Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Ivana Taylor @DIYMarketers. Ivana is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her at DIYmarketers.com
SmallBizLady: What is email list building and why is it important for a small business?
Ivana Taylor: Lists = money. It’s just that simple. Each person on your list has raised their hand and is interested in what you have to say and what you are selling. In fact, the more targeted your list, the more valuable it is. This is another reason why it’s so important to clearly identify a market niche because it increases the value of your list.
Lists = relationships = money. Never underestimate the power of relationships. The internet is the great equalizer and removes the gatekeeper from the equation. That means that you will be connecting with big shots and you may not even realize it. Respect the relationship and build relationships inside your list. They will pay off – not just in hard dollars, but in soft favors and kindnesses that can make or break your business or your project.
Lists = community = relationships = money. When you have a large list, what you have is a community of people — of human beings who are a crowd or even a hive or a swarm. What I mean by that is that a well managed list can turn into a powerful and influential community that can drive your business and your movement forward.
SmallBizLady: How do you increase the value of your list?
Ivana Taylor: The harder it is for companies to reach your list — the more valuable it is. For example, small business owners are an extremely valuable list. Anyone who can hold their attention and get them to act, click or spend has a valuable list on their hands.
If you have an engaged or responsive list that BUYS – you’ve got yourself a winner. In this case, it’s not the size of your list, but the responsiveness that makes it valuable. In the coaching and online marketing industry, it’s not uncommon to see lists with a 60% response rate. That is INSANE compared to the average benchmark of say 3-5% for most online conversion rates.
Another great kind of list to build is a niched and focused list. A homogenous list is easy to talk to and to sell to.
Ultimately any combination of these three is the ideal list that can make you money.
SmallBizLady: How do you make money off of your list?
Ivana Taylor: Here are the most common ways to make money off of your list:
- Sell to the list — Once you’ve built your list, you can sell products and services to them. You can sell your own products and services, or you can also be an affiliate for products and services that your audience would like.
- Advertise to the list – A large cohesive list can be a good source of advertising revenue. Think about large sites that get millions of views from a targeted audience.
- Sponsorships — This is another powerful model to use. Large companies that sell to your list are always looking for access to targeted and engaged new customers.
- Subscriptions – This is another popular way to engage with your list and to monetize your list. If you create premium content, this model is a great choice. You get to build relationships with your list and they pay you for the opportunity to engage with you and consume your content.
SmallBizLady: What kinds of “email lists” are there?
Ivana Taylor: Lists are all around you — you’ve just never stopped to think about these lists or these people as energy that can move your business and your income forward. Once you recognize this, you can start developing strategies to leverage these lists and relationships.
SmallBizLady: What’s the biggest mistake people make with their lists?
Ivana Taylor: Not having one is the biggest. The next biggest mistake is not DECIDING on who your list is going to be. If you just go around collecting random names, you are putting in effort, spending time and money and not building a strong revenue foundation.
You need to decide who you want to talk to — that doesn’t mean you ignore other folks – it just means that you decide who your ideal audience and clients are. Once you’ve decided that, this will drive the voice of your communication.
SmallBizLady: How can you leverage your social media follower and fan lists?
Ivana Taylor: Your social media fans and followers are really a measure of eyeballs. It’s the number of people who passively follow you. Also understand that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter “own” those connections. You don’t “own” them until they land on your list.
This is why it’s critical to build engaged relationships with your fans and followers and start converting them from passive observers to engaged participants in your community.
Consider doing webinars, running contests, create list posts that feature members of your community, create useful free downloads, run twitter chats, Google hangouts and take any opportunity to “party with your people” and give them lot of reasons to step off the social media street into your cozy web space.
SmallBizLady: What are the best list building strategies?
- Membership sites – content
- Join Groups, Fan Pages, Communities – relationship
- Killer downloads – education
- Free webinars- education
- Virtual Events- education / entertainment
- Social media networking (Twitter Chats)
- Joint Ventures, Partnering and Co branding
- Opt in forms in strategic places – 404 Error Pages
SmallBizLady: How do you pick a list building strategy?
Ivana Taylor: There is no one size fits all for list building. The best strategy for you will be a combination of what you love to do, what you do well and what your ideal audience wants. If you are in a tight niche such as crafts or knitting, you might decide to do a membership site and share patterns, designs, and suggestions for knitting products.
If you are a subject matter expert, you might prefer to be an active member in several groups or communities and answer questions for members. This builds your credibility and your audience.
On the other hand, if you are a great networker but don’t have a big email list, you could choose to do virtual events. Virtual events are a fantastic way to leverage your relationships – promote the people in your network and get exposure in new markets.
You may start with one strategy and move on to others. Also be prepared to create your own hybrid strategy. Don’t feel like you have to do it all or do it the same way everyone else is.
SmallBizLady: What are your favorite list building and management tools and apps?
Ivana Taylor: Email marketing apps are essential. Start with the most affordable choices; Mail Chimp, iContact, Constant Contact, aWeber and Vertical Response. Once you have a solid email marketing process and system in place, you can move up to heavy hitters like InfusionSoft.
All of these systems are fantastic nurturing systems. I’ve just recently started using Gravity Forms on some sites where my primary call to action is reaching out to my list with a personal phone call instead of autoresponders.
SmallBizLady: What are your top 3 list building don’ts?
- Don’t buy a list – – they are expensive and the people didn’t raise their hands to be part of your community. It’s like selling steak to a vegetarian.
- Taking someone else’s list. It may seem attractive to receive the entire list of a webinar or membership. But this is risky. Those people don’t know who you are (or they may have forgotten). Your best bet is for people to choose you because of YOU. Statistics show that double opt in lists are smaller, but more loyal and engaging.
- Banner ads/eZine ads — This is too broad based. Banners are ignored; ezines go to lists that are too broad.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.