“How Do I Grow My List?” An Interview with PJ Van Hulle

Screen Shot 2013 04 10 at 8.04.37 PM How Do I Grow My List? An Interview with PJ Van HulleCould you add 10,000 to your email list in the next 90 days?

PJ Van Hulle thinks that, while it might be lofty – with the right pieces in place, it’s not an unachievable goal.

I really love PJ. She’s one of the most genuine people but also so much smarter about online marketing than I will ever be.

She launching her List-a-Palooza telesummit at the end of May so I thought I’d interview her about the nuts and bolts of this strange beast of building one’s list. The telesummit is totally free to attend but I thought you might like to get the boiled down version of her point of view to see if it’s a fit for you worth exploring further.

Building your email list is a central piece of becoming a hub in the online world and moving from cold marketing (where you’re chasing strangers) to hot marketing (where your ideal clients are coming to you).

Why grow your list? Why is this something worth focusing on as an entrepreneur? 

As an entrepreneur, your e-mail list is one of the greatest financial assets in your business.  I’ve even heard experts say “your list IS your business.”  

With a profitable e-mail list you can:

  • Fill your seminars and programs
  • Attract more clients and sales
  • Turn current clients into repeat clients
  • Promote other peoples’ programs that you believe in and earn $1,000?s in affiliate commissions

Having a big, profitable e-mail list provides entrepreneurs with an uncommon level of financial security because you can even out your cashflow and generate more income any time you need to, simply by sending out messages to your list.

Without a profitable e-mail list, being an entrepreneur can be so much of an uphill struggle that many lose steam and eventually throw in the towel.

So, YES!  This is something worth focusing on as an entrepreneur.  If you’re not focusing on growing your list, you’re setting yourself up to continue to work much harder than you need to.

Also, most of my clients care about making a bigger difference in the world, and having an e-mail list that you regularly provide value for allows you to expand your energy and your message to many more people and make a bigger impact, even if not all of them become your clients.

What’s the story of how you came up with this program? What was the need that you saw in our community around this? You’ve done if for a few years now it seems.

This is my second year hosting List-a-Palooza, even though I was planning on doing it only once.

In my Big List Big Profits program, I walk people step-by-step through how to automate their marketing and sales online, but there just wasn’t enough time to cover the plethora of traffic generation tactics out there.

My intention was to turn the recordings from List-a-Palooza into a product that I could bundle with the Big List Big Profits program so that once people had their marketing and sales infrastructure set up, they would have lots of great training on how to drive traffic into their automated system.

Well, List-a-Palooza ended up being even more of a hit than I imagined it would be, and I received a flood of requests to do it again.

I had a ton of fun doing List-a-Palooza last year, and this is a topic that I’m super passionate about, so I decided to go ahead and do it again.

I’ve seen how people get dramatically better results with specific training, accountability and the support of a community of like-minded people, so I’ve done my best to provide those key elements through List-a-Palooza.

Can you share the story of how you went about growing your own list? When did you start your business and what were the phases you went through in building your own list, where are you now?

When I first launched my business, I didn’t have an e-mail list or an Opt-In page or anything.  I manually sent e-mails to people I knew, asking them to spread the word about a live event I was doing.

I knew that growing an e-mail list was important so I invested in a program called Constant Contact, which had done-for-you newsletter templates.  

I hired someone to help me get my newsletter out, and I just couldn’t crank out content fast enough so it was hard to get the newsletter going out consistently, and eventually, I gave up on it.

My big breakthrough came when I created the Client Attraction Blueprint system that I now teach in my Big List Big Profits program.  I created it for my Platinum Mastermind clients to help them organize all of their marketing and sales ideas together in one simple document.

I immediately applied this system to my own business, and the results were life-changing!  I got more done in the next 4 months than I had in the past 4-5 years because that blueprint gave me a level of focus and clarity that I had never experienced before.

When an architect looks at a blueprint, they know what needs to be built in what order and how everything fits together.

Suddenly, I could see my business that way.  Once I saw how my e-mail newsletter fit in to my overall blueprint, I became more inspired and motivated than ever to build my e-mail list and consistently provide value.

I finally got really serious about list-building about 6 years after starting my business.  

I committed to consistently publishing my bi-weekly e-mail newsletter, Prosperity Express.  

Now that I knew that the people joining my list would be consistently receiving value from me, I felt confident in growing my list.

I grew my list from 300 people to over 15,000 using a lot of the tactics we cover in the List-a-Palooza training calls.

What are the biggest blunders people make in growing their list? What are the things you see that make you cringe in people’s list building efforts?

I think the #1 biggest mistake is waiting to get started.

