Targeted optin email list is one of the most powerful website promotion and Internet marketing strategies. Email is still the most fundamental and convenient form of global communication. And because emails are sent directly to the recipients genuinely interested in the offers they signed up to receive, the optin email list gives you a good chance to offer them products and services or entice them to perform another action that will generate revenue.
It's recommended to start your own targeted optin email list via your website than to buy a third party list, because...
- Those who visit your site and sign up to your list are the same people you want to reach via email. It's almost impossible to acquire a third party email list that is as targeted for your content and promotions as your own.
- In general, those who sign up to receive emails from you via an optin, or double optin, process are more likely to be responsive to the emails they receive than those who signed up with a third party. Additionally, a third party list may be overused without you knowing, but you can control the volume of email sent to your own list.
- In most cases the third party companies are not really renting the addresses (you never see the addresses). Instead, they charge you a per email address fee for mailing your message to a list under their management - mailing to a list large enough to get great results can be quite expensive.
You should start building your optin email list by selecting a service or software that enables you to do the following...
- Collect email addresses via your website using an optin or double optin process.
(A double optin email list works like this: once subscribers sign up, they receive a confirmation email, which they must respond to in order to be added to the list. The confirmation is very simple - clicking on a link or hitting the reply-to button.)
- Remove hard bounces (email addresses that are no longer valid) and opt-outs from your list.
- Personalize the emails with customers' names and other information they provided to you.
- Automatic delivery in the correct format, HTML, text or multi-part (both HTML and text).
- View the results of each email campaign including sent, bounces, opens and click-throughs.
One of the current leaders in permission-based email marketing for small business is Constant Contact, which enables all of the above and a lot more. Best of all, you can try it free for 60 days - simply confirm the basic account information and select a login name and password. You'll be able to start immediately.
The most powerful method to get people to subscribe to your list is to offer information of real value to your audience. To increase conversion rates, offer optin incentives like white papers, discounts and special reports.
Problems with spam filters
Spam is now such a huge problem that large companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mail services have put complex spam filters in place. Understandably, they had no choice - their customers were being flooded with unmanageable levels of spam.
Unfortunately, some of these filters are overly sensitive and block a lot of legitimate emails ("false-positives"). It's a problem faced by all online businesses and newsletter publishers. An ISP or mail service can delete any legitimate email that you send to your client or subscriber.
Some ISPs don't allow to whitelist email that their own customers specifically want but can't get, even at the specific request of customers. (A "whitelist" is a list of addresses that bypass filtering algorithms.) Many ISPs and mail services refuse to give you an explanation as to why your mail is being filtered. They block, but they don't answer "why" and don't take responsibility for those actions.
The process looks like this...
- A customer wants and expects a piece of mail.
- A non-spamming small business sends that email.
- The ISP filters it out.
- The customer doesn't get the mail.
- The ISP refuses to whitelist the mail and/or refuses to tell the marketing company what the problem is.
Here are three things you can do...
1) Try to fool spam filters yourself
Use SiteSell's free SpamCheck tool to check your messages before sending them to your optin email list. Send a copy of your email to firstname.lastname@example.org and, in seconds, you'll receive the SpamCheck report with recommendations on how to change the content of your email in order to fool spam filters. Only make sure the subject line starts with the word TEST (in upper case) - if it doesn't, your email will be interpreted as spam and deleted.
2) Sign up for the BondedSender program
IronPort's bonded sender program for email publishers and marketers guarantees "whitelist" status for 230 million mailboxes, including those on MSN and Hotmail. Constant Contact have signed up for this program and is offering it to all of their small business customers, who might otherwise not be able to participate because of the fees involved. Consider it if your optin email list contains a lot of Hotmail and MSN addresses.
3) Join Ken Evoy's Deliver My Mail program
It's a comprehensive way to manage your business through the labyrinth of email, spam, and anti-spam. It offers free information and solution that will reduce your individual pain due to the needless, irresponsible loss of mail that is not your fault.
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