Wednesday, August 25, 2010

9 Hot Ways to Build Your List...Fast!

Whether you're an entrepreneur, corporation, or publisher - the power of the "lead" is critical in growing your business. Leads, also known as prospects, are typically the entry level point of the sales funnel. A popular business model by many online publishers is to bring in leads at the free level (i.e. free report, free newsletter, free webinar), then add those names to their "list" and usually over the course of 30 - 90 days (the bonding time) that lead will convert into a paying customer. This practice is known as lead generation, name collection or list building efforts.

Today, I'm going to share with you some proven online marketing methods I've used and had great success with at some of the top publishers in America. And bonus ... many of these tactics are little or no cost!

Here's the list, in no particular order:

1. Teleseminar or Webinar. This is a great way to collect names. Promote a free teleseminar or webinar to prospects (that is not your internal list). Remember, this is for lead generation, not bonding. So your goal is to give away valuable information in exchange for an email address. The trick is to promote the event in as many places as possible without incurring advertising costs.

2. Co Registration. Co Reg is another way to collect names, but involves a nominal fee. Co Reg is when you place a small ad on another publisher's site after some sort of transaction (albeit a sales or lead gen offer). So for instance, after someone sign s up to AOL Travel eNewsletter, a Thank You page comes up with a list of sponsors the reader may find interesting as well - other free eNewsletter offers. The text ad is usually accompanied by a small graphic image representing the sponsor. The key here is to pick publishers and Co Reg placements that are synergistic to your publication and offer. Another important note is to make sure you follow up quickly to these names so they don't forget who you are. I suggest a dedicated autoresponder series. Co Reg efforts can cost you around $1 - $3 per valid email address.

3. Affiliate Partnerships. This includes JVs (joint ventures), affiliate marketing, guest editorials, editorial contributions, and reciprocal ad swaps. This tactic is extremely effective and cost efficient. The key here is having some kind of leverage then approaching publishers that may want your content or a cross-marketing opportunity to your current list (note: this only works if you have a list of decent size another publisher will find attractive). In exchange for content or revenue share efforts, you and the other publisher agree to reciprocate either eNews ads or solo emails to each other's lists, thereby sending a message to a target, relevant list for free. Well, if you agree on a rev share, it's free as far as ad costs, but you are giving that publisher a split of your net revenues.

4. Content Syndication. I've written about this many times, but can't stress it enough. Content is king and you can leverage it via my SONAR Content Distribution Model TM . SONAR is a cost effective, yet powerful, method of repurposing and synchronizing content (albeit text, audio, video) distribution into various, targeted channels. And it allows companies, publishers, entrepreneurs ... basically anyone with content on their website ... the ability to ultimately turn traffic into sales. SONAR represents the following online distribution platforms:

S Syndicate partners, content syndication networks, and user generate content sites
O Online press releases
N Network (social) communities
A Article directories
R Relevant posts to blogs, forums, and bulletin boards. SONAR works hand-in-hand with your existing search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), and search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.

5. Search Engine Optimization. In order to drive as much organic traffic as possible to your website you need to make sure your site is optimized for the correct keywords and your target audience. Once you optimize your site with title tags, meta descriptions, and meta keywords, you need to make sure you have revised your site to harness the traffic that will be coming. That means adding eye-catching email collection boxes to home page, relevant banners, and obvious links to get to product pages. You don't want to miss any opportunity to turn traffic in to sales or free newsletter subscribers.

6. Media Buying. To compliment your "free" online efforts, you may want to consider targeted, low cost media buys (paid online advertising) in the form of text ads, banner ads, blog ads, or list rentals (i.e. eNews sponsorships or solo emails). You're paying for the placement in these locations, so you must make sure you have strong promotional copy and offer for the best results possible. If you're thinking about buying online ads and want to make sure you get the best rates around, then check out my new ebook, Muscle Media: The Complete Guide to Buying Online Ads For Less.

7. Pay Per Click (PPC). Many people try pay per click only to spend thousands of dollars with little results. Creating a successful PPC campaign is an art - one that I've had success with. You must make sure you have a strong text ad and landing page and that the ad is keyword dense. You must also have a compelling offer and make sure you do your keyword research. Picking the correct keywords that coincide with your actual ad and landing page is crucial. You don't want to pick keywords that are too vague, too competitive, or unpopular. You also need to be active with your campaign management which includes bid amounts and daily budget. All these things - bid, budget, keywords, popularity, and placement - will determine the success of the campaign. And most campaigns are trial and error and take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to optimize.

8. Viral Marketing. Make sure you have a "forward to friend" feature in your eNewsletter to encourage viral marketing. It's also important to have a content syndication blurb in your newsletter, this also encourages other websites, publishers, editors and so forth to republish your content as long as they give you author attribution and a back-link to your site. In addition, the SONAR model above incorporates viral buzz in its strategy, so deploying SONAR will help you increase your website visibility and reach.

9. Polls. Incorporating a poll on your website, or having a poll on another site or eNewsletter (via a media buy or ad swap) is a great way to build your list. It's important to spend time thinking about your poll question - something that a hot topic, controversial, and relevant to the locations you're placing your poll. You want to pull people in with your headline and make the poll entertaining. Your answers should be multiple choice and have an "other" field which encourages participant to engage with your question. I've found this "other" field as a fantastic way to make the poll interactive. Many people are passionate about certain subject matters and won't mind giving you their two cents. Then to show appreciation for talking the poll, tell participants they are getting a bonus report and free eNewsletter subscription (which they can opt out of at any time). And of course, make sure to mention - and link to - your privacy/anti spam policy.

After you kick off your list building efforts, make sure you start tracking them so you can quantify the time and resources spent. This involves working with your webmaster on setting up tracking URLs specific to each website you're advertising on. It also means looking at Google Analytics for your website and corresponding landing pages to see traffic and referring page sources. When deploying social media or SONAR tactics, it's important to look at which sites are linking back to you. You can check this with several free back-link tools such as , , . As well as set Google Alerts for related keywords to your marketing efforts. You'll then be notified when someone republishes your content as well as general buzz about you.
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