Every online business should have an email list. I am reminded of this every time I discuss this with clients who already have them.

For example, one of my clients is a musician who gigs regionally. Every time he has to gig outside the area, he sends an email only to those in that particular area. The result? He doesn't have to depend on local press to promote his band and he doesn't bother everyone on his list with things that may not be important to them.

Another one of my clients builds her email list every time she does a seminar and then sends emails to her list whenever she has a new seminar. The result? Her audience grows with each new event.

Still another client sends offers to customers who frequent his restaurant. He sends them on days when there are major competing events happening in the city. The result? His restaurant doesn't skip a beat while others around him have "down days".

Choosing A Provider

The first thing is to understand your needs. For instance, if you have an existing excel spreadsheet of email addresses, you are going to want to find email services that allow you import existing lists without a double opt-in. If you are selling other people's products as an affiliate, you want to make sure that the email service provider allows it in their TOS (some don't.) And if you are dealing with a non-technical field, you may want to find a provider that provides you with the option of single opt-in.

Choosing a provider should not be based on price but on needs. The reality is that most email autoresponder services are priced so competitively that price doesn't matter. Don't go with a free service though.

There Are Two Parts To Getting Started

  1. Building the back end of the list.
  2. Building the sign-up forms for your website or page.

The Backend

The back end. When I am teaching clients how to begin with their list, I begin by illustrating the work flow of what happens when someone signs up.

For instance, the flow is usually someone signs up from a form you create, which immediately takes them to either a page that tells the new subscriber to check their email (double opt-in) or to a "thank you page". If it is a double opt-in format, the new subscriber has to check their email and confirm their subscription. The last page is the "thank you" page.

What this means is that the client is going to need to have several pages set up before they can begin a list marketing campaign.

Another thing I mention is that they can use autoresponders. An auto responder is simply something that is automatic. For instance, a client could have a coupon automatically sent out to new subscribers on the day after they subscribe.

The Front End

The front end is really nothing more than a form in which new subscribers can enter their email and name. Most of the popular email service providers, like Mailchimp, aWeber and ConstantContact, have form builders that are made for people with no coding experience.

The form itself can be complicated and the client can request a myriad of information from their future subscriber. Less is always better in terms of converting new leads. The form set up is usually as easy as finding a space on your website and pasting a piece of javascript or HTML onto the page.

If you use WordPress for your website, this gets even more versatile. There are plenty of plug-ins, both paid and free, in which you can insert your forms anywhere on the page.

And if you don't have a website, you can still build a form in a capture page. Most reputable autoresponder services have pages that you can create on their server for free.

That's pretty much a basic run down on how to get started with an email list. Of course, the most important elements are things such as measuring analytics and form conversion tests. But that is another tutorial for another day.

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