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Creating, Managing and Building Your Opt-In Lists

Creating, Managing and Building Your Opt-In Lists

Teacher: Shelley Lowery

An opt-in list is a list or database containing email addresses of individuals who have chosen to receive your email messages. Your messages may be web site updates, product updates or an ezine. They provide you with a direct line of communication with potential customers and enable you to promote your products or services.

In order for you to start collecting email addresses, you'll first need to set up a system that will enable your visitors to submit their information, automatically subscribe them to your list and enable you to send out messages.

Before we go any further, I want to make sure that you understand that this article pertains to "Opt-In" lists. Not Spam. Under no circumstance should you ever add anyone to your list without their knowledge.

Collecting Email Addresses

There are many free list services on the Internet that will enable you to set up a mailing list however, they won't allow you to personalize your messages, they require that your subscriber reply to a confirmation message and they can choose to shut your list down at any time.

Your first step in setting up your system will be to get a good form processing script. This script will be used to enable your subscriber to submit their information via a form and send the information to a specified address.

The best form I have found is called, Master Form. This form will enable you to have the results emailed to you or to a specified address, can write your information to a database file and even have a personalized thank you page. In addition, you can even have multi-page forms with no limit on the number of pages. This script costs $35.

You can find a free script with similar features here.

Whatever form you select, make sure that it will allow you to use email templates, as you will need each subscription request to contain certain words in the subject for processing. Email form templates will enable the email messages sent to your subscription address to contain any information you'd like.

After you've gotten your form set up, you'll need to set up a pop email account on your server just for your list(s). You can name it "lists" or whatever you'd like. In addition, you will need to create two email aliases for subscription requests. Example, yourlist-subscribe@yourdomain.com and yourlist-unsubscribe@yourdomain.com.

Setting up a database

Your next step will be to set up a database to enable you to store your subscriber's information, process subscription requests and email your subscribers. I use a great program called Group Mail by Aureate. This program will process the information from your form, process your subscription requests, store your subscribers information in a database and enable you to send personalized email messages. Best of all, it's free. You can find it here: http://www.group-mail.com

Note: Make sure you download all of the extra, free plug-ins.

Once you've gotten Group Mail and the plug-ins installed, your next step will be to create your mailing list. Simply follow the instructions provided. After you've set up your new list, click on "Plug Ins" then on "Subscribers." You'll now have to set up your subscription filters to enable the program to process your subscription requests.

Now that you have your system set up and ready to collect email addresses, you'll need to place a form on your web site. Create two input fields for your form; one for your subscribers name and another one for their email address.

Your new system will take some time to set up, but it will work for you continuously. It will take care of all of your subscription requests and undeliverables and will store your subscriber's information in a database for easy access. In addition, you'll be able to send personalized messages with any of the following:

first name
last name
user name
email address
four additional customizable fields

Now, you're ready to begin collecting your visitors email addresses and start building your targeted list of potential customers.

Building Your Subscriber Base

There are many powerful ways to build your subscriber base however, we'll only focus on a few of the best ways.

  • Place your subscription information in your signature
  • Place a sign-up box on every page of your web site
  • Offer a free gift just for subscribing
  • Write articles and include your subscription information within your bylines
  • Create and distribute free ebooks with your subscription form on each page
  • Provide a free service and require those using your service to agree to receive your publication
  • Create a member's only site with special resources, content or downloads for subscribers only
  • Create a contest and submit your contest to all of the free giveaway sites. Place your subscription information on your contest page

If you're not collecting your visitor's email addresses, don't wait another day to start. Opt-in lists are one of the most powerful marketing tools on the Internet.

About the teacher:
Shelley Lowery is the Webmistress of Web-Source.net. Your Guide to Professional Web Site Design & Development. Subscribe to Syndicator Etips for fresh, original articles to assist you in Web Design, Internet Marketing & Ecommerce.

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