One of the first email lists I ever created was in the muscle building niche.
I was in high school at the time and had a body type that some people in the fitness business call a “Hardgainer”.
That meant it was hard for me to gain muscle no matter how much I worked out or how much I ate. So off I went to good ol’ Google in search of answers.
I found a guy named Jeff Anderson who at the time was selling lots of fitness infoproducts online. One of those products was called “Hardgainer Project X”, except the version I bought wasn’t even the final product yet.
What I bought was a $17 ticket to be a guinea pig or a “human lab rat” as Jeff called it.
There was a small group of us who paid Jeff to be a part of the “human lab rat” group who would do the workout as instructed for a total of 12 weeks, report our results, and then have us be the success stories for the launch of his program.
Part of the deal was that I would also have the opportunity to become an affiliate of his programs which meant that I could now refer people to Jeff and if anyone bought anything, I would get a 75% commission from that.
As a high school student, I thought it was simply amazing that someone would pay me most of the revenue from the sale of a product that wasn’t even mine!
Anyway, one of the tips Jeff gave us to promote his Hardgainer Project X product was to “build an email list”.
He said… “Here’s how to do it. Create a free guide or resource of some kind and give it away for free in exchange for an email address. Keep doing that over and over and stay in touch with your email list. Eventually some of them will buy the products and you’ll make a commission.”
So off I went.
– I bought a domain name called NonGenetic.com (I don’t own that domain any longer) – the idea behind that was that I would share tips with other skinny guys who wanted to beat their “hardgainer” genetics.
– I took my transformation pictures from the 12 week program and uploaded them into an old online program (Animoto – that service is still around today) that turned my pictures into an awesome looking video.
– I then uploaded that video to Youtube and over the next few months it received over 133k views. I started at 115 lbs and gained 22 lbs of muscle (and a visible six pack) in 12 weeks. Don’t ask me if I have one now lol!
– In the description of that Youtube video, I linked people to a landing page where I had another video I recorded using an old software called Camtasia that recorded me flipping through Powerpoint slides. The video promised them 3 simple but effective tips that I used to transform my body, in exchange for their email address of course.
– That list grew organically without any paid ads and every week I’d send them 2-3 emails with tips and I would then recommend the Hardgainer Project X program.
The only problem?
Out of everyone who joined that email list and after several months of consistently sending tips, content, and recommending the program, I had less than 10 people actually buy the program!
Granted, I was not as skilled at selling back then but still, only 10? There had to be a better way.
After some research I decided to try a different approach. I used Google Search Ads and set it up so that anytime someone typed a relevant keyword, I’d have my ad show up in the sponsored section.
That little strategy paid off!
I was now getting about one sale per day, sometimes two.
Unfortunately, I was not building a list out of it because I was sending people directly to Jeff’s sales page via my affiliate link (by the way this is no longer Google compliant today).
That experience taught me a couple of things…
Thing #1 – There are different levels of “buyer intent”
On one end of the spectrum you have someone who is merely interested in the topic and is willing to consume content but is not yet ready to buy anything (and may never be ready ever). I.e. Many of the people who joined my list via the video they saw on Youtube.
On the other end, you have people who are searching for a solution to a pressing problem right then and are ready, willing, & able to PAY for a solution to their problem. I.e. People who searched for something on Google, clicked on my ad, and then bought the Hardgainer Project X program right then.
Thing #2 – A buyer is a buyer is a buyer.
Once someone has bought something they are more likely to buy more things.
For example, after paying $17 to be a “human lab rat” for Jeff’s program, I then went on to buy ALL of his programs over time. Why? Well a) because I like to buy things and b) because I already trusted Jeff and had gotten results from that initial program I used.
So what does all of this have to do with making profits from small email lists?
It’s simple really.
In fact, you may have already guessed it.
The key to profiting from small email lists starts with “WHO” is on your email list in the first place.
What you want to have is an email list of buyers. I’ll take a small buyers list over a larger prospect list any day. Why? Because a buyer is a buyer is a buyer. And as long as you continue producing value for them to purchase, they will buy because that is what they do. (Assuming they had a great experience with the first product they bought from you).
So, How Do You Profit From Small Email Lists?
Create a buyers list.
You can do this by…
1 – Creating a small & targeted info-product that solves a pressing problem your market is desperate to solve.
2 – Sell it low – $3-$39. You can sell it for more if you want but the point here isn’t profit first, it’s volume. The lower your price the more buyers you’ll get on your list.
3 – From there you can make your profits by selling other programs of yours or recommending other people’s products that you make a commission on.
Over the years working with different clients and my own businesses, I’ve found that buyers lists tend to convert a whole lot better than an email list of people who signed up for a freebie. By how much exactly?
Well just recently I did an affiliate promotion to one of the lists I manage and we sold 77 items with one email to a list of 17k buyers. We then paid to send that same email to a huge list of 400k people (23x larger than the buyers list) and only got 30 buyers from that.
The main difference between both lists? One was generated by selling a product while the other was generated by people signing up for a free phone app.
Does that mean you should never build a list of prospects? No. Building a prospect list is good too (and there are some reasons to do this as well) but if you want to keep things lean and not pay a huge bill to your autoresponder software for housing all those leads, then I’d start with a buyers list.
See you next time…