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How to Encourage Your List to Grow Virally

List BuildingGrowing your list can seem like a lot of work. You’ve got to write articles each week, guest blog, be active on social media sites, etc. Once you stop doing all those things, your list will stop growing as well. Or will it? Not if you put a few things in place that will allow your list to grow virally and passively.

Does that mean that you can just sit back and count your subscribers/money? Of course not! What it will do however is give you some leverage and make sure that your lists are growing faster.

I’ll share two methods of growing your list virally with you. Both are quick and easy to implement, yet incredibly powerful. Take a little time to read the following paragraphs and more importantly implement what you’re learning.

Word of Mouth Advertising

One of the easiest and best ways to get your list to grow virally is to ask your current subscribers to recommend it to others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? They are interested in what you have to say and like what you’re emailing them about (or else they would unsubscribe in a jiffy). Chances are that they have friends and colleagues that are interested in the same things.

Ask them to recommend you to family and friends. An easy way to do this is to simply include a little note or a P.S. in your email messages. Don’t do it every single time, but make a point to include it on occasion. Here’s a basic example:

Thanks so much for subscribing to my gardening newsletter. If you enjoy it and find value in my tips, consider recommending my blog and this newsletter to family and friends who also love gardening. Just send them here to sign up:
[insert link to your optin page]

That’s all it takes to grow your list virally. Give it a try this week and see if you don’t see an increase in subscribers.

Give Them Something to Share

Another option is to give your readers something they can share with others interested in a similar topic. This could be a report, or a small printable, like a planting calendar for example (using the gardening example again). Use a call to action in your report or printable to invite readers to sign up for your newsletter.

Once your report is ready, upload it to your website and then ask your readers to spread the word about it. Tell them they are welcome to email the report to others, post it on Facebook, tweet about it etc. In other words, get your readers to help you spread the word.

Extra Tip – One last idea for you…Include a note in your report that anyone is welcome to share the report. This will make the report even more viral and who knows…over time it will spread far and wide across the web, continually sending new subscribers your way.

How to Grow Your List VirallyWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Monetizing Your List to Make Money from Day 1

List BuildingWe’ve talked quite a bit so far about setting up your first list for your blog. What we haven’t talked much about is how to go about making money from that list. A question that gets asked quite a bit is when to start mailing the list and when to start sending them offers (for your own products or affiliate products). The answer is simple. You should do both from day one. Let me walk you through a simple step by step plan to follow for your first few autoresponder messages.

The thank you page

Before we move to the actual email messages you’ll send to your subscribers, let’s talk about the thank you page. This is the page your readers will land on after they submit their name and email address. Most people will simply thank their readers for signing up and let them know that they will receive a welcome email in just a few minutes.

What they are missing out on is a great money-making opportunity. Think about it… these people just proved that they trust you and are ready to learn more about a certain topic. Give them the opportunity to do just that by adding an offer on your thank you page.

For example, if I’m building a list about growing tasty tomatoes, I might recommend a little eBook about growing tomatoes organically on the thank you page.

Your welcome email

The next place to monetize is within your welcome email. This is the email that goes out to your readers as soon as they are signed up. Welcome them and let them know what they can expect over the coming weeks. If you’d like, share a quick little tip or link to a great blog post you’ve written.

Last but not least, repeat the offer that you’ve made on the thank you page. You’ll be surprised how many readers will take you up on the offer this second time around.

Alternating good content and solo offer emails

From there you want to email your readers a mix of great content and offers for various related products. A good rule of thumb is to send one solo email for every 3 content emails.

A solo email is an email message you write and send out with the sole purpose of getting your readers to buy something. In it, you explain what the product is and why it would benefit them along with a call to action to have them buy it right now.
Content emails can be a variety of things. You can share some tips and information right in the email, you can link to a couple of good blog posts you’ve written, or you can even share links to short reports or videos you’ve created.

The goal is to find a balance between sharing content & building a relationship with your readers and making money off your list.

