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list building

List Building 101: List Buidling Tools

After deciding what niche you’ll be building your list in, what you’ll be giving your list for free to get them to sign up, and have a long term strategy to manage your list promotions, comes the time to actually start building your list.

List building requires at least two basic tools: an autoresponder and a website. In most cases you’ll also need an html editor.

Autoresponders:

An autoresponder is the software that collects the date of the subscribers, store them in the database, sends out the emails to the subscribers in a given sequence, and handles global broadcasts to the list.

The autoresponder is the first point of contact between you and your subscribers. They only subscribe to your list after they fill the form that you’ll get from the autoresponder.

Choosing an autoresponder could be a hard decision. Now most autoresponders offer the same features as double or single opt in, sending html emails, tracking the subscribers behavior, and ease of use of your back office. Whether you’re going to use these options or not, it’s good to have them if they’ll not cost you more.

The point is, they don’t. What costs you more is the size of your list in most cases. The larger your list(s) the more you pay per month. The only exception from this rule is grabthatlead, which charges you $9.95/month regardless of the size of your lists. There is less options with grabthatlead (only double opt in, no tracking, and most of the work has to be done manually), but it’s a good start for someone who is not going to be changing their plans too often.

Other options include Aweber, Getresponse, and iContact.

For a long time Aweber and Getresponse have been the only players in terms of deliverability, ease of management, tracking, spam checks … etc. But for the past year or so iContact started to gain more ground on basis of giving the same features as the above two while starting with less than $10/month (as opposed to $19/month with Aweber and $17/month with Getresponse) for the first 500 members.

I would like you to know that I am affiliated with iContact and I’ll get paid commission when you buy through my link. That doesn’t mean any misleading information here. I am also affiliated with Grabthatlead and Getresponse, but I recommend iContact for a reason:

Lately most of the big names in the IM industry are using iContact, like Fran Kern. If someone like Fran Kern switches from Aweber to iContact there should be a good reason for that.

Website:

Your website could just be a landing page that persuades that visitors to enter their emails and get your free gift. Although so simple, but is not easiest to set up. You’ll need an html editor to build your page and insert the html code of the lead capture form.

Also it’s not the easiest to drive traffic to. A one-page website like the one described above is not preferred by search engines. Even when you buy traffic, in terms of PPC quality scores the chances are that you’ll pay more per click that you should.

The alternative is a blog with a lot of valuable content and a lead capture form in an obvious place that offers the free gift in exchange for email addresses.

For building a blog you only need to install WordPress on your server and paste your lead capture form in a text widget on top of the side column with a big distinct header that attracts the reader. You could also use an exit pop-up lead capture form, although academic study says that when the exit pop-up matches the content of the website the response is significantly lower than when its content is totally different from the website.

Any hosting company from those advertised on the side bar offer one-click WordPress installation. I highly recommend hostgator for two reasons:

1. Ease of use. You can install WordPress with clicking a button, filling the blanks, clicking another button and you’re done.

2. Faster servers than most other shared hosting.

This blog is built manually and hosted on 1and1. I love it, and never had a major problem with them for over 4 years. But I have to do everything manually, including updating WordPress and installing new themes and plug ins.

That’s it for the tools. Really it’s that simple. An autoresponder and a website is all what you need to start building your own virtual ATM machines. The sooner you start the sooner you’ll see results.

The next post will be about driving traffic to your website. Enjoy.

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Affilaite Marketing

Affiliate Marketing 101: Affiliate Marketing Tools

In the past post I wrote about different types of affiliate sites and how I use all three of them to maximize my earnings from affiliate marketing. In this post I will write about the tools I use and why I picked them up from the growing pile of service providers.

This post might sound like pitching you to buy these tools. Although I will make money when you take my recommendation and buy from my affiliate links, but it´s not what this post is all about. It´s about you and how to start your affiliate marketing business on a solid foundation. Any mistake at the beginning might cost you a lot of unnecessary expenses or lost potential commission on the long run,

So … let´s start.

To have all three of the affiliate sites (a blog, a lead capture page, and a review site) you will need a web hosting that supports MySQL and php (GDI does not work). You will need those for Word Press or Joomla to manage your website/blog content, and for managing your list using your own autoresponder or membership script.