Growing your list is like taking advantage of compound interest.  The earlier you start, the more consistently you make “deposits,” and the longer you nurture your list, the more profitable it will be.

NOT building your list is costing you every day, whether you realize it or not.

It took me 6 years to get serious about building my list… don’t make the same mistake I did.

The #2 biggest mistake is driving traffic only to a “Brochure” type website with a bunch of tabs (Home, About, Blog, Contact, etc.) instead of to an Opt-In Page.

The #3 biggest mistake is only sending out sales and promotions and never providing value for the people on their list.

Here are the things that most make me cringe:

  • Seeing entrepreneurs invest $1,000’s on a “Brochure” type website that doesn’t even have an obvious Opt-In Box on it “above the fold” (where people can see it without having to scroll down).
  • Receiving e-mails that address me in the second person plural.  For example:  “Hi everyone!  Hi All!  Hi Friends!”  This is obviously a mass e-mailing, and I’m unlikely to read the message. Instead, I recommend addressing people in the second person singular.  If you’re e-mail program can’t mail merge my first name in to the e-mail so that it says “Hi PJ!” at least write something that feels a bit more personal like “Hi there!” or just “Hello!”
  • E-mails that are formatted as huge blocks of text all the way across the screen because they are very difficult to read.  I recommend formatting your e-mails in short columns for easy reading.

Your 90 day challenge has the claim of ‘add ten thousand people to your list in 90 days’. That seems very bold! I’m curious, what would already need to be in place for someone for that to be a doable goal?

I offer that specific challenge to inspire the participants and get them into action right away.

I was actually shocked how many people joined List-a-Palooza last year that were just getting started with their e-mail lists.

In that case, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll add 10,000 people in 90 days.  

However, many of the participants last year were still absolutely thrilled to have doubled, tripled or quadrupled their smaller lists.

In order to hit the goal of 10,000 new subscribers in 90 days, I believe that you need one or more of the following:

#1 – Time AND “Know How”: One of our List-a-Palooza speakers last year shared her exact strategy for adding 10,000 people to her list in only 45 days using Pinterest.  She knew what she was doing and invested a significant amount of time and energy in pulling this off. Another speaker last year talked about how to drive tons of traffic to your website for free with Deal Sites (like Groupon or Living Social).

#2 - Money to Invest in Paid Advertising: Over 1100 people joined List-a-Palooza last year from Facebook ads, and I’m challenging myself to add 15,000 people from paid advertising this year.

The key to paid advertising is TRACKING the results from each ad.  It’s amazing how wildly the results can vary from ad to ad.  I create a separate tracking link for each ad I run so that I can quickly increase the ad budget if it’s performing well or stop the ad if it’s not performing well.

It also helps to have something under $100 to sell right after people opt in so that you can calculate the ROI on your ads right away.

When people opt in for List-a-Palooza, I offer them the chance to get the List-Building Success Kit with all the recordings for an astounding 90% off.

Not only does this provide exceptional value for the investment and build tremendous good will, it also lets me know right away which ads are working and which aren’t.

When you do it this way, paid advertising doesn’t have to cost a lot.  You can start out with $5-$10 and go from there.

#3 - Powerful Relationships & Connections

If you are launching a new teleseminar or webinar or hosting a tele-summit (a series of interviews) and you have strong relationships with strategic alliances and or affiliates, you can add 10,000 people to your list in under 90 days by having them promote your launch.

For example, I just spoke on Vrinda Normand’s tele-summit, and over 11,000 people opted in for that event.

The point is…

Whether someone is just starting out or whether they already have a large list, I believe that “What you focus on expands,” and by focusing on building their lists for 90 days, especially with all of the resources they receive through List-a-Palooza, they’ll move forward MUCH FASTER!

And, then how do you do it? How does one go from adding a few people every week to thousands? What do you see as the most effective strategies for building ones list? 

Here are the 3 phases of list-building as I see them…

PHASE 1:  Getting Started

When you’re just starting out, I recommend reaching out to your sphere of influence and inviting them to receive your special newsletter or tips (whatever valuable free goody you offer on an ongoing basis). 

Here are some places to start:

  • Stacks of business cards you’ve collected
  • Contacts in Gmail (or whatever e-mail provider you have)
  • People in your cell phone
  • Facebook friends
  • LinkedIn connections

Send them an e-mail message to reconnect, inviting them to opt in to your list.  I share some specific templates for this in my free report, “How to Jumpstart Your E-mail List.”

By the way, you need PERMISSION to add someone to your e-mail list.  Otherwise, it’s considered spam.  When someone gives you their business card, it does NOT mean they’ve opted in to your list (unless they specifically say, “Here’s my card… please add me to your list.”)

