Would you like to be in touch with people who have visited your site? Perhaps you have a newsletter or would like to be able to share announcements, free information, notices of promotions, and such.
Websites often include an “opt-in” form where interested visitors can sign up to receive mailings and additional information. Even if you don’t have an immediate plan to send out a newsletter or information, I recommend you include this so you are able to keep in touch with people interested in what you have to offer. It takes a while to build a list, a community, a relationship, so I recommend beginning this process from the start.
There are 2 important laws to be aware of when you send mass e-mails. Opt-in: Your email recipients must have specifically agreed to receive email from you. You obtain their permission through an “opt-in” form. Unsubscribe: You must give them an opportunity to unsubscribe from your list.
List-Building & Email Marketing Services
Fortunately, there are good services that will manage your lists, and also provide resources that make it easy to create an opt-in form for your site, create newsletters, send e-mail and even other marketing materials.
Vertical Response is a good low-cost choice for beginners. You can sign up for a free account to manage your list. They have a lots of short videos to help you learn about lists, creating newsletters, email marketing and more. They also provide additional marketing services and products, including surveys, postcards, social media and event marketing.
With Vertical Response, if you decide to send out a newsletter or email, you can “pay as you go” by purchasing credits, just as you would purchase stamps. The cost depends on the volume you buy. For example, it currently costs $.015/each for up to 1,000 email credits or $.01/each when you purchase more than 25,000, and the price continues to go down from there. If you plan to mail regularly, you might consider a monthly plan, where you play a flat fee based on the number of subscribers on your list. Plans currently start at $10/month for up to 500 subscribers ($8.50/month if you prepay for 12 months), $28/month for up to 2,000 ($23.80/mo. for 12 months prepaid), and so forth.
If you plan to send out email regularly, AWeber is a good choice. They will help you collect and manage your subscriber list, create newsletters, deliver an automatic series of e-mails with autoresponders (see the video below), and track results. Their packages start at $19/month for a list of up to 500 subscribers ($49/quarter, $194/year). Aweber integrates with many 3rd Party applications, such as PayPal and E-Junkie.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind displaying their “badge” at the bottom of your email, you might consider MailChimp. MailChimp offers a “Forever Free” plan that allows you to send up to 12,000 emails a month to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers. This plan doesn’t includes some useful features available with their paid plans, though, such as autoresponders, “Time Warp” (the ability to deliver your email at a specific local time), “Delivery Doctor” and “Social Pro” (the ability to target campaigns to specific social media users), and MailChimp’s badge shows up in your footers. Alternative plans include “Pay as You Go” plans: $.03 each up to 5,000 credits, $.02 each for 5,000 credits, then $.01 each for 25,000 or more credits. Monthly plans are available starting at $10/month for unlimited e-mails up to 500 subscribers, $15 for up 1,000, $30 for up to 2,500 and so forth.
You may have heard of Constant Contact through their advertising campaigns. Constant Contact specializes in small business marketing. They offer email marketing services, as well as event and social media marketing services. Their rates are slightly higher than Vertical Response, starting at $15/month for a list of up to 500 subscribers ($12.75/month with 12 months prepaid) and $30/month($25/month with 12 months prepaid) for a list of 501-2,500.
Building Your List
Provide something free to encourage visitors to sign up for your list or “join your community”. For example, you could give away a free report or a discount coupon.
To build a good, legal and responsive list, the “double opt-in” process is recommended. In the first step, the subscriber enters their email information on your opt-in form. In the second step, they receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription.
With autoresponders, you can set up a series of emails to be sent automatically over your desired timeframe.