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Email Marketing: Top 5 most effective list growth tactics

March 2nd, 2015 No comments

In a digital world, where 72% of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies through email, how do you capture new email addresses?

Acquiring emails for our list is a continuous task. We have to work to not only retain the list we have, but to also grow it to build a larger audience of prospects and customers.

In fact, 63% of marketers reported “growing and retaining subscribers on our list” as a marketing goal, according to the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

But with so many tactics and strategies out there, where do you begin?

In the Benchmark Report, we asked email marketers several questions about the different tactics out there. This MarketingSherpa blog post will break down the five most effective list building tactics, as reported by your peers.

 

Tactic #1. Registration during purchase

The most effective tactic according to respondents was gaining email addresses during the checkout process. This make perfect sense. After all, you already need an email address from customers during the online purchasing process. You’re not technically asking for anything they aren’t already giving.

It simply requires adding a small checkbox for customers to check if they’d like more information, promotions or discounts. This could be why 52% of marketers said it was also a very or somewhat easy tactic to implement.

However, I caution you to think about how you implement this. You don’t want to prevent customers from purchasing because of a confusing or required registration or list sign-up.

To learn about the two registration options — front-end vs. back-end — read the MarketingSherpa Blog post, “E-commerce: Why a forced checkout registration is never a good idea.”

 

Tactic #2. Website registration page

The second tactic is viewed as the easiest, with 85% of respondents saying it’s very or somewhat easy.

There are many ways to add a registration form to your site, whether it’s a form on the homepage or a landing page all its own.

Even if you already employ this tactic, it could be worth it to reassess your current strategy. Kodak revamped its strategy, including updating its capture page and adding more opt-in requests, to increase email subscribers by 33%.

According to the Benchmark Report, 29% of marketers found white papers and other premium content is effective for registering new email subscribers on their sites. This could be for one-off downloads or to access a library of premium content. To see how a free paywall can grow your list by using content you already produce, see how Copyblogger grew its email list by 400%.

 

Tactic #3. Online events

Online events, or webinars, are no exception to the rule that providing prospects with content is a great way to achieve a value exchange. Customers get valuable information in exchange for their email address.

Webinars can require a significant amount of time, planning and resources, so it’s not a surprise that only 31% of marketers say they are very or somewhat easy to execute. However, as the third most effective tactic — with 37% saying it’s very effective — they might worth the investment.

Partnering with another company could be a great strategy for webinars. One, you have another set of hands to help with the webinar creation and execution. Two, you’ll have access to another email list, potentially filled with new customers.

You can create buzz around the event through social media, blog posts and even paid advertising. HubSpot attracted 25,000 sign-ups, which turned into 10,000 attendees. The team was then able to turn 3,500 of those attendees into new leads. Learn how the team achieved these results in the MarketingSherpa case study.

 

Tactic #4. Offline events

Depending on your industry, you might be involved in different offline events. Trade shows, for both B2C and B2B, can be a great place to build awareness within your market. It’s also a great opportunity to gain email addresses.

A popular tactic is a drawing for a free prize, where entrants must hand over their email address. However, there are other ways to stand out on the show floor.

Loggly — a cloud log management company — created an event sponsor guide for an industry event it was sponsoring. Reaching out to the other sponsored vendors, the team created a crowdsourced guide they posted on their blog.

The company generated its highest level of engagement with the event, and while they posted the guide to a blog post, it could have also been easily gated behind an email capture page. Learn more by reading the case study: “Tradeshow Marketing: Why a SaaS company helped competitors generate leads.”

A great offline tactic for brick-and-mortar retail stores is offering discounts and promotions in exchange for an email address. KooKoo Bear Kids, a children’s furniture and décor retailer, set up iPads for email list sign-ups in plain view of the checkout counters. The retailer found three benefits to this method: 

  • Customers use a popular device, which adds to the appeal of signing up.
  • Customers do not have to say or spell embarrassing email addresses they may have created years ago.
  • KooKoo Bear does not have to manually enter email addresses at the register or from a slip of paper.

This tactic, along with asking for sign-up during online checkout and on most pages of the website, has increased list growth by 15%. Read on to learn more: “Email Marketing: 142% higher open rate, 15% bigger list from retailer’s strategy.”

