Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Building Your List - Part 4

So far we've discussed what you need to do to grow your list, what to do when you don't know what to write about and the important items to administer for an autoresponder.

This week we are going to discuss knowing where your subscribers are coming from - also called tracking.

Part 3 - Know Where Your Subscribers Are Coming From

In our excitement to get our online business going and starting a list many of us don't create a way to track anything.

With so much to learn and all the work to be done we put "tracking" on the bottom of our To Do List and sometimes forget to get around to it. (Yes, I said we because I was just as guilty as you when I started.)

Big Mistake!

Now I am not going to repeat all the words you've read before about why tracking is important so you'll know how and where to spend your time and money. Instead, I'll give you an example of how our kids instinctively know how to use tracking to their advantage.


Halloween is a big holiday here in the states where children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door to collect candy.

The first year a child goes out to make the rounds to collect goodies they have no idea what they're going to get so they pretty much go to every house within the limits given by their parents. However, they are mentally noting who is giving what.

When it's time to quit, most of them will ask, "Can we please go back to xx house because they gave xx?" (Money always attracts repeat visitors.)

Now the the second year the child goes out they somehow remember who was giving the "good stuff" and want to go there first. They also remember who gave the "icky stuff" and have no problem with walking past that house to go to another.

As the child gets older and their boundaries expand, they start becoming selective as to which houses they will go to and which ones are "not worth their time." They've been tracking the treats given and now want to use that information to their advantage to collect as many "good treats" as time permits.

Learn from the children!

Track everything that can affect your business, your time, your money and your list.

Now there are several ways to track where your subscribers are coming from and I'll list 3 of them below. You'll notice that none of them include the use of a tracking system because those systems count visitors to a page and not who signs up.

Method 1:
  1. Create a separate page for every method you are using to attract subscribers. They can all look alike or they may be different depending on how you're promoting them.
  2. Go into your autoresponder system to create the form to include on 1 of the pages and add 1 custom field. Name the field something like: Referred By:
  3. Copy the form onto your sign up page.
  4. Now if you're using an html editor like FrontPage you can select the input area for the custom field and select Properties from the Format menu. Enter something in the Initial Value box - a value that will identify this page.

    If you have to type the code yourself it will look something like this:
    <input type="text" name="custom1" size="40" maxlength="70"
    value="How you identify this page"
    The bolded words are what you must add.
  5. Test your form.

Now when someone signs up, the autoresponder will store the information in the custom field and you should be able to access it.

Method 2:

The above method for tracking is used when someone fills out a form to become a member of your list. Some autoresponder systems allow you to simply have new subscribers send an email to your system. If your system has this capability you may be able to add a Subject to the email they send to identify where they are coming from. Be sure to test this method because adding a subject line to the subscribe email message may work for some but will not work for all.

Method 3:

If your using an autoresponder system that does not allow the use of custom fields or adding a subject line, another way to find out where your subscribers are coming from is to create a separate autoresponder and sign up page for every place you are getting traffic. And although this method will work it is time consuming because you'll have to go to multiple lists to do your mailings and make any changes to your message sequence. I only recommend this method as a "last thing to try method."

Tracking where your subscribers are coming from is as important as tracking your ads because it tells you where you are getting your subscribers. And by knowing where you get most of subscribers you know where to spend most of your time to get more.

To Your Success,
Susan Carroll
FriendsWhoCare Newsletter

PS Partnering in giveaways is a great way to add subscribers. Create a page and form for each 1 you are currently participating. When a giveaway ends, you can re-use the page for a new giveaway simply by changing the identifying value in the custom field.

If you're using a separate autoresponder for each giveaway you can re-use them the same way. Simply the record the dates associated with each giveaway so you'll know which ones worked the best.

While giveaways are a great way to add subscribers they are not created equally. Some will produce more than others. Knowing which ones work the best for you will help you decide which ones to join in the future when the giveaway owners host another.

Building Your List - Part 3

So far we've discussed what you need to do to grow your list and what to do when you don't know what to write about.

This week we are going to discuss setting up your autoresponder.

Part 3 - Setting Up Your Autoresponder - The Important Stuff

While it would be nice to include the step-by-step instructions for setting up your autoresponder it's simply not possible with all the different administration control panels being used. I've personally seen 6 different admin panels and doubt that I've seen them all.

So rather than walk you through setting yours up, I will list the important things to administer.

