Santa’s Top List Building Tips

Merry Christmas, for a couple of days ago!

I love this time of year, mainly for the giving and receiving of presents and being able to spend a happy time chilling with my family.

As you probably know, Santa Claus has perhaps the biggest “list” this side of the moon!

Santa

He’s actually an amazing direct marketer.

Santa’s got a great understanding of his customers, he knows every boy’s and girl’s innermost wishes, he takes their orders and delivers their products on time.

But the most important part is that the products are exactly what the customers (kids) want – so of course they are super happy.

That would sure make a for low return rate ; )

Ok, I admit, I don’t know all of Santa’s marketing secrets, but let’s just take a look to see if we can steal any marketing tips from Santa

Since I am an avid Email marketer and have created several products and tools to help you with List Building, let’s use that topic as a base to work upon.

As you probably know, Email is still very powerful in the direct marketing world. Yes, even though there is Facebook and Twitter and SMS etc, Email is still crushing social media – and I predict it will continue to do so for quite some time yet. 

But what has changed with Email marketing this year in 2013?

A lot actually. From Gmail introducing their “tabs” to just people in general becoming more and more ‘busy’ with social networking and other of those types of messaging platforms.

This is how I see the two biggest challenges we’re facing in email marketing heading into 2014.

1) how to get our prospects to hand over their best email address

2) how to keep readers active and buying again and again

I know… I know… these have always been the main objectives but now even more so these days..

First, the key is to get their BEST email address.

I hope you are aware that your customers most probably have their ‘good’ email address they use for important emails  (the one they give to friends, family and other ‘trusted’ people ) –  and then they have their  “spam catcher” email address they NEVER check which they just use to sign up to stuff they don’t really care about or don’t trust.

People are not dumb… they know and despise Spam with a passion and they that signing up to anything is going to mean “more email.. great!”

So there is no way in hell they’re going to give away their best email to any un-trusted source.

So that’s the main thing here. 

Become a trusted source.

How do you do that?

It’s simple, but not necessarily easy.

1) To get their best email, you’re going to have to come up with something that will engage them over the long term.

If you’re offering just a one-time download, you can write off the chance of getting their best email. They’ll probably just use their ‘spam catcher’ email to get your product that one time and then it’s ‘sayonara’!

2) Once you have their best email, the next challenge is to keep their interest piqued. This is quite simple compared to the first: Simply, don’t send crap. Email daily, email twice in one day, it’s great IF your emails are awesome. Just be aware that your customers can and will unsubscribe the moment they lose their taste for what you send.

If there is one tip I can give you about what kind of emails to send, it’s to send “entertaining” emails.

Stories, jokes, quotes, facts, stats, etc.. these are things we enjoy reading.

Sales pitch after sales pitch is not. Yeah it’s ok for a few days, but can get boring real fast.

Think about this for a sec… who’s emails do you open up and read first?

1) An email from your best buddy with info about the weekend fishing trip,

or b) a no-named marketer who has been sending you the same email since the day you got on his list, where he’s trying to sell you an ebook on “how to write and sell a kindle book”

I can bet email ‘b’ won’t even last 2 minutes in the inbox as the recipient goes down and clicks delete, delete, delete…

As an email marketer, you must build rapport with your customer.

Become one of their ‘best buds’ who they look out for emails from.

If you can’t, your emails are going to hit the trash box faster than Santa can say “Merry Christmas”.

Would you look out for emails from Santa? I sure would.

Would you have any second thoughts giving your best email to Santa? I wouldn’t. 

Have A Product/Information/Service So Awesome That People Would Line Up To Give Your Their Email & Beg You To Send Them Emails About It!

The best marketers are those who help people improve their lives. If you have something people are begging for, your job as an email marketer, or any other type of method you use, will become a lot easier.

All the best for a prosperous 2014!

stustirling2013-100pixStuart Stirling

 

List Maintenance – AWeber How To Remove Dead Leads

Attention list builders! Are you using Aweber (or any other autoresponder) to build a list and paying a monthly fee?

Did you know that Aweber charges you for all the leads they store.. including unsubscribers and inactive leads?