Monetizing Your List from Day 1When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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List Building Strategy #5 – Guest Blogging

List BuildingGuest blogging is a great shortcut when it comes to getting traffic and subscribers for a new blog. Think about it for a minute. There are already some popular blogs out there that have a large readership. Those readers are interested in what you have to say, the things you blog about, the content you share in your newsletter or autoresponder messages and of course the offers you have to make (be it your own products or affiliate offers).

How to find guest blogging opportunities

Start with some blogs you already know of in your niche. Look for popular blogs that get at least 5 comments per post. Comments are a great way to judge how popular a particular blog is.

You can also find blogs by using Google’s blog search engine at http://www.google.com/blogsearch. Search for some of your main keywords and see what posts and blogs come up.

A third option is to use Technorati.com. It’s a directory of blogs and you can search for posts or entire blogs that fit your criteria.

No matter what method you use, spend some time this week to find about 10 popular blogs.

How to approach the owner

You may be tempted to sit down and email each blog owner about a potential guest blog post. Do yourself a favor … DON’T. Instead, spend a little time reading each of these blogs and get in the habit of commenting on it a few times per week.

After a week or two of doing this, the blogger will start to recognize your name, especially if you take your time and write great comments.

Your next step will be to write a great guest blog post. Once it’s all done, email the whole thing to the blog owner. The idea here is to make it easy for them to post it. If the blog post is right there, nicely formatted and all they have to do is copy and paste it they’ll be much more likely to do it.

Don’t forget the follow-up

Once your guest blog post goes live, you may think your work is done, but you’ll get a lot more out of each post if you spend a little extra time and effort. Keep an eye on the blog and as soon as you see your blog post on there, tweet about it, mention it on Facebook and bookmark it on a few social sites like delicious. This will create a little extra buzz and traffic for both you and the blog owner.

And that’s a good thing. Obviously the more traffic and attention the guest post gets, the more traffic your own blog gets. More importantly, the blog owner will notice your efforts and the positive effect your guest blog post has on his blog. Once that happens, your chances of being invited back for more guest blog posts go way up.

List Building Strategy #5 – Guest BloggingWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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List Building Strategy #4 – Social Media

List BuildingSocial Media is an excellent way to build your list. In fact, just by participating in those popular sites, you are building a list of sorts. On Facebook, they are called friends, on Twitter they are your followers etc. Now your goal is to move as many of them as possible into your list of email subscribers as well.

Start with whatever social media accounts you already have a presence in. I’ll quickly walk you through the two big ones (Facebook and Twitter) and then talk a bit about niche specific social media sites. Of course, all of these tips and suggestions work just as well on other social media sites.

Facebook

Facebook is great for list building. It’s easy to connect and make friends with other people interested in similar things. From there you want to start a conversation with those people. Share quick tips and ideas, ask questions etc.

A simple, indirect way to build your list on Facebook is to occasionally link to a new blog post you’ve written. Provided you have a signup box on every page of your blog, you’ll start to see signups each time you do this.

You can also post your opt-in page link directly and ask people to join. I find this works best if I have some sort of “goodie” to give them. A short report, a small collection of recipes, or a special coupon code all work well. My Facebook friends can get this goody sent to their email inbox if they sign up for my list.

Twitter

Again, start with your profile. If you have an opt-in page set up, use that link in your twitter profile and encourage readers to click through to sign up for your list. From there you can start occasionally promoting your opt-in form from within your tweets.

For example, if you publish a weekly newsletter, let your readers know that you’re working on putting this week’s edition together. Tweet your progress, including a link where anyone can sign up to get a free copy.

Niche specific sites

Depending on what niche you’re in, you’ll also be able to find specific social media sites on these topics. For example, Etsy and Ravelry are two big social media sites in the crafting niche. Search around and find similar sites for your own niche. A great place to start looking for these is on popular forums. People will often talk about these sites and of course, you can also post a question asking what sites you should check out.

Once you find one or two niche specific social media sites, sign up for an account, fill out your profile information and start participating. I recommend establishing a bit of a presence before you start posting links to your blog or asking people to join your list. Instead be helpful, ask questions and make friends. After a few days of doing that, you can slip in the occasional link back to your site and mention your newsletter.

