CHAPTER 5 The List - So in April, 2009, I was fresh out of the real estate crash and I was attempting different things. I built an online mall. I discovered affiliate marketing for the first time. And I tried to use the concept to invent a cashback mall. Today, you can see many cash back opportunities with credit cards, retail reward programs attached to different websites.
Anyway, I paid a couple of hundred dollars for a home study course and I learned about the Google Ads platform for the first time. Back then and up till not too long ago, it was called Google Adwords.
The concept was simple. All I had to do was find a product on an affiliate network that paid a commission for generating sales. In order to generate sales, all I had to do was give my special trackable link to a prospect and I would earn a commission if a sale was generated as a result of clicking my trackable link.
In my mind at that moment, I had hit a jackpot. So I searched through the product affiliate network and found an e-book on generating real estate fortunes. I could relate because the previous few years before that… that was my life; real estate.
I decided to set up my first Good Adwords campaign and in about 5 minutes, Google had charged my credit card for $700. A $47 sales was generated. I panicked and I turned the damn campaign off immediately.
So let’s do the math. $700 minus $47 is equal to $653 in net loss. But also, I generated the million dollar lesson that I am about to share with you right now. I’ve used it so many times since then as a guide whenever I'm setting up any type of campaign, especially with digital marketing.
In the last chapter, we discussed “the system”, input, tools, techniques, processes and outputs. We talked about how important it is build a campaign in a self-sustainable way so that you do not have to be a slave to making it work.
To a large extent, humans are still needed to test, run and scale successful digital marketing campaigns. But ideally, you want to set it up in a way that humans are only needed for the set up, and data analysis for scaling growth.
And with “humans in this respect, I am not talking about the human prospects or audience to the campaign. I am talking about the digital marketer or the entrepreneur seeking to build the audience and subsequently sales generation for a business.
We discussed the fact that many tools are available in the marketplace for digital marketing. In fact, the majority of them will be described as systems. And frankly, they are all systems in their own right as long as an input, a process and an output are identifiable.
All processes can in fact be described as a system. But I need you to understand that each of your digital marketing campaigns or projects is a standalone system that involves multiple processes hopefully with trackable and measurable inputs and outputs.
This is how to turn a complex process into super simple and easy to understand and implementable execution. If I come to you and ask you to break down a brand awareness campaign for a new version of the Toyota Highlander on the Meta/Facebook Advertising platform, you can now draw a plan on a piece of paper in effort to understand what the inputs and the outputs would be.
What resources are available and what are the desired outcomes of the campaign? It’s a mindset shift. In addition to that, you will increase the chances of better outputs from the campaign just for having a plan.
But there is a major problem. The gentleman who was the actual instructor of the Google Adwords home study course actually described different types of campaigns.
He talked about the first one which is a sales generation campaign. It involved setting up a campaign that landed on a sales presentation page as soon as you clicked the ad in the search engine results page (THE SERP).
In digital marketing, there is something called “the bounce”.
A bounce happens when a user clicks a marketing message to land into your website but the landing page is the only page they viewed. In real life, they typically don't like what they see and they click the ‘BACK’ button to go back to the SERP.
So when you set up a campaign with traffic or clicks as the objective, a bounce means you just lost money equivalent to the cost of that one click. The ultimate objective is to create sales right? What are the chances that a sale will be generated from any given click on your ad?
From decade-long experience, it’s 10% or less no matter how good your sales copy is.
So how did I end up with a $700 bill and a $47 sale which entitled me to only 50% commission ($23.50) by the way? I generated tons of clicks and the majority of them turned out to be a bounce for many possible reasons. Each one of the clicks cost me a certain amount of money.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that each click cost me $1.07. So that means (700 divided by $1.07) 654 clicks on the ad generated that $700 bill. After 5 minutes, only one sale was generated. That would be one sale divided by 654 clicks and then multiplied by 100%. That’s equal to 0.15% sales per click rate.
At that rate, how long will it take to break even if I ever do? As you can see, I am probably better off building a business the traditional route.
The second type of campaign that the instructor shared in the home study course was a list building campaign. In this type of campaign, the ultimate objective is no longer sales. Okay. It is sales for the business but not just “sales”. The ultimate objective is maximizing profits.
As a newbie in digital marketing, I was super excited about the idea of working from home or from the beach with a laptop generating money on demand. Who doesn’t want that? So my natural instinct was to choose the clicks generation campaign objective camouflaged as sales objective. At the back of my mind, a lot of clicks would turn to sales since they had interest.
I went ahead and set up a clicks or traffic generation campaign without thinking things all the way through and properly. It was a short sighted strategy and it burnt me badly. Let me explain.
In that example that I gave earlier, there were (654 minus 1 sale) 653 prospects that I paid actual money to attract to my landing page with the sales presentation right? Those people had actual interest as evident by their action. They actually clicked the ad.
But if I wanted to attract them again, I would have to spend another $700 and there is no guarantee that I would get them to buy the product. In fact, if the number worked out the way it did before, I would now be ($1,400 minus $47) $1,353 in the hole; net loss. It’s getting worse right?
Everytime, I want to sell a product to these people that I’ve identified as having interest, I would have to spend money and potentially lose more money. This is not turning out to be a profitable venture so far right?
From the previous chapters, you learned that 85% of people make buying decisions based on emotions and justify with logic later. You also learned that they are more likely to buy from you when they feel like they know, like and trust you. Do you still remember the KLT factor and brand equity? So we know that the fewer the exposure to your brand is, the more unlikely it is for the prospect to buy.
