Is the money still in the list?

One mantra you hear repeated over and over again, at least when it comes to internet marketing and making money online, is “The Money is in the List.” Is that still true? Or are lists an useless nuisance for the subscribers and a waste of time, and eventually money, for bloggers?

If you are like me and ended up subscribing to a “few” email lists than the following scenario will seem familiar to you: A new tool or product appear in your niche and “whoops” magically your email inbox fills up with all this sales copies that urge you to buy the new tool or product via their “special” link. Most of them even start with: “My old friend X.Z. just put this cool new xyz on the market and I totally blown away about it…” and then comes the sales pitch. Affiliate marketing at its finest.

In preparation for this blog post I checked and NONE of the email lists I am subscribed to, has provided me with anything else then sale pitches and affiliate products. No added value whatsoever ;-( And did I ever buy anything from them? Nops, the last product I bought was Marketing Samurai and that was because of the long trial period they offered together with the TDC. So if I don’t buy into these sales pitches, why would anybody else?

Lets be honest, people DO buy from these lists, but are they happy with the purchase? How often have you bought something from one of the gurus and how often have you regretted it? And how often have you been happy about the purchase? I don’t say that every product promoted by affiliate marketers via their lists is rubbish, but far too many are and far too many people buy the wrong products and tools, wasting so their money. A typical affiliate commission is often 40% or more, an earning margin like this might tempt people to recommend products they never tested and therefor can’t recommend in a honest way.

Whenever I feel the temptation to start a list, I ask myself what kind of products could / would I sell, with a good conscience, to the subscribers of such a list? I come normally up with only a few and that are the ones I am already promoting on my blog (see first side bar). That are products and services I use myself since some time and that I know and can recommend. So, as I don’t feel comfortable to promote each week a new affiliate product I have never tested myself, I don’t build a list — at the moment.

The other thing is the difficulty to get people to subscribe to, and stay on!, your list. A lot of internet marketers use some “bait” to achieve this, like free ebooks, free reports, free ecourses, etc. I personally think that I am better off putting such material in form of posts and pages on my blog and to increase this way the value my blog has for ALL my readers, not only for the ones that give me their email address. I fear I would dilute my content by spreading it too thin over too many channels.

But again, your own mileage might vary. You might be interested in doing a lot of affiliate marketing and you might have attractive material to use as a “bait” so that people subscribe to your list. My experience and my reasons don’t have to be yours. But let me give you at least some tips, from the perspective of a subscriber, to help you to be a better lister (sorry for the pun):

  • Make your list useful to your subscribers by providing them with a lot of great, free material.
  • Keep sales pitches clean and to the minimum.
  • Promote only products you can honestly recommend.
  • Do everything you can to make being on your list a true advantage for your subscribers and unsubscribing from it a disadvantage.

Ok, last words, as I researched about lists, list building and the like I came across two tools. One is Aweber, a paid solution most internet marketer seem to use and PhpList a free, less well known, alternative. So, if you want to get your toes wet with list building, these two might be a place to start with your own research 😉

So, what is your take at the whole “The Money is in the List!”-mantra? Do you have / use lists, do you have success? What would you recommend others to do, or not to do? Me, myself and I want to know, not to mention my rabid readers! 😉 (Anybody knows who said this? Nothing to win, just for fun!)

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41 comments to Is the money still in the list?

  • Hi there,
    When I first starting trying to make money online, I also signed up to every available list that promised to teach me something. However I was always a bit wary of buying because everything always sounded too good to be true. Then when I realised that everyone was offering me the same thing with added extras (which I later learned were just repackaged plr documents) I unsubscribed from the lists one by one. The only thing that has proved its worth is Market Samuarai. I still have lots to learn to fully appreciate the tool but I did the 30DC last year and again this year and think it is definitely helpful in cutting down research time. Now they have just sent round the special offer, so I think i will take advantage of this and use the money I have made from my money making experiement to hopefully build on my success so far.

    There must be people buying from lists otherwise this marketing tool wouldn’t exist. I am one of those strange people who like to try before you buy because money doesn’t grow on trees.

  • hospitalera

    Seems we are one of a kind 😉 I stay on these lists because they provide me with great blogging material if nothing else 😉 And yes, try before you buy is a huge selling point for me too! And yes, go ahead and buy Market Samurai, I don’t think they will ever lower the price more 😉 SY

    PS Take advantage of the keywordluv feature here on this blog, every little helps as they say in good old England!

