowed to circulate, there is a strong risk that they their integrity would not be managed properly and they might be over-circulated or spammed. By having the list carefully managed you wind up with a much more responsive list and better ROI.

“How are email lists priced?”

Pricing varies based on the email lists you select. In the tech segment better lists average from $.05 up to $.45 per name depending on targeting criteria.
With data, price and quality are highly correlated, so be careful of lowball figures on lists. We have the opportunity to select the lists we represent and could, in many cases, make more money representing lesser quality lists, but the results are generally poor and we’ve noticed that advertisers seldom wish to renew on the low cost/low quality lists.

If you do decide to seek out lists based heavily on pricing make sure to ask for references. Ask the list provider to give the names of some advertisers they work with and see if they’ll allow you to contact them about their results or ask to see testimonials from companies similar to yours. If they don’t have any customers they can refer you to, be afraid. Be very afraid.

“Can we have the first click-through page be our registration page or form page?”

Yes, you can direct click-throughs to a targeted landing page. This is a great way to collect leads and make sure visitors complete the desired action. Some of our publishers do however require that you include a link to your main page from the landing page so visitors can get more info if they desire.

“How much does this brokering service cost?”

The best part of mostbrokering services it that they don’t cost you a dime. Email list brokers are compensated through a discount arrangement extended to them via the publishers for introducing them to quality advertisers and helping those advertisers to have a successful campaign. The prices quoted are the same as you would be quoted going direct and in some cases less.

Broker Services can help you by providing:

– One centralized point of contact
– Experienced help with list selection for a variety of publishers
– Unbiased recommendations

“What format do text messages need to be submitted in?”

If you are submitting an email message in text format you will need to author the message with a text editor. Most clients use a program called notepad and can be found on all PCs by selecting:

START > PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > NOTEPAD

Make sure when you submit the copy to limit your line width to 65 characters and hit return at the end of each line. This will ensure that your message formats properly when viewed by a variety of browsers.

“Will the email list rental company host images for HTML email ads?”

In most cases — no. If you are running an email campaign with an HTML ad you will need to host the images on your own server.

“Can I create a landing page?”

Yes. Landing pages help to improve campaign results by guiding visitors who click on your offer to a specialized page that collects their information.

“How is payment usually handled?”

For new advertisers on their first run payment is required prior to campaign launch. After the initial campaign most publishers offer Net 30 terms.

“What lead-time is required to place an email campaign buy?”

In general you’ll want to allow at least 3-4 business days once all payments and materials to launch a campaign are submitted. This ensures amble time for any testing and creative modifications if they are required.

“How long does it take to see campaign results?”

One of the things that clients like the most about email advertising is the speed with which responses are received. In most cases advertisers see 90% of their total response in the first 3 business days.

“How can I track the success of my email campaign?”

A variety of methods for tracking campaign success are offered. List publishers often provide a comprehensive click through report showing how many visitors clicked on the links in your email. You can also develop a specific page and track the visits to that landing page. Finally, if you require visitors to complete a form or register, you can count these respondents.

Ask Jason: Email List Marketing FAQ

“What’s the first step in planning an email campaign?”

Define your target audience. “Who is your ideal target audience?” A good way to answer this is to think about your current clients and what is similar about them. With this information and a target budget a representative will provide you with some detailed list recommendations for your review.

“Can I take possession of the data in the opt-in email lists?”

With list opt-in email list rental, you provide the message and select the appropriate list for your message to be delivered to. All of the deployment is handled by the list rental firm. One of the primary reasons email list rental companies don’t sell contact information is to protect your results.

If these opt-in lists were allowed to circulate, there is a strong risk that they their integrity would not be managed properly and they might be over-circulated or spammed. By having the list carefully managed you wind up with a much more responsive list and better ROI.

“How are email lists priced?”

Pricing varies based on the email lists you select. In the tech segment better lists average from $.05 up to $.45 per name depending on targeting criteria.
With data, price and quality are highly correlated, so be careful of lowball figures on lists. We have the opportunity to select the lists we represent and could, in many cases, make more money representing lesser quality lists, but the results are generally poor and we’ve noticed that advertisers seldom wish to renew on the low cost/low quality lists.

If you do decide to seek out lists based heavily on pricing make sure to ask for references. Ask the list provider to give the names of some advertisers they work with and see if they’ll allow you to contact them about their results or ask to see testimonials from companies similar to yours. If they don’t have any customers they can refer you to, be afraid. Be very afraid.

“Can we have the first click-through page be our registration page or form page?”

Yes, you can direct click-throughs to a targeted landing page. This is a great way to collect leads and make sure visitors complete the desired action. Some of our publishers do however require that you include a link to your main page from the landing page so visitors can get more info if they desire.

