SEO can get you a long way with regards to getting visitors to your website, as can paid advertising. If you have interesting content and update your site regularly, you’ll probably get some repeat visitors.

But how can you ensure more people keep coming back for more content?

Your life is not as private as you might think

Way back when, before the internet was easily accessible or even in the greater public consciousness, companies often sent out advertising via the postal system. This direct mail approach often targeted thousands of people in the hope that just one or two would be interested and purchase the products on offer.

They were often letters, sometimes addressed to the right person (more often to just “The Residents” or “The Homeowner”) written in an urgent advertising style, explaining exactly why you needed this particular product RIGHT NOW and you’d be a fool to miss the chance. After all, everyone in town has had the same letter, and they’re sure to respond, right?

The modern digital equivalent is, of course, spam.

Oddly enough, many people did respond, and the strategy is still in use today, albeit to a lesser extent.

A similar tactic is used by stores you may visit that supply you with a “loyalty card”. You get so-called bonuses and freebies for every few dollars you spend. They get to track what you buy (and therefore can project what you are interested in and likely to buy in the future) and will usually take your contact details to send you discount coupons or other information – like a letter full of things you might be interested in.

This is a highly targeted letter, but it can be, because they know what you are interested in. You are generally interested in purchasing from their store, and with your buying record, they know what sections you usually pick things up from.

To apply this to the digital world, look at Amazon as a great example of marketing. If you browse the site when you’ve logged in, you don’t even have to make a purchase – they know what you’ve looked at. Sure enough, within the next few days, you’ll receive an email saying something along the lines of, “You looked at Product X – we think you’ll like Products Y and Z”.

And you probably will like those products, because you’re interested in similar products. So how can you harness the same principles to work for your own website?

Build the list and they will come

The first step is to notify as many people as you can about the existence of your website, just like the original mass-mailers. However, this time, you won’t be spamming people. The easiest ways to get the word out is to ensure your SEO is top notch, and to pay for some advertising.

When people reach your site, they will (hopefully) sign up to your email list by filling out a form. There’s no simple way to get them there the first time, which is why it is easier to use adverts. Of course, anyone who happens to come across your site without seeing an advert also has potential to sign up, but if this is a brand new venture, nothing works faster than advertising.

Be aware that everyone who visits your site won’t sign up to your email list. Even if you have a really compelling offer, for example, “Sign up and get this thing free!”, you might not even hit a 5% sign-up rate. But that’s where it gets interesting, because the people who do sign up are actually care about what you have to say, and if they care then they are far more likely to be responsive to any offers or products you notify them of.

However, make sure you stay on the course you have charted. If your email list is built around football fans, and they are used to getting your updates about football, don’t suddenly start sending out information about baseball. You might have found an amazing offer, something that benefits your list and makes you some money too, but the football fans are interested in football, not baseball. The “unsubscribe” button is only a click away.

Lists are update-proof

You might be wondering why an email list is better than just continually running adverts. With adverts, you can target a particular audience, so what difference does it make? Simply, the cost. Running an email list is either free, or comes at a small monthly charge. Email list management sites such as [MailChimp][1] offer a free plan for when you are just starting out. If you send out thousands of emails or have hundreds of subscribers, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, but by that time, you should be well established.

Alternatively, you might wonder why an email list is better than awesome SEO. Again, the answer is simple – what if the rules change?

How often have you heard stories of people who were making hundreds of dollars a day but didn’t have an email list? How many times have you heard how much money they lost when Google updated the search algorithm? The Panda and Penguin Google updates caused havoc for many internet marketers.

An email list is not affected by any change Google makes to their search algorithm. It’s not affected by Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any other search engine you can think of – the email list is yours, and you can directly contact people as and when you choose.

Do you have an email list?

And if not, why not? Even if you do rely on SEO or some other method to get all the visitors you want, you can consider building an email list a back-up plan for when disaster strikes – and you can be certain that at some stage, there will be another update to the search algorithm, or some other issue that prevents people finding your site so easily.

There’s nothing more convenient than being to be able to directly message people who are interested and ready to buy the best products you can recommend.