  • Thanks for that.
    I am at work so the keywordLuv feature doesn’t seem to want to work. It is searching for the data but it just can’t find it.
    I’m pop back with a comment when I get home. Ah the joys of pretending to work on the company’s dime 🙂

  • hospitalera

    Just enter YourName@YourKeywords in the Name field of the comment form, that’s it 😉 And, remember the 11th commandment? Don’t get caught! SY

  • I think that the article is about quality over quantity according to affiliate. If that so, i really agree with it.

    Btw, you should write a post about how to use this keywordluv.
    .-= LetUpdate@online knowledge´s last blog ..Subscribe Blog to Google Webmasters =-.

  • hospitalera

    Great idea, will do! SY

  • I am always surprised when people succumb to sales pitches, but it seems that they do work. I completely agree with only promoting products that you can recommend, otherwise that completely destroys the credibility of your site. That is something that I appreciate about your blog because it seems that you do a lot of research before you mention any type of product!

  • hospitalera

    Thanks for the kind words, yes, I want to make this an authority blog that people can and will trust, rather then a “hit and run” site for the quick buck 😉 I firmly believe in long term success in blogging! SY

  • After many years of hearing the same mantra “the money’s in the list” i signed up with Aweber. It’s only $20 a month for the first 500 subscribers. I want to use it to promote a book I am working on. I have added the sign up box to a few sites and I have been surprised at the uptake. On one site I am sending out job information which is done automatically with the RSS feed on the site. Aweber also has some useful statistics and is easy to set up.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Sunday article marketing update =-.

  • So I have returned home after a cheeky margarita and far too many nachos with my work colleagues. After completing an info barrel, I will take the plunge and purchase my very own Market Samurai. Sometimes the list thing can work out well but it took me over a year to decide to spend money on something and that is only because of the extended try before you buy period as well as the excellent user friendly how to videos provided by the MS/30DC team.
    .-= Tiptopcat@Money Making Experiment´s last blog ..Earnings For August 2009 =-.

  • You know I am thinking about starting a list… No seriously I think I finally found a use for them – and its along the lines of what Mike is talking about – alerting people to a specific product I’m creating.

    The way that the 99.9% of people use lists makes no sense to me – why send content to a list – when I can just put it on my blog and encourage people to subscribe to however they wish (either by email or RSS reader) – its there forever – there’s a search function – sometimes you can even find stuff on the site!

    I think as an early warning system for something I think my list might want to buy it sounds like a good idea may be a good idea to have a list – even just point them to the blog – or is that redundant – confused again LOL
    .-= lissie@passive income´s last blog ..Brett McFall, The World Internet Summit, Is He Legit? =-.

  • I didn’t know about Market Samurai untill I visit your blog, could you tell me more about it? It looks interesting. Concerning AWeber, it’s the best autoresponder in the world, and I highly recommend AWeber if you want to increase your subscriber list and generate more affiliate sales.
    .-= Benjamin Cip´s last blog ..How To Get Targeted Traffic =-.

  • hospitalera

    Great examples, yes if you move “out side the blogger box” then having and maintaining such a list can make perfect sense. For example if you are an author and want to alert readers to a new publication. I guess the list thing is something that can’t be simplified easily, for some cases it works, for others not. SY

    You will not regret it, SY

    You sound like me 😉 I guess the important thing is to have a purpose for a list and not just to join the crowd because everybody does it!

    @Benjamin Cip
    Market Samurai is basically a keyword research and SEO tool on steroids. The best way to see what it can do is signing up for a free trial (kindly use my Market Samurai Link to do that, it is a referral link, doesn’t cost you anything, but makes me a few bucks should you decide to buy it. 😉 The good thing is that you can try it for free and even after the free trial has expired, you still have the keyword research feature available which stays free and is far superior to the Google External Keyword Tool. If you are interested in making money online and SEO, it is really the best thing since sliced bread to have. It saves all your research in projects so that you don’t have to start over again like with the Google Tool. Ok, I stop singing praises now, might do a blog post about it soon. Just try it out, what do you have to loose, there is a free trial! SY

  • I don’t tend to buy products that land in my inbox, even if it looks interesting. I don’t know if the seller can be trusted for one, but mainly because I have the idea in my head that you would just not get value for moeny from someone who needs to sell hard. A good product would sell itself.
    .-= Ste@free Playstation 3´s last blog ..Stickybuds set at Shambhala Festival 2009 (MP3 download) =-.

