You have plenty of people visiting your website, looking at your products, and even putting items in their carts. BUT (you knew there was going to be one) for some reason a lot of these “browsers” don’t seem to be turning into customers. They’re not crossing the finish line and completing your checkout.
Sound familiar? That’s because it is. Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem in ecommerce. There have been lots of studies done, and while the percentages may vary (anywhere from 55% – 80%), the message is always the same; an incredibly high proportion of online shoppers are bailing and heading out the door before they hand over their money. Here’s one such study by the Baymard Institute, and some more stats provided by barilliance.com.
But rather than viewing this as a major problem, look at it as an opportunity. Ask yourself “why customers abandon shopping carts?” If you can reduce the number of people abandoning their carts and convince them instead to go ahead and buy, you can generate more revenue for your business without driving any additional traffic to your site. What’s not to like?!
If you have no idea of where to start or you feel like nothing you’ve tried so far has made much of an impact, don’t panic. There are lots of different factors that can cause visitors to turn into cart abandoners, and we spoke to 36 ecommerce experts to hone in on the top reasons for cart abandonment you should be looking at, as well reveal possible solutions for each of these problems.
How to Reduce Cart Abandonment and Make More Sales: An Overview of the 36 Causes
- The Wishlist Basket – People using the cart as a wishlist
- Cart doesn’t show sufficient product info (sizes, colors etc)
- Not enough delivery options
- Customers that are researching now to buy later
- The customer doesn’t trust you
- Lack of gifting options/controls at checkout
- No option to checkout as a guest
- Ignoring store data and not tailoring your design to what it’s telling you
- Unavailability of stock
- A shopping cart that is difficult to edit
- First Name/Surname Vs Full Name
- Customers leaving the website to look for promos
- Getting distracted by something offline
- Form fatigue caused by long checkout forms
- Shopping charges that are either unclear, unexpected or expensive
- No shipping options or high customs duties for international customers
- Discount codes that don’t work
- Customer Address Information Form is Below Par for Today’s Shopper
- Fear and sense of risk causing the potential sale to be lost
- Fraud screening process causing false card declines
- Complex buyer questions that haven’t been answered on the website
- Long and/or complicated registration process
- Price promoted is not the price that is later displayed at checkout
- A lack of confidence in either the product or retailer
- Concerns about payment and data safety
- Customer thinking that they may be able to get cheaper or faster shipping elsewhere
- A lack of user reviews
- Complicated or unclear return policy
- Worried about getting the best value available
- Insufficient payment options
- Your checkout funnel not being properly optimized
- Ambiguous delivery timeframes or delivery options that are simply too slow
- International taxes and duties not being communicated before checkout
- Fantasy shopping – a form of 21st century entertainment
- No 3rd party validation for the store
- A checkout experience that is waaaay too cluttered
What the Experts Said: Solutions for Each Cause
Each ecommerce pro that we spoke to outlined one cause of cart abandonment that they’ve encountered, and also shared some strategies and ideas that you can implement to overcome it. There’s some absolute gold in there! Take action on what you read here and you’ve got a good chance to improve cart abandonment metrics and close more sales.
Use the filters below if you want to skip to a specific cart abandonment cause.
- Ambiguous or Slow Shipping Timeframes
- Bait and Switch Pricing
- Checkout Funnel is Not Optimized
- Cluttered Checkout Experience
- Complex Buyer Questions
- Complicated or Unclear Returns Policy
- Complicated Registration Process
- Concern About Getting the Best Value
- Conducting Research to Buy Later
- Customer Address Form is Below Par
- Discount Codes Not Working
- False Declines
- Fantasy Shopping
- Fear and Risk
- Fear That It Is Cheaper/Faster Shipping Somewhere Else
- First Name / Surname vs Full Name
- Form Fatigue
- Getting Distracted By Something Offline
- Inability to Easily Edit Cart
- Insufficient Payment Options
- International Customers: Retailer Doesn’t Ship or High Customs Duties
- International Duties & Taxes
- Lack of 3rd Party Validation
- Lack of Confidence in the Product or Retailer
- Lack of Delivery Options
- Lack of Trust
- Lack of User Reviews
- Leave to Search for Promos
- No Guest Checkout Option
- Not Collecting or Making Decisions Based on Data
- Payment or Data Safety Concerns
- Poorly Implemented Gifting Experience
- Poorly Structured Data
- Shipping Costs
- Stock Availability
- The Wishlist Basket
Conducting Research to Buy Later – “Research indicates that over 17% of people abandon their cart because they were simply conducting research to buy later. This is particularly true nowadays with omni-channel purchases on the rise, as well as the simple fact that people do exactly as the research states, RESEARCH.
They may come to your site to check out the pricing, color options, and even shipping options. I mention the last one because quite frankly if they have gone so far as to add an item to the cart they may very well be looking to get further details beyond that of something that can be found on a given product page. That said, however, people use the cart as a means of bookmarking products, and it makes sense.
I tend to focus efforts on the issues that can be solved at least in some respect from technology and tech intervention. Until recently I had not considered this issue to be something that could really be resolved in such a manner that could prove overly beneficial until…”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “I was thinking about when I used to work in retail and thought about how many people originally walked into a store only to tell me they were just browsing, then ended up buying something in the end. I then did a little digging and thinking about options to address these types of people so that you can CONVERT them into sales.
Some might tell you to add a countdown timer, and in some cases this may work, but beware as it may also anger more people then it does win you business. So this is not my suggestion.
I started thinking, if I already have pixels in place to track these people so that I can start targeting them with FB ads once they leave, then at least I am doing something, small win. MAKE SURE YOU’RE DOING THIS! Use pixel ads to re-target all your cart abandonment traffic, it’s a huge opportunity lost if you are not!
BUT there had to be something else!
How can I get them to buy while they are on my site, and not through offering discounts or anything of this nature. The answer to this is to increase the customer satisfaction. Ensure that you are using your onsite chats to answer any questions and to truly engage the customer in an experience that is second to none. Again this may have as much impact as changing a buy button from brown to beige. But who knows, at least its worth a try.
I came to the consensus that this is not retail, it is eCommerce and these people are doing what they said, researching to buy later. SO…
So here is my solution: GET THEIR EMAIL!
Use a custom script on the page that triggers a page-takeover when they are about to leave the site. This could specifically say something to nature of “Email me my shopping cart” (*We can do this for you, just hit our link and contact me).
There is evidence, albeit still VERY limited which indicates that these emails converted 22.73% of shopping sessions, and were responsible for 44.74% of triggered email revenues.”
Inability to Easily Edit Cart – “Often when shopping visitors will add multiple items to their cart in order to make a final decision on checkout. If your cart doesn’t allow a user to easily add quantity, delete items, and change size or color, you risk losing taking them out of the checkout flow and potentially losing that order.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “When enabling cart edits (size, quantity, color), you keep customers on a forward path trajectory, and I have seen this increase cart conversion by as much as 10% points on various clients.
You’ll also want to make it as clear as possible what items may or may not be covered under a promo code – especially when there is a spend threshold to reach a certain discount. Make it as clear and upfront as possible how much a customer is saving and what a great deal they are getting!”
- First Name / Surname vs Full Name – “Perhaps the most interesting cause of abandonment I’ve seen over the years came about from a split test we conducted where we looked at conversion rates when we asked for first name & last name in separate boxes vs one box for the full name.”
- Ideas on How to Solve This – “If one box was used for the full name the conversion rate for the checkout improved. Amazing but true and reducing the number of required fields is always a winner. I’ve experienced +3% in conversions from this small change.”
- Cluttered Checkout Experience – “I’ve seen my fair share of cart pages that are cluttered with header and footer navigation. Even though there have been a lot of studies and testing done, there are still ecommerce businesses that have not taken the step to clean up their cart pages. This causes the shopper to click away from the cart and wander off back into browsing mode, instead of checkout mode.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “The way this can be handled to improve checkout conversions and reduce cart abandonment is to look at your cart page, and remove ANYTHING that can be a distraction to your shoppers cart funnel. It’s one of the changes that is simple and can yield incremental sales for your business.
Don’t underestimate this small adjustment. In ecommerce, the smallest changes can bring the highest return.”
- Fear and Risk – “Purchasing is an emotional experience, and whilst for some this can be an exciting and addictive experience, for others it can trigger emotions of fear and risk – there have been a lot of studies into the psychology of online buying.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “To help stop your potential buyers from “bottling it” I’d suggest that you look at a few key things. Firstly convey that your product is wanted, and is high demand – that will give you social proof that your customer is going to fit in with the crowd. We’re tribal beings so this will go a long way into the process.