“How much does this brokering service cost?”

The best part of mostbrokering services it that they don’t cost you a dime. Email list brokers are compensated through a discount arrangement extended to them via the publishers for introducing them to quality advertisers and helping those advertisers to have a successful campaign. The prices quoted are the same as you would be quoted going direct and in some cases less.

Broker Services can help you by providing:

– One centralized point of contact
– Experienced help with list selection for a variety of publishers
– Unbiased recommendations

“What format do text messages need to be submitted in?”

If you are submitting an email message in text format you will need to author the message with a text editor. Most clients use a program called notepad and can be found on all PCs by selecting:

START > PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > NOTEPAD

Make sure when you submit the copy to limit your line width to 65 characters and hit return at the end of each line. This will ensure that your message formats properly when viewed by a variety of browsers.

“Will the email list rental company host images for HTML email ads?”

In most cases — no. If you are running an email campaign with an HTML ad you will need to host the images on your own server.

“Can I create a landing page?”

Yes. Landing pages help to improve campaign results by guiding visitors who click on your offer to a specialized page that collects their information.

“How is payment usually handled?”

For new advertisers on their first run payment is required prior to campaign launch. After the initial campaign most publishers offer Net 30 terms.

“What lead-time is required to place an email campaign buy?”

In general you’ll want to allow at least 3-4 business days once all payments and materials to launch a campaign are submitted. This ensures amble time for any testing and creative modifications if they are required.

“How long does it take to see campaign results?”

One of the things that clients like the most about email advertising is the speed with which responses are received. In most cases advertisers see 90% of their total response in the first 3 business days.

“How can I track the success of my email campaign?”

A variety of methods for tracking campaign success are offered. List publishers often provide a comprehensive click through report showing how many visitors clicked on the links in your email. You can also develop a specific page and track the visits to that landing page. Finally, if you require visitors to complete a form or register, you can count these respondents.

How to Create an Email Link That Automatically Adds a Subject

I’m always surprised at the subject lines people come up with when asked to send a blank email to an autoresponder. Why not save them the trouble? This HTML script will automatically complete the subject line for the respondent as soon as they click on it:

mailto:infopack@xyzcorp.com?subject=Please_Send_Info_Pack

The email address at the beginning of the string is the autoresponder’s address. The string that begins “subject=” is the subject line that the message will automatically address itself with.

You can also use this technique to determine where email inquiries originate by putting identifying codes in the subject line.

How to Build Your Own Opt-in Email List

As an email marketer you’ll find you can spend considerable sums of money on list rentals. You might be thinking to yourself, “I wish there was a less-expensive way to market via email.” There is. With few exceptions, all the major companies I’ve worked with have started their email efforts by renting lists and over time transitioned their efforts to building their own permission-based house list. In this chapter we discuss successful techniques for using a newsletter to build your own house email list.

Write an Email Newsletter

Many companies build their contact list by creating and distributing an email newsletter. These companies often have an email sign-up form prominently displayed on their homepage. In some cases, they’ve gone to lengths to include the form on every page, which can be a good idea. But the question remains, with everyone asking for your email address, why should you give it out? If you can provide a compelling answer to that question you will be able to double, triple – even quadruple – the number of subscribers you receive.

You need to give people a reason to subscribe. What do they gain by becoming a part of your email list?

I belong to the Southwest Airlines email list so that I can get regular updates and stay on top of discounted plane fares. I subscribe to some different newsletters because they provide good tips and advice that help me run my business.

There are very few newsletters I subscribe to just because I saw their email sign-up form. That just isn’t enough.

Create Opportunities for Customers to Contact You

A great way to gain permission to email someone is by having them contact you first. Consider giving away a free report or some information package. You might even offer a free catalogue. To receive the item, they give you their email address. You can then contact them about future offers, unless they ask to be removed from your list. This is one of the most effective ways to build your list. Just make sure that the free item is related to your future mailings so that your list stays targeted.

Building Trust is Key

Getting people to give you their contact information and their sacred email address will require that you illustrate you are trustworthy. Based on the volume of Spam received by most email users, it’s important to show your potential subscribers that you will not abuse or share their email.

Here are a few elements that can help you build the trust necessary to put your site visitors at ease so they will subscribe to your list.

1. Use testimonials (Include names, companies, city and state)
2. Show a picture of your office
3. Include your phone number
4. Display photos of your employees with bios
5. Include your business name, address, telephone number
6. Offer a Free Trial (test it!) We stand behind our product.
7. Become a member of BBB Online or Truste
8. Become a member of a well-respected trade group

The more elements you display that show you are a trustworthy company that respects privacy, the more subscribers will feel confident when providing their email address.