The 4 Basic Things You Need To Administer On Your Autoresponder:
  1. The Message Sequence:

    Whether you're doing a multi-part mailing or just the thank-you message to those who join your list, you must edit your message sequence.

    The first message may be numbered 0 or 1, depending on the system your using, and it is the message sent immediately after someone has joined your list. (If you're using a double opt-in system it's sent after they have confirmed their request to join your list.) This is the message where you thank them for joining and send the link to the gift you've promised. (On single opt-in systems you can give your gift on the thank-you page however, I suggest you don't. If you do give the link on your thank-you page, it's a good idea to repeat it in this message.)

    After the first message you may add content to other messages as you desire. Just remember to always put in a "Subject" for every message. Also, if you add additional messages after you've started getting subscribers, the subscribers you already have may not get the new messages.

    Most autoresponder systems allow you to control how close together the messages are delivered. So if you want your messages to be sent 1 day apart, enter a 1. If you want the message to be sent 2 days after the last message, enter a 2 and so on.

    Also, most systems will allow you to personalize your messages with things like the name and email address of the person your sending the messages to. This is done by inserting a tag in your message where you want the persons information. Again, the format for these tags is different depending on the system your using but you should be able to find how yours should be formatted easily.

  2. From Email Parameters

    Most paid for autoresponder systems allow you to enter both an email address and a name used as the "From" for the messages from your autoresponder. It is recommended that you do not use the autoresponders email address. Use a valid email address and the name you want your subscribers to become familiar with. (A free autoresponder system may not allow you to administer this information and will use the email address you entered when you signed up for the service.)

  3. Thank-You Page

    This is another item you may not be allowed to administer with a free system because they will use 1 standard page for everyone who uses their system. (FreeAutoBot does allow you to administer this page. Read the Help for "Add Lead.")

    The Thank-You page is the page seen immediately after someone submits the form to join your list. If you're using a double opt-in system it's a good idea to remind them to check their email and confirm their request. For a single opt-in system you can deliver your gift, tell them to check their email or anything else you decide to do like make them a 1 time offer.

  4. Set Personalization

    Many autoresponder systems will allow you to select how some things like dates are formatted and what name to use when no name is in the database for a subscriber. (Because many systems allow people to subscribe by sending an email, the subscribers who have joined this way may not have a name in the database.) While the default may be acceptable for things like dates, you need to make sure that you have an acceptable value for missing names.

Depending on the autoresponder system you choose, you may have many other items you are allowed to administer. Things like: Email Reject Filter where you block users from certain domains or email addresses from joining your list; modify the remove link provided in your mailings; the header and/or footer information that is to be added to all your messages; tracking links; and set up and share campaigns. All of these are advanced features and you can learn about them after you have your system going.

After you have your autoresponder set up you need to start getting people to sign up. Many systems allow people to join by simply sending an email to your autoresponder (some require certain words in the subject line of the mailing.) If your system has this capability you should be able to easily find it either within the administration area or in the email the system sent you when you created your autoresponder account.

Another way to get people to sign up is by submitting their information via a form. Every autoresponder system will give you the code for this form. The free systems may give you the generic code and identify what you must modify before you use it while the paid for systems will create the fully functional code for you automatically.

The last way to get names onto your list is by entering them yourself either 1 at a time or uploading a list. Because online autoresponder services need to protect themselves from those who would use their system to send spam, they have all implemented some restrictions on how this can be done. In the event you decide to enter names into your system you'll have to read the policy and restrictions for the system you're using. (A word of caution, if you enter someone's information and they report back to the service that you sent spam, you may get your account deleted.)

One last thing about using an autoresponder - To send out fresh content to your list, you will use the "broadcast" or "email all" feature. With this feature you get to enter a message and then send it to everyone on your list. (Great for sending out newsletters.)

The 2 biggest things to remember when setting up an autoresponder are:

  1. Read the tutorial they give you and use their online help. Every system tries to make it as easy as possible for their users.
  2. Test. Once you have your system in place and your form created, sign up and see what happens. If it doesn't do what's expected then go back into the system and fix it.

Setting up an autoresponder may sound like a big, scary task that you're not ready for but it doesn't have to be. You can sign up for a free one and play with it for awhile to become familiar with how it works. You don't have to know anything about programming to use the free and paid for online services and they all provide enough help to get you started.

The hard part of setting up an autoresponder isn't learning how it's done - it's finding the time to set up all the messages you may want to have automatically delivered.

