Building TRUST With Your List

How many times have you heard that you need to build a list of your own to succeed online? If you are like most people the answer is ‘more times than I can count!’

It really is true that you need a mailing list in order to succeed online over the long term. You can learn more about list building in my List Building Quick Course.

But having a list is only part of the story.

It’s what you do with your list that really matters.

The real earning power of having a list is is the relationship you have with the people on your list.

  • The messages you send.
  • The products you choose to promote, and when you promote them.
  • The information you provide and how you respond.

No one talks about that.

Well today I’m going to talk about it. Today I’m going to share the rest of the story.

Here’s a question for you. If I gave you a list of 50,000 real people and told you that this was now your mailing list so you could do anything you wanted with it … what would you do?

  • How would you go about creating sales from that list?
  • What would you say first, second, third?
  • How often would you email them and what would you promote?

You see, the answers to these questions are far more important than the sheer number of the list. I have a friend who has a list of 80,000 people but makes only a little money from that list.

Why? Because he pounds them with offer after offer day after day. If there is a product launch or JV happening online, he’s mailing to his list about it.

It’s sad really because those people did not join his list to be pitched continuously. They joined because they have a need – and it’s not a need to buy things! 🙂

Whether you have a list of 500 or 500,000 (or even if you are just starting) here is a formula you can follow that will help you serve the people on your list and make sales at the same time.

A classic win-win!

It all starts with what I call my TRUST formula.

I named this method TRUST for one very important reason. Without trust your list will never respond the way you want them too. Period – end of story.

Here’s how it works in the real world. People need to get to know you before they can like you. They need to like you before they can trust you. And when they trust you — when you have earned that trust — some very good things can happen.

Does it take work? Yes. Is it worth it? Building a list and gaining the trust of the people on your list is THE key to experiencing freedom. So really, only you can say if it’s worth the effort.

Personally, I would never do business any other way.

So here’s the formula in a nutshell. Take a look and then we can dig in to each letter to learn more.

  • T – Teach
  • R – Reward
  • U – Uncover needs
  • S – Sell solutions
  • T – Trigger actions


Many people are worried about the “teaching” part of this formula because they do not consider themselves to be expert enough to teach because they have not yet experienced success.

I have a friend named Buck who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Civil War. But he didn’t live through the civil war. Yet he is considered an expert on the Civil War.

You see, you don’t have to be THE expert to teach.

But you do need to teach from a place of either experience or investigation. Do you remember a couple of guys called Siskel and Ebert? They were movie reviews on television for a while and were very funny in how they did their reviews. They could barely agree on anything! In their day their “thumbs up or down” could help or hurt ticket sales … a lot.

But I don’t believe either of them ever made a movie. I doubt they ever acted or directed or wrote a movie.

But their deep research earned them — you guess it — trust.

The moral of the story is this; don’t wait until you know everything there is about a thing to begin sharing what you DO know. But don’t write about things you know nothing about either.

If you strike that balance and your motives are to help readers you will do very well indeed.


A vital, and often overlooked part, of developing a trust relationship with the people on your mailing list is rewarding their continued readership.

In today’s world the person who joins your list, stays on your list and consistently opens and reads your messages should be considered not only a “business asset” but a friend.

If you communicate with your list in this way you will do well.

  • Care about the people on your list.
  • Think about their needs.
  • Do your best to help them.
  • And, by all means, reward them with occassional suprises along the way.

You don’t have to be rich to do this. You have PLR products sitting on your hard drive right now that very well could be a blessing to those on your list.

You are exposed to effective and fun strategies every week as you read email and use the products you buy.

Sharing these (with permission of course) are but two ways to reward the people on your list.

PERSONAL NOTE: If you want to really build trust, and if this is in your heart to do, give the people on your list something of real value and from which you can’t possibly profit. They will see your sincerity and reward it when the time comes for you to make a specific buying recommendation.


The next step is to uncover the needs of those on your list. But how can you do that?

By asking!

I know it sounds simple, and it is, but it works. Again, you need pure motives here. We’ve all seen the “Tell me what you need” messages from marketers where they do a survey and then build a product that just “happens” to fit what the survey says.

That’s just a marketing tactic, what I’m talking about is something more.

I’m talking about really knowing what your audience needs.

How can you do that? Here are three ideas.

  1. Read the comments on your blog and look for pattterns.
  2. Ask your list what they need with no ulterior motive.
  3. Set up a “reply” email for your list so people can hit “reply” and ask a question.