We love choice, but too much choice can bring indecision and “analysis paralysis” – do you really need to offer that T-Shirt in 24 different colours, or will just six options do?
Both of these areas are tied together with creating a feeling of urgency and demand for your products. Using widgets that say “Somebody from Manchester just bought this product” on your website is a great way to show people are buying your product RIGHT NOW and if you only have five left show that on the site, people will be more likely to snap it up!”
Lack of User Reviews – “As humans, we want to be liked, be a part of ‘the tribe’.
We look to others to see if it’s safe to go there, and then, will it be a good experience.
It’s no coincidence that there are ‘like’ buttons all over! Who doesn’t love the addictive dopamine rush of an ego-boost whenever we learn of someone liking one of our posts!
In the online world, Customer Reviews are an easy indicator to first-time shoppers to let them know if this is a ‘tribe approved’ road worth travelling or not. Reviews help answer our monkey-brain’s question: ‘Will I be liked if I shop here?’
No wonder studies show 55% of online shoppers expect customer reviews.
Often a shopper will arrive at your site as a result of a specific product search. Shopper sees the product is what they are looking for, into the cart it goes and then off to checkout.
But wait…is this product any good? What about this site I’m about to buy from for the first time — can I trust them? Oh, let me take a look at the reviews…”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Solicit both product and overall site experience reviews. When I was running my online store, every customer would get an automated email a couple of weeks after delivery asking for two reviews, one of their overall shopping experiences, and then another about the specific products they purchased. This enabled us to show an overall review score front and center as an item in our header menu, as well as individual product reviews. Two different ways to reassure shoppers.
Don’t edit out negative reviews — they lend authenticity to the positive ones. Negative reviews actually make your positive reviews look even better! And when a visitor sees only positive reviews, eyebrows get raised as to whether or not you’re hiding something; after all, no one — and no shopping experience — is always perfect. These days, transparency is crucial.
Take the opportunity to turn negative reviews into positive ones. By reaching out to each negative reviewer, you not only let them know that you actually care about them and what they think, but often you can resolve the situation to their satisfaction and then get them to post an update to their review, which lets others know about how you turned lemons into lemonade. These can be among the most powerful and impactful reviews, even more so than the positive reviews!
Make sure your site’s reviews are front and center on your home page, and on every page. Your happy customers are your best promoters, make sure to show off your best reviews as high up as possible on the home page. On other pages, make sure there’s a link in the ubiquitous menu, and don’t forget to include specific product reviews on product pages.”
No Guest Checkout Option – “The art of a fabulous website is to give the greatest number of options in the very simplest of formats.
Sure, we don’t have the same ability to smile at our customers, welcome them warmly or extol the value of our products as they walk through the store or engaging them with our wit and expertise at the check out counter as we would in offline retail but we do have online tools to do these things as brilliantly as possible online.
Often, eCommerce owners look to apps as their sole means to engage customers. This is not, though, the best or the most authentic methodology.
eCommerce is fundamentally no different to any other offline business; all business SELLS a product or a service to a customer or client who NEEDS or WANTS their particular offering and hopefully does so at a PROFIT. The equation is not rocket science.
When we sell online, we need to mimic the offline sales experience as closely as possible. Humans are still buying from humans, so…….be HUMAN in your website messaging.
There is competition everywhere – someone will ALWAYS be willing to sell the same or a similar product to your customer base (hello – China’s modus operandi) and therefore SERVICE, VALUE and ENGAGEMENT are critical in every transaction and especially in eCommerce as we basically remove the actual human element.
One thing that, to me, seems so incredibly elementary is the option at checkout of a guest checkout or to establish an account.
The stores that do not allow guest checkouts and virtually railroad you into setting up an account prior to payment are simply asking for cart abandonment issues.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Of course, there are exceptions – for instance, if you are setting up a payment plan or a subscription then, of course a customer is going to have to establish an account because the transaction includes ongoing business, however in the vast majority of cases, the customer does not NEED to establish an account so, in these cases – give them the option.
I understand that, in most cases, accounts are infinitely easier for an eCommerce owner;
- they can give customers access to their invoices and tracking details and therefore save on the resources of customer service for everyday issues, leaving your savvy customer service team to handle only the important stuff.
- collection of data for further communication is golden
However, the brownie points (aka reduction in cart abandonment) that you will garner from offering the option of a guest checkout far outweigh the above.
The option of a guest checkout is also critical for the 3 aforementioned critical elements of eCommerce.
1. SERVICE – offering the guest checkout option sub-consciously demonstrates to the customer that they are King or Queen. They call their own shots, they decide on the option best suited to them.
A hint here would also be to reword the options such as “Checkout as a guest” and “Checkout as a VIP”. Think about it; which option would YOU choose??
2. VALUE – When the difference between the two is clearly explained, you have another golden opportunity to demonstrate the after-sales value that you offer to the customer.
For instance, the fact that I can track my package is a HUGE plus on a checkout page – maybe stipulate that this service is only available for account customers. Maybe offer an incentive to people to sign up as an account customer, for example, $10.00 off their next purchase from your store (emailed or messengered to them immediately after finalisation of this transaction.)
3. ENGAGEMENT – when offering the option, you allow those who may be purchasing a one-off or simply not interested in keeping yet another password to checkout simply.
However, the copy used in the explanation of the two options can make a customer feel part of a tribe, a community, an online family if they choose to establish an account.
It is true that there are many ways to run an online store however, if we all understand that the HUMAN element in all transactions is the key, we see the common sense in offering very simple options such as a guest checkout as just one way to keep a customer and to avoid cart abandonment.”
Customer Address Information Form is Below Par for Today’s Shopper – “This cause of cart abandonment comes early on in the checkout where customer and address information is requested. There are 12 guidelines for this area to prevent a shopper’s doubt or frustration and to provide what they need to confidently complete the element and move forward to finalize the order.
Here are some of the usability issues at this point in the checkout:
- Explain why seemingly unnecessary personal information is needed
- Use “Shipping Address” as “Billing Address” by default
- Auto-detect city and state immediately after Zip code is provided
- Have a single phone field and avoid asking for phone type
- Use a single “Full Name” field
- Use IP geo-targeting to pre-select the user’s country
- Consider hiding “Address line 2” behind a link
- Avoid or clarify “Business address” selections
For one client I could see that their cart completion rate was average, between 30-35%, and as I looked at their checkout process I knew it could be better.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Baymard Institute has researched shopping cart abandonment and compiled their findings into 134 guidelines based on usability reviews of 50 leading ecommerce sites.
I acquired the research and scored my client’s checkout. It revealed 35 guidelines that were either not acceptable or broken.
As I went over the specific elements of my client’s cart that cause shoppers doubt or frustration and showed them what to do to fix these issues, they agreed that the customer and address form could be better.
Next to the Phone field: “Just in case we need to talk about your order.”
By the Email field: “We’ll send you a confirmation email later.”
This change impacted my client’s checkout completion rate, but it wasn’t the only factor. There were a number of changes made all at the same time from other areas of the checkout like credit card form, order review, validation error and persistence, etc.
But, as soon as the changes to the checkout were implemented, their checkout completion rate went from 30-35% up to 40-45% and they still have a number of recommendations to implement.”
Your Checkout Funnel is Not Optimized – “The checkout funnel is all the steps from Shopping Cart to the Thank You page after purchase. Many eCommerce sites have several steps for checkout. Usually it goes something like this: Cart > Customer Information > Shipping Method > Payment Info > Purchase
Most eCommerce sites tend to build in these steps by default. This is because there are a lot of fields to be collected in the process of making a purchase and having more than 1 step makes it feel simple and less overwhelming for the visitor. There’s also the advantage of capturing that customer email first so you can re-market to them.
I’ve also seen some clients have just one step/on page to checkout. This can work too, especially if the product is less expensive or something your customer has purchased before.
Regardless of your funnel, there is almost always something you can do to improve and optimize. So, as with everything in digital marketing, you need to test to find out what works best for your customers and product.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Why should you optimize your checkout funnel? Think of the checkout as a huge lever in your sales (check out this article). The closer you optimize to the bottom of the funnel, the bigger the impact. For example: If you can decrease your abandonment from the payment page by just 25%, this will bring a 25% increase in sales (on the same ad spend). Think of what this would do to your ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and ability to scale your marketing!
How to Decide What You Should Test?
If you’ve configured enhanced eCommerce tracking for google analytics, the shopping behavior report can be helpful to see where the drop off is happening so you can hone in on a couple of ideas. Here’s where you can find this report in Google Analytics: Conversions > eCommerce > Shopping Behavior report.
