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Oh Dear I Think The Listbuilders Are Going To Hate Me For This

listLet’s get one thing clear from the start. I am not anti list building.

I think if people are not building up a group of followers or subscribers then they are missing a very important trick.

But I think the concept of going all-out to build up a big list of subscribers from wherever you can and however you can is becoming less and less relevant for many internet marketers today.

I think there was a ‘golden age’ of email-based internet marketing when people actually enjoyed being on an email list and looked forward to getting offers and opening links in emails which would take them to exciting-looking website sales pages.

But today we are a long way removed from that stage.

Nowadays we get so many emails and are bombarded with so many random offers from random marketers that checking our in boxes is something of a chore.

Here is how it used to work

The old theory goes something like this:

If you get enough people on your list and send them enough stuff then eventually someone will see something they like and buy from you.

But as people get bombarded with more and more emails each month it means that open rates continue to fall so the marketer has to grow an even bigger list and send them more offers in the hope of making a sale.

Surely it makes more sense to abandon this scatter-gun approach and try to appeal to a more targeted market instead?

But what is list building anyway?

I also think the whole concept of “list building” is confusing to many new marketers who think that they need to get huge numbers of people from anywhere they can and then they worry about what to do with their list once they have one.

Some questions I have heard recently are:

Do I wait until I have a list of 50 or 100 or 500 before I communicate with it?

What do I say to my list?

How many offers should I make? What do I offer and where do I find the offers?

How many emails should I send each week or should I email every day?

What do I say in my emails?

And surely relationships are better than mere lists?

So instead of list-building I say that we should be trying to build up relationships with people.

When you get a subscriber then think of it as inviting someone into your front room.

The polite thing to do here is to talk to them. Tell them a little about yourself and ask them about themselves.

Then after a while you can introduce them to offers for goods or services you think they may be interested in.

Aweber screengrab

Going for numbers or building a community? is the interactions with people that count, not the numbers of people on your list who ignore you.

And because you are building a community of people who have a relationship with you they are more likely to open your emails in the first place and respond to your offers when you send them out.

This is what I have done…

With this in mind I decided to have a look at my own marketing campaigns this week and I noticed that I had a list where I had gathered people from a lot of different sources – some targeted but some not targeted at all.

So I did something the traditional listbuilders would find crazy.

I wrote to this list and told them I would not be sending them any more email offers and then gave them a link to check out if they wanted to hear from me again.

Effectively this is asking people to complete (a rather belated) triple opt in system.

They first joined my list (opted in) and then confirmed their email addresses (double opt in) and ow I have asked them to take one more action if they want to continue to hear from me (triple opt in.)

I expect very few, if any, of them to follow me over to the new list.

But then again what have I really lost?

You can’t have a conversation with someone if the other person is not listening.

And if people on that list don’t really want to be there in the first place what is the point in me talking to them at all?

From now on I want to concentrate on the people who want to hear from me and who want to be part of a two-way dialogue with me.

It is time to stop shouting at the people who don’t want to listen and start talking to the people who do.

It is time to stop focusing on adding numbers to a list and start focusing on those people who want to become part of your community.

That is why I am saying no to random list building from any source and yes to building relationships with people who want to speak to me.

Build your brand. Find your voice. Gain a following.

And now over to you…

What is your approach to this whole question?

Should we differentiate between list building and relationship building?

Do you agree with me or do you think I am crazy?

Feel free to leave your comments below.

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19 Responses to Oh Dear I Think The Listbuilders Are Going To Hate Me For This

  1. Sergio Felix
    February 4, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Hey Patrick,

    I think you’re doing the right thing man.

    Honestly, I don’t see what’s the point at throwing mud constantly at a wall hoping some of it will stick (I obviously rewrote this phrase to make it PG rated).

    Analytics and numbers are stats that we should never ignore however, some of those numbers inside our email services do represent real persons.

    People with feelings, dreams, problems, just like us.

    ‘People love to buy but they hate to be sold’, pushy is not the name of the game.

