What list? Why do I need an email list and how do I start one?
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So you’ve been hearing about how a lot of people make money with email marketing, but you're wondering what in the world a lead magnet actually is, and where exactly to begin.
Perhaps you have a business, or even a hobby and you’ve got a product or service that you know people will be interested in…if you could just get the message out to the right people.
Hang tight…there's a video with tons of examples of lead magnets coming your way in a few more paragraphs. But lets start at the beginning…
The Importance of Your Nîche in Crafting the Right Opt-In
It all starts with your nîche. The most successful online businesses have a very distinct nîche, and I'm not talking about the “blogging nîche” or the “make money online” nîche. That's all find and good, but that's not a nîche, it's an industry. And there's a big difference.
There’s a very specific and unique group of people all over the world who can benefit from what you have to offer, it’s just a matter of finding them and connecting with them. You probably already know this, and even though I've gotten so much LinkedIn spam messages lately, you'd think that business people know this too, but they are still implementing old-school “cold” sales prospecting techniques in the hopes of getting business. That may have worked in 1999, but it doesn't work today.
The right way to build an email list is to let people add themselves to your email list because they choose to, not because you choose to.
Part 1: Credibility of your Brand
Before you can even think about running a successful email campaign that will generate revenue for your business, you’ve got to begin with an audience of people who actually want to hear from you.
If you haven't started building an email list yet, you might be thinking:
Yes, there are people are out there, but where and how am I going to find them?
It's called “Attraction Marketing” and it's the first step in building a list of people who want to hear from you. Attraction marketing simply means collecting the contact information of people who show interest in your product or service.
In order to get the word out and educate people about your product or service so that you can be deemed trustworthy and credible, you’ve got to first demonstrate that your product or service is valuable to people without the expectation of anything in return.
The most common way to do this is to make sure your website is up to date with current information, and to write and post more in-depth educational articles on your blog and resources page. Creating quality content around your topic is the key to growing your subscribers, followers, list, and ultimately your tribe.
It sounds rather simple, but there's a lot to know to get it right. Most people give up too soon.
It's incredibly important that your online presence is real. When social media first started…some time around 2008 or so, I remember people would create profiles using only their first name.
Still today, I see so many websites that post articles by the “Admin” and that just screams “not a credible source” to anyone who is reading it. If you want to be considered a thought leader and expert in your industry, it's critical to begin to establish credibility. That begins with your website.
Putting yourself out there can be tough. You get exposed to criticism sometimes, and learning all there is to learn can feel overwhelming. Don't let that stop you. If you've got the passion and the drive, you will be successful…you just need to follow the business model for the best results.
The Online Business Model
I’ve seen many websites that post a very short or generic write ups about a product or service that really isn’t helpful or informative to the reader. Doing this is just an exercise in mediocrity and it’s not going to build brand credibility at all.
Take the time and effort to think thoroughly about what you are writing about. How is what you’re offering going to change the life of your intended audience?
In order to begin building credibility for why you are an authority on your topic, you’ve got to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, experience, or expertise to provide guidance on the topic.
Writing up a blog post and linking to someone's affiliate product because it “helped you a lot” is not very helpful to other people. Unfortunately there are a lot of bloggers out there who make that mistake. The purpose of the blog is to inspire and educate, and if your blog is nothing but links to paid products, nobody is going to come back. That makes for an audience that is completely unengaged to the point where they actually avoid you.
Your goal should be to deliver so much value to people that they literally follow you on all your social media channels just so that they don't miss anything you put out.
If you have no email list at all, your first step is to begin by writing a collection of blog articles about your product or service to help establish credibility for your brand. Don't skimp on this. You need to build a foundation, otherwise it's just not going to work.
Part 2: The Lead Magnet and using SEM to Speed Up the Process
Once your website has enough information to demonstrate that you’re a credible source, the next item of business is to focus on creating a way to drive traffic to your website.
