When it comes to online marketing, one of the key pillars of a building successful online business is having a healthy and growing mailing list.
It’s simple, very basic business advice for today. You establish a website, you give good, valuable content, relevant to your target market, and you build an email list.
- You offer freebies, people sign up to get those in exchange for their names and email addresses.
- You get names and email addresses, you build a mailing list of people who have given you their permission to contact them and who have shown they are interested in your content.
- You build a pool of subscribers, a group of people who have pre-qualified themselves to be your customers simply by signing up, whether to get notified every time you update, or receive a free report with relevant, valuable, helpful information.
That’s part of the basic practices. The further on you grow into managing your business and connecting with your customers, the more you can develop an eye towards spotting the nuances and driving needs of your market. You want to succeed, so of course you study better ways of monetizing your website, leveraging your content, and converting your leads into actual sales.
You study your customers. You study your conversion rates. You read customer feedback, etc. and you act on what you learn, adjusting your actions to make the best next choice. With this consistent study, the real-time analysis, and staying on top of things…you sharpen your business acumen. And you develop your gut instincts.
The further along you get, you can realize that some tactics or strategies need to be revamped or discarded entirely, to make room for ones that work better. It’s at this stage that you can truly start taking counterintuitive-seeming steps that actually help maximize your work and leverage your mailing list.
Okay, so: build a mailing list, that’s basic. That’s a good thing. The bigger the mailing list, the bigger the number of people who’ve signed on to hear about what you have to offer them. That’s great. That’s wonderful. But, the mailing list is customer acquisition. It is not sales.
You can use the sign up process to filter in people as viable prospects for your higher value products or services. You can inject them further down the sales funnel to the back end, where the really high value sales are: from offers like special memberships, to live seminars, to one-on-one coaching, for example.
People love free stuff. People sign up to get free stuff, whether it’s a coupon or a report. What you can do on your landing page is subtly tailor it to get real sales leads, and not just the freebie-lovers. There are many, many people who will sign up to get free content, but it’s the actively interested sales leads that lead you to making actual money.
Really, the point of building a mailing list, of offering something for subscription, is to acquire customers. To move onto the next level, you need to focus on filtering even further for qualified leads.
Imagine bricks and mortar stores and their types of customers: There are browsers, there are those who try free samples, and there are those who buy. Of course, you want more visitors (browsers) to get more sign-ups (try-outs) to get more sales (actual buyers).
When you hit the point where you really want to weed out the casual dabblers, you can use your landing pages to get to the people who really have the interest, the money and the desire to change their circumstances, and are looking for a product or service like yours to help them do what they want to do.
There are basically two ways you can help differentiate the serious players from the casual ones.
A basic email sign-up asks for a name and a valid email address. For better filters, you need to add fields that can get you the data you need to qualify the respondent. And by that, aside from name and email address, you can ask for:
- Their company name and business URL. It makes it easy to see whether they’re a real business entity by checking them out online, and their website too. You can get information to see who you’ll possibly be dealing with, and check if the fit, the business and the industry is in your area of expertise.
- A job title can give you an idea of how much influence in the decision-making process your respondent has. People who have significant organizational influence, like VPs and CEO’s, are better leads than, say, mailing-room clerks or junior assistants.
- A phone number can give you real-time access for follow-up calls and see if the prospect is qualified or not .
Adding more fields is advice that runs contrary to popular rules. “Make it dead-easy for people to sign up,” tells you not to over complicate the process. Don’t make it harder for people by asking them to fill in more fields, etc.
Yes, adding more fields may lower your gross conversion rate of visitors to sign-ups, but it will be easier FOR YOU to determine whether someone is seriously asking, or just wants free content.
Gross conversion rate is a good analytical tool to see if tweaks are working to bring in more sign ups, but pulling back to the bottom line, you aren’t in business to give free reports. The numbers that count are related to how many leads you can convert to customers — paying customers. In this aspect, pre-qualifying leads gives you a more viable, if smaller, pool of leads to convert.
If you know your numbers, you will have a figure for how many sales you need to break even, and to make a profit, withing a certain time period. You have a figure for how many individual sales you need to close, and with that figure, how many leads you need to converts. Pre-qualifying helps you create and maintain a pool of qualified leads you can focus more careful attention on. Get it?
You can tailor your marketing strategies to generate high-quality, highly-qualified prospects from your pool of customers. To fulfill your desire for high response rates and still get to pre-qualify sales leads, you can balance the number of fields between mandatory data gathering, leaving some optional so your customers have a choice.
Aside from adding more fields to your landing page, the other strategy is to present visitors more options regarding what they want. Of course you still require their name and email address, but presenting them with additional selections on what they want to get in exchange can help you filter your leads even further. You can use it in a format like this:
[ ] Send me your free report (tutorial, pattern, etc.)
[ ] Send me more information on your products (and/or services.)
[ ] Let’s talk further. Contact me.
The first option means people signed up just for the free report. If they still filled up the fields, you can use their data profile to see if they’re potential clients worth following up with.
Picking the first and second options means they’re interested in your services, and not just the free content.
And the third option is straight-out permission for you to get in touch with them. If the respondent selects this (which admittedly doesn’t happen a lot) this raises their value, and makes them a really desirable lead.
Leads who do this would expect professional, prompt response, and can turn out to be very good customers if you know how to handle them well. Boom, high-value sales lead, right from the start.
The first strategy gets you more information on the kinds of leads signing up for your freebie, and the second shows you just who is interested in your free content, plus or minus more info on your products, the third choice being valuable permission marketing given consent.
Free content is a go-to marketing campaign strategy. You just need to look at it realistically and get it that just because a few dozen people visited and signed up on your landing page to get your free report, that doesn’t mean you automatically get them all as sure sales leads. You have a few dozen people asking, and many of them probably don’t really qualify as leads. By implementing the two strategies in this article, you better your chances of qualifying and closing good sales leads.
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