    The real value here is be yourself, not chase after the money, provide value, eventually money WILL follow.

    It just doesn’t works the other way (at least not anymore).

    Sergio Felix thinks you may like this post too..Turn The PageMy Profile

    • Patrick Griffin
      February 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

      Hi Sergio,

      I agree with the points you make.
      The analytics inside Aweber are a most useful tool indeed and I would not be without them.

      For example it was by looking at the data that I could see which list was very unresponsive (the one I wrote to) and which list was very responsive (the people who have signed up for this blog.)

      Constantly throwing mud at walls is no fun. Building relationships with people is.

      Just because someone tells you that “x” is how something should be done does not mean they are correct.

      And even if doing a certain thing or behaving in a certain way works for one group of people it may not necessarily work for you.

      I want people to question why they do things. Why am I building a list? What do I want to achieve? How could I do things smarter? Where do I want this to take me?

      More people should ask more questions like that rather than blindly following the pack.

      Patrick Griffin thinks you may like this post too..Friday Newsletter: February 3, 2012My Profile

  2. Andrew Stark
    February 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Hi Patrick

    I think you’re spot on with your thinking, the size of your list is nothing if you don’t have that all important relationship. I’ve noticed that by switching more to blogging and branding that the number of new sign-ups has decreased but the quality of the traffic has gone up.

    It’s better to send 10 people to an offer and get one sale and be thanked by that person for telling them about the product than send 100 people to make the single sale only to find it refunded days later.

    Also make sure you tell people about the social media that you use, and get interaction going via the likes of twitter, facebook, and the many other new platforms available.

    I think it’s just a variation of the TimTech +1 idea, teach and help people to make good things happen.

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    • Patrick Griffin
      February 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      Hi Andrew.
      What you have said there is my thinking on the matter exactly.
      Small and targeted is, perhaps, a little harder to do but because it is more targeted and because you are building relationships it can produce better long-term results.

      Patrick Griffin thinks you may like this post too..Friday Newsletter: February 3, 2012My Profile

  3. David UNITED KINGDOM February 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Spot on with this post patrick, like you say, many email address must have well over 100 emails everyday from list builders / random people, that the ‘Delete’ button comes in very handy & well there is the problem! There comes a point where people get sick of having to open so many emails, that many get deleted & because of this, even if the person wants to hear from you, your own email could well end up in the ‘trash’ purley because it gets mixed up with the crazy amount of other emails.
    Everytime i get a new follower or subscriber, i send out a ‘personal’ email, as you say telling them a little abit about myself, what i do online ect & what they are looking to do online. I find this helps, also the one thing i ALWAYS do is offer help / support ect to everyone that follows or subscribes to me. People buy from people – not from random emails. Thank you for the post.
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  4. Kent Faver
    February 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I am dangerously in the middle on this one. I respect you for this triple opt-in manuever and would generally agree it’s a good move long term.

    Two of the bigger list-builders I have followed in the past are Sean Mize and Kim Roach. Both have built huge lists, e-mail their lists often and both are pretty prolific info or web-based product creators. Kim is more adept at getting her list to her blog and interacting with them – which is something you and Tim appear to be doing. Conversely, Sean Mize has no blog and really has no interest in interacting with me unless I am paying him a hefty coaching fee – lol. I have left his list, but it appears to work for him.

    It would seem, however, if you are solely interested in interacting with people first – maybe this process could eat up too much of your valuable time if you are trying to make a significant income online? I don’t know – thus, I look forward to more on this from you Patrick!

    Kent Faver thinks you may like this post too..Is Ethical Marketing Dead?My Profile

    • Patrick Griffin
      February 5, 2012 at 12:54 am #

      You make good points there Kent.
      There certainly is a consideration of the time factor it takes to give a personal touch rather than just interacting with people when they are actually paying you money.

      Different people have different ways of doing business and I think it is important not to say that method ‘a’ is right while method ‘b’ is wrong.

      I can say that something works for me but that does not make it wrong for someone else to say that something entirely different works for them.