Just because you have a beautiful website with a lot of information on it doesn’t mean people will just automatically start to find you. Many people have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is one way to focus on bringing organic traffic to your website, however know that organic SEO is a LONG TERM STRATEGY and it doesn’t happen overnight.
In fact, even with proper SEO in place, it can take months to begin to generate traffic organically. In order to start driving traffic immediately, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tactics come into play. Keep in mind that SEM is the paid form of SEO. SEM can include paid social media ads or paid network ads.
Engaging in one or both of these types of digital advertising will provide an influx of traffic to your website, but the most important thing to understand in the grand scheme of the online business model is that the purpose of using SEM for a Lead Magnet is not to generate revenue, it’s to generate traffic and build your email list.
I'm going to say that again, because it's the most important part of building a sustainable business model:
The purpose of using SEM for a Lead Magnet is not to generate revenue, it’s to generate traffic and build your email list.
I know what you might be thinking: Why would I pay for an ad that doesn't generate revenue?
In order for SEM to be most effective, it’s important to design a campaign that has the distinct purpose of building a list of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Remember, this is only the first step. You can read more about how this strategy works in this blog post about the 4 Top Email Marketing Strategies to generate revenue.
My favorite lead magnet is a quiz. I've added thousands of people to my list by using a quiz. If you're thinking about using a quiz as your lead magnet, I recommend checking out Interact.
Simply driving more traffic to your website isn’t going to sell your product or service though, so typically the Lead Magnet tactic is used to generate what we call “Marketing Qualified Leads” or people who have raised their hand and indicated that they have an interest in your product or service. The next step in the process is actually selling to those leads.
This new list of people requires “nurturing” because it’s most likely they are not quite ready to buy anything from you yet. Why? Because they are just starting to get to know you.
Think carefully about what you do when you hear about a product or service that is “new to you”. You simply “Google it” and read about it. You look at reviews, read some additional articles, and do some research online to see if that product or service is credible and meets your needs.
People who are in this “research” phase are what marketers and salespeople refer to as the “Top of the Funnel” or the “Awareness” Phase of the sales funnel.
They are in the beginning stages of educating themselves about your product or service, so they are interested…but not quite ready to purchase anything yet. This is a prime candidate for someone to join your email list.
Because if you have a well planned email campaign, you can persuade this person into buying your product or service over a competitor by using thoughtfully planned words, photos, and videos that are designed to move people into action.
In the past, before the internet provided all this information at our fingertips, sales people were the ones tasked with the responsibility of educating consumers.
Today, people are savvy and don’t really need salespeople; they take time to learn everything they can about a product or service online before they really consider buying it.
If you begin to form a list of hundreds or even thousands of people who are moderately interested in your product or service, you will be able to turn them into a paying customer with exactly the right information at the right time.
But first, you’ve got to find those “moderately” interested people.
Remember, they’re not ready to buy just yet. Based on the psychology of behavior, we know that a lead magnet will entice people to have a look at what you are offering. A lead magnet is defined as something valuable but free. You’ve got to make sure it’s valuable, because people will judge your brand based on whether the lead magnet actually helped them.
Think about how you landed on this page. Is what you’re reading valuable? If it is, you’re probably still reading.
Now think about your own product or service that you’re trying to market and sell. Is there something free you can offer people that will entice them to learn more about your brand?
Once they “consume” your lead magnet, your “free advice”, they will either determine that what you have to say is credible and trustworthy or not. If it’s credible, they will likely be receptive to what you have to say during a future engagement.
That future engagement might be an email coming to their inbox or another digital advertisement. The important thing to understand here is that the first engagement with your brand was enough to entice them and hopefully turn them into a warm lead instead of a cold lead. Now they recognize your brand or your name.
It's not enough to make them purchase something immediately, but it's enough to hold their interest.
This is the power of online sales and marketing. This is how you begin to build a list of people who have an interest in your product or service. It’s also how you begin to group or segment your list into meaningful categories. For more information on some ideas for creating the perfect Lead Magnet, watch this video:
Part 3: Trust
The reason why you need to segment and categorize your email list is because not every one of your customer’s cares about the same news you have to share at any given time.