  • hospitalera

    I am the same, that only thing that might convince me is a free “try before you buy”, SY

  • I have a couple of lists. One thing that a lot of people don’t mention is that redirecting that email list traffic back to your site increases overall traffic astronimcally (assuming your list capture and follow ups are good). It really is something that no website should be without!
    .-= stumblerum@link bait writer´s last blog ..Why Most Link Bait is a Waste of Time =-.

  • hospitalera

    I always thought that the list is made out of the readers of a blog, so you say it is also made out of the ones that only occasionally visit your blog and you can give them a gentle nuke to do so more often? Hm, I might re-think this list business again, SY

  • Hi,

    I think the biggest value in a list, is not necessarily what you can “sell” to people every time they get an email, it’s more along the lines of making/and keeping connections.

    If people just want to follow your blog, they can do so via a feed reader. The problem is, if they’re anything like most of us, they probably subscribe to 100s of blogs. It’s easy for any site (no matter how good) to fall through the cracks.

    With an email list, you can be a bit more personable, maybe tell a bit more of the “story behind the posts”, let people feel like they’re getting something “special”. If you are unique enough, and your emails actually get opened, the list can drive more traffic than an rss feed. Also, if people really do feel that they know, like and trust you, when you do make a “pitch” to your list, sales are pretty likely to occur.

    The caution is on the flip side. If you send too many ads (or actually even just one really bad one), it’s too easy to just hit the “spam” button on my gmail menu bar, and not have to deal with your emails again.

    Bottom line, if a list is treated with respect, there can definitely be money in it.

    .-= Todd@ tm Tips´s last blog ..Can You Get Rich Blogging About Making Money? =-.

  • hospitalera

    Good points, but it shows also that most of the people that send my emails because I am on one of their lists don’t have a clue about relationship building, they just want to sell something with email they send. I promise, if I ever start a list, I will be more careful, lol, because somebody might find what I just wrote, SY

  • Ah yes, the almighty list. The money is in the list but it’s not really about the size of the list but more about how targeted it is. I have to say that I have started building a list and I try to give good information to my susbscribers. People really don’t know what to do with their list once they have it. Before I send out an email I ask myself – would I open, read and appreciate this email? If so I hit the send button
    .-= Luca Di Nicoa´s last blog ..7 Tips for Optimizing Your Video Content for the Search Engines =-.

  • My mantra is that people are not fools. If you see a list that you would not buy from yourself, 90 percent of the time there is no money to be made from that list! So it does help to have stuff that you would want to try out and buy yourself there. That makes it all the more appealing to your prospects.

  • Jim

    The money has never been in the list – the money is in the RELATIONSHIP with the list!

  • I like to sign-up to Guru’s lists, not because i want to buy their crappy hyped-up products but so i can see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it – that’s probably more valuable than the courses they’re trying to promote.
    I think Frank Kern’s approach of sending a few emails with value (which don’t promote anything) and then sending a promotion probably works best.

  • Buddy you have a valid point. But what i feel personally is that you have spent your money on buying the lists and you should not review your buy for good or bad. Nothing can be done and yest thats the fact. I know I may sound pessimistic but that is the way things had happened to me so far. Sorry
    .-= Girish@Auckland Car Rental´s last blog ..Rugby World Cup Car Rentals =-.

  • Jim: That is so true. Remember to treat your list well, and they will treat you well. 🙂 I always keep my ratio of sales letters low compared to the quality content I give my subscribers. Have a nice day everyone. 🙂
    .-= Thomas @ become rich ebook´s last blog’s Gold Membership area is open! =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Luca Di Nicoa
    “Before I send out an email I ask myself – would I open, read and appreciate this email?” Good advice, if I ever start a list, I will remember that!

    Also a good point, now we have only to match the right list with the right product.

    Seems this blog post and the comments could serve as a mini-course in how to treat your list and how not 😉

    Same here, learn how they do it, but don’t do what they tell you to do 😉

    I don’t speak about bought lists, I spoke about building lists via your web site / blog. Bought lists are not only crap, they are also Trouble with a big T, most of them contain information that has been collected illegally and is not backed up by a double opt-in. Hands away from bought lists if you don’t want to get sued for spamming!