Collect Feedback from Website Visitors:
As a site owner, you are too close to your product to really view it objectively, so it’s a great idea to have some outside eyes help you with optimization. There is software for this, like Hotjar or Crazy Egg. Or you can just ask a few friends to go through your checkout process a few times (don’t forget mobile!) as if they were a customer. Have them take notes during each test on where they had questions or what they found difficult or confusing and how long it took them to make a purchase.
Here are some simple best practices I’d recommend in optimizing your checkout funnel:
- Have clear and concise button text i.e. ‘proceed to checkout’ ‘proceed to payment info’, ‘add shipping info’ ‘place order’
- Add notes of reassurance where necessary, like ‘You will have a chance to review your order first’ or ‘no hidden shipping fees’.
- Show the progress to checkout with labeled steps, highlighting where they are in the process.
- Remove excess: fields, navigation, wordy text, anything that doesn’t NEED to be there can be removed.
- If you have something important you want to note with your customers, don’t invoke fear, just state clearly and concisely. It doesn’t need to be a pop up or big red text.
- Add an exit popup to bring back those trying to abandon with a simple incentive.
- Mobile first! Do what you can to improve the experience and increase mobile conversion.
- Test, Test, Test, don’t assume you know what will work best for your customers, always use data to guide your decisions.
Complicated or Unclear Returns Policy – “Acquiring new and loyal customers is challenging and often costly, but once you’ve driven a qualified customer to your website, your hope is that they’ll make their first purchase and begin the journey towards becoming a loyal customer who purchases from you regularly.
One thing that will prevent a customer with the intention of purchasing, from completing their order, is an unclear returns policy or one that has a returns fee associated to the return.
In the world of apparel, customers who have never purchased from you before, often won’t be sure of what size to purchase, even when you have a size chart that is easily accessible to them. Customers will often buy 2 sizes of a particular style with the intention of returning the size that doesn’t fit. This isn’t always the ideal scenario for retailers, but if it’s the first step to a customer becoming loyal to your brand, the return is merely a drop in the bucket and is easily absorbed.
With this in mind customers will often abandon their shopping cart if the following criteria are not met:
- The customer can’t find the return policy on your website
- The customer finds the returns policy but is unclear what steps need to be taken to complete the return
- There will be a charge such as a restocking fee or the customer will be charged for shipping to return the item
80% of shoppers will not make a purchase unless there is a hassle-free return policy.*”
Ideas On How to Solve It – “Make your returns policy accessible and visible throughout the site. There should be a link to the returns policy in the footer. As well, consider adding it on your product page.
Within the returns policy, be clear, what the steps are to complete the return. Does the customer need to contact your customer service department first or not? Do they need to access a link for a free return shipping label? Are returns in store possible, assuming you have a brick and mortar store and if so, what documentation is required to support the return?
Lastly, and this may be painful in the short-term; don’t charge customers a restocking fee and if possible provide a free return shipping label. The increased cost to the retailer in the short-term will break down barriers to purchase for the customer and help generate the initial sale and future sales.
Remember, when it comes to returns, make it as seamless as the purchase experience and you’ll have loyal and dedicated customers.”
- Lack of Delivery Options – “Delivery options at checkout are a massive determining factor as to whether a purchase crosses the line or not. Shoppers have the power to compare price, speed and convenience across multiple sites so if the types of delivery services and costs on offer aren’t satisfactory, buyers will abandon carts and find more suitable options elsewhere.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Today’s consumer has higher service expectations requiring shorter and more convenient delivery times and options as a standard. Experience is king and retailers need to invest and innovate to stay ahead of the competition by offering a wide range of choice including same day, next day, free delivery or collect from store. Amazon are leading the way in this field offering delivery within 2 hours in major cities and GPS real time tracking.
Brands that raise the standard of delivery service in this way, will retain their edge and future proof their business by reducing cart abandonment, increasing conversion and attracting and retaining customers that might otherwise shop with their competitors.”
Ambiguous Timeframes for Delivery or Delivery that is Not Quick Enough – “One of the great challenges, and opportunities, for retailers is the growing demands of consumers. The challenge is that the last ‘wow’ experience for a shopper becomes their new baseline. The opportunity exists for retailers who can cohesively bring technology and process together for an innovative proposition – they get to lead the expectation wave, driving loyalty and further acquisition in the process. And we know that people buy experiences, not just products … experiences that add value, and experiences they can share with others.
It’s no surprise then that post-cart in the online shopping journey, when the next consideration for the consumer is “how will I actually *get* my purchase”, that many will decide not to progress if the fulfilment options don’t meet their expectations, and this is particularly the case for younger generations. In fact, according to a Neolane study in 2018, up to 97% of shoppers born after 1995 abandon their carts over order fulfilment woes and two out of five would cancel an order if the shipping was going to take too long.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “This is not necessarily a quick or easy fix. It’s not like adjusting the CX of the checkout. Shipping different order types and sizes to different geographies with different services and couriers can lead to a large logistical matrix that needs to be represented to the consumer in a simple fashion. Adding to that different stock locations and ensuring inventory is visible in as real-time as possible brings complexity in logic and systems integration. Then adding again a variety of different sales channels such as marketplaces, call centres, apps, from which orders need to be consolidated before fulfilment and the level of rocket science goes up a notch!
Typically, order management systems are used to alleviate this challenge. Integrating with sales channels and fulfilment channels and providing logic to optimise the order distribution. It’s particularly useful for retailers with a distributed store network, which can operate as a fulfilment channel as well as sales, allowing for additional fulfilment options including BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store), ship from store and ship to store. This provides additional options to the consumer as well as speedier delivery, but also efficiency across fulfilment costs for the retailer as well. An OMS can be implemented at any point, but it makes most sense to do so when designing the systems architecture to minimise duplicated effort in setting up logistics.
However, the hard work under the hood is not the only consideration. Presenting the options to the consumer in a clear and concise way is critical, and making this accessible to them throughout their shopping journey including at checkout is also key. Happily though, this is simpler and often works well when the customer can dynamically enter their location for a list of fulfilment options and shipping services to choose from. One site that does this well is Mr Porter in the UK, where the page is presented in a separate window that doesn’t take the consumer away from the page they are on – simple but effective.
A further tip, that I don’t see too often, is to use photos on the shipping info page. Product photos are important for convincing the customer to add to cart, and including a packaging/unboxing photo can enhance the service proposition that a customer looks for when deciding to complete the purchase, and increase conversion.”
Discount Codes Not Working – “In recent years, one of the primary reasons that shoppers abandon their carts is when discount codes don’t work at checkout. In fact, in the United States, 46% of shoppers according to Statista reported that they’ve abandoned a shopping cart because the discount code they had didn’t work.
With more and more ecommerce stores using discount codes to drive shoppers to their website, it can be a huge disappointment for shoppers when they think they’ve been promised a discount and the code doesn’t actually work. This can create distrust in the brand and can deter the shopper from ever coming back to the store.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Luckily, this is usually a pretty easy problem for most ecommerce stores to fix: Make sure your discount codes are always working! Whenever you share discount codes with your audience or include ones in your ads, diligently monitor them on a regular basis to ensure that they never expire or accidentally get turned off.
Don’t forget to also make it super clear where shoppers can input their discount code in the checkout process so they don’t have to search around to find where to put it. The easier it is for shoppers to use their discount codes, the more likely they are to follow through with their purchase and possibly even purchase from you again.”
- Complex Buyer Questions – “Complex Buyer Questions that haven’t been resolved on the rest of the site. As I run a business in a complex e-commerce space, the customers have a lot of questions, and the answers aren’t readily available on the site. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to have all of the answers.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “We use a layered approach of aggressive live chat, both facebook messenger and our site, as well as retargeting on cart abandons.”
Bait and Switch Pricing (Price Promoted Not Same as at Checkout) – “The other day I was looking to buy two tickets for a local concert. Once I found the concert tickets on the website, I added them to my cart. As you can see the price is $15 per ticket as seen in the cart. I clicked on checkout and I realized that instead of paying a total of $30, I had to pay $42. How did this happen? All along the price was advertised as $15 per ticket. This is a typical approach seen on many websites selling concert tickets online. Why not disclose the price of the processing and service feels ahead of time. Needless to say I abandoned the cart and ended up getting the tickets at the door where I did not have to pay those additional feels.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “This website could have eliminated abandonment by clearly stating the cost of the ticket (including the fees) ahead of time so visitors are not caught by surprise. Another annoyance was the fact that they had a timer on the site, so by the time I thought of it and was ready to pull my credit card out the timer had expired and I had to start all over again. Just a bad experience all together.”