If you do nothing more than these three things you will know more about the people on your list who go to great lengths in order to avoid all contact with the people on their list. You know the type – they use “do not reply” addresses and all sorts of filters to avoid you.


This goes back to the age-old discussion about features vs. benefits.

Now that you know what your list members need you can scout around and find the right solution and then offer it to them.

The key here is to make a recommendation based on experience and your own research and not just on what’s “hot” or being launched today.

Rememer my friend with the big list I talked about earlier? He’s the guy you don’t want to be — the person who promotes every product that comes out as if it is the solution to YOUR problem when he doesn’t even know your name.

Selling solutions is the name of the game. Sell what the product will do for the buyer, not just what the product can do.

I’m buying a new car and the last salesman I spoke with was so excited that his car would go from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. What he did not realize is that I would never in my life want to do that.

Rather than trying to uncover my needs he was totally focused on selling what he wanted me to buy.

See the difference?


Now that you’ve done the hard work of gaining trust it’s time to make suggestions of what your readers might buy that will help them.

Here are a few suggestions of how to do that based on my own experience.

  1. Only promote what you know works and you do yourself.
  2. Get very specific about why you are making a recommendation to take action.
  3. Tell your reader the specific action you want them to take. Not all actions involve buying something. You might want them to subscribe to a new list or download a free trial.

In all the years I’ve worked online the thing I have done that has been the most profitable is not building a list. In truth, I have a rather small mailling list when compared with other marketers.

The most profitable, and rewarding, thing I have done online is getting to know the people on my list, serving them and having them reward me again and again when I make suggestions.

If you are one of them, and I suspect you are, thank you. I consider you not only a subscriber but a friend.

And friendship is perhaps the most beautiful thing indeed!

50 thoughts on “Building TRUST With Your List”

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  4. A very good article again as usual. I will add it to my valuable information file. As a newbe with a small list of 150 gathered by solo ads over the last few months . My problem is that only 3 or 4 people open my e-mails now so it is hard to develop any relationship. I have 20 e-mails of various types in an autoresponder sent daily to members on joining, I have used broadcasts a couple time a week.Crazy headlines sometimes get a few more opens, but.. Do you have suggestions on re-engagement?

    1. It depends on how you are engaging them now.

      If you are asking them to buy something without having provided value through teaching first, then it’s likely you will need to step back and reconsider.

      If you are sending them teaching emails and they are not opening them, then I would look at the traffic sources (from which you built your list) and see if they line up with what you are all about.

      The very best reengagement technique is asking a question and wanting to help them find the answer that moves them quickly toward their goal.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Thanks for your reply, Charlie. I am stepping back from offers. I am considering a reward “freebie” to see if they are interested in a download. I tried the question route but got no replies. I have had a 20% loss so obviously what I offer does not appeal to some. At least 80% are still hanging around!

      2. It’s hard to use questions effectively before there is relationship.

        I would advise this – approach your list as you would anyone you want to get to know better. Offer insights and ask questions. Give gifts. Be kind. Doing the little things every day does wonders for relationship with your list.

        You might check out my book at Amazon on this too. It’s only $9.99 and is based on my experience with a small list. It’s called Big Profits from Small Lists.


  5. Charlie:
    Trust is how I built my Chiropractic business. It’s funny how that trust manifests in my office. Over the past month, I’ve had five patients come to my office after getting involved in Car Accidents (instead of going to the Emergency Room or their MD). When asked at the scene of the accident by Police or Emergency Medical Technicians if they needed an ambulance, they all said, “No, I’m going to see my Chiropractor because he will help me more than a Medical Doctor will.” What they were really saying was, My Chiropractor will either help me or he will refer me to someone that will help me. Trust is the key to that relationship.

    1. wow, thats someone to be truly proud to brag about. Thumbs up for putting in the work to build that trust! 🙂

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  8. Great post, Charlie. Building trust with your list is vital. And that takes time, and a game plan, to do. It’s about providing lots of relevant and informative articles that educate your list, not just sell something. I have several large list that I devote my full energy in building a strong friendship. This makes selling that much easier. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hi Charlie,
    thank you for awesome advice.
    Building the list is really only half the battle…
    Build trust and relationships first, sell only later.

  10. Charlie, this was a great article. As someone new starting out, I will definitely keep your TRUST method in mind. I have unsubscribed from lists that just pitch product after product and provide no content. As someone new, when do you think it is appropriate to send an offer to a new list?

