“The money is in the list.”
I am sure you have heard it before. And I believe it can be true. But it is not an absolute truth. Here we will look at 10 ways you can make money from your mailing list.
We will also look at how you need to approach your mailing list for it to be an essential part of your online business.
10 Ways to Make Money From Your Mailing List
Before we look at ways you can make money from your mailing list, we need to define 3 core principles.
- Never spam: Never send mailings to non-members. Only send what you have permission to send. Double opt-in is a good thing. Use it.
- Always stay relevant: Only write about and promote relevant products and services. Do not anger your members by just selling anything to make a buck.
- Create value: Always ensure you can answer the question: what is in it for them?
1. Promote other companies’ products and service
As an affiliate marketer, you can represent other companies and make a commission on sales generated.
Affiliate marketing can be highly lucrative. You include information about a product or service in your mailing. Then add a link to the merchant directly or back to our website.
But to be successful, you must remember to create value for mailing list members.
One rule of thumb is to be informative five times before selling something.
Some merchants, like Amazon, do not allow affiliate links in mailings. Here you need to link to landing pages on your website.
It is always good to link to your website, but sometimes it makes more sense to link directly to merchants to avoid selling the product twice.
2. Find a sponsor to pay for your mailings
I used to do this a lot in the travel industry. Suppliers like cruise companies and airlines did not like to give cash payouts. They much preferred to buy a mailing or newsletter where they could pitch their product, service, or even a new location.
Before accepting a sponsor, you should ensure they offer a complementary product or service that creates value for your members.
For credibility reasons (and by law in some countries), you should clearly state that it is a sponsored post in your mailing.
3. Create and sell your digital products
Use your knowledge, experience, and expertise to create an online course or guide to promote on your website and in your mailings.
Creating online courses and programs is very popular among internet professionals. And when done correctly, it can be very lucrative.
Use your mailing list to create interest, and then use a series of emails to qualify and lead the prospect to purchase.
As you have already established trust, you must focus on solving problems and removing pain points for your mailing list members.
4. Paid membership-based mailing lists
Subscription-based mailing lists can be a great business model if you work in a field where information often changes.
One effective model is to have a free and paid subscription membership list.
The free list will serve a larger audience with free, valuable, and informative content. It can act as an effective recruitment tool for the paid list.
The paid list is when visitors sign up and pay a membership fee to receive regular updates about your industry.
An example could be a CPA or a dietitian with expertise and authority in their field. But it could also be an expert in photography or SEO.
You can charge a weekly, monthly, or yearly fee for your regular, expert tips and advice.
The model is very lucrative, and you will find that membership retention and recurring billing are critical factors for success.
A free introductory period is a very effective way to recruit new members.
5. Sell advertising space
Selling advertising space within your mailings or newsletter generates revenue and leads to new potential partners.
The trick is to offer smaller advertising packages where you can over-deliver. This is a great low-maintenance way to try to create new advertising partners.
Ideally, you charge a nominal fee as an introductory offer, and then the key is to over-deliver and exceed expectations.
And needless to say, stay relevant. Only sell advertising space in your newsletter to a company that offers a product or service suitable to yours.
6. Sell on your “Thank you” page
When new members sign up to your mailing list, send them to your “Thank you” page.
This is an ideal time to offer an introductory, once-in-a-lifetime deal.
Stay relevant, and do not sell too hard. You may be surprised by how well it works if you offer a deal with excellent value.
7. Offer lead-in product to start a buyer-seller relationship
All relationships are built on trust.
I belong to mailing lists where I ticked the box when purchasing products or services online.
But to be honest, I am a passive member of most groups and mailing lists.
There has never been an offer to make me a buyer. And I know how I am usually won over.
I find it hard to refuse a trial for a low nominal fee with clear and straightforward rules and terms for cancellation.
And I don’t particularly appreciate signing up for free offers where I suddenly need to enter my credit card number.
A great way to make money from your mailing list is to offer smaller lead-in products or services to establish a buyer-seller relationship.
When the relationship is created, selling higher-ticket items will be much easier.
8. Upsell from freebie
We often have to offer something for free – a freebie – to get new members to our mailing list.
But all freebies are not created equal.
When you choose your freebie, ensure it is relevant to your audience and has value.
