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9 Key Sources for Building
Your Opt-In Lists

by Scott T. Smith of Copywriting.Net

It's no secret.

Your opt-in list means everything to your online business. Building a great email list you can send to again and again is key to your success. Here are the nine fundamental sources from which you can build your opt-in email list:

1. Your Current Customers

This is your best source of contacts. The hardest thing for any business to do is to find new customers. It's expensive, time consuming, and you have to earn their trust. But - it's easy to sell again to a satisfied customer. They already know you and 'love' you.

As long as you provide products or services that are of fair value and high quality, your customers will continue to trust you and buy from you. In fact, they will prefer to buy from you. A loyal customer base is your best friend in business.

If your business does not yet have a database of customer email addresses, here's how to get them:

The next time you contact them by post or mail, make a special offer if they reply by email. It could be a free report or special discount. You MUST get their email address.

Remember: there are more of your customers on the Internet than you think, and the rest of them will be online very soon.

2. Customers For Other Businesses

Joint venture through endorsed mailings. Customers of other related, non-competing businesses are excellent prospects for your personalized email offerings. In exchange for a split of the profits, let the other company send their endorsed emailing of your offer to their customer list.

Here's a secret: you should be willing to give away a healthy portion of the profits on the front end, because the buyers will become customers on your list. Once they are loyal buyers, you can sell to them again and again on your back end. That's why joint ventures can be highly profitable for you in the long term.

3. Your Web Site Visitors

One of the most powerful ways to build a targeted list of prospects is through forms on your Web site. For a 'how-to' look at this process, visit the home page of Business Copywriting.Net where you'll find three tactics encouraging people to opt in:

We invite people to subscribe to our free newsletter. We offer a free, no-obligation copywriting consultation. We invite people to refer our site to their friends and associates.

There's a lot you can do to get people online to interact with you:

Offer a free report on autoresponder. Create a newsletter. Provide free downloads of freeware or shareware programs appropriate for your audience. And always, always ask for their name and email address in return.

Give people good reasons to give you their contact information so you can stay in touch with them, sending them new offers for your line of products and services.

4. Advertising

In all forms of advertising you do, online and offline, always give your email address. Encourage people to contact you by email, because your objective is to funnel prospects and customers into your email box. You will automatically create a hot list of prospects whom you can responsibly contact via email.

Include your email address on business cards, stationary, invoices, faxes, print, radio and television advertising. Give customers incentives to email you. This email 'relationship' empowers you to send them updates and offers by email.

5. Press Releases

Press releases offering genuine news (as opposed to a poorly disguised sales pitch) are highly effective. Here's how to use them to build your email list:

Your press releases can offer a free report that people must email you to receive, or a product that can be emailed back to them. Write your press release to provoke this response from readers, and collect their names and email addresses in the process.

6. Referrals

When a prospect contacts you for a free report, contact them and offer to send the report to any of their friends they think might be interested. As you can see, this is similar to an endorsed mailing.

When a referral comes in, send out a personalized email letter to the referral explaining that they were referred by their friend (give the name), and you are sending them a free report because their friend asked you to. To ensure that they don't mind you keeping them on your list, end your message with this paragraph:

"To be sure this message has arrived, please reply with the word in the subject line: 'thanks'. We'll know that we sent this report to the right place, and that we've fulfilled our promise to (friend's name)."

If they do not reply to let you know they received the report, be safe. Assume they are not interested in hearing from you in the future, and don't mail to them again.

7. Renting Lists

This can be very expensive, but worth it if the list is highly targeted. Prices can vary between .05 and .40 per name depending upon the number you are mailing, how targeted the list is and how the names have been gathered. Our suggestion is to test mail to a small list at first and gauge your response, or use one of the direct email services listed below.

Only get lists from reputable companies online, and be very careful about this. Never mail to a CD-Rom list of millions of names. We promise - they don't want to hear from you, you'll get spam-fried in the process, and many addresses will be defunct.

Direct Email Services

Direct email services will send out your email in bulk to a targeted, opt-in list. Be sure to confirm that these companies do indeed mail to lists of individuals who are targeted, voluntary subscribers. And before you spend a dime, make sure that these are the people your business most needs to reach.

3W Online
http://actionsites.com/advert.html

Direct email is sent to 5,000-200,000 Internet users who subscribe to this service. It is a powerful tool when used in combination with a Web site, electronic storefront or an autoresponder.

Email Announce
http://www.EmailAnnounce.com/

eTechNet
http://www.enteract.com/~ebizlist/bulkmail.htm

Email to opt-in subscriber lists. They offer co-op and private ad mailings.

Please Mail Me!
http://www.pleasemailme.com/special.htm

Special offers for first time advertisers.

Postmaster Direct
http://www.netcreations.com/postdirect/business.html

Offering business-to-business and consumer (voluntary subscription) email lists.

WebPromote Direct Email
http://www.webpromote.com/de/

YesMail
http://www.yesmail.com A good, reliable company.

8. Direct Response Mail

Give prospects you mail to by post an extra incentive to respond by email. Tell them their order will be processed much more quickly, and offer a bonus if they respond by email.

The goal is to transform your expensive postal mail prospect list into an inexpensive email list. The more people you can reach by email, the more you will reduce your costs (and the higher your profits will climb).

9. Membership Organizations

People working together for a common goal are excellent prospects for your email list. If you belong to an association, network, an alumni group, a club, a school board, or other organization where 'birds of a feather' have flocked together, offer them a discount for your products and services - and only allow them to contact you by email.

Publicize this special bonus for members through their newsletter or other announcement outlets. You're doing their membership a service, which is certainly newsworthy.

Mining these 9 sources can build your opt-in list in record time. Start as soon as you can - a good list is worth it's weight in gold, and is fundamental to your success online.

*Article by Scott T. Smith of Copywriting.Net. Generate MORE sales with your Web site copy and print marketing communications. For a free writing consultation visit http://www.copywriting.net or call 1.800.798.4471 (toll-free in the US).





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7 Tips for Responsible, Direct Email Marketing | Writing the Income-Generating Web Site
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