    1. Charlie Page

      That depends in part on how you built the list. If your squeeze page is product specific, and they are signing up to get more information about the specific product, then the first few messages are not too soon. Otherwise, I like to send helpful information first and then only make offers when they are in context of that information.

      Hope this helps.


  11. Hi Charlie:
    Another great post! I just started my blog and I was wondering if you have a script for this “post comments” section I can add to my blog. Sorry if this not the correct language for this question.
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Charlie Page

      That function should be built into WordPress. Different themes handle comments differently but this is a basic WordPress function.

      Hope this helps.


  12. hit he nail on the head. I’ve got a list of several thousand I’ve built over the years by sending a biweekly newsletter containing unique content however it’s very unresponsive to questions, surveys, offers, etc. What do you recommend?

    1. Charlie Page

      It’s hard to say without knowing much more. This is what I do with Follow Up Selling Systems members – help them fix list problems and build the best way possible. I will say this – there has to be a value proposition that will motivate them. The key is knowing their needs and being able to delver that value in such a way that they act. As I said before, without knowing more it’s impossible for me to say “do this” but I would encourage you to not give up on finding the right situation that will create response.


  13. Excellent article, Charlie! Relatonship is the most important ingredient in success. This one article reads like a primer on direct marketing. The concepts are timeless and are key, not because they are simple, but because they are fundamental. If someone were to internalize these points and then apply them, by taking action, they could not avoid success. Well done, as usual. Many thanks.

    Dr. Bill

  14. Kanute Fleming

    Nice article as usual, Charlie!

    I have just started out building a list (ca. 100 subscribers at this point). I’m using an autoresponder service to send an email every 5 – 7 days to the list. I have loaded the autoresponder with about 25 messages so far, and plan to add at least 25 more. This means that each new subscriber starts with message no. 1 and will receive all 50 emails (or more) in the course of time.

    In addition, every now and then (once a month or so) I send an extra email about upcoming events, news or special offers to the whole list.

    My messages are relatively long and informative (like an article), mostly with links to additional information on my website or other sites. I wonder if my emails are too long, and if it’s a better idea to start a blog and just notify my subscribers when new posts are published. The downside with this strategy is that you can’t preload your autoresponder with messages that will be sent regularly and automatically.

    What do you think?


    1. First things first — GOOD FOR YOU taking action. You are doing it right and I commend you. To answer your question, I would send shorter messages and publish your longer messages on a blog. This has several advantages. You get search engine optimization benefits on a blog you can’t get in email. Shorter emails are easier to get to the reader and are read in their entirety more often. Plus, a person who goes to your blog from an email can spend even more time and read other helpful articles. There are more benefits but those alone make it a good choice in my view.

      Keep up the good work.


  15. Raymond says:
    April 26,2012 at 11:41 AM

    The issues highlighted in the post are critical for achieving
    Though I haven’t got a list yet,but I will be more guided
    with your wonderful article.
    More Blessings.

  16. There are different theories on when and how often to send promotions to your lists and as I’ve been growing more into this by experience, it depends on the type of list you are building as I’ve noted 4 main types so far and each one has to be treated a certain way. BUT these things would not be known until you actually just dive right in and start practicing email marketing.

    Immersion training is the best way to learn most things 😉

  17. Want to Learn How to Get Fit?

    Charlie, This is another gem. I have been on your friend’s list before, but have unsubscribed due to all his promotional emails.

    When I buy a product and get asked for my email address so that I can receive notifications of updates, that is what I expect to receive – nothing else. I do anticipate that I MAY receive one or two promotional emails periodically, but some people sell their product today, then bombard their purchases will offers for competing products every day thereafter. I always ask them if their product is so good, why are they promoting opposition products every day?

    I really like your style of writing and your helpful intent. I really do feel like your friend and that you are my friend – and I like it that way!

    Please keep up this great attitude.

  18. Charlie …

    There still are IM Sages among us … though few in number. The Great Ones, such as yourself, are doing a lovely Quick-Step as they lift our hearts and consciousness about achieving our online goals. They teach and model wisdom, ethics, and fairness in the Cyber-Marketplace. They are the “Change Agents” we hope to see more of “out there.”

    I am particularly moved by this article. It could not be more timely. I’m finally about to have an online presence. WooHoo!!! I deeply appreciate the guiding principles you’ve laid out so clearly. Many many thanks, Charlie. Shalom!

