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The Money's in the List!

By Donald Nelson, copyright 2005

“The money is in the list.” This is one of the slogans of internet marketing experts

who say that it is very important to build up an opt-in list and then make regular mailings which will enable you to sell your goods and services.

If you doubt this slogan, then you should consult with one of my close friends and colleagues who has been quietly building his mailing list over the best three years. Recently he sent out a mailing to all his subscribers, asking them to help out with Hurricane Katrina relief work. He was astonished to see that immediately following the mailing the traffic to his website jumped ten-fold over a period of three days and counting. Not only did his traffic increase, his e-book sales and subscriptions to his new course went through the roof. And, there was not one word of a commercial pitch in his message to the list.

What is the secret of his success? Even he is scratching his head. But, really it is not a mystery. He runs several free auto-responder courses from his website, delivering high quality information on health and well-being, topics that are important to all of us. Because the content of his mailings is of a high standard, he has won the trust and confidence of thousands of people. This is what electronic marketers call “pre-selling”. Now, whenever he has something to say, his readers are eager to listen.

If you run a website and do not already have a mechanism for building up a list of interested readers, then you should consider doing it now. Here are a few ways to build your list.

1. Start a periodic newsletter with a subscription form on all the pages of your website.

However, if you want the kind of success that my friend had, you should write good articles, or get quality material from other writers and send it to your list on a regular basis. If you don’t know or don’t already have a mechanism for collecting addresses and mailing a newsletter, you can get a free service from or a professional service from Adweber

2. Offer an auto-responder tutorial course on your website.

People come to the web to find solutions to their problems or answers to their questions. Write a series of how-to articles or information articles and offer them as a series that is sent automatically on a periodic basis whenever people subscribe. You can use an auto-responder service hosted by commercial companies or  use an  auto responder script installed on your own server. A versatile auto responder is available from  Aweber  (it is hosted on their servers and you don't have to install any software) or you can buy an auto responder script  and install it on your server.

3. Write a small e-book in PDF format and offer it as a free download in exchange for an email address

PDF documents are the industry-standard these days, and if you supply good information that is related to your field of activity, your web visitors will be more than happy to trade their email address for a free download. PDF downloads are also viral; people pass them along to their friends and if your information and links are in the e-book, you are likely to get a wide readership.

4. Publish your articles on other websites and newsletters, mentioning your mailing list in your “resource box.”

One of the best ways to build your list is to get your articles published on other websites and in the electronic newsletters published by web masters in fields related to yours. At the end of these published articles you should put your author information (this is also known as a resource box) and include a hyperlink to your website and a mention that more of your articles are available in your newsletter and give a url where people can sign up for it.

One important thing to consider about list building is that whenever you are offering something, even if it is for free, you must sell it to your readers by describing what it is and how it will benefit them. You can’t succeed with a one-line sentence saying, “Sign up for our free newsletter.” If you have a newsletter, you should give a list of past articles. If you have satisfied subscribers, publish some testimonials.

Every day many people are visiting your website and some of them would like to know more about what you have to say and would like to hear from you on a periodic basis. Give them a chance, by using some of the list-building methods that I have described.

Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (, a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services. 

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