I don't like to throw stones, especially at people whom I have a lot of respect for. That said, Frank Kern is about to come out with his latest $1,997 product on list building call "list control" which promises to take the average list marketer and turn them into a swashbuckling guerrilla zen list marketing genius, improve open rates and have you rolling in cash. Okay, so I am embellishing but you get the point.
And anyone who has been in the internet marketing field for any amount of time has heard that the money is in the list. And it is....then again, it may not be....
The irony to list building is that the folks who possibly could benefit from it the most have written it off as something "so yesterday" (and yes... I am talking about you, Lis, just so you know).
But let's be real for a second...how many times do you check your email a day? Email is probably the most intimate place that you, as a blogger or marketer can reach a person. The problem is that most list marketers screw up this intimate interaction with offer after offer and useless information.
Common Sense is all you really need to Build a Strong, Responsive List...not some "system"
Now, I am not going to buy Frank Kern's List Control because personally I don't think it is necessary. I view list marketing as nothing more than common sense marketing and every marketer who claims that quirky headlines and carefully crafted content with a strong call to action to manipulate click throughs is really missing the point of what it really means to use a list to make money.
I have an open rate & response rate of 96%+.....from my friends and acquaintances that is....
One of the things that has always bothered me is that if I email someone that I hardly know personally, I usually will get a response which means that they opened up the email and actually took the time to reply, while if we, as marketers, send out a broadcast to our lists, we should be impressed with a 30% open rate (this actually varies according to your industry).
By the way, these "astonishing" (and I am being sarcastic just so you know) open rates came with mind blowing headlines like "leo here", and "I just wanted to add something".
Why is that?
Why can you get such a high open rate if you were to email someone who made a comment on your website and then turn around and that open rate average drop by 2/3rd's (according to the industry average) by working them on a list?
Luckily for me, my open and click through rates for my dozen or so lists are all relatively high. For instance, this website's newsletter an open rate average of 47% and a click through rate of around 20%. Personally, I am not happy with those numbers though. I shoot for 60-70%.
Industry Averages and What to Realistically Expect from being "Average"
Just to give you an idea of this industry and open rates, the advertising niche has an open rate of 24% (rounding up here) with a click through rate of 4%.
What this means to those of you with lists that target the make money sector, if you have a 1,000 member list and are "average", you can expect 240 of those people to actually take the time to open your email and out of those 240 people, have 10 of them click through to your offer.
....so, assuming that you are selling something that costs $20 and you have a conversion rate of 20% (because lists typically will respond more than someone being presented with an offer cold), you would make 40 bucks. That's average now and I am sure that many of you do far better with your list. I will give up some of my numbers later in this article....
Now, most email marketers will settle on being "average" and simply turn it into a number's game. For instance, if you can only make $40 per 1,000 subscribers per broadcast, then you will need 10,000 subscribers to make $400.
And if you aren't making enough, then you augment this by sending out more broadcasts (which will likely alienate your list); after all, if one broadcast a week will make you $40, just imagine what 3 broadcasts a week will do.
The reason for this kind of backwards look into list marketing is that it is much easier to get someone to sign up to your list than it is to keep their attention....it is easier to build a 20,000 strong list with a 24% open rate than it is to build a 5,000 strong list with a 50% open rate.
When open rates start to plummet, the average permission marketer resorts to trickery....headlines that make you curious and that stand out. After all, it is the headlines that makes people click, right? (more on that in a second)
So how do you improve open rates and click through rates?
I am going to work a little backwards here to stay on point, so stick with me.....
There are some that claim the answer lies in formatting the irresistible headline to increase open rates. But if you were to look at Frank Kern's headlines, you would find nothing that creative....let's examine it...
The last 10 subject lines from Frank Kern
4.Urgent: List Control is open
5.Breaking News (this affects you)
6.The Coolest Thing I've Ever Given Away
7.Please Read This
8.New Video from Frank
10.Cool Stuff for You...
Did you find anything riveting or compelling in those email subject lines? Nothing all that compelling....I don't feel gravity forcing my finger down onto the mouse to click through...
And the truth is that while compelling headlines may account for something, in the big picture scope of things, it actually accounts for very little. Just to illustrate my point, Look at Kern's subject lines. I send out emails regularly that have some of the most boring subject lines imaginable that get responses.
Clever Subject Lines are Wayyyyyyy Overrated
Marketers of course blame this on subject lines because subject lines are the doorway to the email. And they will point the blame on the influx of information that most people have to sift through.
But in reality, how much does the subject line matter compared to who is sending the message?
From a personal standpoint, there are a number of marketers that I open up their emails 100% of the time. And the kicker is I usually couldn't tell you the subject line because I just saw the name. I think that that is important to highlight because I don't think that I am an exception to the rule here. I do think that what matters most to most people isn't what the subject line says but who is sending it that ultimately decides whether you, as an email recipient will click or not.
The key to permission marketing isn't about the subject line.....it is about how valuable the recipient perceives you as being to them...
In other words, when you have "average" open rates, it is a direct indictment that you are "average". If you have lower than average open rates, then it means that you aren't really valued.
The person on the other end who gets your email and completely ignores it is saying that they don't value you at all. And there is not a subject line that you could write that is going to help them change their mind.
The Ambiguity of Value and the Sweet Spot
Another thing you would hear from email marketers is that in order to build trust in your relationship with your list, you need to present value. Many list marketers automatically assume that this means "FREE". After all, wouldn't free be the most valuable thing you could give?
The answer is maybe...then again maybe not. And the real kicker here isn't what you know that matters....it is what your list doesn't know that will determine your value. It is also how you express your value to your list that will help determine whether someone values or not.
For instance, if I was just starting out, some of the things I talk about in my newsletter wouldn't interest me because chances are good I would still be in the "new" phase. I would be basically talking over their head because it doesn't talk about the "beginner" things of marketing.
If I were to go back to talking about beginner stuff, a lot of my list would quickly lose interest. I would be presenting no value to one group and to the other group I would be presenting value that they didn't quite understand.
To reach my target market, I would have to find the sweet spot.
Of course, I could alleviate this problem by having lots of lists (which I have) and speaking in the language of where the people on the list are at, but that is another story for another time....
Value is all about moving the person on the list toward their ultimate goal...whatever that is....
If you aren't moving them closer to their goal or in the very least, giving them the perception that are, you won't be valued as much.
You could use the same reasoning with blogs or websites. If you have a high bounce rate, it typically means that the person didn't find your site valuable to them at that moment. If you have a 5 page on site average, you could expect that those that come to your site find your information very valuable.
It is what it is. And for many list marketers, they are looking in all the wrong places when they are trying to figure out how to connect with their list. They think in terms of subject line rather than connection. They think of it as a formula that is set in stone. It isn't.
How to Build Your List in the First Place.....you got alotta proving to do....
A lot of marketers recommend that in order to build a list, you need to offer something for free. A free video, a free ebook, a free webinar, a free whatever. Stick this on a capture page with no distractions on the page whatsoever. The visitor has a choice....sign up or hit that "back" key.
But like I said before, getting someone to commit to something free is one thing. Getting them to respond afterwards is a completely different story. This is where the ambiguous "value" determiner rears its ugly head again....
And to be perfectly frank with you, sometimes it doesn't matter how much you give...there will be some that simply won't be interested, think there's a catch or don't have time to screw with reading your stuff. It is just part of the biz.
Personally, my most responsive lists have been the ones that I don't give anything away on the front end. But bear in mind, this type of list building is slow as molasses and relies on word of mouth marketing and the amount of "proofing" you do to your audience.
Original Article-Permission Marketing...the common sense version