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5 easy ways to build an email list for your small business

Nathan Segal | March 1, 2013
The bigger your email list, the more potential customers you reach with each email. But building an email list can be a challenge for a small business owner. Fortunately, these five strategies require only your expertise and your time.

1. Joint Ventures Expose Your Products to a New Audience

The joint venture-in which you market a product or service through a list belonging to another party-is among the most profitable list-building methods. The commission split is usually 50/50, though you might want to give more if your primary purpose is list building, and you should know that some marketers set the commission as high as 75 percent.

The main reason to participate in a joint venture is to create a long-term relationship with a list of satisfied customers to whom you can sell multiple times. Many marketers assume it is a one-time deal. This is a major mistake. The transaction doesn't end once you've sold your product. Once that sale is complete, in fact, you now have a new customer who trusts you. Because of that, there's an excellent chance this customer will buy from you again.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called The Photoshop Companion and began to look for joint venture partners. At one point I pitched to Corel, an Adobe Systems competitor, the idea of rewriting some tutorials and branding them to the company's PHOTO-PAINT program. Corel agreed.

In this particular joint venture, I was paid two ways: a 50/50 split when the book was sold as a standalone product and a flat-fee commission when it was sold as a value-add product that shipped with the electronic download of the software. Over four years and one revision of the book, Corel sold more than 11,000 copies. As a result, I built several highly targeted email lists of roughly 800 subscribers and sold other products to those new customers after the fact.

I recommend the joint venture approach for several reasons: Little work is involved (when you use an existing product or service), it's easy to implement, profits for both you and your partner can be substantial, and you get to build an email list to which you can sell many more products over time. The site JV Wisdom provides additional resources for those interested in joint ventures, including information about creating agreements with partners.

2. Writing Articles for Free Ezines Expands Your Reach

Another great way to build an email list is to write articles and submit them to free article sites such as ezine articles, Go Articles and InfoBarrel.

Within your article, include a link to your website (or a video on your site), as well as a call to action in the author's resource box. Here's mine, for example: "Want to build a lucrative career as a freelance writer? Get this complementary report and find out what you need to know to succeed."


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