What is the first questions that comes to your mind when you start thinking about mailing lists? The topic of creating a list was recently discussed in one of my Facebook groups. The overwhelming response was:

“Which service should I use?”

As an experienced virtual assistant, the group members were looking to me for the expert opinion. But I couldn’t answer!

I have used dozens of list management services over the years but the problem was not in recommending a particular service, it was the wrong question being asked.

Before you spend hours researching your options, let’s go back a few steps to what should be your first step in building a profitable list.

HIT Virtual Assistants UVPStep 1: What is your UVP?

Your Unique Value Proposition is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition. (If you haven’t created a USP, Neil Patel has a helpful blog post about the process here.)

With your UVP in mind, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What incentive will be a true no-brainer for your ideal client to opt-in to your list?
  2. How can you use your mailing list to provide the best value for those who join your list?

Don’t stress over these questions. Simple is actually better. Your opt-in incentive can be as simple as a resource guide or a short how-to video that answers a common question. You don’t have to go overboard with dozens of downloads and a 100-page eBook. Rather than providing value, these massive downloads are more likely to overwhelm your reader than encourage him/her to learn more.

And when it comes to providing value to your list members, keep three things in mind:

  1. Regular communication is a must (consider an autoresponder series if you’re not good at scheduling email updates)
  2. Marketing is second to information—too much selling will cause your opt-out rates to soar.
  3. It’s your responsibility as a thought leader in your market to distill and provide the information, tools, and products your audience needs.

Step 1.1: “What is your list-building goal?”

Hint: “Because all the experts say I need a list!” is NOT a viable goal.

Yes, I’ve seen that reason too. Heck years ago, I may have used it myself! But you need to dig a little deeper and think this one through. Ask yourself:

How will you be using your list? Will you:

  • Send a weekly or monthly newsletter?
  • Create an autoresponder series that delivers content on a pre-determined schedule?
  • Use affiliate links as an income generator?
  • Promote your own services and products?

The answers to these questions will help you determine not only the right tool for your list-building needs, but will also determine the path for your ongoing mailing list content, promotions, and growth.

After you have worked through these steps and are ready to choose the right tools, here is a checklist to help you find the right one for you and your business.