If you are going to use only the list building and review sites and a third party autoresponder you can use your GDI hosting for it.

In addition to the hosting you will need the scripts that will run on it (the autoresponder or membership script and the content management program(s)), some images, and a tracking software.

Hosting

Hosting could be the worst nightmare in the life of an affiliate marketer. Imagine waking up one day to find that the campaign that is making you thousands in commission every day is unplugged because the server was down. (Don´t ask how I knew this :-()

And there is no way you can be in full control over your hosting unless you are your own host. But there is one thing I learned from hosting companies: never put all of your eggs in one basket.

How is that?

You can organize your campaigns in two different fashions:

1. Have all of the blogs on one server, the lead capturing/list management on another server, and your review site on a third server. This way if one of them is down, you have at least two thirds of your money making campaign running until you fix this one.

This should not be as costly as it sounds. You can have your lead capturing/list management systems on a paid hosting, the blogs on blogger.com, and review lenses on squidoo.com.

As a beginner, I recommend you do it this way. You´ll only pay for one hosting package, and benefit from the organic traffic you´ll get from structuring your blogger and squidoo correctly (Ledbetter, 2009). Once you are making enough money, don´t wait a second … just buy a couple more hosting accounts from two different companies and transfer your blogs and review contents to them.

2. For each campaign have a dedicated hosting account for the blog, lead capturing/list management system, and the review all on the same domain. In addition to three well ranking blogs on three different servers linking to your main campaign domain.

This structure will give you more credibility of having the membership site, the review site, and the blog for updating your members/readers with news (and new offers) under the same domain, and having blogs on other servers will give you more organic traffic and less cost per click if you are running an Adwords campaign.

You still can get back links from blogger.com blogs and squidoo lenses for more free organic traffic and as a back up plan for this particular campaign if the server goes down for a while.

One campaign per hosting is just a way to avoid unplugging all of your money machines if your server goes down.

You´ll obviously go for this option only when you have a winning campaign that is making you a lot of money.

Recommended Hosting

The best among all web hosting companies at the moment of writing this post is Hostgator because they have one of the best packages for the best price and it’s easy to use.

List Management

For managing your list you´ll need an autoresponder. I am not going to pitch you to buy any third party autoresponders like Aweber or iContact. Although as an affiliate I get recurring commission as long as you have the service if you buy through my affiliate link, but I know it is not the best for your business.

Your best bet on managing your own list is installing your own autoresponder script on your own server. You pay for it once and you have it for life (well … kinda).

Imagine that you have a winning campaign and that your list is growing fast. With most third party autoresponders you pay monthly according to the size of your list. The only exception is trafficwave.com (no I am not an affiliate :-)), and you still are going to pay $20 every month.

Although it could be a side stream of income if you refer to it, still, you can eliminate all of the monthly autoresopnder expenses if you buy the script and install it on your server. There are free ones, but don´t build a business on any thing you didn´t pay for. With your payment comes a guarantee, technical support, and a seller willing to keep you satisfied in order to buy more stuff ;-).

Alternatively, you can go to freelancer.com and post your project. Coders will submit a proposal to make for you and you can pick the lowest cost among a group of the best freelance coders around.

My favorite method of managing a list is a membership script that includes a built-in autoresponder.

If you are one of the lucky ones who responded to my promotion for Mike Filsaime´s Butterfly Marketing, then you have the membership script with a similar autoresponder to that used by aweber for just the shipping and handling fee. That was a limited time offer and long gone, so .. I am pitching you on it. If you want it today you´ll have to pay $797 for the downloadable version, or $1997 for the DVDs + shipping and handling.

The second best is Frank Salina´s EZMembership script. It costs a one time $497 $77 and you´ll get updates for life. It´s like a simple, fully functional version of Buttyfly Marketing but for just a tiny fraction of the price. $77 is less than 4 months of autoresponder´s fee and you have shopping carts, one time offer scripts, and upsell and downsell sciprts as a bonus.

In addition, if you are going to expand on your winning campaign by having upgraded membership levels within the members area. This is the main purpose of doing affiliate marketing.. finding a market you can expand on and dominate with your own product/service.

I can´t make any guarantees, but these tools are by far the best in the market.

That´s it for today. The next posts are going to be more interesting. You still need track your advertising effectively.

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