I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase, “The money is in the list.” Do you have a list? If not, you might think that it’s not worth the trouble or that it probably won’t work for your business. If you have a list and it’s just not providing the return you expected, it might be the right time for you to eliminate the clutter and consider what it’s all about in the first place.
The fact that you’re reading an online marketing blog is evidence enough that you’re in a business where you could leverage this medium. If you embrace it, more than 90% of businesses online will benefit enough from an email list to make it worthwhile. Often, the contribution is significant and can be a game-changer.
I consulted with a colleague a short time ago that sells vacation packages online. I introduced him to the concept of email marketing and a sales funnel in this way. This is an actual excerpt from the discussion:
Here’s the theory – my own adaptation to your market. Let’s assume there are six levels of engagement that your customers usually experience BEFORE they book a trip with you. The phases of planning a vacation:
– Calendar checking and possibility/feasibility stage
– Tire kickers (people following all the steps and ditching at the last stage to know a price)
– Final planning mode
– Purchase/Book a vacation
You have people coming to your site every day that are in each stage of contemplating, to planning, to buying a vacation. Besides the tire kickers, visitors are looking for something specifically relevant to the stage they are in today. Today, a visitor’s need may simply be a need for information. They might hit your site(s) once and never come back. It could be either because they didn’t remember your site’s name, they didn’t bookmark the page, or even because the subway was pulling up to their stop and they close the browser window. More than half of these people are really passive, and won’t interact with the site other than reading the pages and then leave. Many of them aren’t planning to take a trip for another three months to a year so the urgency to “get anything done” doesn’t really exist to them yet.
The type of strategy that we will discuss will capture a decent number of those passive visitors that may never come back otherwise, and eventually turn an astonishing percentage of them into customers—many of them life-long customers.
The more often you have interaction with people, the more likely that they will trust and eventually buy from you when the time comes. Interaction stacks up over time, and progressively increases the likelihood that the sale eventually happens.
Your ad clicks, affiliate clicks and all the rest of your traffic in the end, is reduced to a small conversion percentage (buyers of vacations). Usually the absurd vast majority visit your site and leave. Knowing your daily interaction rate is important. This is how many phone calls, emails and web form fill-outs you get daily as a percentage of overall visitors. For most sites this is between 2% and 6%. Sometimes it’s a lot lower.
Of the remaining 94-98% that don’t call, email or fill out a contact form, you can easily capture an email address! A typical email capture rate can be between 3% and 10% of your site visitors every day.
Begin with a lead-generating offer to them: This is usually a free offer designed to get the attention of everyone on your site—something to read later and benefit from. To accept the free offer, they enter their name and email address.
You have two HUGE advantages in doing this. 1) I looked at over a dozen vacation websites and almost nobody is doing this. 2) Your form would only include two simple fields to fill out. Every other vacation site has a minimum of six fields and as many as sixteen. The more fields you force the “Speculation and Investigation” stage people to fill out, the FAR more likely they are to ditch the form. Many don’t even have a date in mind yet!
Your lead generator can be anything creative and professional looking. You should come up with 4-5 possible things to offer (and each gets tested). Examples might be: Vacation Planning Guide, Secrets to Planning a Productive and Stress-free Visit to XYZ, Planning Strategies to See Everything You Want to See and Do, etc. You can combine some of your best stuff that you’ve already written or published (even video) to build a great guide that REALLY helps people on its own. By doing this, you’re helping them and building a relationship at the same time.
Upon acceptance of your lead generator, you pass your subscribers through a sequence of informative emails that tells about you, the different locations, tricks to booking that save money, etc. In every other email you provide a hook at the bottom that says: “If you liked this advice, we can offer more advice and give you a ‘hands-on’ consultation for planning your vacation. Click here to request an appointment with one of our Experts.” This takes them to a page where they simply enter a phone number and a time/date range that works for them.
You’ll consistently bring anywhere from 5-20% of your list BACK to your website with each email—visitors that, before, had a very slim chance of ever coming back.
After the first two weeks or so, your email opens and clicks will begin to fall off. If you map out the message sequence carefully you will have mentioned various venues like Florida, California, Gulf Coast, Cruises and other items of interest. You’ll separate (and this can be automated…in fact the whole thing is) people into various interest categories.
