“The money is in the list.”
We've all heard that before. Internet Marketing 101, right?
But, is it true?
Let's look more closely and see what really drives performance. (Spoiler alert: bigger isn't necessarily better.)
Let me explain the diagram below because the devil is in the details. It's based on a universal marketing framework, but tweaked in an unconventional way. At its most basic level, it breaks down like this:
- Targeted POP (pocket of people).
- Filter out the people who you don't want to do business with (BEFORE you get them on your email list!)…
- Then get the best people onto your email list (in a way that pulls them towards you — which almost always rules out “bribes” and lead magnets)…
- Email follow-up sequence…
- Offer. (Only after you've established trust and attention.)
I'll cover each one in detail.
But FIRST you need to know something, just so that we're on the same page.
I am going to expose you to a (very) different way of approaching email list building. I've never been one to conform to the “bigger is always better” way of building email lists.
The gurus love big lists that have been built using bribes and lead magnets to get people through the door and onto their lists. It works well for them, or they wouldn't be doing it. Their goal is maximum lead flow (local optima).
Because the lead capture component is essentially a bottleneck, reducing friction as a barrier to entry makes perfect sense to them.
But it's not the only (or best) way to get a result (capture a prospect). I prefer another strategy…
It's a strategy based one two principles.
The first principle is a philosophy I learned from Jay Abraham a million years ago, called the Strategy of Preeminence (SoP). SoP is an esoteric philosophy that can be boiled down to:
The second principle is an understanding that business (how you create, deliver, and capture value) is a complex system, and therefore subject to the insights of systems theory.
Counterintuitively, if you break down the entire system and optimize each component individually (like the process of capturing leads), you'll lower the effectiveness of the system. The insight is to optimize the entire system instead.
In the two decades I've been doing this full-time, I've found no better way to build and operate an audience-focused business that's funded by happy customers.
You see, I prefer email lists (an audience, or pocket of people) that are ultra-targeted and hyper-responsive (where I can really matter to some, as opposed to trying to matter to everyone).
Email lists that have been built through attraction instead of bribery, where I have earned prospects' trust and attention.
The distinction may not be clear to you, so I'll explain (it's important; because the dynamics of each produce a very different result).
Typical “Status Quo” Guru Method
Short (“thin”) squeeze page.
With a bribe in the form of a lead magnet in exchange for an email address. (Remember: the goal of said guru is to optimize their lead capture process for maximum throughput.)
As a prospect — a person that lands on this squeeze page — think through the dynamics for a second of what happens.
There's an offer (cool report).
But, there's no real DESIRE to be on an email list per se, other than to get access to the report (the shiny object or bribe).
So the prospect (typically) uses a bogus email address. Or one they've setup specifically to download free reports (which is not their primary email address and rarely looked at).
From the marketer's perspective, they see a 50-70% opt-in rate. Ego stroked, they whoop and holler and congratulate themselves for being so smart.
Err … not so fast, tiger.
Because around 20-60% of those opt-ins are worthless email address. That was a stat I heard Ryan Deiss or Perry Belcher mention from stage at Email World (2013). It's probably worse in 2024.
Let's look at an alternative setup.
The Unconventional Approach
There's a story.
The story is the delivery vehicle for a marketing message that works to establish preeminence. One that connects with hearts and minds and influences through empathy, not persuasion through coercion.
It ends with a barrier-to-entry — a little hoop to jump through — in the form of an opt-in form. Which is now framed as an opportunity to hear more from us. To hear more of the story and to get more of the high-value content and insights.
This is where the dynamics are very different to the typical status quo Guru Method. Because prospects no longer feels bribed to cough up their email address.
The value exchange is very different.
Now, instead of using a bogus email address, they want to use their primary email address to move in our direction (they are attracted into our sphere of influence).
Put another way: they want to be on our email list.
When prospects want to be on our email list because they like and trust us (and align with our values and resonate with our ideas). When we respect that relationship (and their attention) by sharing only high-value content and offers, everything changes.
Let's look at an example…
Quick segue: the reason why the examples I'm sharing are a little old, is that, since 2015 as a policy, we no longer participate in JV launches.
