Friday, April 10, 2009

Opt-In List Marketing

The only things that matter in real estate are location, location and location. The only things that matter for your web site are traffic, traffic and traffic. Just because you launched that spiffy looking new web site or you've created some sharp autoresponders, there's no guarantee that someone will find you. You must drive traffic to your site. More specifically, you need to funnel prospects and clients into your autoresponder or steer people to your web site on an ongoing basis.

One method to acquire email addresses is referred to as the opt-in list. This is where someone has voluntarily given you her/his email address in exchange for some free or low-cost item. Or maybe they responded to an ad you placed somewhere on the Internet. Or maybe that person attended one of your presentations. Maybe, as we'll see in just a bit, that person has come to you as a result of some affiliate program you are a member of. The key is to get the email address.

Over time, as more and more people volunteer their email addresses, you are building a database of names that are of like-minded people. That database is the opt-in list of names of people that have given you permission to stay in touch with them. This will form the basis of what I call permission-based email marketing (see number 2 below).

My opt-in list is composed of people who fit into one of four general categories:

1. Business owners and professionals, or anyone who wants to build or enhance their personal, interpersonal and electronic networking skills.

2. They want to learn how to use those skills to grow their career or business, or to market themselves more creatively and effectively.

3. They want to generate multiple sources of income.

4. They are interested in leveraged or residual income, or they currently make a living via residual income based activities, e.g., insurance salespeople, bankers, real estate investors, web site owners, etc.

Many times, these categories overlap. Marketing 101 dictates that you define your audience before you set out to meet their needs. This is a key reason why there are far more dot-bombs than winning dot-coms: too many sites searching for a market. Each of the following two diagrams contains a step-by-step flow chart of the stages you would go through to acquire email addresses. The first Opt-In List Direct diagram illustrates how you will get leads directly as a result of your advertisement. The second, Two-Step Opt-In List, is basically the same procedure, but it allows you to make some money along the way. These serve as "templates", and you can even use them to get paid simply for the act of acquiring the leads. Won't that be nice!? Let's see how they work!

By the way, before we review the templates, a word about SPAM. SPAM is unsolicited email that has not been requested by the recipient. Never, never, never, never, never, NEVER SPAM!!!! I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Always get permission from the recipients of your message before you send the email.

If you send to a list that you bought, obtain written permission from the list vendor as to the permission rights of the list. If the vendor will not provide that permission, don't do business with them. If someone voluntarily opts into your list, ensure that the autoresponder, or whatever other service you're using, provides an audit trail as to where, how and when that request came in. If you are using leads you got from, say a speaking engagement, retain the written record of the
request to be added to your list.

And one last piece of CYA (cover your assets) advice. If you get a listing of names and email addresses from an organization, e.g., the membership list of a group for which you made a presentation, make sure you retain the permission letter or email message attached to the list. If someone goes to your information service provider (ISP) and gets temporary amnesia about how you got their name, you just pull out the piece of paper that has permission on it. Some ISPs have become very strict, with little to zero tolerance. They can and will shut you down! So don't chance it. Get the permission!

Lastly, make sure every message you send provides instructions, or preferably an automatic means, for the recipient to opt-out of the list. If someone requests to be excluded, remove him from the list ASAP!

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