To Your Success,
Susan Carroll
FriendsWhoCare Newsletter

PS This tip was written for the use of online autoresponder services. And while many may choose to purchase and use their own system on their site, I didn't cover the additional things you need to know to use your own system (loading scripts, modifying scripts, splitting your list to avoid hogging all you hosting provider's bandwidth, how to avoid being blacklisted by email providers, etc.) Until you're ready to either learn all the things just mentioned or hire someone else to load and maintain your system I suggest you use one of the online services and let them take care of the really big and scary stuff.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Building Your List - Part 2

Last week we discussed what you need to do to grow your list.

This week we are going to discuss the biggest problem identified
by those of you who don't have a list.

Part 2 - "I don't know what to write about"

Believe it or not, not knowing what to write
about is a problem shared by both those who don't have a mailing
list and many who do.

Just imagine you've got a list and you're
suppose to send out some useful information every week. Maybe
you've even gotten the first 10 mailings planned out. Now, weeks
11, 25 and 51 come along. What are you going to write about?

If thinking about mailing useful content on a
regular basis makes you shutter because you don't know what to
say then here are 5 suggestions:

  1. There is no rule that says how often you have to
    email your list. Yes, you do need to do it on a regular basis
    and often enough that they remember who you are but you can
    decide to do it every 2 weeks or twice a month or as new
    information becomes available. You can always change the
    frequency of your mailing after you've gotten more comfortable
    with doing them and sending them less often means you don't have
    to come up with as many things to write about.

  2. There is no rule that says you have to write an
    ezine to have a mailing list. In fact, a lot of people start
    their lists by offering a report or ecourse. These reports and
    ecourses are broken down into pieces and each piece is sent
    separately. (It's done this way so those who receive your
    mailings will learn to recognize your name.) Many affiliate
    programs offer pre-written reports and ecourses for your use.
    And although the pre-written material may include restrictions
    about how it can be used and modified, most don't restrict you
    from sending additional email to your list.

  3. Because you're not required to have an ezine to
    have a mailing list, you may decide to send another type of
    information on a regular basis. Things like:

    * A store that adds new items or offers sales can offer to
    notify them when new items are added or a sale is being offered.

    * A site for product reviews can offer to send new reviews.

    * A directory site can send announcements for new listings.

    * A motivational site can send motivational quotes: a sport site
    can send scores; a fun site can send jokes and cartoons; etc.

    * If you have a site that just has your opinion about different
    things then offer to let them know when you've posted something

  4. Unless you state that the content in your
    mailings are original, there is no rule that says you have to
    write the content. Go to some of the article directories and do
    a search on any topic. If it's a topic people are interested in
    there will be hundreds, maybe thousands, of articles already
    written and available for your use. And yes, using other
    peoples' articles can still work for you. The trick to using
    other peoples' content is to include a short introduction to the
    article. (Hopefully you can write a few words about why you
    liked or disliked, agreed or disagreed with the article.)

  5. There is no rule that says you have to email
    long articles. You can send short quotes, jokes, tips, etc. And
    you can find an abundance of those things online for you to send

Now that you know that you're not required to
publish an ezine to have a mailing list and you have some ideas
on things to write and where to get information, the

Big question is:

What should my mailings be about?

And the answer is:

Whatever you want.

Look at your site. Hopefully it's focused on 1 targeted niche
and you can offer something for that group. Do they want to know
about sales? Do they want to learn how to do something? Do they
want to express their opinion? Think about what it is that your
site visitors are looking for and then offer it.

If you can't identify the targeted audience for your site
then you need to clean it up and get it more focused. You can't
provide everything to the everybody so don't even try.

Now I don't know how many mailing lists you've signed up for
but over the years I've signed up for hundreds. Why did I sign
up? Because every 1 of them offered something I thought would
benefit me.

I've received motivational quotes, tips on how to use a
Microsoft software application, product reviews, new product
announcements, traffic tips, list building tips, new recipes,
new forum topic announcements and a host of other things.

Do they all send email on a regular basis? Yes.

Do they all provide something of interest to a targeted
niche? Yes.

Do they all send ezines? No

Do they all send original content? No

And while I do unsubscribe to a lot of the lists I sign up
for, surprisingly, I have stayed subscribed to many where the
above questions and answers are still true.