If you aren’t taking notice, your unsubscribers can build up and cost you every month. More marketers are becoming aware of this, but fewer know that inactive or ‘dead’ leads are just as bad as unsubscribers.There is a difference and I’ll show you.

Here’s a quick video I made about how to remove unsubscribers and inactive leads from your aweber lists.

Play Me!

You may be shocked to see how many subscribers are actually inactive*, like I was.. at first.

(* inactive  = no email opens in 4 months (sidenote: Aweber counts an unopen as no open and no clicks – just make sure you’ve been using click tracking. )

But when you look at it, if you’re regularly getting only a 10% open rate, then you’re just removing the 90% who never open your emails.So you’re really not losing anything.

I recommend doing a list clean out regularly – every 3 to 4 months for free subscribers. I’m a little more protective of my customer lists… as I do get a better openct rate when compared to free subscribers .. but I do get the feeling they need regular cleaning out too.

So why do people unsubscribe and stop reading emails?

There are a few reasons…

Mostly, I put it down to the fact that most people just lose interest in whatever it is you’re sending them emails about.

In my case, most of my lists are in the ‘internet marketing’ niche, so there is also the fact that these people get bombarded with ‘make money’ emails everyday they soon get sick of it and go through deleting and sending to ‘spam’.. and once they do that, it’s the spam box from then onwards.

That’s why I tend to like double-optin (confirmed optin) better than single optin – particularly for free offers. (I stick customers on single optin because the systems I use collect their paypal email which is usually a real address and one they check.)

Why I Like Double Opt-In

When someone confirms their email address, they 1) have to find and open the email – usually requiring them to take it out of their spam box., 2) click on the link which shows to me they are an active email reader and clicker.

I admit I was doing single opt-in for about 12 months, after doing double opt-in ever since I got started in 2006, but have now switched back to double optin for the reasons I state above.

There is the never ending debate over single vs. double opt-in but and I see the benefits of both. But the way I understand it is that the leads who confirm their email are better quality.. and because Aweber cleans up the unconfirmed emails after 30 days, I don’t have to worry about dead leads piling up and paying for them.

How about you? Are you for single opt-in? Or double opt-in? Let the debate begin!

Stu Sensei

 

TurnkeyCashkits.com 10,000 Members! Win A Free Cash Kit

In 2008 I registered the domain name turnkeycashkits.com and created a membership site where people could download list building/affiliate marketing pre-sell kits for free.

Just this week we welcomed the 10,000th member! Currently there are 10,020 registered members in the site.

This is a massive milestone for me as it’s the first membership site I’ve owned to reach 10,000 members.

So to celebrate, I want to run a little competition.

Here’s What You Can Win!

For 3 lucky members…

  1. I’ll set up 1 cash kit of your choice on your website* for free… (real world $30 value)
  2. Give you a free copy of my Easy Squeeze Page Traffic videos course… (currently selling for $17)
  3. One 15 minute one-on-one List building strategy session via Skype with me… (priceless?)

Sound good? This should get you on the fast track to building your list because after all, the money is in the list.

Here’s how to enter…

  1. Write me an honest testimonial about Turnkey Cash Kits (or even better, do a video.. 😉 and post it in the comments section below.
  2. Like this post on Facebook or Re-Tweet it on Twitter.com

That’s it. Pretty simple.. but you know, I realized that even though I’ve got 10,000 members, I’ve only got a few very short testimonials on the sales page.

I’ll choose the best 3 testimonials as the winners and get in touch with you if you’re one of them.

For everyone else, I’d still love to use your testimonials on the sales page with your website URL and photo so in that way you still win some free exposure.

If you’re not a member yet, go and sign up for free and check it out so you can write an honest testimonial, but if you’re already a member you should know how great the cash kits are.

Thanks a lot and I’m looking forward to reading your testimonials.

Stu “Sensei” Stirling

p.s. I’ll announce the winners August 1st so you have until July 31st midnight (just under a week) to enter. Good luck and thanks again!

* you’ll need your own domain name, web hosting and autoresponder in order to qualify for my set up prize. If you don’t have them yet, I recommend Aweber autoresponders, Host gator hosting and Godaddy for domains.

Why The “Internet Marketing” Niche Sucks Balls

Since I started my first online business in 2006, I have always been fanatical about list building and email marketing.