List Building Strategy #4 – Social MediaWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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List Building Strategy #2 – Create an Opt-in Page

List BuildingAfter making sure you have an opt-in form on every page of your blog, I recommend you start working on a dedicated opt-in page. This is a page with the sole purpose of getting people to sign up for your list. It’s a great way to grow your list quickly because you now have a destination you can send people to. Use it in social media posts, articles, guest blog posts, forum posts etc.

Easy URL

Start with an easy to remember URL. If you’d like you can go all out and buy a dedicated domain for your opt-in page, but that’s certainly not necessary. Instead, you can simply pick a short and easy to remember the link. For example, if your site is called gardenblog.com, a good URL for your opt-in page maybe gardenblog.com/signup

Captivating headline

Next, you want to write a compelling headline that will grab your reader’s attention and keep him or her on your opt-in page. Going back to our gardening example, are a few examples of good headlines:

  • Find Out How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes in Half the Time
  • Sign Up Today for Expert Tips from a Gardening Enthusiast
  • Creating a Garden That’s The Envy of the Whole Neighborhood is Easier Than You Think. Sign Up Today for Expert Tips Delivered Straight to Your Email Inbox

Take a look at magazine headlines and other newsletters to get ideas for your own opt-in page. Make your offer sound great, but don’t go overboard. You want to make sure you can deliver on the promise you’re making here.

Keep it short

You don’t need a lot of text on your opt-in page. It’s been tested over and over again and pages that are short and to the point tend to outperform those with long paragraphs of text.

Instead, focus on the benefits. What’s in it for your subscribers? What will they get out of signing up?

Start with a short introductory paragraph, and then move on to what’s in it for your readers. List those benefits as bullet points on your opt-in page.

If you’d like, you can also include an image that relates to the topic of your blog. In our gardening example, I may add an image of a nice looking tomato plant right next to the benefit statements.

Right below that, include the opt-in form.

I like to close with a sentence or two letting my readers know that I look forward to sharing those tips with them. If possible, include a picture of yourself and your handwritten signature. Both elements build trust and will make it more likely that someone will sign up.

Submit button

Of course, your page will include a submit button. It’s often a simple grey button with the words “Submit” on it. I recommend using either a color that goes well with your theme or even better, a bright red button. Good options for wording on the button are “Join Now”, “Get Started” and my personal favorite “Sign Me Up!” If you are using Aweber to create your opt-in form for this page, changing the button can be done right within the web form editor. Otherwise, ask your web designer for help changing this on your opt-in page.

Once your opt-in page is set up, it’s a just a matter of driving traffic to it. You can link to this page from the navigation bar of your blog and from within your posts. You can also use this page in social media posts, on popular forums you participate in and any other form of traffic generation.

List Building Strategy #2 – Create an Opt-in PageWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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What is List Building and Why Do You Need to Start Now?

List BuildingIf you’ve been working online for any length of time, you’ve heard people talking about their lists. They compare size, opt-in rates, click-through stats and of course profitability. If all that sounds like a foreign language to you, don’t worry; we’ll start at the beginning.

What is a List?

A list is simply a database full of email addresses (and often names) of your readers or subscribers. You collect those emails from your website and something called an autoresponder service takes care of storing those names for you and gives you the option to send emails to that group.

What is List Building?

List building is the process of building that list of names and email addresses. One of the easiest ways to build your list is to add a signup form to your blog. Autoresponder services like Aweber will give you the tools you need to do this. Using a simple form, you set up your list and create a form (using one of hundreds of templates) that works well with the theme and look of your blog. You copy the code Aweber will give you for your form and paste it into your blog design.

Down the road you may want to look into other ways to build your list like creating opt-in pages for example. List building is one of those things you want to continually work on and get better at. Ultimately, the bigger your list, the higher your online income will be.

This brings us to the next point …

How Can You Benefit From a List?

There are quite a few reasons why you should consider building a list. The first is that you can now bring people back to your blog. How many times have you come across a great site that you loved, then clicked through to another page and 20 minutes later you’ve forgotten all about that new site you meant to spend some time exploring? It happens to all of us – including your site’s visitors. But if you capture your visitor’s email address, you can reach them later and bring them back to your site.