      Patrick Griffin thinks you may like this post too..Friday Newsletter: February 3, 2012My Profile

  5. marlene moore February 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    I completely agree with ya patrick ive always believed in building a relationship with people. I guess it comes from all the years of being a social creature. People are meant to be more social with each other not just a number on a list. I dont consider myself a list builder I comnsider myself a friend maker.

  6. Robert Maturo UNITED STATES February 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m a List Builder and I don’t dislike you! We have to build a list, and what’s being said is right. The size doesn’t matter. It’s the relationships you develop and the trust that you build with the people on your list.

    Continually pitching them and treating them as cash registers doesn’t work.
    Training, content, and personal help get you a lot further.

    You’ll end up with downlines that duplicate and flat out work!

    That’s been my experience! Thanks for sharing!
    Robert Maturo thinks you may like this post too..ALL CLEAR: FeedMedic Alert for RobertMaturosRealTesecretsMy Profile

    • Patrick Griffin
      February 5, 2012 at 12:57 am #

      Thanks for your comment Robert.
      I agree with you as I have left the lists of those who used them as the automatic cash register you describe.
      Patrick Griffin thinks you may like this post too..AdKreatorMy Profile

  7. Catherine White
    February 4, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    A triple opt in.
    What a novel idea – creating a list – mailing to your list – then, after a certain period of time, asking the people on your list if they still want to hear from you.
    I like it.
    Catherine White thinks you may like this post too..What Makes You STAND OUT?My Profile

  8. Catherine White
    February 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    After reading your post, I realized I have heard the exact same questions.
    You inspired a new post where I attempt to answer the questions you reported hearing.
    Catherine White thinks you may like this post too..Listbuilding 101 – Find the Answer HereMy Profile

    • Patrick Griffin
      February 5, 2012 at 12:59 am #

      Good stuff Catherine.
      I read your post, others may want to do so too…it is the blue link in the comment above.
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  9. Dan Sumner February 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Hey Patrick, I remember the old days of marketing when ‘the money is in the list’ came about. Mike Filsaime said this was the main priority. This is true as long as you do it in the right manner.

    Adswaps, Givaways, list swaps, bla bla bla are a fast way for anyone to build thei list but there are too many guys simply building and broadcasting trying to make a quick buck.

    This used to work in 2004 when the process was squeeze page – opt-in – redirect to $97 offer. I used to do it. Guilty!

    These days you need to be a subscriber magnet pulling in 300 opt-in per day to work like this without building relationships. Don’t get me wrong here, this is not what I want to do. I think relationship building and providing excellent content is excellent and it’s the way I work today.

    I’m 100% with relationship building and with you.

    Do I think you are crazy? Yes! Ha ha.

    Seriously, If I was to do what you would like to do, I guess I would make it public. Be controversial in a blog post and email broadcast about it. I feel you would then have people on your side, people on the fence, and people who leave. You could then send all the new guys to a new list from the post and email broadcast. Just my 10c worth :-D

    Great content Patrick, one I could talk about all day to be honest. Very debatable.


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    • Patrick Griffin
      February 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks for adding to the debate here.
      I think one of the problems is that many new marketers are still being led to believe that stuff which worked well in 2004 is still good today.

      I think it is important not only to change with the times but to market in a way that suits you the individual.

      Different people will do things different ways and that is good.

      I think as long as people have a good idea what they want to achieve when they set out on a course of action then they have at least a fighting chance of achieving what they want.

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  10. Mark Hodgetts AUSTRALIA February 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    Relationship building is key and an email list is 1 critical way of doing this.
    What applies in the IM niche doesn’t necessarily apply elsewhere.
    A weight loss/guitar/health/techy/Youname it newsletter will be much more responsive than an IM newsletter – why? because people really want the info and most people running newsletters in these areas really know what they’re talking about and don;t fall for the trap of selling every latest piece of garbage that emerges.
    Fact IM List building is a long road – targetted niche newsletters are much more rewarding
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