 

Tactic #5. Paid search

While a quarter of marketers thought paid search was a very effective way to gain new email subscribers, not many more — 29% survey respondents — reported actually using it to drive list growth. This could be because 80% of marketers reported paid search as somewhat or very difficult to use.

You could use paid search to increase traffic to your site overall or to draw traffic to a sign-up page for a webinar or landing page for a white paper.

While the case study, “PPC Marketing: Testing value proposition messaging increases clickthrough 88%,” uses paid search to increase site traffic, not list growth, it does detail the process of finding the best PPC ads for your potential customers.

Understanding how value proposition affects the success of your ads could not only increase the effectiveness of your campaigns, but it could also reduce the difficulty of knowing what to focus your ads on.

 

But above all else, test to know what is most effective for your audience

Just because one tactic is effective for many companies doesn’t mean it will be best for your customers. After all, if you don’t have an online purchase option on your site, adding an opt-in during checkout won’t help you.

This list just provides you a starting point for optimizing your email strategy. To know what draws in subscribers to your company, you’ll want to test multiple tactics.

Take Techlicious, a site that publishes simple and straightforward advice on technology for women, as an example of the power of testing when it comes to email list growth. Over five months, they tested six channels to determine which generated the greatest number of engaged subscribers. Read the case study to learn how they garnered 230% more readers from the six-channel test.

 

You might also like

Email Lists: How sweepstakes work for CNET [Live from #SherpaEmail] [More from the blogs]

Lead Generation: How to build your own list [More from the blogs]

Marketing Research Chart: 63% say registration during purchase effective for list building [MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week]

Lead Generation: Content and email combine for high-quality list building [Case study]

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Email Lists: How sweepstakes work for CNET [Live from #SherpaEmail]

February 26th, 2015 No comments

Before jetting out to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, and I took a little trip down memory lane and reviewed some top takeaways from Email Summit 2006.

Of course, it’s exciting to see how some things have changed and laugh at how far we’ve come. In 2006, consumer marketers were warned about Yahoo and MSN Hotmail adding preview panes to email services.

We were using words like “ezines” and “hotlinks.” We assumed email would be dead because of junk mail. We were just getting the hang of using Web analytics and email systems together to track customer value.

While we have come a long way since then, there were some things that have stood the test of time.

Keeping opt-ins actively engaged with email content is key to improving ROI. Don’t have Marketing operate in a silo — work in coordination with not just Sales but also IT to gain the right solutions and tools you need to succeed.

One takeaway caught our eye, as it is something I discussed onstage with Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services, CNET, earlier this week at #SherpaEmail.

In 2006, we heard from David Kreitzer, then Marketing Director, Bella Pictures, and his advice for using sweepstakes to build email lists.

According to David, although sweeps and free bonus offers can dramatically raise email opt-ins, list quality suffers. You may get tons of new names on a list, but they could just be there for the contest.

I’m sure many marketers even now have been advised not to use sweepstakes or contests to build a list.

Fast forward to yesterday, Diana shared how one way CNET builds its list is through sweepstakes and had the numbers to prove that subscribers can stay actively engaged post-contest.

 

What do we know now that’s different from what we believed in 2006?

It’s simple really: create a relevant experience with users with personalized content to retain them for the long term.

We knew this back then, but our capabilities over the years have grown to allow marketers to leverage the tools and platforms they need to segment, test and optimize an email experience for each subscriber, serving up content that creates a one-to-one relationship.

Read more…

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Live from Email Summit: Two tactics to reduce perceived cost in your email capture forms

February 23rd, 2015 No comments

I’m reporting live today from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas, one of the most exciting weeks of the year for email marketing practitioners (woo hoo!). While I never imagined being this pumped up about email marketing growing up (I had a passion for dinosaurs and Transformers as a kid), it’s incredible to see this many email marketers in one place sharing what works for the benefit of the whole industry.

Today marks the start of the Summit with a workshop on “Effective Email Messaging” taught by Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, and the MECLABS team.

One of the concepts that seems to be resonating especially well with the marketers in attendance today is the concept of email marketing as a continuum, where the relationship you establish in the email capture form (lead generation form) affects each interaction that occurs thereafter.

