Six Secrets to Get Customers and Grow Your E-Mail List …

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Folks, I am happy to report that after approximately 10 years of Internet marketing, we have a relative consensus.

In surveys conducted about Internet marketing over the last few years, e-mail to a marketer's own database is consistently ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 most successful, most profitable marketing tactic.

This is no surprise to long-time direct marketers who know that their house file is their gold.

Still, not all online marketers have success with their e-mail marketing efforts to their own database. Their lack of success is typically due to multiple factors, including suboptimal e-mail strategy, frequency, content or execution.

Often, we find that poor e-mail house file returns are caused by poor e-mail acquisition practices. Today, more than ever, e-mail marketers are challenged to find ways to successfully scale their e-mail efforts to responsive, willing prospects.

Over the last 10 years of optimizing our clients' online media campaigns, we have established some best practices for profitable, successful e-mail address acquisition and e-mail database growth. Some of the key best practices include:

First, ask for your customers or prospects' e-mail address prominently, on every Web page.

Second, if someone wants to get e-mail from you, he or she will ask you for it. E-mail appends and compiled "partner" opt-in lists are bad for response and for your image.

Third, use the most efficient online media tactics to acquire qualified e-mail addresses, such as co-registration, search and in-ad data capture rich media. Only use non-incentivized sites and networks that tell you which specific sites are running your offer. Then take the time to actually check the quality and e-mail usage of those sites. Otherwise, you'll be paying for unqualified, unresponsive e-mail addresses.

Fourth, send your first e-mail within 24 hours of a signup to maximize lead value.

Fifth, nail down your e-mail strategy before you begin asking people for their e-mail address. If not, you are throwing away the money you spent to acquire that address.

Finally, create a good reason (value proposition) for someone to want to sign up, by asking, "Why would someone want to receive e-mail from me?" Make it relevant to your nirvana (selling them something), but more than just that. I assure you, most people are not just interested in you selling them something. Create value in your relationship. Value is a two-way street in e-mail.

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