Price at Checkout…
Lack of Trust – The Easiest Way to Lose a Sale – “We know there are a million reasons why a customer might not complete their purchase. This article offers lots of valid causes of abandonment from a bunch of really smart ecommerce experts. Some solutions are metrics-driven, some require UX adjustments, and some are as simple as clear expectation management.
But the one cause that I always obsess over is a toughie – it’s a broad and nebulous idea, which makes it harder to identify and therefore more of a challenge to address: LACK OF TRUST.
The struggle is bigger for relatively small or less-well-known sites. A customer shopping on Amazon knows the retailer and has some idea what to expect. They’re skipping the courtship and going straight to meeting the parents, because there is already established comfort and history.
But if a customer stumbled onto your site from a search result or found you from a link or ad, you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. Because you’re not as well known as your larger competitors, you need to convince the customer that you can be trusted – and you’re starting from square one. Even if they’ve been on a few dates with you, how can they know it’s safe to trust you?”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Your mission is to prove that…You’re legitimate, reliable, and safe. You will deliver as promised, both in terms of the product’s details and quality, and the delivery of the item itself.
You can be trusted with their personal information (you won’t spam them or otherwise abuse their data). You stand by your product and your promises, and your customer care staff are trained and equipped to make it right if you fall short.
What does this look like on site?
1. Start with the basics! Ensure the website looks clean and current. If it looks frequently maintained and not neglected or out of date, it instills confidence in legitimacy. This has become easier than it used to be. There are now very affordable ecommerce platforms with free themes and upgrades that make it simple to continually adjust to changing consumer expectations.
2. Have a secure website with an up-to-date certificate so the browser will show that it’s secure and won’t pop up warnings (which are a giant off-ramp for customers).
Above: Browsers have some version of these icons next to website URLs. A fully secure site is basically a requirement these days (Google won’t like it otherwise) but especially on pages where personal information is being entered, it really is necessary. This is one small step toward seeming trustworthy to your customers.
3. Demonstrate history to make it clear you’re not a fly-by-night operation. Do this by using blog posts and other content that you add over time. Speak authoritatively about your products and services, and make it clear you’re an expert, not just a storefront.
4. Be very consistent with your brand voice. Just like people, a brand is judged by how consistent and genuine it is. This should cross over into every touch point, from ads to on-site copy, to the call center.
5. Make it easy to get in touch. Whether or not they take you up on it, feeling like there are real people available to help and an actual company behind the website will absolutely build that trust. Want to seem sketchy? Avoid all contact information, offer no support, and cause your customers to wonder whether you’re maybe just a fake website designed to take their money and never deliver. (That was sarcasm. Please don’t do that.)
Above: Link to support and phone number prominently displayed at the top of the website, just above the cart – in the top-right corner, where users’ eyes naturally go.
6. Include guarantees, display them prominently, and follow through on them. You might have a guarantee of quality, of shipping delivery times, or of satisfaction in general. Be clear about how you’ll correct these issues (free returns? Replacements? credit?) and again, deliver as promised.
Above: A brand that uses its real estate to hammer home its commitment to quality is one that consumers will want to trust. It helps when it’s a known brand with a history of providing good value, of course. The website also has a page with details about the guarantee that are easy to understand.
Above: Left side of cart page has links to these policies in a very clean layout. It also shows the shipping options clearly, including the automatically-applied free method.
Make your offers clear and easy to apply. Free shipping over a certain amount? Don’t require a code, and do make sure to put this offer right up front. It breaks down a major barrier to purchase (paying shipping costs) and can increase your average order value as the customer is incentivized to reach the threshold for free shipping (if it’s within reason). Great offers that apply only to a small subset of products and don’t make this very clear up front only create annoyance, which whittles away at trust. Make it painfully clear and extremely easy what the deal is and how to get it if you value your customers’ trust.
Above: Free shipping offer front and center at the top-center of the website, on every page. No gimmick, no catch, no code required – what you see is what you get. The offer is clear and easy to receive.
Above: Note the discount code field. It is not hidden, collapsed, or otherwise hard to find. Your discounts are out there. Don’t deter your customers from using them – they’re much more likely to complete the purchase if they have an offer to use! Extra Credit: publish your own perpetual (or constantly changing!) discounts on sites like RetailMeNot so that customers have something to find and apply if they’re looking.
9. Never bait and switch offers. There’s nothing worse than a giant “80% OFF” when the fine print says “up to” above it and “one item” below it. I’ve even seen scandalous ads like “FREE SHIPPING ON EVERYTHING” and it wasn’t until optionally clicking into the details to find that they meant “EVERYTHING over $200.” People might be drawn in by the over-promise, but the switcheroo doesn’t make them want to stay. It’s the best way to destroy trust and lose a customer in frustration. Even with the best of intentions, a poorly worded, unintentionally misleading, or difficult-to-qualify-for offer is a bad move. It’s all too easy to offend and annoy online shoppers with click bait. Don’t do it.
Because trust is an emotional feeling, it’s impossible to pin down every little thing that might instill it or shake it. This list is a good start, but if you think like a consumer and continually evaluate, you will certainly find more ways to build it.
Spend time browsing your website with your “I’m a first-time customer” glasses on. Look at other sites to see how they make you feel by comparison. Make no assumptions, and think like a nervous shopper. Evaluate that first impression and the ongoing experience and make sure a new browser to your site has every opportunity to feel comfortable enough to become a buyer.”
Fantasy Shopping – “Does anyone remember the last time they used the wish list functionality in your account? Does anyone remember even seeing it recently? I don’t. I wouldn’t use wish list anymore because my cart is just as good a wish list as any, since most carts are persistent. Many consumers use the cart in the same way.
Fantasy shopping is a sport, a way to kill time, another form of entertainment. You fill your cart with no intention of checking out, basically using the “add to cart” button like you would a ‘like’ on social. Given this behavior change of the last 5 – 7 years abandonment rates are up significantly, and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your checkout or cart functionality. It’s just a change in consumer behavior.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “So what to do about it? In-cart promos that speak to hitting thresholds help. Cart abandon emails and targeted display ads help. Payment options and delivery options help.
An example of a payment option is Afterpay. The total price in the cart may say $39 total price, but isn’t it more attractive / a bigger conversion driver to pay only $9.75 today, get and enjoy your product and pay the rest in 3 installments of $9.75 later on? An example of a delivery option that helps is Postmates. As you are considering buying items in your cart, you see you can have the items delivered for $9 flat fee to you in less than 2 hours. These tactics all help drive conversion and decrease cart abandon.”
- Long and Complicated Registration Process – “A long and complicated registration process is a major reason for cart abandonment. People often get scared when they see a long registration form and, to avoid the hassle, just abandon their carts.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “There are several ways to overcome this problem. You can simplify your registration process and reduce the number of form fields. You can also give them the option to register using social profiles like Facebook or Google, making it much easier to register.”
If you want to take it a notch higher and further simplify things, you can provide consumers the option to check out as guests. This would eliminate an entire step in the checkout process and enable people to make quick, hassle-free purchases.”
International Duties & Taxes – “For businesses shipping internationally, it’s essential that shipping timeframes and costs are clearly communicated at key points during the online sales funnel. Depending on the shipping location of the end user, they may be subject to import duties and government taxes when the product crosses the border.
It’s a friction point that raises anxiety and uncertainty in the mind of the end user. “Will I have to pay for duties in addition to my shipping cost?”, they ask “Or is this incorporated within the product price?”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “If your business does ship internationally, we recommend solving this possible cart abandonment by;
1) Highlighting this on the Product Detail Page E.g. “All Import Duties are included”. Personalisation of this message using Geo-location will provide extra reassurance. E.g. “All Import Duties are included when delivering to *Country*”.
2) During Checkout: Provide a small line of copy adjacent to the “Shipping Address” when an “Import Duty” country is selected. E.g. “All Import Duties are included”.
- Getting Distracted By Something Offline – “Let’s admit it, we all get sidetracked by our family members, friends, business associates, cold callers, our favourite TV show and even our pets :o), and sometimes this happens while we’re in the middle of a checkout process of an e-commerce site on our phones or desktops. You may then close that window and not even recall you were about to buy something.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “Unfortunately, there’s no way to mitigate that kind of user behaviour. However you can always run win-back campaigns by sending a cart abandonment email once or more with an incentive such as a coupon code to get free shipping or a discount. You can also run advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook to a segmented list of cart abandoners, whether it’s done via cookies or with email list uploads. I would suggest not doing it for longer than 7 days post abandonment.”
