I know many entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially when we’re first starting out, dream of building really big lists of prospects and clients — lists with the names and email addresses of people in our target market, who may someday spend their money with us.
At first, it seems to make perfect sense that you’d want a big list — that the more people you can communicate with in your email marketing campaigns, the more likely you will be to find a customer who will take the next step with you.
But what we often forget as we get “big eyes” imagining having a list with over 1000 names and email addresses on it, is that quantity in list building will never be as important, nor have as great an impact on our profits, as quality.
A strong list made up of people who are genuinely interested guarantees your email marketing will produce more consistent results. And to find people who are genuinely interested, you must attract them to your website, prove your value and commitment to quality very quickly, and convince them to give you their permission to communicate with them further through email marketing.
Without their permission, how can you ever be sure of their interest? There is no better way to get their permission than to offer them something they can’t resist — something that will really help them solve a recurring problem — for free, in exchange for their opting in.
The rich content of your website can go a long way toward persuading an opt-in, but an Irresistible Free Offer (IFO) will seal the deal.
Why is an Irresistible Free Offer so essential for your online list-building? There are 3 clear benefits:
1. The IFO reinforces your commitment to permission-based marketing.
In the world of sales, consumers are naturally on guard. The time-worn image of the snake-oil salesman who promises a cure-all will always haunt us. Who likes being taken advantage of? The feeling of losing your independence and being hoodwinked into doing something you’re not sure about is just no fun.
That’s why the most important thing you can do when building your list is to prove your value to your prospects before they take the plunge and get out their wallets.
Once you show them that you’re on the level and want to give them something they can use, they will be happy to give you the chance to communicate with them further. They will give you their permission. Nothing can reinforce your integrity more than knowing that you’re marketing to people who want you to do so.
2. The truly extraordinary IFO draws prospects on its own, and proves your value.
We live in the holy land of the “free gift with purchase.” This sales technique is proven to draw hundreds shoppers to retail establishments daily. And it is just as effective when used online.
While retail stores provide a gift in exchange for a sale, online marketers provide a free gift in exchange for an email address. What makes the free offer impossible to refuse, however, is not just the chance to get something for free, but to get something for free that you can really use.
The key to making an offer your audience can’t refuse is to help solve their problems and help them take their own businesses or lives to the next level with your offer. If your free offer can change their lives, they will be magnetically drawn to it, and it will prove your value beyond a doubt. You know you have great things to give the world. Why not get them hooked?
3. The IFO gives your clients a taste of the caliber of products you offer.
It’s like going to the iTunes store and being able to sample the tracks of an album you’re thinking about buying. With a sample, customers can make a much more informed and iron-clad choice — the kind of choice you want your prospects to make for your business.
So if your irresistible free offer is truly irresistible in its promise, and then it truly delivers great content when they use it, your clients will KNOW that you ROCK.
You have proven your credentials, your talent, your skill, and your commitment to bettering your industry and their lives. And you can do all that while building up a line of products and services, ensuring your survival with variety and creativity.
Here are just a few ideas for IFOs that will help you convert prospects to clients:
- Access to skill-building webinars or teleclasses
- Special (and re-brandable) reports on your secret keys to success
- Informational or motivational audio recordings
- Useful ebooks or e-pamphlets
- “Chat With an Expert” online coaching sessions
- Monthly newsletters chock full of inspiring content
- Promotional products related to your business or industry
- Product reviews and comparisons to help users make informed choices
- Coupons and discounts not available elsewhere
- Trial club memberships promising specials on your products and services
- Easy, unlimited online access to customer service
Okay list-builders, I hope that you feel geared up to start focusing on forging a quality list of potential clients who want to hear more from you — by proving your worth, solving their problems, and showing your stuff with a truly extraordinary irresistible free offer.