List Building 101: Strategic List Building

After you decide what are you going to do with your list for at least 1 year ahead, and pick your tools (hosting and autoresponder) it’s time to put a strategy for the list building process.

In this post I’ll assume this is your first list to build, so I’ll start from scratch.

A good strategy for list building is based on what you want to do with the list. If your goal is to use it for direct email marketing then you want a list of people who read your emails and click your links. To get your list members to do that you need to train them on it.

Here is how:

Say you want to do direct email marketing in the “weight loss before wedding” niche. You want to target women who are over weight and about to get married. Your first step is to find out where they hand around. Search for wedding related terms on Alexa and pick the websites with the lowest Alexa rank. Take their urls and check the visitors demographics using From you can get the age group, education, and level of income of the visitors of these websites.

Now you have two options:

  1. Advertise for your landing page on these websites, or
  2. Advertise anywhere else targeting the same demographic data.

You can do both. What I would do is to advertise on these top ranking websites in the wedding niche. The traffic will be very targeted. Then I would expand my campaign to target the same demographics using other advertising media.

If advertising on those website is out of my reach I would use other advertising methods to target the same demographics (gender, age, income, education, singles, with or without kids …).

After your decide on the source of traffic it’s time to write everything you’ll send them over the next year. Using the same example, this bride would be interested in losing weight and maintain that level. You’ll need to prepare at least one article per week in addition to the initial download that they’ll receive once they sign up to your list.

In the autoresponder settings, provide the download link to the initial “weight loss before wedding” pdf file (or videos or whatever media you have chosen to deliver your valuable information) in the first email that goes out upon opting in.

Then post the articles on your website (or blog) in the full format, and set up your autoresponder to send out a teaser about each article and a link to the article page.

Here is why you should do it this way:

The pdf file (or the initial download) has to go immediately after signing up. It can not be delivered on the form of an email course because a bride is not going to delay her wedding until she receives the whole series. Urgency is good, it means there is an emotional factor that pushes towards responding to your recommendations.

The rest of the emails will contain a teaser only, and to know the rest of the article they have to click on the link. This is how you TRAIN your list members on clicking your links.

If you can get your prospect to sign up just to receive the email course your chances of having your emails read are bigger.

Also keep this piece of information in mind:

Always provide valuable free content, even when you are promoting something.

The valuable content will keep your list members attached to your newsletter, and will build your credibility as an authority in your niche. This credibility is the difference between a highly responsive list and a useless one.