- International Customers: Retailer Doesn’t Ship or High Customs Duties – “International customers can be a source of cart abandonment on your site. Consider the scenario where you’ve found a product on Instagram which you LOVE and just have to have it. You go to their website, you add a few things to the cart to get over their free shipping threshold and then you go to checkout. You go to put in your shipping address and it either doesn’t let you select your country or when you do, the shipping costs change and all of a sudden you are whacked with customs and duties (if they are disclosed). You have invested all this time and effort to put together your perfect order to find out you can’t order. This negative experience is far greater than landing on the site and being told up front that they only ship to certain counties (Glossier does this well). Even if you open up shipping to other countries in the future, it is unlikely they will come back.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Set up segments in your analytics for customers from countries who can get their orders delivered and those who can’t. Compare the bounce rates, conversion rates (some will order through forward shippers or friends) and key exit pages. Look at the percentage of traffic coming from outside your current shipping areas. This will help you quantify the issue and potentially identify an opportunity for where you could open up shipping or another third party channel like an Amazon US store where you can use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to handle local distribution, shipping and customer service.
Then make sure the messaging is clear on your website upfront for all customers, way before they get to the cart. Ideally use a personalization tool to display different content to users based on their geo-location such as “Now Shipping to Canada. Flat Rate Shipping $9 For All Orders”. This way you are not compromising the experience for your local customers, but you’re also making it much easier for your overseas customers. Always ensure you have an International delivery page in your footer as well, even if you don’t offer it so the information is easily accessible.
One last thing, which will impact returns more than cart abandonment, but ensure whenever the international customer will incur duties and taxes this is clearly marked. Think about adding a check box so they need to acknowledge they understand this, and aim to provide links to third party pages with more information on likely costs. If customers are rejecting orders at customs due to the additional costs, not only is it a bad experience, it’s also going to cost you more money in the long run.”
- Insufficient Payment Options – “If your checkout only features limited payment options or payment options that are less common, this will undoubtedly increase the % of people that abandon your cart.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “In this day and age there are 100 and 1 ways to pay for anything from credit cards to PayPal to Venmo to Square cash to direct debit to Poli to Bitcoin! Now you don’t have to support all these options – there is definitely such a thing as too many payment options – but you absolutely want to include any that would be considered common payment options for:
- Your Audience: Younger audiences will favour mobile payment options and apps
- Your Market: Payment options differ heavily amongst countries (Poli from above is Australian) and this can have a huge impact if you are planning to sell cross border
So do your research on the groups and countries you are selling too, so that you can ensure you provide options to keep all your customers happy.”
False Declines – “Most conversations with merchants around the topic of cart abandonment rarely include fraud screening considerations, but this problem is real and extends beyond the initial cart abandonment. When a customer’s payment card is rejected by a merchant, more than 40% ditch the cart without trying another payment method. Worse, about a third of falsely declined customers say they never shop with that merchant again. So not only do false declines lead to cart abandonment, they also drive up customer churn rates and drive down the lifetime value of those customers.
This is a huge problem, because false declines are so common. They cost merchants far more in lost revenue than completed fraud does. Thirty percent of shoppers say they’ve been wrongly declined, and false-decline loss estimates range from $118 billion (according to Javelin Research) to $300 billion (according to Aite Group). Shoppers who’ve had a negative experience are more likely than customers who had a good experience to talk to friends about it, in person and on social media, which can damage the merchant’s reputation.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Reducing false declines can reduce cart abandonment, customer churn, and brand damage. And it’s possible to drastically cut false declines without experiencing more fraud. Here are the steps we help our clients put into practice:
First, know your false decline rate. Many merchants don’t track this data, and their third-party fraud solution may put false declines and stopped fraud into the same bucket for reporting. Next, implement manual review of all flagged orders by fraud analysts instead of automatically rejecting them. If you don’t have the resources to do this in-house, you can outsource it, either year-round or during sales peaks. Then, feed the data from these reviewed orders back into your machine-learning program so the fraud-detection algorithm gets smarter and flags fewer good orders.
Finally, track your false decline rate and cart abandonment rate changes over time to see the impact of more comprehensive fraud screening. Whether you want to tweak your current process, or overhaul completely, a large library of industry resources around fraud can be found here:
Fear That It Is Cheaper/Faster Shipping Somewhere Else – “OK – here is the situation – your customer has just dropped something in their shopping cart and they get nearly all the way through checkout. They love the product – that color is going to look GREAT on them. The price seems good. Shipping charges are clear. But before they click on “Submit Order”, they hesitate.
Somewhere in the back of their mind is fear that it is on sale somewhere else, or Amazon can get it to them tomorrow, or, or, or… These customers are so fearful that they didn’t get the best deal or the most convenient delivery option so they stop and check pricing somewhere else. And guess what happens when they look somewhere else – they buy there even if your original deal was a little better. They do that because they are tired. Shopping sucks, checkout forms aren’t fun.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “You know that I am right – you’ve done it too… There is a solution to the human proclivity towards “downside protection”. It isn’t a fancy shopping cart plug in, it isn’t a nifty graphics treatment, an it sure as hell isn’t a chatbot. The solution starts way before your customer gets to checkout. It starts back with your branding and messaging around customer satisfaction.
By messaging throughout the process (callouts in search ads, customer promise in your nav or on the product page, quality reviews from Google or Stella or whomever, and some checkout messaging) that show your commitment to making your customers feel valued and safe makes the “in the moment” fear of getting a sub-optimal deal drop dramatically. When the proof of your value as a great retailer is everywhere, and your commitment to servicing your client permeates their experience, that “Submit Order” hesitation disappears.”
The Wishlist Basket – “When you look at abandoned carts the range of potential reasons very much relates to the products or services that you are selling.
In many cases, I’ve seen with my customers at the moment – High Value Purchases (above £2000) having a high abandoned cart rate as they are looking to check the prices both online and offline or do not have enough information immediately to make a purchase..
So the question is WHY? – simply; many sites are not making full use of the “Wish-list” functionality that is available in most, if not all, eCommerce platforms. The Customer knows that in most cases a basket will persist for a period of time, allowing them to move around, even sometimes for days at a time (thanks to cookies) – to be able to find the best deals, read reviews, and make the final decision.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “So what can we do to help?
- Provide a Wish-list functionality
- Where possible, allow comparison to related products
- Allow communications to remind customer of the basket
These 3 items are merely the simple solutions that you can implement to be able to solve the top level problem. Where the root of the problem lies is to be discovered from your analytics and looking at your customers journey.
A number of root causes on your site could be:
- Lack of product details
- Lack of user generated content (customer reviews)
- Supporting content
While we all fuss and worry over how many carts are abandoned in our monthly or weekly reports – and we try and remedy that – if you see a continual trend in this area, you need to look further at the reasons – first looking at the display of the content of the product, but also look at the competition and what it is that makes the difference.
Always remember any eCommerce is a connected ecosystem and every part of content and product detail, imagery, and tone of voice is connected – therefore the make sure there is synergy throughout your journey – this leading to a supportive customer journey and higher conversion rates.”
Poorly Structured Data Leads to Confusion and Doubt – “Online shopping can be rather addictive due to the dreamy hypnotic state we find ourselves experience whilst doing it. The fluid journey through search engines, marketplaces and websites on the quest for material satisfaction is only possible when the information upon which that journey is based is carefully optimised and structured. It’s the unseen side of ecommerce that customers never think about, and frankly shouldn’t have to. The effort required to structure and optimise data properly can be onerous and time-consuming, but it is something that merchants overlook to their peril.
Cart abandonment is nothing more than getting cold feet at the last minute. So what makes us chicken out of something we at first thought was worth devoting attention to? If the website looked dodgy in the first place, we wouldn’t have even reached the Cart at all. So it’s fair to assume the website design was pleasant enough for us to press on.
We’ve found the perfect product, just what we were looking for, and at a fair price, so we select the colour or size variant from the product page and add it to Cart before checking out what else might be worth looking at. The shopping cart is like a personal assistant holding all the stuff we give them just in case, so we can go through it all later and make our real decision. So when we go to check what they’re carrying for us and they can’t tell us the colour or size of some products, wouldn’t that make you a little annoyed?
The size and colour variants are typically crystal clear to understand and select on the product page, but if the child SKU data fields have not been optimised to display the attributes of each variant, then what’s displayed in Cart will be a vague reference to the product with no specific attributes. Would you buy a pair of shoes if the Cart didn’t display the size you’d selected? No, I wouldn’t either.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Structuring and optimising product and category data requires a knowledge of how people shop online, how they search and browse, and how what they see sets unconscious expectations about what’s coming next. When those expectations are not met, confidence is diminished and confusion or doubt can take over very quickly. Nobody parts with their hard-earned money if they’re not feeling completely safe and assured. Arriving at a website Cart to be met with uncertainty is a pretty good motivator for walking away and shopping elsewhere.
