Justin Premick is Director of Education Marketing for AWeber Communications. He recently took a few minutes for a Q&A with Bryan Haines.
Bryan: What does AWeber do?
Justin: AWeber provides web-based email marketing software that helps businesses create profitable relationships with their customers and prospects. We've been in business since 1998, and as of January 2011 we serve over 90,000 businesses around the world.
Bryan: How difficult is it to setup an email campaign? How much technical ability is required?
Justin: We make it easy to get your first email marketing campaign off the ground. For starters, you'll find a Setup Wizard in your account that walks you through the key steps to creating a new campaign – things like writing a welcome email to be automatically delivered to new subscribers and creating an opt-in form so you can build your email list online. How-to videos accompany the steps in the Setup Wizard, making it a breeze to get going.
You can also get help getting started through our free webinars, extensive Knowledge Base (for example, see this “how to get started” video and article), helpful email marketing blog, and of course by contacting us directly. We provide customer support by phone, email and live chat from our Philadelphia-area offices.
Bryan: How do you help online businesses build their email lists?
Justin: Businesses can use our point-and-click Web Form Generator to build and style opt-in forms that visitors can fill out in order to join their email list. With hundreds of web form templates to choose from, it's easy to get a great-looking form for your website.
Many of our customers blog, and need a way to build their email lists from their blogs. The official AWeber WordPress plugin adds the opt-in form of your choice to your WordPress blog's sidebar.
And while most businesses build their lists directly on their websites, some also like to build them via social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. One thing I really like about our Web Form Generator is that it gives you the option to link directly to your signup forms from your social media profiles or status updates. That way, you can advertise your email list to your fans and followers.
Bryan: Why should a business use your service instead of allowing email updates via RSS feeds?
Justin: RSS is a fantastic technology that can help someone follow your blog and get notified whenever you post something new. It's a technology that I use every day.
However, even though it's been around for years, RSS isn't something most people understand and use – in fact, a 2010 Hubspot study showed that the average blog has 12 times as many email subscribers as RSS ones. So if you rely on RSS exclusively to reach customers and prospects, you're going to miss out on a lot of your potential audience.
The other powerful thing about using AWeber with your blog is that you can contact your subscribers independently of any posts that go up on your blog. You can send an email to:
- Welcome new readers
- Showcase your “greatest hits” - excellent but older posts that aren't on your blog's front page anymore
- Tell readers about new things coming up on your blog
- Or even ask for their feedback on your posts, products or ideas
Bryan: What is an opt-in list? What is the benefit / difference of opt-in verses a purchased list?
Justin: The people who are going to be most responsive to your company's offers are the people who have sought you out and asked you to send them more information – in other words, the ones who have given you permission to market to them. Building a list of these people is a key component of effective email marketing. It's also a deliberate process that sometimes takes longer than you might like.
It's tempting to try to take a shortcut or speed up the process by simply buying a list of email addresses. These go by a lot of different names (like “verified lists” or “opt-in lists” or “targeted lists”) that are designed to make it seem like a good idea to pick one up.
The reality, however, is that buying a list is a huge mistake and headache that you don't need to deal with. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the easiest way to think about it is this: do you like getting marketing emails out of the blue from businesses that you haven't permitted to email you? Neither does anyone else. (It's also worth noting that many of the addresses on these lists are typically fake, outdated or otherwise unusable.)
Building your own email list of customers and prospects who want to hear from you and do business with you, even if it's only a few of them at first, will get your business a lot further than trying to cut corners and buy an email list.