    Now we come to the most important question, what to offer your list subscribers to make them happy? SY

  • Nicole

    I think the products or services that will really make money is any niche, ebooks or blogs regarding “How to Make Money Online”. Since lots of people are becoming more interested in making money online this will surely a hit and in demand!

  • hospitalera

    @ Nicole
    ROFL!!! Yeah, really a niche with no competition at all (insert sarcasm here) SY

  • musical instrument store

    Good article,,, really made me think. Niche’s are the way to riches.

  • Providing good free material works every time. The more viral you play the better the results.
    .-= Max@Cottage Rental´s last blog ..Berry Bush Cottage =-.

  • hospitalera

    @musical instrument store
    You still have to work 😉 SY

  • I think you make some great points in this post especially for those of us that are just starting out in Internet marketing. I’ve been thinking about the list building step to try and build up my business, but I find the thought of it very overwhelming. I personally have become very picky about joining lists because of marketing overload. Thank you for the information; it is great food for thought.

    Thank you for the link to my website:
    .-= Amber@Razor E100 electric scooter´s last blog ..Razor E100 Scooter =-.

  • hospitalera

    I am looking into other ways of building / using email list marketing at the moment as I find myself more unsubscribing from lists then subscribing to new ones. Perhaps the money is still in the list, but perhaps not anymore in the classical email list. Social media? Perhaps! SY
    PS No need to put an extra link to your web site in your comment as commentluv and keywordluv are taking care of that 😉 SY

  • Yea, I’m wondering how long the list phenomenon will last. I know it’s an important part of a business model, but it just seems that people are tired of being solicited all the time; I know I am. I think it is more important than ever to provide value consistently to your list members if not they will surely opt out of your list. I know I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

    Happy New Year!

    .-= DL@Increase Site Traffic Web´s last blog ..Web2 Mayhem Put To The Test =-.

  • I know the money is in the list but the list isnt growing!

  • Sam: What are you doing to make your list grow?
    I took a look at your site and the placement of the optin doesn’t look to be optimal, you should place it as close to the top as possible. You should also do something more with the optin. Write a compelling text with a call for action, maybe have a free gift like an ebook, report etc. so people know they get something in return for giving you their email.

    I hope this helps. 🙂

    Best regards
    Thomas Haugen
    Norwegian Viking Internet Marketer

  • I have never really taken anytime to create lists. So far my affiliate marketing is limited to SEO / PPC. But I find not reason not to start a list. Maybe I need to do a lot of reading before I start one !

  • I recommend that you research a lot before starting a list as it is many aspects to it, but here are the main steps:

    1. get an autoresponder service, like Aweber, Getresponse etc. (I personally use Aweber)
    2. Make a free report, video etc. that compels people to subscribe to your list.
    3. Make an optin page with a little text about what they get if they sign up and the sign up form.
    4. Setup the autoresponder service, first mail with the freebie etc.
    5. Get traffic to your optin page.
    6. Give value to your list and pitch now and again, don’t pitch every day! You’ll get no credibility if you do that.
    7. Did i mention give value? 😉

    Hope you’ll find these steps useful. 🙂

    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Best regards
    Thomas Haugen
    The Viking Internet Marketer
    .-= Thomas Haugen@Internet Marketing´s last blog ..Internet List Building – Best Tips for Internet List Building =-.

    • hospitalera

      Great advice, Thomas! I think it gets more and more difficult to build a “good” list, because people are sooo tired of sales pitches. I guess the ultimate list marketing would be to give a lot of value away for free, but what would the list owner get in return? More readers to his / her site / blog? SY

  • As long as the ratio of great content is higher than pitches you should be ok. for example: 4 emails in one week. one of them a pitch the 3 others content. 🙂 You’ll should be able to do really well with this if you do that.

    Best regards
    Thomas Haugen
    The Viking Internet Marketer
    .-= Thomas Haugen@Internet Marketing´s last blog ..Internet List Building – Best Tips for Internet List Building =-.

  • Trust is very important if we want to convert our traffic into sales, we must first start to gain the trust of our audience through creating non bias information about our products. There are other things that plays a great role in earning money with our website such as web design etc.
    .-= diocelin@website design münchen´s last blog ..XT Commerce Abonnement Modul =-.