Online retailers need to be willing to put in the effort to understand how customers think and react to what they see online. Curating that customer journey is no accident, and won’t engage or convert well if the data upon which it functions is flawed or incomplete. Don’t undercook your online business by ignoring product data. If you’re willing to put in the effort required to attract customers to your website, don’t sell yourself short by failing to address the quality of the data that will keep them there and entice them to buy.”
Not Collecting or Making Decisions Based on Data – “Many online stores try to pack in offers, signups, share features, and a slew of payment and shipping options which is a problem so simplicity always has my vote. Unfortunately a simple checkout process always isn’t an option with all the type of online commerce.
My number one rule of thumb is to trust your data. I make the majority of my decisions for my clients based on an educated and informed source. If you don’t have the data in place to make an educated choice, hire someone to put that data in place. I cannot stress this enough, get your data to a place that you’re able to not only understand, but have the knowledge to make an informed decision. The right data will help you see a glimpse of the future for your checkout process.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A great example is women’s clothing websites and who their audience typically is. If 70% of their website traffic is shopping on iOS devices by all means focus Apple Pay as the first option to check out. Apple Pay speaks for itself in terms of conversions, but will also help diminish the abandon rate (they also spend more). If your website traffic browses on mobile but checks out on desktop, then give your customers the option with dynamic payment method depending on the browser they are using.
The home improvement market can be a challenge. I’ll use a specific example for this, a tile company came to us with a range of issues that needed help and cart abandonment was one of them. Their customers would browse, add a few products to the cart and checkout with samples of the tile. The attribution window was upward of 3-4 months before checkout for actual product, which simply wasn’t doable for a number of reasons. In 3 to 4 months the product the customer may have added to their cart wasn’t in stock, no longer in production, or limited quantity. The result was a lost customer which is something no business wants. Tile is something that isn’t an impulse buy, so a long attribution window can be expected. The tile company’s checkout process was nearly perfect, so optimizing the cart or their checkout process wasn’t something that would help the abandon rate.
The solution was a strategic re-marketing plan that targeted shoppers using custom events. This means collecting specific website events before the checkout process starts. When a customer would calculate the price of tile (which is priced by the square foot) a custom event would trigger, putting that customer in a custom audience inside Facebook. After the event trigger Facebook’s ad network would do its job. The customer would immediately get ads about “limited quantity”, “limited stock”, “percentage off” or something directly relevant to that specific product and other product suggestions. This was one of many custom event triggers, but the example can be applied to virtually any areas of a website.
The outcome was less abandon carts and a shorter conversion window. Now, this setup was a little more advanced in terms of tracking custom events from Facebook, but it was discovered through website data.
A few takeaways would be to make sure you have a Facebook pixel installed on your site and at a minimum, get familiar enough to understand what it can measure. Google Tag Manager can be your best friend to track and measure specific events so learn a little more on what it is and how it can be used, the same goes for Google Analytics and how it’s used. I always advise my clients to install some form of website tracking tool like Inspectlet.com. This give you the ability to watch recording of user sessions so you can see with your own eyes the success or failure of your website.”
Payment or Data Safety Concerns – “Slow page loads, freezes, glitches, and even cheap-looking design elements can lead buyers to a change of heart after they’ve placed items in their carts and are ready to check out. In my experience (as both a consultant and a buyer), skepticism plays a strong role. Data security has become an area of focus for modern consumers, and people in general are far more savvy about breeches and mismanagement than they were even a year ago. Anything that triggers an alert signal can upend a sale.
A flashy pop-up promotion that interrupts the flow of the checkout process can send customers out the door. A stray typo can do the same. Anything that suggests a fly-by-night operation that might sell, store, or otherwise abuse data or credit card info sends a clear message: better to buy your socks, event tickets, or service subscription from someone else.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “To prevent this kind of nuanced misstep, you’ll need to place yourself in the buyer’s position at every stage of the process. But general empathy isn’t enough; you need a professional marketing pro to review your entire sales process from end to end if you’re seeing too many abandoned carts.
Strong analytics and tracking can also help. Are the abandonment rates increasing? When did the increase start? Are the increases correlating with high cost totals? Is the checkout process too complicated? Do you explain what you do with customer data and how you dispose of it at the completion of a sale?
Have you taken a hard look at site elements that may come across as spammy or unprofessional? Customers worry about several things when they make an online purchase, including shipping times and the accuracy of product descriptions, but in 2019 we can add data security to the list.”
- Poorly Implemented Gifting Experience – “With Father’s Day fast approaching, I’ll be purchasing my gift online, but trusting a site to deliver a decent gifting experience is a big ask and one where many sites fail. Users infrequent use of gifting and the lack of GUI conventions, means many gifting experiences are poorly implemented. Often gifting is a neglected feature of the checkout flow which can have a detrimental effect for both purchaser and recipient if the site does not perform well. One reason for abandonment is the address field, if the user has specified the order as a gift, then the billing address should not default to auto-fill the shipping address with the same details, as this can frustrate the user.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “I encountered a similar issue with GAP, who allowed me to select a gift message but little else, and it was within the context of the standard checkout flow, so there was no true personalisation or gift receipt options. Whereas Etsy, have thought about the user flow and include a gift checkbox explaining that prices will not be shown on the packing slip and upon selection of this checkbox allows the user to enter a free gift message.
To help resolve this issue, I would ensure that the gift flow includes the following conventions: Billing address should not default to the shipping address, you should provide descriptive text explaining the gifting options and process and make the process more convenient by providing personalised gift options (message, receipt or wrap service). This should ensure a smoother more convenient gifting experience.”
Lack of Confidence in the Product or Retailer – “Being confident in the product and the company selling it to you is key to any purchase decision and online retail significantly magnifies this factor, way beyond any face-to-face interaction where the tone of voice and body language also play a big part. Humans are naturally suspicious, they seek out value, they like their ego to be stroked and our decisions are based on emotion as often as logic, so you need to cater to many personality types to be successful. A website is attempting to communicate all the required information at once and customers can struggle to absorb this information in the way it was intended. This means helping the customer to make the emotional connection required to purchase is not so easy via a screen.
The psychology of buying, how people make purchase decisions and what influences their choices are not limited to buying online or limited to products that are delivered to their homes. Buying psychology affects every purchase we make – from pens and printer cartridges to food, clothing and furniture, right up to the largest purchases most of us ever make, vehicles and houses; we will not buy if there is a lack of confidence in the product or the person selling it to us. Don’t get me wrong, the PC, smartphone and tablet are fantastic platforms to reach a far wider audience than ever before, but simply presenting your products is no longer enough – your customers need more from a retailer to feel confident. They need help, expert advice and reassurance in the service to really feel confident in spending their money.”
Ideas On How to Solve It – “How does a retailer cater to the needs of a customer who wants to engage at key stages during the shopping journey and how do they know the ideal moment to help? In my experience, the best results are obtained with a mix of AI + messaging + humans. These elements can come together in a seamless combination, providing a retailer the opportunity to influence the purchase decision at the optimum moment for the customer, boosting satisfaction levels and revenue simultaneously.
Artificial Intelligence alone can become frustrating, as chatbots are nowhere near as capable in a pre-sale environment as we had once hoped. Humans in contact centres taking one call at a time are expensive and eat into your margin. However, combine the two options and add real-time messaging, where AI handles the FAQ type questions and each live agent can handle 2-3 messages at once when the chatbot escalates them. Now efficiency is high, NPS scores are rising, Lifetime Customer Value is increased and AOV goes up because the customer has a new level of confidence that the products will satisfy their needs and the retailer is there to help when they require it. AI can achieve great things, but just remember the human touch is essential to truly understand the emotional beings that are your customers.”
- Concern About Getting the Best Value – “Online shoppers are savvy and are looking for the best value. Big-store sites have conditioned the shopper to expect low prices and quick shipping and so other online stores need to make sure the value is communicated through checkout.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “While it is easy to say to provide value outside of product price, let’s assume your store positioning is well defined and your customer focus top-notch.
If you use promotions, it should not be a game to apply them during checkout. If the traffic was served a coupon before or during their site visit, consider investigating ways to capture and apply the coupon during checkout. Another option is to communicate available coupons based on what is in the cart.