And for the main part (97%), I have been directing all my focus and energy into building my list in one niche; the “internet marketing niche” or “make money online” niche.

I was doing this fairly successfully by setting up squeeze pages, giving away free reports, selling low ticket ebooks, running free membership sites and leveraging affiliates, JV ad swaps, traffic exchanges, safelists, solo ads and giveaways to get traffic and subscribers.

The Good ‘ol Days

For a while there, I was getting sign ups and sales effortlessly. I could get 50% opt-in rates, mail out a promo and get a 10% open rate and 10% sales conversion rate.

I could get 100+ signs ups a day on auto-pilot that cost me nothing, and then make $500+ in sales from one email blast selling a $10 product. I even had a few $1000 days.

Unfortunately, those  easy “send an email and rake in the cash” days are over.

No doubt the “make money online” niche is still alive and kicking (there’s still a fortune to be made in it), but list building and email marketing in this niche is sinking quickly.

It has just about hit rock bottom.

If you’re reading this, I sincerely thank you.

It’s most likely you came here from a link in my email to you. You are one of the mere 3% of people on my lists who open and read my emails. So I thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

If you do the math, you can work out how many subscribers of mine sent that email to the trash bin.

So why is email marketing in the IM niche on its “death bed”?

I’ll give you just a few reasons which have become clear to me as to why email marketing has died off. I’m sure there are other different factors, and if you like you can add yours or comment on these below this post.

1. List Incest

Every “MMO” marketer is ad swapping, is promoting JV giveaways, is promoting each others products, is selling products on the same forums, etc.etc.

The result is that subscribers or “prospects” that are on your list are on dozen’s of other marketers lists.. which results in the next problem.

2. Too Much Email!

Ever wake up to 144 unread emails in your inbox all from “internet marketers” trying to sell you the next best thing?

That’s what happens when you join dozens of internet marketers’ “newsletters” who are a little trigger happy on the send button.

Subscribers are sick to death of all the email.

Unless you have an EXCELLENT rapport with your subscribers and customers or you pull the world’s most miraculous, hypnotic email subject line out of your a**, your email is going straight to the trash.

And even getting your email opened these days is a feat in itself. You’d better be a John Carlton world class copywriter if you want to stand a chamce to even get your links in your email clicked on.

IM sucks

3. Too Much Pitching Of Too Much Crap

A lot of email may not be such a big problem if you’re giving away good content. But when you’re sending pitch after pitch after pitch of crappy products everyday (sometimes several times a day!) subscribers, again just get fed up with it.. especially when they buy the crap product, realize it’s crap and it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

It’s just natural for them to begin to see any email from a “marketer” as going to be another pitch for a crap house product and boom – bin.

So my point is this.

Some marketers have ruined and continue to ruin the “mmo” market by continually committing the three things that I listed above.. and most probably they commit every abominable email marketing sin there is.

Now I hate to point the finger and call the kettle black.. I have been known to take a cheap shot sometimes. But the last thing I try to do is abuse my right to send emails to my subscribers.

And, I’m not saying everyone in this niche is ruining it. There are some marketers who I really respect and still open most of their emails.

But the sad thing is that it only takes a few rotten eggs to spoil the entire basket.

Ok, enough of the rant.

So where to from now for Stu Sensei?

As it is right now, I still make money from my subscribers and customer lists in the MMO niche even though it is considerably less than it was 12 months ago.

I could make more sales everyday if I decided to spam you and everybody on my lists with a pitch for the next best “shiny object” every day like the “gurus” do but that is the last thing I want to do.

I truly want to help people succeed online so selling you products on an entirely different topic everyday is not my bag and it doesn’t really help you either.

That only leads to confusion, information overload and an empty wallet.

It might make me a little richer for the time being, but I’d rather help you get to where you want to go and have you stick with me for the long haul.

For the past month or so, I’ve been delving into “niche marketing” and SEO. That’s why I’ve been a little quiet with my emails.

For years, I would run the other way whenever someone mentioned either one of these two terms.

I didn’t know how to do it and it seemed like too much work anyway.

But after seeing my “IM” lists’ response rate (and sales conversions) diminish before my eyes, and having started studying the workings of SEO and niche marketing, I’m seeing this route to be the future for Stu Sensei.

