If your product is good, there’s no reason to be ashamed to sell it. That was the opening of the session featuring marketer Ryan Lee at IDEAWorld BlogFest July 14 in Los Angeles. Titled “Why You Should Be Gathering Emails PLUS How to Do It,” Lee offered practical email marketing tips that work for entrepreneurs.

There are two steps to generating revenue with email marketing: building a list, and then creating a responsive list that will lead to sales. The path to that isn’t always clear, especially for entrepreneurs who are focused on building their businesses and forced to wear marketing hats as well.

Building an email marketing list

In email marketing, there is only one way to build a list: traffic, traffic, traffic, according to Lee. Using social media, social media ads, paid search results, direct site buys, solo email ads, SEO, blogging, ad networks, live broadcasting, podcasting, and video marketing are all ways to attract traffic, but Lee cautioned against trying to be everywhere. “You spend six months on Meerkat, and now no one’s there,” he added. Instead, go where your audience is, and focus on two or three channels, tops.

Breaking it down further, traffic falls into two categories: free and paid. Free traffic can come from blogging, including guest blogging and article syndication, while those that are good at video can use Facebook Live and YouTube and interviewers can create podcasts. But free traffic isn’t enough. “You can’t build your business by putting it out there and hoping it goes viral,” Lee said.
Paid traffic can also be tricky. Lee advised not spending money on Facebook ads until you know what a lead is worth. Email ads on other people’s lists can lead to traffic as well.

Once you get the traffic, you need to provide prospects with a compelling reason to sign up for your list, like a bait piece. Lee cautioned against giving away long videos or 200-page ebooks. For simplicity’s sake – and because nobody has the bandwidth to download a long video on a phone or the time to read a 200-page ebook – he advised giving away a “nano PDF,” a one to three page document like a cheat sheet or checklist.

Creating a responsive email marketing list

The list doesn’t end with just signups. “It’s not the size of your list,” Lee said. “It’s the relationship on your list.”

Lee offered some tips for sending content that creates a responsive list, one that acts on calls to action:

  • Provide your back story.
  • Be prolific with email. If you’re not getting some unsubscribes, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Pique curiosity by teasing with subject lines. (The two words that got the highest open rate for Lee were, “He died.” Remember that negative beats positive, so “How to make a million dollars” will always lose to “How I lost a million dollars.”
  • Be likable and show your flaws.
  • Evolve.