What is Email Marketing?

With email marketing, you have the ability to send your marketing message directly to your audience. And, it has the highest ROI of any marketing channel — every dollar invested returns $42!

This is very much unlike social media marketing or even traditional ad driven marketing. These marketing tools are like you standing on a busy corner in Times Square waiting for someone to grab your flyer (and hopefully they do not throw it out in the trash can). 

Well, it’s a bit more targeted than that, but, it’s you’re still waiting and hoping for someone to click your ad. 

With email marketing, you’re placing yourself inside your audience’s inbox — they’re guaranteed to see your message. You have a higher chance of your message being opened and read. It can be compared to direct mail, except with email, usually, you are not blasting just anyone. Your contacts usually sign up for your service, product, blog, etc. 

So, how do you get contacts to join your list so you can start emailing them, you may ask? Well, we’ll get to that. 

First, let’s talk about what you came here for exactly. Is it a good idea for you to buy a list? 

Buying an Email List

Is it Legal to Buy a list? 

The short answer is … it depends. 

Based on where you are in the world, OR, where your contacts are, it might be illegal to use a purchased list. In the US, for example, there are no laws currently that prohibit you from buying and using a list. 

What’s good about buying a list? 

List building is one of the hardest things to do as a business owner. Believe me, it took me forever to even get just 100 contacts on my list.

However, once you have a great system in place, it becomes easier. 

Here are some benefits of buying a list

  1. Speeds up your marketing efforts

Building a list can take time. You need to create forms, create enticing lead magnets, then, drive your contacts to your site. 

This takes a lot of time, effort, testing, and more. 

When you buy a list, you bypass all of this. You go to a list broker site, you purchase the number of contacts you want, and voila, you have a list for your site. 

  1. Expands your reach overnight

In relation to #1, by buying a list, you instantly have a group of contacts that you can send emails to that otherwise you may not have reached. 

  1. You can quickly generate income

When you purchase a list, you generally expect to get contacts who are interested in the topic/product/service you are selling. The lists are usually vetted. You basically get a warm list that shortens the sales process. 

Buying a List Sounds Great! Why Shouldn’t I do it Though? 

Purchasing a list does sound good in theory. However, it is a dangerous prospect. You may have short term gains. But, long-term, it may hurt your marketing efforts. 

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t buy a list. 

  1. Low-Quality List

Although you may get a “targeted” list of contacts, the contacts that you are getting are not targeted specifically to what you are offering. They joined a list at some point in time, but they did not join your list. They did not ask to receive your messages so when you start emailing them, they may not be responsive to your messages and offers. 

  1. Spammers

You will likely be viewed by contacts as a spammer. Because these contacts do not expect your email and because they are receiving an unsolicited email, the contacts may mark your email as spam. This is not good for you. 

  1. Facing Legal Fines and Bills

In some countries, it is illegal to use a purchased list. Some countries require senders to explicitly get permission to send emails to their contacts. 

One example is the EU. In the recent past, the EU passed a new law called GDPR. This law makes it illegal to send unsolicited mail. Violation of this law can get you in serious legal trouble. 

  1. Poor Response Rate & Reputation issues

Response rates like Open and Click rates are important — not just because it helps with your bottom line, but also because it is a metric used by ESPs and email providers. They look at how responsive your contacts are. If they are not responsive, your emails may be blocked or get sent to the black hole of the internet where they disappear forever. 

  1. ESPs do not allow them

On a more practical note, purchased lists are not permitted to be used on most, if not all, reputable email service providers. Their policies strictly prohibit this because it can hurt their servers. Purchased lists can bring high spam complaints. This is the main reason why ESPs do not allow them. They want to make sure that their servers are not blocked. 

Here’s a list ESPs that do not allow bought list

  1. ActiveCampaign
  2. Constant Contact
  3. Mailchimp
  4. Aweber
  5. Convertkit

So What Now? What do I do if I don’t have a list? 

What is an opt in list?

When you buy lists, the list you have is called a non-opted-in list. This means that the contacts did not specifically give you their email addresses to be added to your list. 

An opted in list is the opposite of this. It’s a list made up of contacts that provided explicit permission to be added to your list. 

