This is one thing internet marketers don’t seem to ever shut up about, mainly because there’s some truth behind it. The thing that always bothered me about the phrase “the money’s in the list” is that it implies some kind of instant value: subscribers to your newsletter = money in your pocket.
The problem I have with this equation is that it’s like saying “the money’s in a high traffic, well-monetized website.” Obviously. Honestly, I think half the reason many internet marketers preach “the money’s in the list” is so they can use their affiliate link to Aweber or another subscription mailing service. I’m purposely leaving out my affiliate link here.
Really, the money is in how you use your list. Having a list is a lot like running a niche affiliate site – you can’t just focus on getting traffic – you must also focus on converting that traffic. Keep reading, and I’ll keep ranting…
Why I’m Even Writing About This
I didn’t just wake up this morning and decide I want to criticize e-mail marketing. In fact, I think e-mail marketing is an excellent way to both connect with an audience and ultimately drive sales of a product or service (even as an affiliate). My problem is, I’m terrible at it.
My blog isn’t wildly popular, so it may surprise you to learn that I currently have over 2,500 subscribers to my e-mail list (see a screenshot from my Aweber account below).
A lot of people signed up to receive my free backlink tracking tool, and many have remained subscribed for my general newsletter. I also do other exclusive things for my list, such as the “newbie niche site month” I’ve done a couple times, which was very well received by many readers.
With 2,500+ subscribers, I’m spending $30 a month with Aweber. It might shock you to know that, even with over 2,500 subscribers, my list probably doesn’t generate $30/month most months. That’s right – I’ve built a somewhat large list within the internet marketing niche, and I’m possibly losing money with it.
Now, that’s not to say there haven’t been non-monetary benefits to the list. Whenever I send out broadcast e-mails (i.e. e-mail that isn’t part of my pre-written newsletter content), I see an influx of traffic to my blog. By being able to do this, I know that at any moment I can utilize my list to receive a lot of traffic in a short period of time, to my blog. And some of this traffic may lead to income generated through affiliate links on blog posts, so I’m sure my list has indirectly led to income.
Here’s My Point
You can’t just build a list and expect the money to start rolling in. You have to have a plan and you have to stick with it. And you have to respect your list. Pat Flynn does this well – although he doesn’t push affiliate products in his e-mails, I can virtually guarantee that he has indirectly made thousands of dollars from his list. Yet, he provides massive value, so no one really complains.
I, on the other hand, have done a good job “respecting” my list, but a poor job of converting subscribers into value for me. Ignoring the fact that I don’t really try to make money off the list (I have thrown in a few random affiliate links here and there, but it’s been nothing substantial), I’ve done a poor job staying in touch with my list beyond my 7-8 pre-written newsletter e-mails which are sent once every 1-2 weeks after you subscribe.
Utilizing an e-mail list effectively is a lot like running an authority website – you need to provide regular content and stay in touch with your readers. To make money with a list, you need to respect your subscribers and absolutely do not spam them. Even promotional e-mails should add some kind of value that doesn’t require a purchase.
I used to subscribe to a lot of “guru” e-mail lists (John Chow, etc.) until I couldn’t stand it any longer. It was educational to see how an income-generating e-mail list functions, but after awhile, I found myself deleting all e-mail without reading it.
What are your best e-mail marketing tips? Everyone tells you to build a list, but from there, it can be a challenge to utilize the list effectively. I’m curious to see what you think. And yes, this is the first ever internet marketing blog that wrote an article about e-mail marketing without using an Aweber affiliate link!
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