If you are facing a high abandonment rate and you are in a competitive space, there are tools & techniques available depending on your store platform to address this, including:
- Countdown clocks: offer a nominal promotion that is only good for a few minutes if the checkout stalls
- Mouse/tap-triggered light-boxes: Offer a promotion when the traffic attempts to navigate away from the cart. These can also be used to “email my cart for faster checkout in the future” and helps create a specific segment.
- Abandon cart audience segment: Remarket & Email specifically to those who left the cart, coupled with a dynamic product feed to resurface their products, leverage their visit to bring them back. Remember to set your cart page as the landing page.
- *To avoid:* Surveys: Checkout abandonment is not the time to try and gather additional data from the traffic, it is a distraction from the task at hand and will most likely not be as insightful as surveying site browsers or completed sales.
Ultimately, it is best to address any value concerns prior to checkout, though the reality is that it is a consideration throughout the purchase and addressing it head-on can help drive some of those who would have jumped through to the confirmation page.”
Unclear, Unexpected or Expensive Shipping Costs – “Just about every report/study I have read on the topic of cart abandonment lists unclear/unexpected or expensive shipping costs among the top three reasons. It’s usually the leading cause.
People have become accustomed to free shipping. It started with Amazon Prime. Free 2-day shipping has always been one of Prime’s key differentiators. It’s one of the most important moves Amazon ever made and it changed ecommerce forever.”
Ideas on How to Solve It– “If you have an ecommerce site selling physical goods and charge for shipping, you’ll want to take a look at your analytics data. Odds are that it’s driving a high abandonment rate. If so, do a deeper dive on your data to determine exactly where people are dropping off. If you find shipping to be the issue, there are several strategies you can employ to reduce your abandonment rate.
I recommend taking a phased approach to tackling the issue, as you might find that what customers are reacting to is confusing shipping terms/costs vs. the fact that shipping isn’t free.
Customers want to know what their total cost will be before they spend a lot of time filling information out. Take a look at your checkout process. If you can’t get to an all-inclusive total until a customer has reached the final step, you’re likely losing a large percentage of people before they’ve even seen the shipping cost. Try displaying an “estimated shipping rate” on the basket/cart page. The simple step of displaying an estimated total can significantly reduce your abandonment rate.
If free shipping is really what your customers are after, but your business model doesn’t support it, try one of the following:
1) Offer “free shipping” by building the cost of shipping into the price of your products.
Assuming you have a clear understanding of actual shipping costs, you can test offering free shipping by building the cost of shipping into the price of your products.
2) Offer free standard shipping but incentivize paid/premium shipping.
One approach I have found to be quite effective is to create a tiered shipping model. For example, offer free standard shipping with a longer lead time, and faster shipping for a premium. Many customers will opt for the faster method if the cost is reasonable.”
- Form Fatigue – “Particularly on mobile, folks do not love filling out all the required information when they can checkout on Amazon with just one click.”
- Ideas on How to Solve It – “One of the easiest ways to help solve this issue is to add alternative checkout and payment providers (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, Amazon Pay). A combination of these four typically leads to a 15-30% increase in checkout completion (especially on mobile) and is relatively easy to implement on most eCommerce platforms.”
- Leave to Search for Promos – “Customers are smart and they abandon carts to discover promos offered by retailers to try and bring down the price of their shop.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A way to counteract this is to A/B test your cart abandonment emails. You can run an A/B test offering an incentive a week after abandonment instead of immediately. You can also A/B test the different types of abandonment offers.
Discover if you need to offer an incentive. For example, a client we worked with, SKICKS, A/B tested Free Shipping vs FREE Shoe Laces & the version offering Free Shipping outperformed the version offering free laces by 49%!”
Stock Availability – “Over the years I have discovered that the single biggest driver of Abandoned Carts (other than product + shipping price) is stock availability.
Let’s think about a real life example.
I go to website A and want to buy products B, C & D. Products B & C are in stock now, but D is not. On some websites I can place the order and D goes on back order, while B & C ship immediately, but on many sites you simply cannot place items on back order or complete an order with out of stock items in your cart.
Let’s say site A is a site where I cannot place anything on back order.
Now, of course I want to qualify for free shipping thresholds, product/cart level discounts, loyalty incentives and other bonuses on offer if I buy products B, C & D together/at the same time.
So, I am faced with a dilemma:
- Do I remove item D from my cart and potentially lose some of my bonuses but complete the purchase anyway?
- Do I wait until the item is back in stock (assuming the site offers back in stock notifications and if not, I’d have to check back frequently to even know) to complete my full order?
- Do I abandon my cart and shop somewhere that has ALL of the items in stock and available for immediate shipment (assuming their prices are competitive)?
I know what I do in these scenarios and I know what most people do too. They abandon their cart and purchase elsewhere. No amount of Abandoned Cart emails or workflows is going to prevent this!”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “In other words, one of the biggest levers you can pull (other than product + shipping costs) to reduce abandonment is to ensure you have most of your catalog in stock and immediately available at all times.
The higher the frequency or volume of out of stocks you have as a % of your total catalog, the higher your Abandoned Carts will be and the lower your conversion rate overall.”
- Lack of 3rd Party Validation – “Research shows that a lack of trust is the easiest way to lose customers on your ecommerce website. Simply put, people do not like to buy things from people or companies they do not trust. Trust is an interesting topic, as there’s a variety of ways to message, achieve and convey trust to new and existing customers.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “A quick, easy way to convey trust is through 3rd party validation and trust seals. At it’s core, the concept is to use a well known company or brand to “back up” your reputation as a trustworthy online retailer. Originally this idea has been pioneered by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and Norton Secured.
The goal of 3rd party validation is to convince potential customers that the they will have a safe, secure, and reliable shopping experience when buying on your website. During the split-second purchase decision, shoppers will look for this validation to give them confidence as they prepare to hit the “Complete Order” button.
The Norton Shopping Guarantee program achieves this validation by providing shoppers with Identity Theft Protection, a Purchase Guarantee, and a Lowest Price Guarantee. Here’s an example below:
The beauty of trust programs and 3rd party validation, is you can easily run A/B tests to measure the conversion rate impact. Don’t just take my word for it, let the data do the talking!”
“Just build an email list” they said. “It’s not that hard” they said. So I put a form up on my website and waited for the subscribers to come rolling in. That was 6 months ago, and today my email list consists of a grand total of…7 people. And two of those are me (well I had to test it was working, didn’t I).
If your story is somewhat similar, don’t worry. Growing your email subscriber list is definitely not just a case of “put up a form and they will come,” particularly if your business isn’t that well established.
If you haven’t got the faintest idea of how to build an email list, or you’ve tried and not seen the results you’d hoped for, this article is for YOU. We wanted to help (before you pull your hair out), and so we spoke to 75 email marketing experts, asking them to spill the tips and techniques that have helped them to repeatedly capture exactly what you’re after: those elusive email subscribers!
This article is the result of those conversations. We’ve put together a “hit list” of the main ideas that kept cropping up frequently, and then we’ve posted exactly what each expert had to say further down the page, where they go into waaaaay more detail and share their wisdom with us. If you don’t have at least a couple of “AHA” moments after reading this post, I’ll eat my hat.
How to Grow Your Email List: Quickfire Ideas to Get You Started
- Run a Competition/Raffle/Prize Draw (although you might not get the best “quality” subscribers)
- Promote your email list on your social media accounts
- Create a “lead magnet” – exclusive video, report, podcast, tool – that offers incredible vale to your target audience
- Use pop-ups, bars, flyouts and scrolling tabs on your website
- Put a link to your signup form in your email signature
- Speak at in-person events and offer something in exchange
- Host a webinar/telesummit
- Take part in someone else’s giveaway
- WIFI marketing (for brick + mortar stores)
- Put together an E-Series and offer it to your audience
- Send follow-up emails after attending a networking event
- Start a loyalty program for your brand/business
- Use content upgrades to drive signups from your blog content
- Choose your email marketing software carefully (if you run a small business this post will help)
- Offer exclusive content and/or discounts to subscribers
- Make it easy for subscribers to forward your emails to friends and family + encourage this
- Remarket to unsubsribers on other channels (Facebook, Instagram etc)
- Host a challenge
- Collaborate with influencers
- Promote your email list in author boxes at the end of articles on your website
- Profile “lookalike audiences” and pay for ads on social media platforms to reach the right people
- Make it possible to subscribe from your checkout page
- Collaborate with companies that serve the same audience, but are not direct competition
- Run a survey or a quiz and provide the result by email
- Optimize your signup forms (very important!!)
