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The Strategy Behind NOT Collecting a Free List

Written by Ryan Ambrose  · May 2, 2008

I’m going to throw this out to the peanut gallery, and in all fairness, I didn’t think of it. I remember reading it somewhere, and I regret I don’t remember who said this, but to paraphrase: “The only people on my list are the ones who’ve paid to be there”. It’s the strategy I’m going to use with my soon-to-be-live latest e-report launch, and here’s the reasoning behind it.

The desirable quantity in a list is its responsiveness. Therefore, the only time you should put someone on a list is when that someone has already bought something from you, (i.e. has demonstrated the capacity to be responsive to your sales pitches). This insures a higher chance they’ll buy something else from you later, because they’ve already paid money to be there now. A lower volume of names, to be sure, but more responsiveness.

I know the $7 report theory puts this to some use. You buy the report before you’re asked to for your name and email, which means the person selling it already knows the latest addition to their list will buy from them. Granted, they’re probably not going to buy a product in $97 dollar range if this happens, but other $7 products and their 100% commissions? An entire web site full of them called exists as nothing more than a clearinghouse for those sorts of offerings in multiple niches, giving you plenty to promote.

So, what do you think, and what are your circumstances?

  • Can you get responsiveness out of your free ezine list? If so, what are you doing?

  • Do you already do it this way? How’s it working out for you?

  • Have another strategy you’d like to share?

Leave a comment and give me your opinion.

Seriously, how do you make a beautiful, sellable ebook? Find your answers today with The Ebook Walkthrough!

My name is Ryan Ambrose, and I’m one of the co-authors of Can I Make Big Money Online.

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9 Responses to “The Strategy Behind NOT Collecting a Free List”

  1. Wade on May 2nd, 2008 7:32 pm

    I personally think it is crap to collect email addresses to “spam”. I hate commenting on a site and getting a thank you response back, or having the box auto ticked to automatically email you of future comments to that post.

    Shudogg Dot Com – Make Money Online Blogging

  2. Llama Money on May 3rd, 2008 12:23 pm

    There’s no real harm in collecting names & emails before the sale, is there? That way your list is bigger. For sure, not everyone on that list is a buyer, but perhaps you capture some who ARE buyers, but not right now buyers. If you wait until after the sale, then you lose the chance to sell those people later.

    More names & emails doesn’t cost you anything ( unless your list is HUGE ), so I say why not?

  3. Jonathan on May 3rd, 2008 12:26 pm

    Hi Ryan you raise some interesting points for discussion. Personally I think you need dual lists. I would never remove anyone from a mailing list just because they hadn’t bought something for the simple reason that they might at some point in the future. I think that with the internet you can store huge amounts of information so the cost of holding on to those irregular buyers justifies it. I think if you were sending out expensive marketing materials via post then you would of course opt for a more active list, but I wouldn’t remove someone just because they hadn’t purchased for a while.. who knows they may make a large purchase at some point

  4. George Manty on May 4th, 2008 8:26 am


    When people opt in for a newsletter it’s not spam.


    I think your method is creating a more responsive list, but I agree with Jonathan about having multiple lists.

    @Llama money,

    I agree.

  5. Ryan Ambrose on May 4th, 2008 9:52 am

    This strategy isn’t about spamming, or farming names and emails from your site without the knowledge of the person on it. You never have to violate CAN-SPAM or COPPA. I’m not saying you should collect names and emails under the guise of a newsletter, and then only produce ads. I’m also not saying anyone on your list who has never bought from you should be removed. If they’re already there, let them stay.

    You can use this strategy and be completely legitimate, give good advice, and allow anyone on your list to opt-out at any time to be completely legal and ethical about it all.

    I’m talking about the no-varnish bottom line of having a list in the first place: to make repeat sales. My last free list was worthless. People joined it to get the freebies, then never opened my emails again. That defeated the purpose, and why I intend to use this strategy shift now. I can be as charitable and helpful as anyone else, but I still have a business to run, and I want it to be successful.

    Yes, you can collect a list prior to a sale, and it could be some of those people might buy from you in the future. The point in waiting until someone buys, however, is to increase the odds that you’ve found a responsive customer. I’ve been on the other side of this strategy already, and I’ll take responsiveness over bulk any day.

  6. Will on May 5th, 2008 11:57 am

    I agree with llama money. If you opt in then its not spam. Anyone stupid enough to sign up deserves to get that spammy once a week (or more) email hocking the next internet marketing tool that promises success but is nothing more than a loss of $97 to you. At least, in my opinion.


  7. Monika Mundell on May 6th, 2008 5:19 am

    You raised some good points and I can see that your method might work better for sure. I have been building a list by giving away a free ebook very slowly. I only ever sent them one additional email with free tips in the near year I have done this.

    I know this isn’t how a list normally works but I simply never felt the need for speed.
    I have been fortunate enough to getting very good response from my ebook readers. Aimed at the newcomers that often email me and thank me for the tips and the help I have provided.

    It certainly makes me feel good I can tell you this and that is one reason why I don’t want to pester them with emails galore.
    Maybe in the future I’ll use the list to announce a new paid ebook or some affiliate product I wholeheartedly endorse.

  8. Ryan Ambrose on May 6th, 2008 7:00 am

    Monika, this method doesn’t change any of your previous behavior. Again, you don’t have to email bomb the people who join this way, be unethical, or be ruthless. This is simply a method to pick and choose those who may be more responsive to buying from you again than others.

    Yes, you should be good to your list, and if you have one already, keep it. But remember that these lists exist for your benefit too, and after all your effort and trouble, you deserve to gain from your labor.

  9. Michael Taylor on May 19th, 2008 1:32 pm

    Ryan I fully agree with you.

    The money is not in the list but the real money is in the responsive list.

    Michael Taylor