With list building as the objective of a front end digital marketing campaign, you are now able to remarket to prospects with established interests without spending more money. As a business owner, of course and hopefully you understand the principles of sowing in order to reap. You are going to have to spend money to make money.
But it’s obviously better if you can spend money one time to attract targeted prospects with a certain level of interest rather than for every single time you need to attract them to your website. If the main objective on the front end is to capture their contact information into a list, you can then contact them more times with your paid offer after the initial contact.
Let me ask you a question. Which action do you think would be easier to get your website user to take on their first encounter with you? Is it easier to get them to pull out their credit card to buy a product or is it easier to get them to give out their contact information in order to receive a free sample or additional information on a solution they are already interested in?
Your guess is as good as mine. It’s probably easier to get them to spend no money right? ….especially if they don’t feel like they know, like or trust you yet. Since you are capturing contact information, you are able to put a lot of focus on building that KLT factor or brand equity until they feel comfortable to buy; the ultimate goal.
It’s also better like this because of the magnitude of the impact you are leaving on your prospects long before they decided to do business with you and long after. They are even more inclined to refer more business to you. You are maximizing the output of your marketing input and resources simply for understanding the power of list building as a front end digital marketing campaign objective.
Think of it as a follow-up strategy in a traditional business model. Follow up is another form of marketing except that it will now cost you almost nothing and a lot less effort to convert a prospect to a customer. This will massively offset your marketing cost.
There are many more benefits to list building as core digital marketing strategy but let me leave you with these two benefits.
Sales on Demand - When you diligently build a list of prospects, you can send a quick email just like that and have your mortgage for the month paid.
Community Building - In addition to the heightened need to build brand equity due to competition, it’s also important to build a community around your business. List building makes it super simple to drive prospects into a discussion group where you can even get better opportunities to develop new ideas into more products.
The first step to list building is to find or create a free and valuable offer. This book is an example of a free offer that we use to generate leads and build our list. As we were marketing this book to 17 million people to download for free, this comment was left on one of the ads.
“Just Think...who would PAY for an advert and THEN give you somthing for FREE...Scammers are clever people.....”
And this was my reply….
“False. People who created value, like a book, that you probably will never create and use it to generate leads for potentially more business... aka... opportunity to give more value. Why are you triggered by the idea of people making money? You should see a therapist. The book is free and that's that. Drink some water.”
Now that was a little harsh for a reply. I guess that person caught me on a good day because we generally delete negative comments. It’s just pointless to reply to people who have made up their mind not to do business with you. But you get the gist.
It might be a product sample that you are offering your target audience. It’s free and they get to have a taste of enjoying your product or services. You might have seen examples of products being offered in exchange for just the cost of shipping.
Surprise… surprise. When you pay for the shipping and handling, your contact information which includes your physical shipping address is also captured all legally. That’s how you print money with digital marketing.
Like I said, I use the same method to build my business over the years. But I have to be 100% honest with you. I’ve had moments of non-profitable greed when I attempted to sell to strangers without getting to know them and more importantly getting them to know me; brand equity.
That behavior has cost me millions of dollars in net loss. When you are in a desperate place, it’s easy to fall back on natural “common sense based” instincts which assume that a good offer is good enough. A good offer is absolutely a necessity. But so is timing for your prospect and audience. It’s not always the right time for your prospect but you must set up and position your digital marketing campaigns in a way that the timing is always right for your campaigns to sell to a prospect who is ready to buy.
Go to your favorite social media platform and click on one of the ads you see. They typically have “sponsored” as a label next to them. What that means is that someone is paying money to the platform to target you with an offer.
Click on about 10 ads and observe how they attempt to capture your contact information; email, phone number, physical address etc. Also, pay attention to what type of free offer they are exchanging for it. Make sure it’s not a brand that you’ve seen before because that most likely wouldn’t be a first time or front end exposure ad. It’s probably a remarketing campaign.
Speaking of remarketing campaigns, in recent years, you can capture people into ad platform custom audiences once they take certain actions or engage with your ad. Although, I wouldn’t count on just that as a form of list building but it’s doable if your marketing budget is big enough for that type of risk.
However if you lose that ad account which can happen, you might lose the opportunity to be able to market to the audiences you build in it. That’s very costly.
By the way, we use the same system I mentioned in the last chapter for list building and you can check it out at www.myEmpirePRO.com/listbuilding The ultimate goal here is not just to make sales but to maximize profits. Some of the easiest sales you will make will be from existing customers.
It just makes sense because if they received value from doing business with you in the past, they will naturally be inclined to do more business. Having a third-party tool and system to maintain your list and community outside of the ad platform is literally freedom.
Your ad platform custom audiences (as we will cover later), social media fans and followers are not as powerful as a list that you nurture and maintain independently. And that’s why I recommend a third party tool that has its own embeddable webform to capture the contact information, marketing automation feature to engage and convert prospects into customers, clients and deals.
I know that I mentioned earlier that one tool can handle so much more than one process. But it is important to separate features on the advertising platform from your list building system as a form of security and risk mitigation. You don’t want to have all your fruits in one basket.
So it is not necessarily smart to leave all the processes from lead to sales generation on one platform. Platforms do collapse. Account profiles can also be banned, shadow banned and deleted.
In the next section of Digital Marketing Certified , we are going to dive into performance and how to track and monitor it. There are way too many businesses that have no ways of ensuring growth and quality in the processes. At the end of the day, it's a competitive market place.
Your prospects will spend that money with or without you selling to them. Some other smarter or wiser, direct or indirect competitor will collect that money from them. It might as well be you right?
To ensure growth from quarter to quarter, you must measure your digital marketing performance across a few dimensions.