Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thinking of a new way to acquire names?

So, you’ve tried banner ads, you’ve tried text ads, you even tried sweepstakes. But you want to deploy a new and creative lead generation tactic.

Try online polls or surveys.

This is a great way to build your list and qualify potential prospects for cross-sell or up-sell opportunities (either immediately after taking the poll or later on).

First, it’s important to pick a question or topic that is timely. Something that is in the current events and that most Americans would be interested in … perhaps even slightly controversial. Now, develop your question. The question should provoke thought and prompt response. This will be your headline on your creative.

Second, think of your answer choices. You can certainly do a simple yes/no question, but I’d recommend a variety of choices that makes the prospect think and involves them in the question. It’s also helpful to include an "other comments" box. You’ll be surprised how many people want to give you their 2 cents – this element really makes the poll participatory.

Third, make sure you let prospects know that you will not sell or rent their email names. People hate spam and you want to clarify that their email address will not be comprised. You should also advise prospects that by taking the poll they will be opted in to your free newsletter (if you have one) which they can opt out at any time and that they will be notified via email of the poll results. Also offer them a free report as a token of appreciation for taking the poll. Follow up with a "welcome message" and introductory email series to start the bonding efforts immediately.

Fourth, think of a good graphic that encapsulates your headline. Something visually powerful. Noteable personalities or images that convey emotions work best (greed, fear, love, hate, etc.).

Fifth, have a clear call to action in your creative, such as "sound off now" or "take action now." Get people excited about the poll they are about to take. Your creative can be a banner ad, text ad, eNewsletter sponsorship, or even a dedicated email. Some formats may work better than others. So test them all.

Sixth, make sure your poll runs on websites that fit the subject matter of the poll. When you do your media buy, pick sites that the audience is going to respond to. If you’re poll headline is about the 2008 election, consider political sites, news sites (broadcast and cable), political or news blogs, etc.

Finally, make sure you have a good reporting system to capture the emails and segment by promotional effort and website ad appeared on (for analysis) as well as store poll results and chart answer choices via pie chart. And don’t forget to send the poll results to the prospects!

Adding polls to our online marketing mix will increase your chances of list growth.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

List Building 101

Whether you have a non-profit website or consumer website, your goal is to build your subscriber list and bring traffic to your site -- which over time can be monetized into revenues.

In the last week, I mentioned several proven techniques to drive traffic to your site. Now, I’d like to address capturing email names, or what is known as lead generation (list building).
  1. Offer a free report. This is a great way to get people to sign up for your content and give them a taste of what your site/company has to offer. Reports are also a great way to qualify your readers interest and later on upset them to a paid product or service.
  2. Have a free ezine/eNewsletter. Offer website users free, unique content delivered on a timely basis (daily, weekly, monthly) to their inbox. The key is your newsletter should have unique, insightful commentary – something people would be willing to give up their email address for. Make sure you highlight the newsletters benefits or USP (unique selling proposition).
  3. Send alerts. It may be appealing to your audience to sign up to learn the latest updates, upcoming events, book signings, new product launches, media appearances, or other time sensitive information on a daily/weekly basis. The "exclusivity" factor is the driving force here. Your "elite" group of subscribers should feel like they're "in the know." Part of a VIP group that gets first hand information before it's made public.
  4. Email words of wisdom. Again, depending on your service and how well known you are in your industry, you may want to offer daily words of wisdom, inspiration, quotes, or other motivational messages to your subscribers.
  5. Webinars/audios/videos. Post teaser photos of webinar and key messages from a webinar or video/audio seminar. Have testimonials of how great and informative it was. Mention to users that they can hear/watch the full video by simply typing their email now!
  6. Polls. Conduct a survey or poll. Ask a question that is topical and tied into the news. Something that stirs emotion and affects the masses. Something that’s on people’s minds and they just want to sound off about. Give your user the ability to answer from choices and then have a "additional comments" box. You’ll find 8 out of 10 times people feel compelled to give their 2 cents. This helps make the poll participatory and gives satisfaction to the user. Also, make sure you tell users before they hit submit that by taking the poll, as a thank you they’ll get a special report emailed to them and/or auto-signed up (opted in) to your free newsletter that they can opt out at anytime. It’s also important to advise users that results will be posted on your website (helps site traffic!) as well as emailed to them. Poll questions can also be a great way to qualify users for future up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
  7. Most importantly, initiate a privacy policy. Make sure on your lead generation page you have a privacy policy or anit-SPAM notice posted (or link to it). Assure users that you hate SPAM just as much as them and it is your policy not to sell or rent their email address to any third-parties under any circumstances. If you’re not sure of the verbiage to use, just Google "privacy policy" and see samples of other site’s policies.
  8. After you build your list. Know your audience and their threshold for email promotion frequency and price points. Remember, your ezine subs will be jumping from free to paid, so keep the price gap narrow.
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