Think about the last time you took your car to the shop for service. Maybe you replaced 4 tires because if you didn’t it wouldn’t pass inspection. If the shop sends you an email about a sale on new tires a month after you just bought 4 new tires, you’re probably not going to be too interested in clicking on that email. It’s not relevant to you at this particular point in time, so it gets bypassed or deleted.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not interested in that company, but when something isn’t relevant and the business didn’t take the time to acknowledge that, their email will not get opened, and it may even get deleted or unsubscribed from. You can see how important it is to ensure that what you are emailing is perfectly relevant to the person on the other end of the email. This affects your open rate. It affects the credibility of your brand, and it affects how much attention people will pay to your emails in the future.
With trust being a critical element, you can see how important it is to only send email to people who have genuinely requested it from you. Back in the days of old sales tactics, people would purchase a list of people from an outside source or and “cold” email people. In fact I still get contacted “cold” today by people on LinkedIn because B2B sales people haven't yet embraced the proper online business model.
It’s likely your emails and messages will get deleted or ignored, or worse, unsubscribed because these people are wondering why in the world you thought it was okay to email them in the first place. Don’t be that business. Don’t be the business that has diminished credibility in an instant because you emailed someone who didn’t specifically ask to receive your emails.
The exciting part about creating a Lead Magnet is that by doing so, you are beginning to build a community of people who trust you and deem that what you have to say is credible. Although they may be at the “top of the funnel” they are still somewhat interested in what you have to say. This creates an opportunity for you to begin a “Nurturing Process” which is just a fancy term that means a systematic way to lead them on a journey or path toward eventually purchasing your product or service. The Lead Magnet serves as the perfect way to begin collecting a list of names and email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Here's what the digital sales funnel looks like visually.
Action Item for You:
It’s time to start thinking about what you can use as a Lead Magnet to begin building your list. What is something valuable that you can provide to someone who might be interested in your product or service? Could it be a printable comparison chart, a worksheet, or an ebook? A “how-to” guide, a video tutorial, or even a sample of your product.
Anything you can provide for free that is valuable can be your Lead Magnet. Think carefully about how you’ll promote your lead magnet. Remember the objective is only to collect a name and email address. Some large businesses use contests as a Lead Magnet.
You can entice people to provide their email address in exchange for a chance to win something, but you’ve got to consider how that strategy will play out later. Can you firmly deliver on your commitment? How will that interest in winning lead to what you’ll ultimately try to sell them in the future?
Here is an example: Maybe you build raised garden beds for a living and your goal is to get people to purchase a raised garden bed with an irrigation system. Your lead magnet may be a video-tutorial on how to properly compost for your garden. You might promote this with a series of blogs written about composting and then offer a 4-minute video on building your own compost in exchange for someone’s email address. In that case, you’ll want to create a special “Landing Page” on your website which is aimed at doing one thing….getting people to watch that video. In order to watch the video, they will be asked to enter their email address. Remember, they are probably not yet interested in buying your raised garden bed with an irrigation system, because if they were, they would be on your main website seeking your telephone number to schedule an appointment.
The purpose of the Lead Magnet is to begin building a list of people who may potentially be interested in buying from you in the future. Have questions about your Lead Magnet? Join my private Facebook group where you can ask questions and connect with other bloggers, social media influencers, and online entrepreneurs!
What's Next after I've Gotten Clear About My Lead Magnet?
If you're still kind of new to email nurturing, you'll need a tool for automation if you want to make money while you sleep. I highly recommend using ConvertKit for your email automation, as it integrates very easily with WordPress and a variety of other website builders. Most people choose a tool such as MailChimp because it's free at first, but don't be fooled. As your list starts to grow, you'll quickly recognize that it's not the most intuitive and they do begin charging you. Once you get to that point, you have very little time and patience to transfer elsewhere, so do yourself a huge favor and start off on the right foot.