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One of the most important keys to success in online marketing is building your own opt-in list of prospective and previous customers. For those that are just starting out online, this process should start even before you start planning to publish your own ezine/newsletter.

As you initiate your business you can begin to build your opt-in list in order to follow-up with these prospects and customers. It doesn’t have to be a formal ezine initially, it can just be a once a month update on new products and services. When your list starts to increase to a good size then you can consider a formal ezine.

So how do you capture the addresses? There are several ways to do this, and it will take time to gather information and create the ultimate list.

A Web Site Sign Up Form is an ideal way to gather information. Place a sign up form on every page of your website. Or at a minimum have a “subscribe” link on every page that goes to a separate subscription page. Make sure that you just don’t put “subscribe to our ezine”. That means nothing for a potential client. Just a short description will greatly increase your subscription rate. For instance. Using “Weekly Marketing Tips and Techniques emailed to you! Subscribe today” would be better than “Subscribe to Our Ezine”.

Give something away free like a free white report with information that is geared to your site’s content. Make sure they have to request the information so you capture their email address. Using an autoresponder can help you automate this process by sending out the information to your subscribers. That way the information is available 24/7. With most good services you will receive an information copy as soon as someone requests the information and it will have their email address in it. But, and this is important, just don’t send them the free information. Make sure that at the end of your auto responder text that you send them, there is a short blurb about your website services/products and your ezine if you have one. But don’t over do it.

Another important item is that you do not just add the person’s email address to your opt-in list or ezine. You don’t want them filing a (CanSpam Act and CanSpam Legal Brief)SPAM complaint since they didn’t ask to be on your list. Offer them the ability to get future mailings from you as indicated above in the mailing itself. You want to create a true opt-in list.

An exception to this would be if you were offering them a free gift for subscribing to your list. Then they should be added to your list.

Many will ask – Is it all right to email someone that has requested some free information report from you? Yes if you do it the right way. By using an autoresponder, you can also send an invitation to your e-mail list.

Follow Up often, this way you are not forgotten. If a potential customer does not want your services, than they will ask to be un-subscribed.

To learn more about using autoresponders to build your e-mail list, sign up for GeekSpeak To English, 101 on Wednesday, June 27th, 6pm PT. And watch for the podcast next week at North San Diego Business@Large.