Why Niche SEO Marketing?

First of all, I want to steer away from the “mmo/get rich quick” niche so I want to find other niches where I can use my skills and experience to tear it up!

It was after a chat with mate and mentor James Brown in which he said “Stu, if you applied what you know about internet marketing to other niche markets, you’d totally kill it”, so that’s what I’m aiming to do.

Now that isn’t to say that I’m giving up entirely on the MMO niche.

I still want to help you succeed with internet marketing. The only major change is that what I teach you about making money online will be directly related to this new phase of “niche” marketing I’m venturing into.

And this is why I think this type of marketing style is perfect for me.. and perhaps for you too.

Search engine traffic

Is there any better quality traffic that you can target with such precision?

The whole idea of being able to target buyers with search term keywords has opened a whole new dimension to me.

I realize that if I’m targeting buyers, I don’t need to build a list. Surprise, surprise. I said it. You DON’T need to build a list.

There are some occasions where I think it would be beneficial to build a list but in most cases with this style of marketing, building a list would be a hindrance to making a sale.

Affiliate marketing

Getting paid for selling other people’s products. It’s great. I don’t need to worry about customer service, my product going stale, site maintenance… I just need to focus on driving traffic – BUYERS!

Build a niche site once, rank it and forget about it

One of the things that I’ve learned to leverage with the internet and marketing is automation.. “set and forget” types businesses. Unfortunately, the case most times in the MMO niche is that products become old extremely quickly. Another friend and great SEO marketer Dan McGonagle said to me is “it’s a flavor of the day market”.

The beauty of the niche marketing model is that once you build it, get it ranked high in Google and making sales, it will be a money maker for a considerably longer time than the next “how to make money online” ebook.

I understand about Google’s tendency to slap websites anytime they like, but there is a way to avoid them which I have studied about. That will be for another post 😉

Easy to outsource

Content, backlinks, research, site creation.. it cam all be outsourced very cheaply and easily. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough to outsource stuff for my IM biz… but I know I don’t have to look far to outsource SEO jobs. I’m hitting Fiverr up just about everyday for outsourcing small tasks.

White beach
You Can Catch Me Here In The Near Future

This is perfect because the more I can outsource, the more I can get done and the more I get done, the more coin I make.

All I can really say at this time is that I am really excited about this new phase of my internet marketing career.

I am not yet an SEO or niche marketing “expert” yet but I am learning and putting what I learn into practice.

I already have one niche blog (based on WordPress – I plan to use WP for ALL my sites I ever build again) which has already made $132.61.. and I’m competing with mostly PR3 and PR4 sites!

Nothing to write home about, but it’s enough proof for me to realize the power of this kind of marketing and to keep working with it.

Exciting days ahead, that’s for sure.

And I hope you stay on board and learn with me – and even get into it yourself if you haven’t already.

Enough of chasing dreams and selling the dream. It’s time to make our dreams come true.

Stuart StirlingTo your success,

Stu Sensei

Double Vs. Single Opt-In Subscribers: Which is Better?

Hello again friend! Today we are going to talk about gathering email addresses… or what is commonly referred to as list building – one of my favorite topics.

As you are aware, a mailing list full of happy subscribers is a powerful marketing tool that can pay off big over and over again.

But you can’t just go out and harvest every email you run across and start sending email at it.You have to build your list naturally and obtain valid, verifiable email addresses.

When someone agrees to let you send them email, they are “opting-in” to your list. You have their permission to send them as much email as you want (within reason).

You get them to opt-in by providing a page where they can provide their email in order to join your list. This page is commonly referred to as a “squeeze page”.

Now, when someone fills out your opt-in form on your squeeze page, they go into your list database in autoresponder system. I use Aweber but there are dozens out there.

When setting up your list in your AR, you’re given the option to choose whether you want subscribers to confirm their subscription – making them a double-opt-in or not…

(or at least I know that Aweber has this option.. not too sure about other Autoresponder systems however.)

So when you come to this point, you have to make a decision – should I build a double or single opt-in list?

Just to clarify… a single opt-in means once the person has entered an email address, it is on the list.. no confirmation process.