When you got up this morning, maybe you didn't have a list
because you didn't know what to write about. But today is the
day to look at your business, decide what it's about, figure out
what your potential customers are looking for and then offer to
provide related information if they sign-up to your mailing

To Your Success,

PS Here are 3 very important things to remember after
you've chosen what to write about:

  1. "If at 1st you don't succeed, try, try again." In other
    words, if people don't sign up when you actively promote your
    mailing offer, either re-work the offer or offer to send
    something else. If people unsubscribe faster than they
    subscribe, try changing the format, the frequency, or the type
    of information.

  2. Always protect the privacy of your subscribers and allow
    them to unsubscribe at any time.

  3. Don't abuse your list by sending too many mailings. One of
    the fastest ways to get people to unsubscribe is to send
    multiple email ads too frequently.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Building Your List - Part 1

During our recent polls on building a list for your online business we uncovered some of the problems you have with either starting or building your list.

All of these problems need to be addressed so this week is the first tip in a series of articles about starting and building your list. And while each of these problems deserves to be discussed first, they will be discussed according to the number of votes received.

According to your votes, 90% of you have started a mailing list for your online business so today's tip addresses the problem of "not getting many sign-ups." If you are in the 10% who have not started your list, please read and remember or save a copy of today's tip because you'll need to remember this information when you start your list.

Part 1 - Growing Your List

A few years ago getting subscribers was extremely easy for anyone with a few dollars to invest in their online business because you could buy names, load them into your autoresponder and start sending them email. And depending on where you bought them and how much you were willing to spend, you could build a list of 10's of thousands in a short time.

However today, with all the laws against spam and the organizations fighting it, buying names for your list is not a wise or safe way to build your list. Instead, you must either pay someone to promote your list or do it yourself.

Should you pay someone to promote your list? This depends on you, your budget and how they are going to promote your list. There are a few legitimate co-registration services online however, they are very expensive.

A couple of years ago I tried 2 of the more affordable "guaranteed signup" services that promise to deliver subscribers and I didn't get a single new subscriber for the dollars I invested. (If you read the actual agreement instead of the attention grabbing headline, they only promise to have your signup page shown a certain number of times.)

Most "guaranteed signup" services don't work because they show your site as a pop-under for another site. Because most web users now use a popup blocker, your site never appears on their screen. And even if it does, the viewer wasn't expecting it and doesn't know where it came from so they usually close it because it was just an annoyance they don't want to deal with.

The best ways to build your list is to promote it yourself and to get others who already have a list to promote it. If you're not getting many signups when you promote your list then you need to redo your offer until you find 1 that works.

Since you've already started your list, you already know why it's important. Now here's the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember about building your list.

Every time you advertise anything it should include a way to build your list.

When you advertise, free or paid-for, you should be sending visitors to a signup page - not a page that has a signup form - but a "real" capture page designed with the purpose of getting someone to signup for your list. Sure, you want to sell something and make a few dollars but making a few dollars now and not getting the names of those interested whether they bought or not will cost you a lot more future dollars.

Think of your online business like 1 of the successful local businesses in your area. First they had to get people to know they were open and where they were located. Then they offered free samples or had a grand opening sale. If people liked what the business had to offer, even if they didn't buy anything the first time they visited, they came back.

Just like that local off-line business you have to find people to visit your site and give them a sample of what you have to offer. The big difference between the off-line business and your online business is that most people will remember where the off-line business is located but they won't remember your site's web address. It's because of that difference you have to get their email information.

Now many of you have seen my home page with it's content and small signup box and are thinking, "her page isn't designed like a capture page." Your right. I did that page more than 3 years ago and have been trying to redo it in my spare time - something I never seem to have.

It's because my home page is not a capture page that I don't promote it.
Where do I send people when I advertise? Well, over the years I've used several different capture pages and the ones I am currently using the most are at:, and I have had others that were more simple and more effective but these are the ones I choose to use now because even though I get fewer signups, the signups I get are more interested in what I have to offer.

After seeing some of my capture pages you may have some questions like:

  • Where do I advertise these pages?
    Answer: Everywhere, ads, traffic exchanges, giveaways, link exchanges, ad swaps, articles, etc. (And like you, I get more signups from giveaways than anywhere else.)

  • Do I make a sale when someone signs up?
    Answer: Not usually but I have had quite a few signup under me in free traffic generating programs.

  • Do I make sales to my list?
    Answer: Many of you already know that answer since you've purchased items. And, as my list grows so do my sales and I appreciate every one of them. Thank you.

