“Do what everyone else is doing and you’ll get what everyone else is getting”
Not sure who coined that phrase but it really hits the nail on the head, even as it relates to email marketing and list building.
For years I’ve seen a plethora of unsuspecting hopefuls being told the same “fundamental” principles of email marketing, blindly following them and getting less than stellar results (like everyone else following this advice).
Truth be told, I was one of those hopefuls.
The theory appeared to one sound but we often forget that, while the one-eye man might be king in the land of the blind, this doesn’t automatically make him a good choice to teach you how thread a needle.
The One With No Friends
You see throughout my life I’ve had to deal with a ton of different people with a wide variety of personalities and personal circumstances.
There’s one particular type that I find especially annoying though and I have a funny feeling you’ll know exactly what I mean.
- They’re the ones who are always first in line whenever something is being given away for free but never available to offer a helping hand or even word of encouragement to anyone who might need some assistance. This includes those who’ve helped them in the past.
- You can never depend on their help with anything. They’re either too tired, too broke or too busy which, in case you didn’t’t know, is jus another way of saying they’re simply too caught up in their own self interests to care about you and your comparatively insignificant needs.
- They’re constantly complaining about how hard life is and how they’re always struggling and how no-one understands and therefore no-one helps.
They suck the joy out of a room simply by entering it and you find yourself avoiding asking them questions like “How are things with you?” because you know you’ll just be setting yourself up for a sob story and an appeal for some resource you weren’t planning on parting with.
(You’re thinking of someone right now aren’t you?)
So What Does This Have To Do With Sending Website Traffic To An Opt In Page?
Well if you’ve been following the guru list building advice that’s been floating around for the better part of 2 decades, then you’ve probably been behaving just like the needy, intolerable “friend” I mentioned above.
Without knowing any better you’ve been following conventional wisdom which says:
- Drive traffic to an opt in page
- Only share the good stuff with the people on your list. No-one else deserves it
- Once you have their email address, use every opportunity to sell them something until they decide to unsubscribe from your list. Good riddance freeloaders! If they’re not buying they’re of no value to you. Right?
While this may sound a bit dramatic, it’s exactly what happens when someone visits your website having never heard of you before and you refuse to let them see anything useful until they give you something upfront (their email address) first.
Needless to say, it’s an atrocious way to start a relationship. And make no mistake about it, when someone signs up to join your email list they’re deciding to enter into a relationship with you.
When someone decides to share their email address with you it’s no trivial thing they’re doing. They’re giving you permission to speak directly to them whenever you feel like hitting the send button.
This has value. You know it and they know it.
If you’re paying attention this should make an email address suddenly have way more value than run-of-the-mill marketers would have you believe.
Let’s Be Real
People buy from people they know, like and trust. The first requirement is for them to know you which they simply can’t do if they know nothing about you.
Trust can either be bought through very expensive branding awareness campaigns or it can be earned by providing value first without requiring anything upfront to receive it.
Most of us wouldn’t marry someone we just met (unless of course you just met Halle Berry in which case the rules of mere mortals simply don’t apply). For everyone else though, you would probably need to at least get to know them. Right?
Sharing something of great value with no strings attached makes you look generous and, more importantly, genuine.
Genuine generosity frames you differently in the recipient’s mind making you someone people love to be around and can’t wait to hear from again.
Instead of being repulsive, such people are magnetic – enticing readers to happily cough up their primary email address, home phone number, credit card info etc. just to get to a chance to see whatever other golden nuggets you have hidden behind the opt in gate.
The lesson here is, like it or not, you have to give first then you receive. Because now you’ve earned this privilege. And notice this is a privilege not a right.
So What Should You Be Doing Instead?
Basically, you need to abandon the old “churn and burn” email marketing approach and start to treat the people who visit your website as… well… people.
Send your visitors to a useful article on your blog or an insightful video or podcast episode where you teach something valuable, and all without requiring them to give you anything in return except their attention.
Wow them with practical, actionable and thought-provoking content that teaches them something they didn’t know before and allows you to showcase your expertise. This will naturally lead them to conclude that you are an authority in your field and someone whose counsel they can trust.
Only then should you ask them to opt in, if and only if they want to hear more about the topic your blog post or video etc. is based on.
If you did a good job of providing value in the reader’s mind then opting in for more in-depth information is a logical next step.
If they choose not to opt in they’re either not ready to start a relationship with you yet or their interest in the subject is only fleeting so they probably wouldn’t have bought anything from you anyway.
The last thing you want is uninterested subscribers sitting on your list and running up your autoresponder bill. You’re not helping them and their definitely not helping your business grow.
Sounds Good But Where Do I Start?
As you watch any of the home renovation shows on TV you’ll notice that before the stainless steel kitchen appliances and the brand new hardwood floors are installed, step 1 is always to plug the leaks, replace the rotting support beams and do whatever else is necessary to bring the house up to code.
You need to take the same approach with your email marketing and correct the errors in your current strategy.
Start by ensuring you’re not making the common mistakes that pretty much guarantee failure.
Once you’re done you’ll be ready to start implementing simple long term customer-focused email marketing strategies that work so well they’re standard practice for mega successful companies like Amazon.
There’s a whole world out there that most email marketers will never hear about. Click the button below that applies to your situation and let me show you where to start…