Years ago I was the #1 affiliate for Todd Brown's Six-Figure Funnel Formula product launch. I beat Rich Schefren, Charles Kirkland, Jonathan Mizel, Gauher Chaudhry, etc:
They had big guru lists.
I promoted 6FFF to a list of just 1,391 people:
Back in August 2014 I agreed to promote Fan Page Funnel by Brian Moran (the founder of SamCart).
Brian is a brilliant launch guy. He would shoot videos of the leaderboard at different stages to motivate JV partners to keep pushing hard.
This is one of the videos from early in the process (that's me in third place at the time). Pay attention to the opt-in rate Brian said he was seeing from me:
BRIAN: “André whose sitting at number three is getting like a 72% opt-in. So if you want to ask him how he did that, go ahead.”
Well, I'm happy to share, because this page teaches how I did that.
Anyway, spoiler alert, I finished as the #1 affiliate for Brian's launch. Todd Brown posted this on Facebook shortly after (Todd came 3rd):
… and then a few months later, he retold the story then I attended his Big Idea Workshop in Florida (Feb 2015):
I say this all not to boast, but to impress upon you how powerful a tiny little hyper-target email list can be against gurus and influences with lists 10-20x bigger.
Interested in learning how to do this?
Because this is how I build highly-responsive email lists.
In my experience (all) other list building products ultimately fail to teach the most important component of creating hyper-responsive email lists.
They don't teach how to define exactly who you want to target as your ideal customer. As in: who do you want to do business with?
Marketers seem hellbent on funneling as many people onto their email lists as possible.
They want to target everyone.
They want to sell to everyone.
Including people who are not interested in what they have to say, let alone what they're selling, on the off chance they can be persuaded and cajoled and coerced into buying something, anything.
Here's a tip:
You don't want to be all things to all people. You don't want to target and market to everyone. That's not how to build a hyper-responsive email list.
Good funnel design paints a picture through your ideal target customers' eyes. It gives context based on their point-of-view (POV), biases, perspective, and worldview.
Reread that sentence, it's important. Doing this will completely transform your conversion rates.
It'll ensure that the people you attract are the customers you want to do business with.
And just as important as it is to know exactly who you want to attract as a customer, you also want a clear idea of who you don't want as a customer.
Reread that last bit. It's one of the secrets hidden in plain sight.
Your list building game plan needs to start by defining who exactly your ideal target customer is (and conversely, who they aren't).
Let's focus on Step 2 in the illustration above. This is a lead capture process that is reversed. The goal is to create better prospects, not as many leads as possible. The distinction is important. It's everything.
(In case you're keeping score, that was another secret right there. I'll leave you to find the next three yourself.)
Having a crystal clear idea of who you want to do business with, and who you absolutely don't, is critical. Poor conversions happen when there is a disconnect between what you are saying and what your potential customer wants.
Most marketers are clueless about who they are actually targeting. This happens when you try and attract everyone.
The process of creating better prospects is your opportunity to make an emotional connection with the people you seek to serve (your ideal customer) by demonstrating to them that you have the potential to solve a problem they care about solving.
Here are a few lead capture examples:
- https://geni.us/ADAgB (Dan Kennedy)
- https://geni.us/qqvGMo (Ryan Deiss)
- https://geni.us/QsgqBQk (Eben Pagan 2011)
- https://geni.us/WS7T (Eben Pagan 2007)
- https://geni.us/Ap64rmI (Bob Proctor)
(I've used screenshots so that the examples remain static for you.)
Some are similar. Some are quite different.
Do they all work (to get people to give you one of their emails addresses)?
There is no reason why you couldn't model any one of them yourself and have some level of success.
However: there is a caveat (there always is).
I would argue that a lot of lead capture pages (most even) approach email list building in a non-efficient way in terms of attracting better prospects.
When a prospect is essentially forced to trade their email on the hope and promise of value behind the curtain, the leap of faith is on the shoulders of the visitor (at this point a visitor is not a prospect in my book).
A blind opt-in page doesn't deliver any preeminent value upfront. Again, the leap of faith is on the shoulders of the visitor.