A double opt-in subscriber is one who has entered their email into the opt-in form AND confirmed their email address by clicking on the confirmation link which was sent to their email address.

I can see why single opt-in would be appealing to some marketers but in my honest opinion, single opt-in is risky today because there are a whole lot of people on the Internet who love to fill out squeeze pages with fake email addresses.

Then there are robots that go about spamming every web page they find (including squeeze pages), and then the users who quickly forget they signed up for your list and then accuse you of being a spammer.

Basically, a single-optin list is going to get clogged with junk. The numbers might be impressive, but you won’t know how many of those email addresses are actually valid.

Another thing is that you don’t want to be paying for the junk leads as most Autoresponders charge you by volume.

These are the reasons why most marketers today, including myself are using “double opt-in” subscription for their email lists.

In a double opt-in list, someone submits their email address and then has to confirm it or verify it to complete the subscription.

Once this happens you have proof that they gave you their email address and confirmed it so their is no risk of being accused as a spammer.

Double-optin Subscribers are better!But more importantly, they showed their willingness to be on your list by going through an “extra hoop”.

This is great because it means they are willing to take action – even if it is just clicking a link – which shows they’re interested in knowing more about you and your business.

Exactly the people you want to have on your list!

The downside is that this extra hoop can drastically reduce the number of confirmed opt-ins.

I have found that a good portion (up to half) of your subscribers will never be confirmed!

But you have to wonder…. did they enter their real email address in the first place? Are they actually real people?

Admittedly, many real people do not leave their email client open when surfing the web. So they may give you their email address and not see your confirmation request until the next day. It can take a day or two for some to remember to confirm their subscription.

Others will not remember they even went to your web site and submitted their email so they will just delete the email and you never hear from them again.

Today everyone loves to cry “spam!” when any sort of email that tries to sell them something shows up in their inbox.

The only sure fire way to protect yourself from being blacklisted as a spammer is to have proof that the email you sent was authorized by them when they joined your list.

If you chose the “double opt-in” method then you have this proof, otherwise you might be in trouble.

So obviously I am on the side of the double opt in list.

I would rather have 1 person who willingly agreed to receive my newsletter than 100 who have no idea why my email just landed in their inbox. In this litigious society, you can never be too careful.

Stuart StirlingStu Sensei

p.s. How about you? Are you building a double or single opt-in list? Leave your comment!

 

How To Lower Your Unsubscribe Rate

I’m sure everyone who has a list has experienced seeing their once happy, loyal subscribers unsubscribe. As a list owner too, it’s not fun to see them go.

It mainly hurts because subscribers equal money. For the most part, the bigger your list, the more money you can potentially make when you email out an offer, so losing subscribers is like losing money that you could have made.

But when we get down to it, everyone is going to have unsubscribers. It’s a part of having a list. We can’t stop unsubscribers, but we can help reduce the unsubscribe rate.

I bet you’ve wondered why people unsubscribe and come up with a few possible reasons. Here are some questions you might ask yourself when you see your subscribers leave your list, but are they the real reasons?

Truths Or Myths?

Do I Send Too Many Emails?

Yes, I would have to say that this is probably the #1 reason for people unsubscribing and why I unsubscribe from other’s lists – I just don’t want to get that many emails from them. If you notice a large number drop every time you blast an email, you could try spreading out the times between mailings.

There isn’t a rule to go by because every niche is different. In the MMO niche, I think that more than 3 a week is too many. Everyday is pushing on the borderline of spam.

Do I Sell Too Much?

Contrary to popular belief, sending too many promotional emails is not a big reason for people unsubscribing.

Of course, 100% promotional emails one after the other is not good, but readers expect to be sold too. In fact, tests have revealed that sending too much free stuff and no offers to buy anything will kill a list. People love to see what’s for sale, which is great news for us email marketers.

I would say I send a ratio of 80% promotional and 20% free content. This seems to work for me. The funny thing is, people will unsubscribe even when I send free stuff. So, no, sending too many promos is not a big concern.

Are My Emails Boring or Unrelated?

This is the 2nd biggest reason for people unsubscribing. If the reader isn’t getting any value out of your emails, they will want out. Understand that their time and inbox space is valuable so they only want stuff that will help them.