Therefore, starting your “email relationship” off on the right foot with a well-thought-out email capture strategy is of critical importance. Let’s avoid any and all applicable first date metaphors and dive right into the key principles that Flint has covered in this session, backed by tests to support them.

 

A framework for reducing perceived cost of the email capture

When testing your email capture fields, where do you begin? It’s important to remember that any action you wish the visitor to take on your website is a balance between two forces — cost and value. In order to increase the likelihood of the visitor taking the desired action, you should always be seeking to minimize cost and increase value.

In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the cost side of the equation.

 

Typically, one of the easiest places to start is by looking at your email capture forms for any unnecessary elements that might contribute to the perceived cost.

Cost takes on two forms when dealing with email:

1. Amount of information required — Think the amount of form fields involved. How many form fields are actually getting put to use by either the marketing or sales team once captured. If you’re not using  a particular form field currently (or not planning on using it in the near future), then get rid of it. Also, make sure your audience is clear on which form fields are required to participate in the email list.

2. Nature of the information required — This is the type of information that is required in the form fields. If you require a telephone number for a digital download, this might convince the visitor that you have an ulterior motive for their contact information. Also, think about more personal information types, such as driver’s license number or social security number. This information may be more difficult to obtain or could cause concern to the visitor.

Read more…

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Email Marketing: How responsive design might improve your emails

January 29th, 2015 1 comment

If you were watching last year, we revealed some research on a Web clinic concerned with responsive design, specifically the effect of a mobile and tablet-based form page design for mobile and tablet specific users.

If you’re unfamiliar with responsive design, the general concept is that a page is coded to adapt its viewing experience to fit the size of the device you’re using.

 

While the results were interesting, we still had many questions:

  • Can those findings be applicable to all page types?
  • What about articles and landing pages?
  • What about emails?

As part of our quest to continue to get a better picture on the effect of mobile design on a rapidly growing world of mobile users, my team had a desire to perform a responsive design test on a type of email where responsive design would prove extremely valuable to readers — the email newsletter.

The team’s hypothesis made sense: A significant number of visitors are not acting on the [desktop style] email because it is too difficult to read and process. The fix? Use a responsive design template to make things readable.

Read more…

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Email Preheaders Tested: The surprising sensitivity of a single line of text

January 8th, 2015 3 comments

Earlier this year I reached out to a friend of mine who manages training with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (previously known as ExactTarget) to get a sense of what questions everyday marketers were having concerning email.

“Preheaders,” was her quick response. Specifically on “using a preheader, not using a pre-header — what should be in the preheader.”

Just in case you’re not familiar with a preheader, it is the line of preview text you find below the subject line on mobile device email apps and even in the Outlook preview pane.

 

Focusing on that piece of information, I took to the database and decided to do some looking around.

Surprisingly, I didn’t find as many tests as I usually find. This is an item that has just started to get the attention of marketers as of late. Additionally, when I searched on the Internet, I could not find a single experiment published on the subject with statistical significance.

I decided to oversee some tests myself, hoping to solidify some of the initial patterns I was noticing from my initial view of the database.

This is what I discovered: Preheaders can indeed have a significant effect on your email performance metrics. However, I still had some questions:

  • With what metrics?
  • In what way?
  • By how much?

To help answer those questions, I’d like to reference two recent examples for the same type of email:

Read more…

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Email Marketing: 3 resources to help you optimize your next campaign

September 8th, 2014 No comments

Email by far remains the trusty pack mule for most marketers.

This is understandable given the growth within this channel (thanks in part to mobile), which continues to produce a solid ROI.

But, as they say, satisfaction is only the death of desire. There is always room for improvement. To save you from the pitfall of merely being satisfactory, here are three resources that will help you optimize your email marketing program and, hopefully, deliver a dynamic customer experience in your next send.

 

Watch: Subject Lines That Convert

 

In this Web clinic replay, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, reviews two effective approaches for building an immediate connection with customers through your subject lines.

How it helps

One big takeaway from this clinic you need to understand is that customers aren’t trying to open your emails; they are trying to eliminate them.

To prevent elimination, marketers must effectively transfer a customer’s attention into interest.

According to Flint, the transfer occurs when you “create a space in the prospect’s mind that can only be filled with what is coming next.”  

Read more…

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