The Fast Track Guide to Starting Your Email Marketing List

My neighbor (let’s call him Bob) took 4 long years to build his house from scratch.

Bob had a full time job, but at nights and on weekends he slaved away at building the house of his dreams. I mean he literally pounded every nail himself. At first, the house didn’t really look like much… just a frame and a big mess of dirt in the front yard. But slowly over time, he built the most beautiful house on the street!

But, it all started with that first nail.

Now, building a house is a lot like building an email list… you have to start somewhere. You need to start by getting that very first email address!

You might look at gurus and people in your market that have lists with thousands of subscribers and wonder how they got there.

I can tell you… each one of them all started with just one email subscriber.

So, how do you get started?

Here are five simple steps to get you moving in the right direction…

Step 1: Identify and understand your target niche audience

A common mistake many people make is diving into the email list building process without fully understanding what makes their audience tick…

  • What are their challenges, frustrations and point points?
  • What aspirations, hopes and dreams do they have?
  • What keeps them awake at night?

You want to become an avid student of your market and research everything you possibly can:

  • Spend time in niche forums and identify the hot topics that have the most views and comments.
  • Review the social networks and see which pieces of content have the most shares, likes and re-tweets.
  • Check out the covers of established magazines in your market and see what they’re regularly writing about.

This initial legwork will help to ensure you are publishing the most relevant content to your list.

IMPORTANT: you have to do this work, but just get it 80% right and then start building your list. Don’t worry about getting it perfect – it’s important you actually get STARTED with your list building.

Step 2: Create a free offer (AKA gift or ethical bribe)

In order to attract people to subscribe to your list, you need to offer them something of real value.

Thinking back to step one, you want to create something that fills a perceived need, solves a problem or fulfills a desire or aspiration.

Your free offer doesn’t have to be perfect the first time… you can always adapt and tweak it over time. So, just start by creating a free offer and then work on making it great.

Then, think about how you might want to package this first free offer. You could give away something like a…

  • free video series
  • special report
  • ebook
  • infographic or mindmap
  • ecourse
  • webinar or teleseminar
  • combination (video + PDF guide)

The type of free offer you create is not nearly as important as what the offer addresses (hopes, dreams, pain points)

Step 3: Create a squeeze page

A squeeze page or opt-in page is the place where you will present your free offer and capture the prospect’s email address.

It’s the entry point to grabbing that very first email subscriber.

Start by setting up a simple squeeze page and be sure to regularly test the design and offer to ensure you have the best converting page.

A few key elements to consider for your squeeze page:

  • A headline that answers the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) question is the most important part of your page
  • Include some strong call to action at the very top of your opt-in box to encourage visitors to subscribe
  • Make sure the actual opt-in button has some good call to action (i.e. “Get Instant Access”)

Again, the key to a great squeeze page is TESTING! So just build the first page and improve from there via testing.

Step 4: Select a reliable List Host

Selecting the right email list host is actually one of the most important decisions you will make in your business.

When considering a good list host, you want choose one with:

  • high deliverability rates (gets your email to the inbox)
  • a strong reputation with top email providers (Yahoo, Gmail)
  • effective autoresponder and email broadcast features
  • good testing and tracking features

We’ve been using Aweber for the past decade (seriously, it’s been 10 years that we’ve been using them!) and it completely rocks.

Step 5: Drive traffic to your squeeze page

The “build it and they will come” philosophy does not work when it come to email list building.

You need to drive some targeted traffic to your squeeze page in order to start building that email list.

Here are a few great traffic sources to consider…

  • Social networks and forums (occasionally link to your squeeze page and free offer)
  • Blog posts (include a link to a squeeze page within a post and even include an opt in box in the side bar of your blog)
  • Articles in industry specific publications
  • Short tip-style YouTube videos
  • A small pay-per-click advertising campaign in Facebook or Google to quickly see if your squeeze page converts
  • Recruit joint venture partners in your market to mail to your squeeze page (this is an advanced strategy, but definitely one of the fastest ways to grow a targeted list)

So remember, email list building is all about taking those first baby steps… follow these five steps and be sure to celebrate your success when you get that very first email subscriber.

The Jeff Walker Team

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