A Focused Approach to Acquiring Email Subscribers

Oct 31, 2012 6:38 PM  By

While it may seem that growing your subscriber lists by any means possible is a good goal, in reality, a focused approach is best. To build your subscriber list organically and methodically across touchpoints, consider the following strategies:

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Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
Multichannel Merchant
O+F Operations and Fulfillment

Marry transparency and ubiquity at your ecommerce site
Visitors to your site have already demonstrated an interest in your brand, and may only need a nudge to commit to receiving email updates. To entice them to sign up:

· Think beyond the global header for sign-up promotion. Place email signup links prominently throughout the site wherever you engage visitors, such as at checkout, in shopping carts, in wish lists, and where sales are being promoted. Pop-up windows with signup invitations that include special offers are another increasingly popular method.

· Spotlight and clearly describe the benefits of what subscribers can expect to receive. Display samples of previous emails. Include a privacy statement or pledge specifically pertaining to email along with a link to your full privacy policy. This Express Sign Up invitation demonstrates an effective use of the pop-up window with its prominent discount offer, clearly explained benefits, and link to the site’s privacy policy.

· Let shoppers tailor content to ensure relevancy. Allow them to see all of the available options and then self-select topics and categories of interest either as part of the signup process or on the thank you page immediately after signup as a streamlined set of options. Make this process straightforward and optional. This signup invitation from L.L. Bean is a great example of pulling these best practices together to entice subscribers while giving them the option to tailor messaging to their preferences.

Streamline mobile interfaces for signup success
You face a higher hurdle when it comes to enticing mobile shoppers to sign up for alerts. To convince them to subscribe:

· Promote email services that fit the device. Stress the ability for email subscribers to receive notice of in-store promotions and mobile-specific discounts. Make the offers easy to read and clear on a tiny screen!

· Shorten the signup form, but don’t forget the essentials. Don’t ask for much more than an email address on your mobile signup form, but be sure to mention your privacy policy and spell out the benefits of service. Target includes links to its privacy policy and terms of service front and center on its mobile signup page for daily deal emails.

· Integrate email signups with SMS programming. Allow SMS recipients to add email alerts with a simple text-message command, and don’t forget to add subscription prompts to SMS-based campaigns such as sweepstakes contests. The National Aquarium of Baltimore prompts audience members to enter to win a prize while they are waiting for a show to begin. More than 40% of mobile subscribers converted and signed up for the newsletter.

Integrate signups into social media outlets for maximum data
You can combine social networking IDs with email addresses to create a richer customer profile ripe for targeted messaging. To maximize the utility of social media for email signups:

· Do we need to define social id? Let shoppers communicate across touchpoints by enabling signup with social IDs. Allow Facebook users to link their email signup with their profile.

· Give social followers a reason to receive email. It’s crucial to spotlight the content they’ll access that’s not available through Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, such as buying guides, expert content, and exclusive email discounts. Eco-friendly merchant Gaiam promotes an instant 15% discount with its Facebook email signup form, and stresses that subscribers receive a newsletter to help them “live fit, healthy, green and happy.” The company’s privacy policy is linked prominently, along with a pledge not to share email addresses with outside parties.

Think outside the box to find qualified signups
While connecting your ecommerce site with mobile and social channels, look for ways to engage potential customers beyond the bounds of conventional calls-to-action such as:

· Seeking referrals from your existing email subscribers. Make it easy for your existing subscribers to pass along savings to their friends and give them an incentive to join the list.

· Using point-of-sale interactions in your physical stores. Store customers are eminently qualified potential subscribers – after all, they’ve already bought something and are likely receptive to receiving further offers.

· Solicit email addresses in person or via the payment console at checkout. Include your signup link on the printed receipt or offer the option of an emailed receipt, another opportunity to invite them to subscribe or take advantage of special offers through social media, as this electronic GAP receipt demonstrates.

· Requesting email signup through the call center. Customer service reps can end positive interactions with an invitation to join the email updates list.

Ken Burke is founder and chairman of ecommerce software and solutions provider MarketLive.