PHASE 2:  Launching

Just like a rocket uses most of its fuel to get off the ground, adding the first 1,000 people to your list is the hardest, in my opinion.

You can accelerate your results in this stage by asking for referrals, regularly posting on social media, public speaking, attending networking events, and investing in paid advertising, like Facebook ads. 

If you’re really ambitious, you can add hundreds or thousands of people to your list in a relatively short period of time by hosting a tele-summit where the speakers that you’re interviewing help promote the event. 

PHASE 3:  Leverage

As your list gets bigger and bigger, it’s easier to find strategic alliances and affiliates with bigger lists to promote you and vice versa.

Once you have an online sales funnel that converts well, it’s less scary to invest more money in paid advertising as well.

Who are the top three email lists (excluding our own) that you think really embody the principles you teach?

Tracey Lawton

I stumbled upon her website online and opted in to her list because she was offering a free goody that I thought was valuable.  Her e-mail newsletter captured my attention with good subject lines and useful articles, and I eventually purchased one of her programs.

She did a great job of building relationship with me through her e-mail newsletter, even though we had no previous connection. 

Since then, we’ve promoted each other to our respective lists with great results.

I was so impressed that I invited her to speak on List-a-Palooza.  

Kendall SummerHawk

http://www.kendallsummerhawk.com

She also does a great job of consistently providing a lot of value through her e-mail newsletter.

She spoke on List-a-Palooza last year and the training she offered was fabulous.

RC Peck

https://www.fearlesswealth.com/

It took me 10 years to find a financial planner that I could whole-heartedly recommend to my clients, and RC is it.  He has also built a large e-mail list and a very loyal following (he’s sharing about how he did it on List-a-Palooza this year).

I really appreciate his regular Market Situation Reports and that he provides them in both video and transcription form.

What would you consider to be a good open rate and click thru rate these days for emails?

I think a decent open rate to shoot for is 20%.  As for click thru rate, it really depends on the offer so I don’t have a specific rule for that.

Do you think that building an email list is where it’s at these days? It seems like there are so many email lists to be on and I know it’s overwhelming for me (and I’m in the business!). Where do you see email fitting into the larger picture of ‘staying in touch’ with clients? There are so many options for social media now too.

Yes, I do.  Many people change their physical address more often than their e-mail address these days.  They’re still opening and responding to e-mail.

And just because they’re on your e-mail list doesn’t mean that e-mail is the only way you can communicate with them.  I also use text messaging (for people who request it), voice broadcasts, and regular snail mail. 

Also, you can use your e-mail list to create a “Custom Audience” for Facebook ads so that only people on your e-mail list see that particular ad.

During List-a-Palooza, we do weekly “Power Hours” to help build each other’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest followings, too.

Ultimately, it’s not about e-mail specifically.  It’s about taking amazing care of and providing exceptional value for your “tribe” in a way that’s also scalable for you so that you can make a big difference without burning out in the process.

You’ve also built a pretty incredible following on Facebook, could you share anything about how you’ve gone about that?

It started with a shift in consciousness…  

Most people use their Fan Pages to talk about themselves and promote their stuff.  Until the middle of last year, my Facebook page was all about me… what I was up to, what events I had going on, and so on.

Then one of my mentors advised me to stop making my page about me, and start making it about THEM (the people who like my page).

People go on Facebook to feel connected and be entertained (not to find out about your latest teleclass).

Give them what they want with funny, cute, beautiful and interesting posts, and they’ll give you what you want (likes, comments, shares, opt-ins, and sales).

So a lot of my posts have nothing to do with my business.  I post pictures that make me laugh (like kittens in tea cups).  

I know that some social media experts out there teach exactly the opposite and would sneer at me for suggesting such a thing…

But this has made my Fan Page go viral, and these cute and funny posts keep my engagement high so that when I do post about my business, people actually see those posts.

What most people don’t know is that Facebook tracks the “Virality” of every single post and expresses it as a percentage of how many people liked, commented, or shared out of the total number of people that saw that post.

If even one post has under 2% virality, Facebook stops showing your posts to as many people, even though they’ve liked your page!

That’s why most Fan Pages in our industry have NOTHING going on… it’s like a graveyard, which is heartbreaking because the owners of these pages have put all this time, effort, and possibly even money into growing these pages, and it’s they’re not going anywhere.

If this has happened to your page, you can build the engagement and “Virality” back up by posting some viral images (feel free to recycle some of the images on my Fan Page) and investing a few dollars in promoting those posts (click “Promote Now” in the bottom right of the post). 

To check out PJ’s upcoming List-a-Palooza click here.

About Tad