Let’s say that you want to sell an affiliate product, but you don’t have a social media following or a blog. In other words, you don’t have a forum or platform to sell from.
In that case, there are two approaches remaining to sell that product. One is to advertise the heck out of it DIRECTLY (“Buy this widget now!”) through adwords and Facebook ads, and similar. That’s really expensive and requires a killer sales page.
And the other way is by selling to a list that you’ve organically grown over time. This is called Email Marketing or List Marketing, and take my word for it…or not…take the word of every successful internet entrepreneur you can find online…email marketing is the way to go.
The First Four Things You Need to Build a List
1. An Offer
It’s easy to build a list. People will sign up for anything free. As my marketing consultant puts it, “People will do anything for a free t-shirt.” The concept works. Period.
So to build a list, you first need to offer something free.
What you offer will be based on your market, your product, your niche, your industry, etc.
- For example, if you are a graphic designer who sells branding packages, you could offer a free guide to the 10 Key Elements of a Small Business Brand.
- If you’re an affiliate marketer in the weight loss niche, you could offer a free infographic on the 10 Stages of Weight Loss Denial. The object being offered must have real value, but it doesn’t need to be expensive or exhaustive in value.
- The freebie can be anything, a PDF, video linked to a private YouTube account, physical product, infographic, audio, webinar, etc.
2. A landing page where they sign up.
You DO need a landing page so people have a place to sign up for your offer. But it doesn’t have to be a website. You can use a Facebook tool, or a small website builder, like Wix. Or you can use a hosted landing page through a service like Instapage ($39/mo) or Leadpages (about $35/mo). Landing page services like these offer a number of tools you may or may not need, such as A/B testing of different titles and pages. Your landing page does not need to be fancy. Here’s an image of my first landing page that did very well:
To collect the emails, you’d want to use an email service like MailChimp or Aweber, and set up your autoresponder through them.
4. A way to host or deliver the offer.
Then you’ll need a place to host the PDF or other resource you’re offering (video, physical product order form, etc).
What If You Don’t Have an Internet Presence or Even a Website Yet?
If you don’t have a blog or a website, and if you don’t have social media connections, you can still build a list.
How to Get People to Your Offer
First off, send your offer to people you already know. Your Dad, your cousin, your friends at school, at church, on your bowling team. Tell them you’re building a list, and you’ve got a great free offer to start off with. Ask them to sign up for it, then ask them to invite other people they know who might be interested in the product. You can do this by email, text, phone cal, or in person. You can’t be shy about this, but you can keep it casual…
I got the “Light about Weight” project off the ground and have created an awesome infographic. It’s funny and serious all at once.
I thought you might find it motivating. Want me to send you a copy?
I’ll add you to my automatic mailing list and send other fun stuff like that when I have it.
By the way, if you think any of your friends would get a kick out of it, would you mind forwarding this email to them?
Love you, Amy
Once you’ve exhausted that avenue (or simultaneously), you can also be promoting your offer online using these techniques:
- If you already have a blog, of course you would add the free offer to your blog either as a link to a stand-alone landing page or through a sign-up form right on your home page.
But once you have that, you need a way to attract people to your offer…
If you have a blog already, you can promote your offer through interesting posts that you submit to social media sites, and by optimizing your blog posts so they show up on Google.
But if you don’t have a blog, and you don’t want to spend a fortune on ads, then you can get people to your landing page in other ways:
- Forum comments related to your offer’s topic
- Social media comments (same as above)
- Facebook group membership (same as above)
- Social media posts with elements of your free offer
- Cross promotion with other internet marketers. I’ve had pretty good success using partnerships, where I connect with someone who already has a blog, and I ask them if they’d be interested in cross promoting. I commit to sending their offer to my list, once it’s built up. Meanwhile, they send my offer to their list now. You can also try offering bloggers a gift in exchange for promoting you. Perhaps you can give them copies of a book to give away on their site as a promotion? Think creatively about how you can get your offer out there.
Getting People On Your List Is Just Half the Battle!
Clearly the largest part of email marketing is content creation. You need a compelling offer that’s well-written and produced. But once you have someone join your list, that’s when the real work begins, because you have to do something with them. You can’t just let them languish or they’ll wither away. They’ll become a passive list, unsubscribe, or just forget who you are. Then when you’re ready to send an offer, it would be like sending to a list of strangers.
To avoid this, and to keep your list active, you need email content:
- A welcome email that gives them something great…preferably something they can do right away that’s connected to the offer you gave them. For instance, if you gave away the infographic 10 Stages of Weight Loss Denial, your thank-you email can offer the reverse…10 Stages of Weight Loss Success. Perhaps you can tell a story about stage one, and suggest a way to implement that in their own lives right away. The welcome email can be written, or you can record a video and send a link to that in the email.
- A series of emails. Each email should tell a story. If you already have a product to promote, think of your emails in groups of five. Your first is the welcome email. The second is another story, with a suggestion about the product you’re promoting. Then the third and fourth emails are straight help…no selling. And the fifth is a hard sell of the product.But if you don’t have an affiliate product to promote yet, then you will need to start generating content. A ton of it, because you have to keep these people interested long-term. You want them to stay with you, so that when you do have a product to promote, you will be able to sell to an actively engaged list of people who’ve come to know and trust you through your content.
Email marketing depends on content creation.
You need content to keep people engaged. It can be written content, like emails or reports or longer articles. It can be YouTube videos. It can be statistics or reports. Or surveys and contests. Or a mix of these things. If you plan to build a list, you must plan how to feed the list. Start producing as soon as now!
If you’d like feedback about your free offer, or your email campaigns, please add a message below.