This blog post is for people who are overwhelmed when their subscribers start emailing them with questions.
I gotta tell you one thing, if you have got such a list, you're LUCKY!
Yep, you’re lucky. Since the winter of 2005, I have built several different types of lists: the 'freebie' list, the general 'prospect' list, the customers' list, etc. Building each of them takes a different amount of time. Building the freebie seekers' list is of the easiest and quickest (you only need to join 4-5 giveaways a month to build a 1k list; you do the math); it's also a list which is most worthless. Such a list is like that annoying fat belly that you would like to get rid of ASAP.
These people are after freebies and would seldom purchase anything from you. From my experience, I have noticed that such leads are hot only when they join your list; so as soon as they subscribe, you need to make an upsell offer to them.
Like the wise men say: strike while the iron is hot.
That way, I have had pretty good conversions (with the upsell), but it is a kind of one-off success; just a few days after the giveaway is over, this list turns cold! NO type of free coaching or free help would do!
Building a prospects' list is much better, because you are building a list of people who are genuinely interested in what you offer. These aren't people who're subscribed to hundreds of mailing lists (through giveaways) and so you can assume that they will read your emails: at least some of them will! You can build a prospects' list by doing anything other than joining a giveaway; article marketing, blogging, PPC, Joint Venture, anything would do!
Building a customer's list is even better, and obviously, harder too! If you continue to offer value, your customers would buy just about everything you produce. I have noticed that offering a low-end product on the front-end is a good way to attract prospects; you can always make the most money in the backend.
However, building a RESPONSIVE list is best but also hardest! I tell you what, I had a list of 2,000 prospects who would never even reply to a single email; not that I used a no-reply address and not that they were unresponsive to my offers (I can figure that out from my conversions) but they won’t bother to reply to any email I send out! At one point I began to think whether I was emailing to living breathing humans or computer machines!!!
In frustration, I deleted that list later that year (yep, even though I used to make good amount of money). That is because more than money, what I value is the 'heart-to-heart connection'; if that connection doesn't exist then you’re not building relationships; you are just building a list of email addresses. From that day onwards, I decided that my aim would be to build a responsive list of people who would have time to read what I say, AND also reply me with any questions they might have!
So I tell you, if you have a list where people read and reply to each of your emails, don’t ignore them! Try to reply to as many emails as you can! If you're an expert in your niche then you should have no problems in replying to your subscribers' emails (How to know if you’re an expert: – Are you teaching people how to make money when you haven’t made a dime yourself? You’re not an expert).
Some would advise you to use a no-reply address; I know many gurus do that and let me tell you, it is the WORST thing you can do to your list. By using a no-reply address, you are not only violating the Can Spam act (which requires the sender to use a valid reply email in the 'From' field), you are also indirectly hinting that you don’t care to know what your prospects want; you are not bothered with your subscribers' needs. In essence, you are distancing yourself from your subscribers instead of building a human bond that would last for years. What you've built is a list of email addresses that can turn cold ANYTIME!
But if it is a niche in which you're not an expert, then you can hire an expert to reply to your subscribers' emails on a weekly basis. Usually monetary incentives work, but other types of non-monetary incentives can work wonders too (such as, marketing the expert's products to your list, etc.)!
Others would advise you to outsource your email replies. If you get a limited amount of emails per day, you can reply to them yourself; it strengthens the relationships between you and your prospects. Whenever I reply to any emails, I try to make some small talk with them; it makes them feel that they are valued as humans and not dollars! If you are getting hundreds of emails per day then of course you should hire someone to work WITH you!
Here is one thing you gotta do NOW:
From your hosting control panel, create a valid email address. Then signup for a Gmail address. Have all your emails forwarded to your Gmail address; that way, you can have copies of all conversations in one place! That is how I have been doing it since 2007!
One another thing: having a helpdesk is always a good idea, but always buy one that has the 'email piping feature' in-built, such as the Cerberusweb helpdesk software I use, so that your prospects can reply to your tickets directly from their email clients without having to log on to your helpdesk. Also create a general email address (like I advised above) where people can ask you non-support related questions!
As always, your comments are appreciated! :)