Now in case you still think that building your list is a secondary activity and advertising a product is still what you want to do, here are the results of an unintentional experiment I've been running over the last 3 years. Your results may be different if you use different offers and means of advertising however the overall picture of what's happening will still be the same.

One of the ways I get traffic to my site is through the use of traffic exchange programs. One of the programs I use allows me to have several pages shown to other users and they all get the same number of visits.

Over the last 3 years I have used this program to show my different capture pages and I have also shown different sales pages and 2 affiliate sites.

From my capture pages I have added several hundred new subscribers.
From my sales pages - not a single sale.
From my affiliate sites - 7 signed up as free affiliates for 1 program but I never made any money and for the pay-to-join affiliate program - no one has signed up. (I've had the pay-to-join affiliate page up the entire 3 years.)

Now obviously I don't send you to my capture pages after you've signed up but how did these same sales pages and affiliate sites to when I told you about them?

I made sales from all the sales pages. The number and amount I made was different for each of them but I always sold at least 10 or more and made anywhere from $65.00 to $170.00. (No, I didn't make $3,943. since I make my offers affordable for almost everyone and have a small list.)
As for the 2 affiliate programs I offered, I only got 6 to sign up under me in the free program however they all upgraded and became paying members. And in the last 6 months 4 have signed up under me in the pay-to-join program.

To grow your business you have to grow your list.

To grow your list you have to:

  1. Market it through the use of capture pages.
  2. Send ALL your traffic to 1 of your capture pages.If a capture page doesn't work, modify it until you find 1 that does.
  3. Use as many ways to advertise your capture pages as you have time and can afford.

Remember, you have to promote yourself and your list to those who don't know you and you promote your products, services and affiliate programs to those who do.

To Your Success,

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Do You Know Which Way "Up" Is?

I guess I am just getting too old for all this new internet marketing technology because now I don't even know the difference between "up" and "down".

Maybe you can help me out.

Over the last couple of days I've been getting a lot of sales pitches telling me about a product where the starting price was only $.10 and was raised by a dime every time someone bought it.

Well I finally got curious enough to check it out and discovered I had to give them my mailing info to read about this product.

Did that and then read the sales page with the "it's never going to be lower than it is right now" price of $6.80.

Now I didn't want the product for reasons I'll explain in a minute but left the page open while I went off to do some other things.

A couple of hours later I went back to the sales page and did a refresh. (They said not to do that because my locked in price would be gone and I'd have to pay the new "it's never going to be lower than it is right now" amount of $7.10.

Well, they weren't making a ton of money but they did earn 30 cents in 2 hours.

Now here's where I started getting confused about up and down ...

This morning I got an email thanking me for checking out the product and reminding me that if I hadn't purchased the product yet, "The price is going up by the sale, and it's never goingto be lower than it is right now ..."

Being curious about how sales were going, I clicked the link and found the new price of ...$4.80.

Now I have a BA in math and thought I knew how to add. So someone please tell me - did they change the rules of addition when I wasn't looking?


Then how come $4.80 is higher than $7.10?

Figuring there's a good reason $4.80 is higher than $7.10 I assumed it had to do with how I got to the page with the price. (like different sellers) So I went back to last night's page, re-entered my mailing info and saw that page's new "it's never going to be lower than it is right now" amount of $4.80.

I guess I am just too old to understand which way "up" is but if you do - please help me out.

I hope you got a chuckle out of the above true story and learned something but even if you didn't there's a lesson to be learned in why I didn't buy the above product.

The product was for some pre-built web pages that were already earning the owner an income. And the sales page asked if you wanted to learn how to earn money while doing nothing.
There was proof of income and the owner was selling exact copies of 3 of these income producing sites.

Imagine, not having to pick a niche, not having to select keywords, not having to get content, not having to optimize for the search engines and not having to build the page and being able to earn income just by putting a copy of his pages on your site.

Sound too good to be true?

Well it is.

Sure his pages may be making him some money and he's getting his traffic from the search engines but what's going to happen when there are 68, 71 or 48 exact copies of his pages? They can't all be in the top 10, 20, 30 or even 40 sites listed for a search.

The truth is, we're all lazy and would like to make money without working and there are a lot of places that offer you the opportunity to do just that.

But remember, when something sounds to good to be true - it probably is. And whether the price is going up, down or staying constant, buying into a false promise at any price is too expensive.

To Your Success,