This means that when you send them emails, they know who you are and what you are sending them. In some/most cases, ESPs go even further than this definition. They only consider lists opted in when you are sending the exact content that the contacts signed up for. 

So, if you have a sign up for your blog myblog.com, you can only send your list emails about myblog.com. You can’t send them emails about my2ndblog.com even if you own both sites. 

Single vs Double Opt in

Now that you know what an opt in list is, let’s talk about the 2 types of opted in methods – Single and Double Opt in. 

Simply put, in a single opt in method, your contact fills out a form and automatically gets added to your list as a confirmed contact. 

The Double opt in method goes a step further. After the contact signs up, you send them an email with a way to confirm the sign up. 

As you can see, a single opt in method makes things easier. You also ensure that you are able to send the contacts at least 1 email with information about your product,/service/blog/etc. 

So, why use a double opt in method then? 

Well, you remember what we talked about earlier about purchased lists being low quality? It turns out that even opted lists can be low quality. 

In this case, Single opt ins are considered lower quality than Double opt ins. 

With a double opt in list, you know for sure that the contacts want to receive what you are sending them. They go that extra mile to confirm their subscription. 

Single opt ins on the other hand doesn’t give you this guarantee. For example, if you have a page that offers a free ebook, the contact may just want that freebie and not really want to be your list. 

How to get a Quality List

  1. Website

The very first thing, in my opinion, that you should do when building your list is to put a form on your website. This gives you the opportunity to capture emails from people visiting your website. You want this form to be prominently displayed and eye catching. 

If you have a blog, you may even want to embed the forms within your articles. If your visitors like your content, they may want to read more. They may be interested in leaving you their email address to get updates from you. 

There are different types of forms that you can use. Here are some of them. 

  1. Embedded form – This is the regular type of form you see on websites. You may see this on the top of the site, on the side bar, or even peppered within pages of the site. 
  2. Pop up modal – These forms pop up at specific times or specific sections of the site. For example, you may want to set up a modal that pops up half way through an article. If they reach that point, it’s safe to assume that they are interested in your content. There is a good chance that they sign up for your list.
  3. Exit intent – These are forms that pop up when you try to exit out of the page. You would generally add something enticing on these forms like a freebie of some sort.
  1. Lead magnet

Adding a form on your website is a good start. However, merely adding the form will not guarantee that people will sign up to your list. 

In most cases, you need to make it enticing for people to sign up. It’s almost a given that you need good content as a first step to enticing your visitors. So, I won’t even talk about that. 

What I want to talk about are lead magnets. 

So, what is a lead magnet? 

A lead magnet is a way for you to catch the attention of your site visitors. It’s typically a free item that you give to your visitors in exchange for their email address. 

Here are some ideas for lead magnets:

  1. A PDF guide to whatever your general topic is
  2. An exclusive audio interview
  3. A report
  4. A physical product

There are countless lead magnets that you can use. You may even want to offer different ones depending on where you add your forms on your site OR what ad you are using. 

The idea is to drive your visitors to sign up and become subscribers to your list.

  1. Social media

Social media is a great source of contacts. The best place to add a link to your form or your lead page is on your profile. In fact, on some platforms, like Instagram, this is really the only place you can add a link. 

What’s great about social media is that it’s free. Of course, you have to put in some sweat equity to make this medium work for you. 

You can provide valuable content, like tips, to gain a following. The more value you provide your audience, the likelier that your followers will sign up for your list. 

Another way to use social media for list building is by holding contests. There are apps that you can use to make this strategy easier to implement. 

  1. Facebook ads

If you have the budget, Facebook ads can be helpful in gaining some subscribers. With Ads, you can target the exact audience you want to reach.

Facebook has tons of data on their users. So, when using FB ads, you can get really granular. You can pinpoint exactly the people you want to target. If you have a niche in the photography space, for example, you can target those people. 

I don’t recommend FB Ads for beginners, however (unless you have tons of money AND/OR are very experienced with FB Ads). You would want to use FB Ads when you already have a product to sell AND you have a proven Sales Funnel where you have a reasonable expectation that a certain percentage of prospects will convert.

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