Think about the dynamics of that for a second. Not from the marketer's perspective, from the perspective of a visitor wondering whether they should bother to jump through yet another hoop.
There's no filtering out process.
The key persuasion factors at play here are curiosity and a bribe. And it pretty much attracts everyone who just wants the carrot, the bribe. Especially people only wanting the freebie offer (armed with their fake email address).
This is a formula for low-quality leads (not all, but many of them).
Yes, it works to attract a lot of signups.
Curiosity works like that.
And marketers love lots of signups. It's like heroin for them. It feeds their big egos. There's a better way. Zag when they zig.
The secret is to demonstrate preeminence before you ever ask for anything in return. I give prospects stuff they can sink their teeth into and extract value that is meaningful to them, before I ever ask for anything in return.
Some marketers choose to use video.
Others (like us) text.
Some people use a combo of both.
Neither is better or worse than the other. That's not the point here. Your ability to create real value upfront will allow you to attract the best prospects.
It will also give you the ability to filter out (repel) the people who you don't want to do business with.
I call this approach the Preeminence Squeeze.
Look at those pages through the lens of delivering preeminent value.
Ben Cummings (a student of my process), ChiroBully:
- https://geni.us/navND (page 1)
- https://geni.us/UqDkC (page 2)
- https://geni.us/vAln (page 3)
- https://geni.us/h6AX (page 4)
Notice how the lead capture process is turned on its head. It's not a “thin” page built around curiosity and a bribe. I have nothing against curiosity. I use it a lot myself. Ethical bribes have their place too.
But when the entire process is built on nothing but curiosity to get some big free bribe thingy … well, that's not a great foundation for attracting the best prospects.
Here's a scenario that will emotionally demonstrate to you the best process for converting prospects into customers and customers into raving fans.
For this example to have the best effect on you, imagine YOURSELF in the shoes of the searcher, OK?
You (that's YOU!) have a desperate problem you're trying to solve (insert emotional problem here).
You go to Google and you type in a number of search queries in an attempt to uncover a potential solution to your problem.
You spend ages clicking on results (paid and free). But all you find are badly written articles surrounded by blocks of ads. Or you find forced squeeze pages like I've already mentioned above.
You bite the bullet and signup for one. The lead magnet ends up being nothing more than a video sales letter.
Unfazed, you move on.
No way you're going to buy from that person.
Next you land on a video lead capture page. But you can't watch the video until you opt-in. Seriously?
So this time you enter in a bogus email address.
The 45 minute “free presentation” turns out to be nothing more than a low-value sales pitch for a $197 magic pill solution.
You're getting despondent (and angry) now.
Everyone seems so quick to sell their solution to you. But you don't know, like, or trust any of them (not yet anyway). Not one has even attempted to understand you a little more deeply.
No jack shit.
You do one last search.
You land on a website.
It's completely different from all the rest.
It's full of (amazing) content.
You read it.
It seems to pull you along. It explains a quick method you can use to relieve some of the emotional pain you're experiencing. You don't even need to try this technique to know that it'll work.
You already feel as though you're moving closer to solving your problem.
The author knows his stuff. That's crystal clear. He gets you, understands you. No question about that. He uses words and language that mean something to you. You can feel a connection. This person clearly empathizes with your unique issue.
The content finally ends.
But you want more of it.
You don't want this experience to end.
For the first time you feel you're closer to finding a solution than you've ever been before. You're not forced to opt-in.
There's no bribe.
This time the dynamics have somehow changed. Because you WANT to opt-in for more. You're excited. So you eagerly give up your real email address.
You get an email, and instead of a sales pitch, he starts to tell a story.
The story engages you.
It moves you, tugs at your emotional heart strings. You can feel the story building up to a climax. Then before you know it you're at the end of a 1,100 word email … yet it didn't feel long at all.
It ended on a cliffhanger. WTF!
He says he'll hit you up tomorrow to finish the story. And he's STILL not sold you squat. Yet you can feel that you're getting closer to a solution.
