It seems the excitement about search engine optimization fades in and out from time to time. The more people talk about search engine optimization (SEO) the more it seems to be the logical choice for bringing customers to your site. However, there are some points that I haven’t seen anyone else make as of yet about the effectiveness of SEO versus the effectiveness of building a responsive list. I think you’ll be surprised to see which one comes out on top.
Rules and Regulations
There are rules and regulations for almost everything in life. List building and SEO are no different.
Rules for SEO: Your HTML coding has to be just so in order to rank highly on the engines. Your copy (text) also needs to include specific keywords a certain number of times in specific places or you might not be accepted. And if you are accepted, unless you follow all the “dos” and “don’ts” of SEO, you’ll likely not see the top 10… or even the top 50.
Rules for List Building: Offer a good product or service; notify your list about it, and watch the sales come in.
The Only Constant Is Change
If you do get accepted in the search engines, you might be tempted to rest easy. Don’t! As we’ve seen in recent months, search engines can change their policies and ranking orders at the flip of a switch. If you depend on search engines for all your traffic, such a change could leave you completely out of business. Not good!
Lists on the other hand are built from loyalty… not rules and regulations. The people who subscribe to your list, ezine, or newsletter are there because they want to be. They’ve come to you because you offer them something of quality… something unique.
If you change the design or copy on your site, it won’t matter one bit to the members of your list. They’ll still be there for you. If the search engines decide they’re only going to list sites that use the colors blue, green, and purple… it won’t affect you at all.
Sales vs. Leads
Truth be known, SEO only drives “leads” to your site… not sales. On the other hand, list building puts your offer in front of those who have already checked you out, decided they liked what you had to say, and chose to stick with you. These are loyal, pre-qualified individuals who are waiting to receive your next mailing and purchase your next product.
Free, Automatic, and Viral
Lastly, list building can be done at no cost. List building can happen automatically and can (and should) be a viral process.
If you produce a quality list that offers something of value, others will want to tell their friends about you. This process of automatic, viral marketing costs you nothing whatsoever and works like a dream because your subscribers are making unsolicited recommendations to those who trust them.
This process not only drives new subscribers to your list, but also ultimately makes new sales for you.
Search engines, on the other hand, do not operate virally. While some are free, many charge for the “opportunity” to be reviewed for inclusion. Still others charge on a pay-per-click basis, which can get very costly without ever bringing in one sale.
When all is said and done, which one is better? Lists or search engines? While both can have an important role in your marketing plan, if what you’re looking for is the generation of more sales… building a responsive list simply can’t be beat.
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