The Unforgivable Internet Advertising Sin

There are many advertising sins you can commit online – you can focus on features instead of benefits, you can try to promote too many things at the same time and diffuse your message. But, there is one sin that is unforgivable.

Before I start, I must make a confession. I have committed this sin. I am guilty. But I am doing my best to “Go forth and sin no more!”

So, what is this horrible sin?

Failing to Capture Email Addresses

When the first thoughts of Internet profits dance in your mind, people (like me anyway) rush out and start trying to drive traffic to affiliate sites or their latest Adsense niche sight. In all of the excitement about starting a new venture, new marketers often miss one of the first truths of marketing:

Attracting a new customer is the most expensive and least profitable portion of your business.

Attracting New Customers

Think back to the days of the first Internet boom. Companies were spending thousands and millions of dollars trying to get their names “out there.” In many places you could not buy ad space. I remember seeing signs posted along highways (like political campaign posters) and taped or tied to every imaginable surface. Getting your name “out there” takes time, money, creativity or all three.

People who are new to marketing often get focused on the advertising side of things. There is a lot to think about and you can spend months and years studying and practicing the art and science of advertising. But, to get the best results from your advertising you must know why you are doing it.

The Primary Purpose of Advertising

The primary purpose of advertising is not to sell products, it is to acquire customers.

The customers you are acquiring may not buy from you initially, but they will give you permission to contact them again directly. Eventually, many will buy your products or services and you can send follow-up messages that build on each other and lead people through the buying process.

Most purchases are made after the sixth or seventh time a person is exposed to an advertising message. Repetition is key. The first time they see your message, you are a stranger. By the sixth or seventh time, you are familiar. If you have provided trustworthy and valuable information inside every one of those messages, you may even be a trusted friend.

Of course, you need to sell products and your products will attract customers. But, you must remain focused on customer acquisition so you do not waste your efforts and money.

To acquire customers, every advertising effort should include at least one way for a potential customer to subscribe to a newsletter or email course. If they are not willing to give you money, but are intrigued by your advertising copy, there is a good chance they will give you their email address and name in exchange for a sample of your product.

How to Build a Mailing List

A common way to build mailing lists is to give away a free course or e-book as a thank you for joining your list. I used this technique to begin my own marketing and e-business mailing list.

Another approach I used was to include a sign-up check box on an email form. One site where I used this technique had an “Ask an Expert” feature where people could get personalized answers to their questions. They had already agreed that the site’s authors were experts by taking the time to write, and it wasn’t a big leap to request more information. The plus side of this approach was that the newsletter subscribers were “pre-screened” which resulted in a very low un-subscribe rate on future mailings.

Information marketing expert Fred Gleek uses something he calls a “bounce-back” with everything he does. He creates a sign-up system that only requires a person to send a blank email to one of his email accounts which adds them to his list. He then forwards them a special gift of some kind. He includes text that says, “For free gift on [subject] worth $35 send a blank email to [].”

That line goes on every item Fred Gleek publishes and is included in every joint venture project he participates in. I bought two of his books, sent in an email (the “bounce-back” was printed at the bottom of every page) and hear from Fred on a regular basis.

Go Forth and Sin No More

If you do not have a mailing list, stop everything and set one up. There are a number of online services like Intellicontact, Aweber, and Get Response that will provide mailing list management for a nominal fee.

There are other software solutions that you can use on your desktop, or server to do the same. My Autoresponder Pro, SendStudio, and Follow-Up Mailing List Processor are just a few of the commercial applications available. Infinite Responder! and PHP List are free mailing list managers that run on your server. PHP List is very feature rich and Inifinite Responder is a simple program for managing auto-responders.

Managing a mail server is a big job (it takes a lot of work to ensure that marketing emails do not get filtered out before they reach your subscribers.) Plus, most of the hosted services, to protect against spam accusations, will not allow you to upload a list of addresses to your account. So if you use a do-it-yourself solution and change later, you will have to ask your subscribers to re-subscribe (and you WILL lose subscribers in the transition.)

Finally, some hosting providers (like the one I use for this site – 1&1 Internet, Inc) also provide a newsletter tool as part of your service package.

However you decide to manage your mailing lists and newsletters, make sure you include a sign-up method in every advertising campaign you create. Always find something valuable to offer to people who are interested in your product but not ready to place an order. And then, follow-up and build relationships.

Happy Marketing,

The Go-To Guy!

P.S. Would you like to gain free access to a large and growing collection of e-books that you can use as bonuses for your mailing list subscribers? Sign-up for Platinum Access to the Go-To Library today!

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