You feel as if you're a customer of his before you've even seen as order form. You already know you're going to buy whatever he's selling.
You feel understood.
It's amazing. Even strange.
Next day, right on queue, another email hits your inbox. You drop everything, open it, and read every damn world.
No links. Nothing to buy.
You feel a level of trust and rapport has been established, and you can't get enough. You're looking forward to seeing the damn order button. You're anticipating it. You're excited as hell.
Finally on email #3 he offers up his solution for sale. It's not a hard sell either (so strange! you think).
The decision to buy is a no brainer.
Did you feel the difference in that?
Broadly speaking, marketers see their world through their marketers' lens. When they build their lead capture funnels and sales offers, the questions they're asking are:
What can I do and say and offer as a bribe to increase the opt-in rate of our lead capture page?
How can we tweak our webinar script to close more sales?
What sales mechanism can we use to sell our high-ticker offer?
It's all focused around them and selling more, faster.
Wouldn't it be weird to flip this dynamic on its head? To think about this from the perspective of the prospect instead?
What if marketing was where we began our journey towards understanding what people need and want?
Without it you have nothing.
But you know that already. I'm telling you nothing new. What is less obvious is when something like this happens:
- Unique visitors: 500
- Opt-in rate: 9%
- Sales: 0
500 visitors, zero sales. Hence $0.00. Commission being $33.50 in this example.
I'll get to that in a sec.
Let's change the traffic system up (tighter targeting). Nothing else changes.
- Visitors: 500
- Squeeze: 21%
- Sales: 5 ($167.50)
Why the big difference?
Before I tell you, here's one last set of metrics:
- Visitors: 500
- Squeeze: 62%
- Sales: 78 ($2,613)
The only difference in all three cases was the traffic source and targeting parameters. Now here's the part that most people don't stop to think about because it's easily forgotten.
Traffic = human beings.
People, with a beating heart. With feelings, hopes, dreams, ambitions and aspirations. Emotions. Fears. Needs.
Good traffic vs. bad traffic.
High conversion rates vs. low conversion rates.
Sales vs. no sales.
Good subscribers vs. bad subscribers.
When the rubber meets the road, it all comes down to this. When there is a disconnect between what you are saying and what your visitor wants, needs or desires … then conversions will be low (or non existent).
The better the connection between your messaging and the needs of the human being on the other end, the higher your conversion rate will be.
You need to understand that your ability to target your ideal audience will require an element of trial and error and time and effort.
Traffic is not where you start. You need to first have a clear idea of who you want to talk to and do business with (and who you don't).
Then you craft your message and story. You build a process that creates better prospects.
Traffic comes last.
Your product (or the product you're promoting if you're an affiliate) should solve a real problem. It's a solution for a specific group of people.
Your traffic system is all about finding and reaching (eventually at scale) a specific pocket of people who are already looking for a solution to a problem they care about solving (and are willing to spend money to solve it).
Knowing all of this will allow you to create better traffic engines into your business and to your offers.
How? I'm glad you asked.
Here's a 10-part (free) series that will explain exactly how to setup stable, predictable, and scaleable “traffic engines” for your business.
What you're read so far is what I do to build hyper-targeted email lists. I know it's not for everyone. Largely because it requires a little more work and a deeper level of understanding about a target audience.
A little extra work seems to scare the hell out of most people. Even when doing the work will result in a ton more revenue (and better, happier customers).
What I've shared here works exceptionally well.
Make no mistake about that. But it's really just the prequel for the really good stuff.
Once you have an email list — an audience whose attention you have earned — it's time to level-up how to really leverage email marketing.
We have six courses, three free (this one and two others, so start there), and three paid:
- The Art of Email Marketing — Earn Customers & Make Superfans (Free Course)
- How To Build A Happy Customer Creating Engine With Paid Traffic (Free Course)
- Sphere of Influence
- AutoResponder Madness
- The Traffic Engine
This overview covered the high-level view of the multi-page presell site (#2) below:
… but, like I said in the beginning, the devil is in the details. Go back to the beginning and re-read this a few more times. Take notes. Ask questions in the comments.
Then take action. Do the work and get the result!