Years ago, when I first started in online marketing, all the rage was something called “list building”. I immediately jumped on this subject and started gathering every list building technique one could possibly imagine. It very quickly became one of my most favorite areas of Internet marketing to explore; so much so, that when I reached my first goal of getting 1000 subscribers, I was so pleased with myself, I even wrote an eBook on list building.
But that was then, this is now.
Since that time, online marketing and even the web itself, has changed tremendously. And we are not talking about small changes or minor adjustments here – the web has fundamentally changed from the core up. People simply use the web in a different way than they used it 10 years ago. It has become so much more of a user-friendly place, so much so, that marketing on this friendlier web has become a whole new ballgame.
The question remains: is list building still relevant on today’s web?
The answer is still a solid “YES”, but the “WAY” lists are built have almost changed completely. Not too long ago, traditional list building meant you slapped some sign-ups forms (provided by your web host or an autoresponder service) onto your web pages and you were in business. Subscribers who signed up to your list or newsletter, would receive follow-up emails from you or your site.
Anyone could do it since it was so straightforward and so simple, almost to the point of being idiot-proof. However, the underlying key to building a successful list was gaining loyalty and forming a lasting relationship with your subscriber. Successful online marketers and list builders will tell you, this was really the hardest part. Communicating effectively with your subscribers over a long period of time is extremely difficult to do and
does require gaining some skills, especially in the copy writing area.
So what has changed the list building process?
In a couple of words, three to be precise: social networking sites. These social networking programs and sites have completely changed how lists are built on the web. Actually, these social network sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube… have made list building as easy as taking your next breath. List building is integrated into these programs so seamlessly, many users are unaware they are actually building a list.
Simply by using these social networking sites any webmaster or marketer can build a list of contacts or subscribers. Call them friends, fans or followers – they are your subscribers and you can easily reach them with your next posting, tweet or video. There are countless teenagers on many of these social networks who have subscribers that number in the 100’s of thousands, even in the millions. And the rate at which they build their list of subscribers, would put many a seasoned marketer to shame.
There are several reasons why this new way of list building is much more effective than traditional list building methods. First, building your list of contacts is fully integrated into these network programs, often it is the main goal or purpose of the program. Seeing how many followers you can get on Twitter has become a world-wide sport – just go ask Ashton Kutcher!
However, from a marketing perspective, using these programs eliminates one of the major drawbacks of marketing on the web – spam. Actually, contacting your list by email is becoming troublesome, even with double opt-in, many of your emails never get through to your legit subscribers because they are blocked by spam-filters and Internet service providers. Using these social programs is a way of contacting your subscribers without the whole issue of spam being considered at all.
Perhaps, an even more important reason to use these social media sites to build your list, has to do with the tricky problem of establishing relationships with your subscribers. These sites make it much more easier to build that long-lasting relationship with your contacts. In the case of YouTube, it can simply mean making a video and talking directly to your subscribers. Communication is direct and immediate. In most cases, there’s no need to acquire additional skills or techniques. Besides, in most of these social network sites, the communication is often more effective because it’s just not one-way, your subscribers can easily communicate back with you.
Same goes for Twitter, which has become the list building tool of choice for many webmasters and online marketers. Twitter is an excellent medium for building your list. It can be used effectively to get your message out to thousands of like-minded followers and have that message spread rapidly around the web. Marketers are now taking advantage of such a system to market online, but be aware abusing this program will get you banned especially if you just use it to send spam. Like any type of marketing on the web, you shouldn’t have any problems if you keep all your communications/interactions real and human.
Another element of these programs which can’t be denied, they are all free. Anyone can use these social network sites to quickly build their list or lists without having to worry about paying for it. Actually, in the case of YouTube, you can become a partner and earn revenue from Google AdSense while building your list.
There’s also no denying these social network sites have changed not only list building, but how we use the web. These programs have a “pooling effect” on all web activity, gathering like-minded individuals into or around certain “pools” on the Internet. These concentrated pools of people can be formed around a certain topic or even around a certain person. These are excellent areas in which to carry out your list-building activities and your online marketing efforts since they provide very targeted prospects. Ones you can easily contact and communicate with by using these social networking sites.
While the old traditional email list should not be forgotten, list building, as we know it, has been changed forever by the introduction of these social networking programs. And as these network sites become more and more popular, they will play an even greater role in all your list building efforts. A role that can’t be ignored or dismissed, especially if you want your list building to be truly effective.