Some ways to keep emails interesting are to share your personality, let then in on your private life a bit, keep them up to date on a goal you have set, throw in a random (but related) link to a cool story or video you found etc. Mix up the style of writing too, mix up the lengths… send some short and some long, greet and sign off in a different way each time, etc.

Did I Make A Good First Impression?

You may or may not have thought about this before, but it is actually a very, very important factor to keeping a loyal readership. The first time contact with your subscriber can be a big deciding factor to whether your readers will like you and want to read your emails.

I read in a forum thread recently that one marketer experienced drastically lower unsubscribe rates when he started using a video of him talking to his new subscriber on his ‘thankyou’ page.

So, first impressions do count. If you notice that people unsubscribe a lot right after they sign up, then you might want work on a better first impression.

I hope these little tips help you keep your subscribers happy an keep unsubscribes to a minimum. A happy list means a happy and wealthy marketer.

If you have any other methods you’ve used or have heard about to lower your unsubscribe rate, please leave them in your comment below.

Stu “Sensei” Stirling

How To Beat The Spam Filters

Email marketing is no doubt one of the most powerful ways of getting your offer or marketing message in front of your prospects. That’s why list building is such a hot topic.

Although there is great power in email marketing, the hardest part these days is actually getting your email into your prospects inbox.

There are many hurdles for email marketers… but the big one is spam filters.

Spam filters will stop your email dead in its tracks, even before your prospect has the chance to see it if your email has any traces of spam like characteristics.

As I see it, there are three types of spam filters.

1. Your recipients ISP (internet service provider)

2. Your recipients Email client/Computer’s Anti-spam measures

3. Your recipients right hand on the “delete” button

Robot Spam Filters

First off, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting through or ‘beating’ the spam filters of ISP’s etc.

A major one includes removing words and phrases that can trigger the spam filters. For example, “guarantee” is one trigger word, so you can slightly modify it by making it look like “gua’rantee” or “guaran.tee” etc.

There are several spam triggering words out there and here is a list of some common ones to avoid.

Also, other major no-no’s are using too many !!!! and ALL CAPS in your emails, especiallly in the subject line.

It really depends on your Spam “score” in determining whether your email will make it or not. The more bad stuff you have in your email, the higher the score. Luckily, services like Aweber’s email marketing service give you a preview of your spam score before you send it out.

Some other useful tips when constructing your email are to…

  • Send text emails as opposed to HTML whenever possible,
  • Avoid using a free email address (e.g. hotmail) as your sender/from address. Instead, use an email address from your domain name. I.e. “[email protected]”,
  • Not sending too many emails too frequently,
  • Creating a free email account you use for testing and see if your email gets delivered to the INBOX.

The tips above will help your emails stay out of the spam box, and if you get that far, you’re doing well, but the next big challenge is to avoid being canned or worse, marked as spam by your recipient.

The Human Spam Filter

Ultimately, your recipients will decide if they want to keep or junk your email, even if it does get through top their inbox.

Here are some habits I keep when communicating with my subscribers via email.

  • I use my real name as the sender. Some marketers will use their product name or website name, but I think that emails coming from a real person are received with a warmer welcome.
  • Provide useful content. This goes without saying. If you sell, sell, sell, to your list all the time, they will get tired of it and start ignoring your emails, junk it, unsubscribe, mark as spam etc.
  • Make it look not like SPAM. If it looks like a spam email, it will be treated like spam. Get rid of the ALL CAPS and excessive exclamation marks.
  • Use personalization. By that I mean using the recipients name in the email. If helps with response too. Another response booster is to include the date in your subject lines.
  • Use a “double opt-in” sign up system. The spam complaints are much lower and you get people who actually want your stuff.

It really just comes down to common sense with getting through to your people. The best thing you can do is to get them to know you, like you and trust you.

Do right by your subscribers, and they’ll do right by you.

Thanks for reading and best of luck with the email marketing. If you can do it right, and well, you’ll get people waiting eagerly for your emails.

Stuart Stirling

p.s. Want More Subscribers Everyday? Check out my new Easy Squeeze Page Traffic videos and see how you can get a ton of easy free, traffic to your squeeze page.