List Building Lessons from a Thai Village

email marketing

List building isn’t important….it’s absolutely VITAL for your success as an internet marketer.

List building and email marketing are the 2 key elements of any internet marketing business.

In fact, list building is the first, most important and most constant requirement of all the tasks that internet marketers engage in. 

An internet marketer’s email lists is the backbone of their online business.

Neither can exist without the other. Without a list you are simply without a business.

All business online need to have a focus on consistently building their email lists. At the same time they must always be building relationships with the subscribers on their list.

Just having a list of 5,000 or 10,000 subscribers means nothing if they have no knowledge of you and no trust in you. If this is what your list sounds like then they cannot possible relate with or like you either.

The result is obvious. Very low open rates for your emails, high bounce and complaint rates, ever growing numbers of “unsubscribes”….and definitely NO SALES!

Thai villageLessons and Truths from our Thai Village

We operate 2 different online businesses from our remotely located little Thai village. The success of both our internet marketing and our handmade Thai silk business (called Thai Silk Magic) rely totally on the relationships we have with our lists.

In fact, THE most important activities we do every day is to build our lists in our specific niche and build our relationships with those subscribers. Every other task comes AFTER these activities have been attended to.

It’s actually fun working out just how we can add value to our lists and shock them with what we have forthai village them. Think not about your product but rather what your niche market is interested in.

We also survey our lists regularly and their requests are the basis of many of our “little extras” that appear in our newsletters or as stand-alone downloads members can access at any time.

It’s also amazing what you can achieve by giving this value and genuine support to your subscribers.

relationships and response ratesKEY: Responsive Not Quantity

We deliberately have not tried to build a massive list of subscribers but rather every day build our list with people who can truly relate to what we do. Response rates are far more important to us than list size. 

For example, our Thai Silk Magic list size is only 1350 but we get an open rate in excess of 65% for every email we send out. In addition, of those 1350 subscribers, we call “community members,” 477 are customers (buyers) and 74% of them are repeat customers.

The niche market for Thai Silk Magic is people who prefer handmade items that are totally chemical free – we definitely appeal to the “green” or eco-friendly market.

To grow our list we created lots of items that people in that niche would be interested in – a “lead magnet” so to speak. Something that people would willingly exchange their contact details in order to get.  

Sometimes we used online services like Elance to create ebooks for us but most of the time we researched online ourselves and came up with items of interest with a “Thai Twist.”

When anyone joins our list apart from receiving a welcome email from us they also are introduced to theemail marketing “behind the scenes” activities in our village. We usually do this via video and video marketing is a big part of our relationship-building focus.

When we email we often segment our lists with Thai Silk Magic but every single list member is like “gold” to us. We never push anyone to buy from us and nearly 1000 on our list have never purchased from us. But many of those 1,000 are fantastic advocates for us and they promote what we do and more importantly, why we do it.

Our mission is our WHY and it’s to share EVERY single dollar of profit we make to help improve the educational opportunities of the kids in our very poor and remote Thai village.

People can relate to our mission and it drives everything we do. 

Unlike our internet marketing business, we do not send emails nearly every day. Instead, we provide a monthly newsletter that gives our list members access to our latest handmade silk creations before we put them on our website. In addition, we give them exclusive discounts, free shipping and they get access via videos to all the “behind the scenes” activities of Thai Silk Magic.

special member promotionsWe also send out a regular “Member Spotlight” email promoting their services and contact details. This is one of the most effective and powerful things we have done for our list members.  

We love to promote them and their business to both all the other list members and to the general public. With their permission, we simply take what they give us about WHAT they do and WHY they do it plus logos and snippets from their websites including images and create a webpage.

We then promote this page everywhere on social media. Finally, we take screenshots of all these promotions and create a video that we upload it to YouTube along with links to their business.

It only takes a few minutes to put this together but the responses from our list members have been amazing and it helps to totally differentiate our little Thai village business….we don’t have any competitors for our creations!

One of the great benefits to come from this strategy is seeing the relationships our list members are building with each other. This is very powerful as we know we were the catalyst in setting up these relationships that in some instances have proved to be very successful joint ventures.

We also have no hesitation in asking our list members for advice and guidance.

It’s easy to see why many of our list members have also become personal friends as well as raving fans of our little business!

Our List Building Outcomes

With the successes of our Thai Silk Magic business we have been able to create a library for our village school, purchased uniforms for many kids from families that simply could not afford clothes let alone the small school fees, provided equipment like fans, TV’s, computers and lots of other items for our local school.

lessons learnedKey Lessons You Can Implement

In a nutshell, these are the lessons or truths you can learn from our Thai village experiences:

1. Your subscribers are people, not robots. Treat them that way. We personalize every interaction we have with our list members, especially in the “order” and “check-out” process where personalized notes of thanks and delivery schedules are part of our process.

Remember people are often looking for something you can help them with if you simply ask them. They also respond positively if you treat them with respect and care.

2. Always be looking for things to add value to what you offer. Free ebooks, podcasts, video series, blog posts, articles or a combination of these will definitely differentiate you from your competitors and build the know, like and trust factors so important in your relationships with your list.

3. Always aim at trying to surprise your list members. Information these days is easily discovered and you don’t have to be a great author. Just the very fact that you have tried to educate or entertain them with something of value and different is often enough to start the process of building advocates for you and your business. Turning your list members into fans is a very powerful opportunity that should be one of your highest priorities. 

4. Always build desire and excitement before you actually sell anything. We never try to directly sell inList Building Secret our newsletters but when we tell our list members they are getting exclusive “early bird” access to our newest creations we definitely make them aware of the very limited supplies we always have (because of the very nature of our handmade processes). This sense of urgency and scarcity is very real and is a very effective “call-to-action.”

NB. See my post “5 Tips For Email Marketing Success”

5. People buy people not products! Promotions in our newsletters are always tied to a specific project we are working on like our current one is a new school playground. By consistently tying a promotion to an outcome we are seeking seems to help as often after people purchase they send messages of good luck for the project we are working on.

6. We always share the results of our projects with our list members via images and videos as a way of saying thank you plus it provides social proof of what we are doing. There have been quite a few occasions where members of our list have come to visit with us and see for themselves what we do.

This is very special as we are NOT located on any tourist route and the experience for the visitors is something that stays with them forever…and, of course, builds our relationship and future business potential!

Let's talk to make sure this program is the right fit for you. If so we can then come to an agreement on the investments required