I’m sure you’ve also heard the expression that the money is in the list. If you have a mailing list, you can occasionally email them with product offers. Those could be your own products, or something you are recommending as an affiliate. Either way, being able to email a list of people about those offers is one of the best ways to monetize your blog.

When is the Best Time to Get Started Building a List?

That’s a question I hear quite a bit. When should I start building my list? The answer is as soon as possible. If you haven’t already started, start now. Don’t worry if you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your blog yet. Even a few visitors can turn into a couple of subscribers and that’s a great start. Then as your traffic grows, your list will grow with it.

What is List Building and Why Do You Need to Start Now?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Using Social Media to See What’s Hot

Social MediaLarge corporations spend millions of dollars, prowling the Internet, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. As a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback, quickly and easily, using your social media networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot, right now:

Twitter trends

Go to http://search.twitter.com/ and right below the search box, you’ll see a list of trending topics (as of this writing, the trending topics include “White People Hobbies,” “Black People Hobbies,” “Wendi Murdoch,” and “Louise Mensch”). If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep constantly updated on a trending topic.

Hashtags

If you want to follow a particular topic (“internet marketing,” “redsox,” etc.) via Twitter, you can simply follow the hashtag (#) associated with that subject. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever new tweets on that topic are posted.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

It’s a little more difficult to see what’s trending on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see what groups are growing and what topics are hot. Do a search on either site for results, and join groups that look interesting and pertinent to your business. You can receive messages directly to your email inbox or opt to log in to your account to read. Either way is a great tactic for keeping tabs on what people in your niche are talking about.

Yahoo! and Google Groups

Go to groups.yahoo.com or groups.google.com to view thousands upon thousands of groups for interests as varied as recycling, Santa Clara University alums, and Justin Bieber fans. Join the ones appropriate for your interests, browse topics, and see suggestions at http://custom.yahoo.com/bestofyahoogroups/.

YouTube

Head over to http://www.youtube.com/videos?feature=mh to see the most viewed videos of the day. You can even see top results by category (Education, Howto & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, News & Politics, Comedy, People & Blogs, etc.) The results may surprise you!

Stumbleupon, Technorati, Alltop

Check out any of these blog aggregators to see what others find interesting, read-worthy, or titillating. You can see hot topics, trending news, and just plain weird stuff.

As you can see, no need to hire a beat reporter to tell you what’s happening in your target market. You can easily track it all from your computer – no reporter’s notebook required.

Using Social Media to See What's HotWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Going Beyond Customer Support

Social MediaMake a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Aunt Betty the doll enthusiast attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Betty to pull out the photos of the lifelike dolls. Let’s face it; these days, customer support is a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.

Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:

Tweet first

There are a number of major companies, including Zappos.com and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly! – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas?

Take it to Facebook

Many companies have branded Facebook pages where you’ll receive a personalized response within hours, or even minutes. That way you can go about your business instead of sitting on the phone, frantically working your way through the automated telephone tree. Hint: Post a message on their wall rather than trying to contact them via Facebook message. The public aspect of your plea for help will ignite a faster response.

Try their website

Bypass the 800 number and email in favor of a live chat. You can get a live someone immediately (or within a minute or two) instead of playing hurry up and wait on the phone. Live chat not available? Try the email contact form. You may have to wait 24 hours for a response, but you can use that time productively.

Record a video

If all else fails, record a video and post it to YouTube. You never know what a visual plea for help, or a bad review, will do for cutting through the red tape. Be calm, though, and leave room for a response; if all you do is spazz out, they’ll just write you off as a nut.

The key here is to take control of your own time rather than letting someone else determine your destiny. Don’t let “them” tell you that you must sit on hold for 45 minutes before you get a living, breathing person to listen to your problems. Save time and take it online.

Going Beyond Customer SupportWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Share Important Announcements

Social MediaYou’re changing the name of your blog. You just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re heading to Chicago for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help share important announcements far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves:

Don’t be afraid to post it more than once

Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.

Create an opportunity to connect

Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

Talk about the news before it happens

Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

Interconnect your social media networks

Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.

Forget about press releases and publicists, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do the promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

Share Important AnnouncementsWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Take a Mental Vacation

Social MediaWhether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore? Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

Take a Mental VacationWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]