  19. I love your articles, Charlie. I have only discovered you recently and am now finding myself logging in freqently to read more advice from you. Thanks so much. I love your writing style – suits me really well as you make what seems to be difficult, much easier to understand.
    Thanks so much

  20. It is so refreshing to find marketers who practice what they preach, as you most certainly do : ) I am a dedicated subscriber to your list, and I actually open your emails every time they appear in my inbox, and I have not yet been disappointed. This article was truly a powerful piece of advice and insight for us marketers, and I can actually see you implement what you teach in your own business (which doesn’t always happen in this industry haha)

    We can not only learn from what you share in your emails and in your posts, but I learn just by watching what you do and how you do it! (which is my opinion is stellar)

    Anyway charlie….. YOU ROCK!

  21. Charlie,

    Thanks for your solid down to earth advice. When you think about it, list and trust building is no different than a salesman that meets face to face with his clients and prospects on a daily basis to give advise and sell them solutions to problems they are facing. That is a form of list building right there… Also, if you are a person of personal integrity, you wouldn’t sell something to somebody that they didn’t need or want. So, guess the same applies to online list building and business.

    Thanks again

  22. Thank you again, Charlie. Funnily enough, I was just listening to a webinar this morning about the importance of building a relationship with your list, and developing a giving attitude before trying to sell them something. Your article summarized it so perfectly. I love the TRUST acronym.

  23. Carmelo Humphrey

    Charlie definitely you own a big bag full of gold nuggets…it brings me remembrances about my grandmother who used to have a tiny purse with coins that were very appreciated by all her grandchildren…please don’t take it personal…God has blessed you with a special touch for teaching and caring…It’s really nice to have your example versus the many megalist owners which don’t know how to deal with their list but squeeze the famous 1$/soul…but run away and hide when anyone in their list has little bit of a problem….
    Best regards,
    Carmelo Humphrey

  24. Great article, Charlie. By way of testimonial, early on I had a small list of about 900 names and made a strong 6-figure income with it. Far more important, many of those original 800-900 people (not just names to collect BTW-but people who connected with me for a real reason) still open and read my Emails to this day. You’re’s about honesty, trust, relationship, respect and truly CARING. Like you, I wouldn’t even think about doing business any other way, even if it did make me more money. BTW, you’re NOT allowed to retire-your message is too important. You are a stark contrast to everything that is wrong with the industry today. Keep it up, Charlie.

  25. I come to really hate email because getting so many from guros pretending to be my friends when all they wish to do it get my money from hook or by crook. I had a list myself only a few open my emails.
    Is email dead ? it was so exciting in the beginning when we first came online years ago. these days we spend a great deal of time removing them dozens a day ,some can’t recall ever joining. Aweber glad to take our money. But email I must master learn to enjoy it and form a relationship with my list but give so much more than I sell.

    1. Email is far from dead. In fact, it works better now than ever when done right. And I’ve been doing it for 12 years now. The key is to do it right which means the process is more about relationship than it is about conversions or anything like that. We almost all sell things to make a living but how that is done is the key.


  26. Charlie,
    I have known the Know, Like and Trust part for a long time but I had never seen the actual teaching part quite like you put it together.

    You know I am a preacher and I did not wait until I knew everything there is to know about The Bible and God before I started preaching. If I had I would never have started preaching and teaching.

    I have been very successful in the offline business world most of my adult life but really do not have a “Success Story” to teach about online business. I intend to start sharing and teaching what I do know about business and what I have learned, from people like you, about online business in particular.

    I hope others read this and walk away with the same outlook because each of us has something we can share that will help someone else.

    BTW, don’t be surprised if you see me come out with a product that teaches business principles that will work online just as well as they did offline because a business is a business.

    Thank you again and please keep up the good work.

    Many Blessings,
    Dr. Clyde

  27. Great advice, Charlie. Thanks for sharing. I have witnessed in my own business just how powerful building a list is. I’m still learning the ropes, and would appreciate any insight you can give:

    I’m in the health/beauty niche and have one list that addresses a very small, specific niche. Honestly, it seems that much of the people on my list have less disposable income than I expected. Many of them come right out and tell me so. I don’t feel comfortable mailing them crappy CPA offers or crappy PLR reports, so all I’m promoting at the moment is my own product (which I can get to convert well) and occasionally some semi-related CB products through an extremely soft presell. The problem is that I’m not getting $1 per subscriber per month. I have just one product to sell at the moment (I have more in the works, but completing products to sell takes me quite a while), but that’s a one off sale. The affiliate offers I promote don’t convert as well because this list is extremely targeted to a very specific niche. I’m confident this niche isn’t going to pay a monthly membership fee for the problem they joined my list for, either.

