Email letter with @ symbol drawn on a blackboardYour email marketing lists can be the single most valuable asset you own. Here are some tips for helping you get your first mailing list up and running.

Select Your Service Provider

The first step in setting up a new mailing list is to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to handle it. This will mean that you’ve selected a service provider — like Aweber, iContact, MailChimp or Constant Contact or another —to help you manage and administer your list.

Choosing the right service provider for you is one of the more important steps when setting up your list. Consider the various different features offered by a service, its pricing structure, and its ability to meet any particular needs you have — now or what you anticipate for the future — in order to find the best fit.

Decide How You Want to Target Prospective Contacts

How are you going to target your prospects? It’s not enough to tell people you have a mailing list and just tell them to sign up. You have to give them a reason why. One common method is to provide something valuable (usually a downloadable informational product) in exchange for their giving you their e-mail address.

Depending on your niche, this could be an e-book that introduces basic concepts to someone who is unfamiliar with your niche, a checklist to help them accomplish a specific project or goal, audio or video recordings and transcripts of interviews you may have available on your website, or an e-course.

Enable and Review Your Analytics

Regardless of the email service provider you’re working with, you’re likely to have a number of different options for how and when you can collect data relating to your email marketing activities. Make sure you’re collecting as much as possible, and start reviewing this information as soon as possible.

Obviously it’s going to become more valuable as time goes on and you have more data to analyze. You’re going to want to start tracking trends. So keeping track using a spreadsheet or a pen and a pad of paper is a good idea. You want to get in the habit of using your analytic tracking as part of your decision making process from the very beginning.

Plan and Prepare Your Messages Beforehand

If youre only sending out a weekly broadcast for example, prepare that email at least a day or two before you plan to send it out, so that you have the opportunity to take a fresh look at it one last time before it actually goes out.

(I swear I believe that some people never read over what they’ve written once they write it. Sheesh!)

If you plan to send a series of emails, then draft all of them before you load them up. It might seem like a big task, but it’s almost always the best idea to approach your autoresponder series this way.

If you draft each email only after the last one goes out, you might find that you’ve overlooked certain points that you should have made in earlier emails, or that the autoresponder series as a whole doesn’t have a good flow. (I have made this mistake myself too many times.)

Review all of your emails, in order, before you start sending any of them out. You may decide to change the order so things go more smoothly or makes more sense.

Make Use of All Available Resources

The actual technical and administrative steps to setting up a new mailing list will vary depending on the service you use. Fortunately, most service providers have tutorials, videos and other educational materials that can make this process much easier. (If you don’t want to do this yourself, or need guidance, I can help you.) Be sure to make full use of all the resources that are available to you. You may even wish to consider these resources as a factor when deciding between which autoresponder service to use.

Now, it’s time to get to work and start setting up those lists.

What would you add to this list for setting up an email marketing list? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.