If you, for example, offer three free recipes with sign-up, you could offer ten more for just $3.
Getting that first buyer-seller transaction under your belt will help as you move along.
9. Cross- & up-sell complementary products & services
I used to cross-sell and up-sell with great success in the travel industry.
I had the most success when I offered complementary products and services throughout the shopping experience.
I always stayed relevant and went to great lengths to match and offer appropriate products and services.
I would, for example, offer priority boarding and seating. Now priority boarding is an excellent offer for the single traveler who does not want to board last. Seating is a harder sell as they will find a seat that works, especially if they pay for priority boarding.
Seating is, on the other hand, an excellent offer for a family traveling with children. But they will never pay for pre-boarding as they will get it for free.
You may not have this detailed information on your members, but you must think the same way.
Match your offers based on all the information you have. Should it be the member’s purchase history or another data point?
10. Do not make your list for everyone
Do not be fooled into thinking that mailing lists need thousands of members to be valuable.
This is not true.
Focus on building a segmented mailing list where you know your members’ needs, wants, and desires.
This is more important than just large numbers of random members.
Dare to have a defined audience and then solve their problems.
Having tons of mailing list members is excellent, but it is more important that they share common attributes, desires, and goals.
Bonus tip: Getting a second shot at success
This is one of my most successful methods for reaching more members with mailings.
We build a fabulous newsletter with an amazing value proposition. We send it. Looking at the reports, we can see that a whopping 60% of the members did not open the newsletter.
Now 40% open rate is not alarming, but with a targeted list, we want to do better.
Here’s my tip. Run a report of all the members that did not open the newsletter. Wait for at least five days, including a weekend.
Now resend the same newsletter but re-write the subject line or heading.
This gives you a second go at your members without agitating those who opened your initial mailing.
So why are mailing lists so important anyway?
When you run an online business, you always try to attract new visitors to your website.
You want the visitors to be relevant and targeted.
You may work with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to rank in the search engines. You may be active on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, to mention a few of the bigger ones. And then you have your mailing list.
Many website owners look at it like that. The mailing list is almost an afterthought.
But truth be told, all those other traffic sources can be taken away. And there would be nothing you could do.
You do not own the traffic you get from search engines. Social media networks allow you to use their network, but there is no promise that they will deliver visitors to your website.
So how would your visitors find you if you were not ranking in the search engines and had no presence on social media networks?
Exactly, you would still have your mailing list.
You own your mailing list and your website. Everything else can be taken away.
And that is why your mailing list is vital to the success of your website.
Are all mailing lists automatically money-makers?
I wish it were so. But there is, unfortunately, an abundance of mismanaged mailing lists out there.
For your mailing list to be valuable, it must be adequately managed.
To be successful, you must respect and over-deliver on the contract you have entered with your mailing list members.
I have no contract, you may think. Well, you probably do.
When you initially asked for the email address, you promised to offer value to entice visitors to join.
And now you need to over-deliver.
But I never made any promises or guarantees
It’s possible but not necessarily a good thing.
There are many mailing lists where members join for a freebie or the chance to win something.
The challenge with these mailing lists is that they are not segmented, and we know nothing about the members’ needs, wants, and desires.
And we want our mailing list members to have expectations we can exceed!
Why do I want mailing list members to have expectations?
People do not buy from strangers.
We need to establish trust to make money from our mailing list members.
The easiest way to earn trust is to establish authority. And you demonstrate authority by over-delivering on any promises implied or specific.
But I cannot give away infomation for free! I need paying customers. If your newsletter members can match your knowledge, expertise, and experience from reading your newsletter, you need to revisit your business model.
The expectations you created help segment your list of members, and at the same time, you have a mechanism to build trust.
Summary and conclusion
The money is indeed in the list if we build the list the right way.
We need to focus on offering value and respecting the contract we enter with the members of our mailing list.
And when you have a focused segmented mailing list, it can make you good money when you offer value and respect the relationship.
Respecting the relationship means that you will never
- sell your list
- promote unrelated products
- only sell, sell, sell (it is not about you)
Now, working with a mailing list takes patience. And remember that even if your members do not buy something today, it may change tomorrow. Stay relevant, respect the relationship, and remember that “persistence beats resistance.”