Someone for instance, that opened and/or clicked an element in a message pertaining to cruises after having ignored the previous three emails about other topics is definitely more interested in cruises than anything else. You break that individual out into a new message sequence that sends them 2 to 3 emails over about two weeks just about cruises. ALWAYS share insight that provides an advantage or “insider” information that they won’t find anywhere else. Each of these emails are short, and provide the “If you liked this advice…” byline at the bottom.
When someone buys from you, they are removed from the existing list and added to a retention list. The retention list sends an update once a month or so, and gets heavier at the 10 and a half to 11-month mark – At the time of year they planned their previous vacation.
If they haven’t purchased from you at the 4 or 5-week mark, you can assume that you have exhausted most of your options for gaining their purchase, and you move them automatically to the retention list.
All the while, you’ll be earning their trust and you’ll be the only one pitching them. If you give them great information you WILL be the first site they return to when they get back to contemplating a vacation again.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It may be, but it is worth it. And the yielding results make the time and effort seem like a piece of cake. What’s more is that someone can do it for you! PAR Program (People, Acquisition, Retention) is a professional Internet marketing team that specifically specializes in this list building and email targeting sequencing. PAR works with your company to bring in customers, keep your customers coming back and make you money. Get a free PAR Program demo here.
Keep in mind that every click and every lead generated using this method is catering to people that are statistically unlikely to have bought from you otherwise. This method does not harm your existing traffic and lead-production methods and does not offend anyone. The best lead generator for a previous client is a lightbox that you might deem intrusive and a huge turnoff (You can see the example used by a client here. Wait because there’s a 5-second delay before it appears). We have not observed a reduction in visitor “time on site” or “pages per visitor” when we use this compared to when we don’t.
You’re capturing people at all stages of investigating and planning their vacation, catering to their specific interest and maintaining a “stickiness” to your brand and your service that nobody else is taking the time to do. There are a dozen methods to track how effective the list produces for you. The data can be analyzed in so many ways to learn more about your target audience and who is more likely to buy from you. If you use the PAR Program, you’ll have access to an incredible level of subscriber data that makes it easy to identify groups of buyers inside of your list.
Justification for the cost of setting up should be (if I were contemplating this for my website) based on number of visitors per month to your site. It would be reasonable to expect at least 3% of them will join your list. So, at 15,000 visitors per month, you should pick up 450 subscribers minimum. If you convert even 1% of them per month for an average $2,000 vacation and your business makes 10%, then that’s $900 per month in new business revenue. In month two, you’ll have 900 subscribers. In month three, you’ll have 1,350 total, and so on. If you get 1% in the first month to buy, the list may decline and only get .25% the second month and .10% the third month. So you would have $900 (first month subscribers), $225 (second month subscribers) and $90 (third month subscribers) for a total of $1,215 a month ongoing because there are new people entering the system every day.
These are really conservative numbers by the way. We operate lists that pull 8% of all visitors 7 days a week and convert 4% of them into clients. Do the same math with the 15,000 monthly visitors and you’ll have $9,600 in sales from first-month subscribers alone per month. There’s no way to tell until you try it.
With a good list, you’ll also send a percentage of subscribers back to your site every day. Encourage them to “Like” you on Facebook and share your posts, etc.. Followers on Facebook will begin seeing you more often and build “frequency” with the customer. They will also see your brand new material as you publish it.
When you build a list that converts well, you can afford to advertise your lead generator on a PPC or CPM basis to bring people directly into your list. Alternatively, you may just keep up the advertising that you’re already doing that brings people into your site. Either way you’ll see a higher ROI (return on investment) from advertised traffic because you have a second and a third and a fourth chance to convert some of them instead of just once.
That’s the theory and method of lists. It largely operates as another arm of your business and a new revenue stream that does not affect your existing numbers. In fact, you can also subscribe (with their permission) people that call and fill out a form that don’t buy from you, and add previous customers so you can catch them later.
The long-term benefits of using a list is that you’ll often have people coming back that visited your site months and even a year ago to buy from you. This, all because you took the time to do what everyone else isn’t doing. You’ll earn that frequency and trust in a more personal way than advertising alone can ever accomplish.
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I am David Haas and I am a PAR Program Authorized Sales Representative & Independent Internet Marketing Consultant. You can reach me at www.48clicks.com or Dave@48clicks.com.