    – It’s easiest for me to build lists for very specific niche needs, but this greatly reduces the number of affiliate offers I can give.
    – There seem to be far less offers to promote that convert well in the health/beauty niche than the IM niche to me (I say this because I have a tiny IM list and they just love to buy, buy, buy)
    – I do offer them useful content that is relevant to their interests
    – I would really like to get that $1 per month per subscriber
    – My own CB affiliates are sending some of the traffic that makes my list, and they could be upset if I openly promote an affiliate product when they’re expecting me to push sales to my own product so they can get a commission.

    What to do? Change my focus to a broader niche/market? Settle for less than $1 per subscriber per month? IDK. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

    1. Interesting message. I consult on these exact situations with my Follow Up Selling Systems members but let me make a few comments about what you have said.

      First, I agree completely with your commitment to promoting quality products. Good thinking there. Going to Clickbank for products however might be a mistake. While there are great products on Clickbank there are so many other places to look for great products that I would suggest looking elsewhere in addition.

      Secondly, some customers will always say they can’t afford this or that depending on where they are in their life. The key here is to offer very high-quality and when the value proposition is right they will buy.

      Another idea would be a joint venture with someone in your niche.

      Lastly, I believe the $1 per month per subscriber that many marketers discuss is a myth in many markets. It sure sounds good on a sales video but there is no research I know of that supports this thought. So you might be shooting at an arbitrary target.

      I’m *not* saying to settle for less. I am saying that your market and lists are unique.

      My advice, and this is based on one message without researching your site or email messages, is to raise the value proposition. Once you get it high enough they will buy in droves.

      Hope this helps.


      1. Thanks so much for your reply, Charlie. I have to agree that maybe the $1 per month thing might not be viable in my market.

        Follow up selling systems looks interesting and I am considering joining. Is there advice inside about places to look for affiliate offers other than Clickbank for the health/beauty niche?

        Thanks again,

      2. It could be that your niche will provide much more than $1. I just don’t know without digging deeper. I have an entire module inside Follow Up Selling Systems devoted to finding the right products. While we don’t cover health or beauty specifically I do teach the skills you need, and share the resources too, to find great products.

        To learn more about what the term F.R.E.E.D.O.M. Marketing Method go here and watch the short video.



  28. Jerrold Coleman

    Charlie. Great article. You seem to be a straight shooter and really care. I never listened about “build your list”, “get more streams of income” coming in and all that jazz. I was happy selling garage sale stuff on eBay. Been there since 1999. Guess what? Ebay is not not so easy any more. Compitition have their iphones and ipads and when I get to the sale where all the treasures had been; now there gone. So even I have been selling on the “Internet” over 12 years I am a genuine newbie. I learned about PLR in 2009 but did nothing to folow up with it. Anyhow, I will quit rambling and let you know I plan on staying on your list and gaining more knowledge from the great information you provide. I am on track to get MY new business started in a couple of months. In the mean time I have been working on products and learning more every day. Again thanks for your great forum and you have my trust already. I look forward to joining the DOE also. Hopefully someday I can call you “Mentor”. Later Jerrold

    1. Jerrold,
      Please allow me to reply to something you said.

      If you have a product ready to go, get it out there, don’t wait until it is perfect or until you have everything in place. Get your hosting, get your autoresponder set up, get your squeeze page up, get people pn your list, get feedback and make it better.

      Just my thoughts,
      Dr. Clyde

  29. This was an incredible article! Very important takeaways for me! I will be implementing these suggestions with my list. Such simple concepts that can make a huge difference. Thanks for the input!

  30. Hi Charlie,

    Another fantastic article. Your advice is really genuine and resonates with my beliefs and values. I have been writing a speakers presentation today and the content is so similar to what you are talking about. I love your work. Thank you so much.

  31. Great article Charlie. I have burned a few lists by just throwing any an all offers at them. On of the biggest mistakes I have made with a list is trying to do ad swaps. Done carefully and thoughtfully they can work but just swapping with anyone willing will totally hurt your list and your reputation. I now treat my lists with respect and try to give them stuff that will help and encourage them.


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