- Leverage affiliate networks
- ASK when setting appointments (service businesses)
- Use “Text to Join” messaging services
- Produce “printables” to complement YouTube Videos and offer them via email
- Use browser push notifications to guide users to your signup page
- Integrate email signup forms into paid search campaigns
- Offer free shipping to subscribers
- Use time sensitive events or offers to prompt signups
Some Fundamentals to Live By If You Want a Great List
- Quality over quantity/Better not bigger (however you want to phrase it)
- Only email people that have asked to be emailed!
- Make it SUPER easy to subscribe and join your list
- Set the right expectations the moment they sign up
- Segment your list so you provide the right content at the right time
- Track the sources your subscribers are coming from and invest more resources into those that perform best
- Make sure the info you collect is correct
- Use a double opt in process
- NEVER buy or rent email lists – it’ll end badly
- Make the pitch as personal as you possibly can
- ASK in as many places as you can
- Don’t forget about existing subscribers when chasing new ones
- Test, test and test some more
- Learn as much as you possibly can about your target audience
- Don’t lie to get their email address; they’ll only unsubscribe and never come back!
- Make the benefit of signing up crystal clear
- Clean your list and remove “dead” subscribers regularly
- Every email you send a subscriber should provide value; don’t pollute their inbox!
- Make sure your “Calls to Action” really speak to your target audience
Read What The Experts Said
Below we’ve posted exactly what each expert had to say when we asked them for their advice on the best ways to grow an email list. There’s a ton of quality information in there, and they go into a lot more depth than the quick summaries we posted above. So grab a coffee and prepare for an education in how to win email subscribers from some true pros!
“If you’re looking to build an email list – you’re going to see the same stuff posted everywhere on a regular basis.
And to be frank, most of it is going to be based around the same architecture:
1. Make an offer for an ethical bribe / lead magnet
2. They “pay” for it with an email
3. Run ads / traffic to it. Might be Facebook / Google / LinkedIN / Instagram / YouTube etc.
What I’m about to share with you is no different in archetype, but rather different in presentation.
Here are 3 “Off the beaten paths” to build an email list.
1. Wi-Fi Marketing (Local List Build)
2. Building Tools – Audience Re-engagement (Bring Dead Lists back)
3. Public Speaking (Earning engagement in person)”
WI-FI Marketing – “Let’s start with Wi-Fi. Depending on your target market – especially if you’re looking to build a local brand, Wi-Fi marketing is an amazing method to gather data on customers that enter your physical brick and mortar store.
You basically find a provider, they set up a router at your location, and you choose how you want people to “log in” to your Wi-Fi. They can opt for Facebook / Twitter / or plain ol’ email. Regardless of the modality, you now have a way to reach out to your “logged in audience.”
Now send them an interesting offer or message, and go from there.
A quick example of this was we set up Wi-Fi marketing in a local ice cream shop
106 of the people who opted in did so directly with email over the next 30 days. 174 total opt ins.
We sent them an offer for buy 1 get 1 – ice cream. 30% of them came to play.
The average order size was $10.
174 x 30% x $10 = $520.
It cost $250 to implement this, and they doubled their investment within the first email campaign.
Obviously this isn’t always the case, and it may take a few tries at offers to get an ROI, but you get the idea.
Let’s move on to the second “off the beaten path” technique.”
Building Tools – Audience Re-engagement – “This technique was used for a pre-existing business with a dead email list.
Scenario: A business had a list of 2000 businesses, past and present that had done business with them, ordered product, and generally had a previous connection to. The problem was that they had never emailed them. Ever. Not even once. So consider this list basically “dead” and we’d have to warm them up again to continue building.
We created a tool that showed locations on a google map where people could purchase a particular product. We then created a simple email campaign to outreach to all of our previous clients and offered their location to be shown on the map. All for free. We just wanted to make it easy for clients of our clients to make purchases locally. It helped that our head office didn’t compete directly as we didn’t do direct sales ourselves, and only focused on wholesaling.
The outreach campaign was a success. We received so many orders from people who had long forgotten about said business that the fax machine (yeah, it’s an old example) actually broke down. (It caught on fire).
(Just a visual, not actual fax machine that took orders)
I know – it’s different – but I can’t count the number of businesses who are literally sitting on a goldmine. They already have a large list, but just didn’t know how to engage it.
By the numbers:
List size when we started – around 2k (dead to us)
List size after bounces, and unsubs – 1.7k (alive and well)
Cost to implement solution $1k
And from here – growing the list after this type of engagement should be on easy street. Just have to keep it consistent.”
- Public Speaking –
“This one’s a simple one.
When writing your talks, use the “fill in the blank” technique for some of your handouts and slides. During the course of your talk, just address the blanks and “fill them in” while on stage. Anyone who wants a copy of the slides – just throw up a quick slide with either a link to a website that gathers their information in exchange for the slides. Or text your email to (your marketing number) for a free copy of a workbook around the talk.
Using this method, you’re giving them value, establishing yourself as an expert in whatever sector you’re speaking on, and getting email opt-ins from a locally based audience (if it’s a small event) or even potentially an international based audience (at say a large tradeshow).”
(Yup that’s me, actually using the technique)
“So there you have it. 3 weird ways to grow / revive / earn your following and build your list.”
- Know Your Audience and Who You are Targeting – “When I work with clients, I look at their business as their “Target Advocate.” I advocate on behalf of their end user. Know who your audience is and what they would like to receive in a message. I work with entrepreneurs and small businesses. My content either answers a question, introducing them with a synergistic partner or resource or provides tips they could use when growing their business.”
- Create Content that Matters! – “Think about what your prospects and clients really are interested in and create your content accordingly. For example, one of my clients is a physical therapist; we are creating an article on fall prevention and provide tips for staying strong and healthy.”
- Have Patience – “You don’t choose your best friends or clients on day one, so don’t expect to have the killer list on day 1. Be gracious and have meaning and your list will grow. I would rather have a list of 200 really great people than 2000 mediocre ones. A larger list sounds great, but if they are the wrong names, you will hit a dead end. When I reach out to my list, I am very careful that the information I am presenting is meaningful to them.”
- Provide Content that’s of Real Value – “Working in the B2B landscape, content really is King. The best way to attract new people to sign up to you email list is offer them free content that educates, informs and entertains. My advice would be don’t do something that’s a bit lame and your audience could find anywhere on the web, offer them something of value that is really going to make them want to hear more from you in the future. ”
- Use Pop-Ups – “Another tip is to have a pop-up on your website. It’s quite simple, but a discreet pop-up that comes into view after about 30 seconds browsing the site could encourage people to sign up. You’re never going to be sure at what stage of buying your clients are visiting your website. They may not be ready to buy, but they may want to hear more from you in the future. Make it easier for them to do so.”
- Promote Your List on Social Media – “Promote your email marketing list on social media both paid and organic. I always get great feedback on my newsletter and I use these as testimonials to promote my newsletter and encourage people to sign up. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when I have posted these testimonials in the past with a link to my sign up list I have seen spikes in numbers.”
- Ask! – “The worst they can say is, “No.” You’d be amazed how many small business owners feel like they’re imposing if they ask someone to join their mailing list, but an in-person ask is one of the most effective ways to grow your list. It’s hard to turn someone down when they’re smiling at you and asking you to sign up for email-only deals, updates, and events.”
- Use a Dynamic Subscription Tool on Your Website – “Whether a pop-up, bar, fly-out, or scrolling tab, the movement of the tool catches your website visitor’s attention. Make your pop-up compelling by offering a free resource (like a guide, white paper, or checklist) or a special offer (% off or free product) for subscribing to the list. By providing something of perceived value, your visitors will be more inclined to subscribe to your mailing list.”
- Use Your Email Signature to Grow Your List – “Don’t forget: you’re sending multiple emails back and forth to prospects and customers, so that repetition of a direct call-to-action (subscribe to my list) is ultimately going to lead to a conversion if they see it enough.
Consider enhancing your signature to something like:
CEO of Bryan Caplan Marketing
Do you want my marketing tips and tricks in your inbox? Click here!”
“There are many ways to grow your email list and generate leads for your business. Your target market is willing to give up their email address for the right piece of information, content, discount or rewards program. Create a campaign that offers something of value to your audience. Offer that “product” to them in exchange for their email address. Automate the campaign to include pre-marketing and post-marketing. Beta test the campaign until it is successful and then repeat.”
- Offer a Webinar – “Free webinars are a great way to grow your email list, show off your expertise and create qualified leads.
EXAMPLE: I sell mortgages in Maine. I offer a free online webinar entitled “First Time Home Owner Options to Save Money” to first time home buyers. I distribute the webinar via Facebook advertising to married couples in their mid-thirties with a household income of $75,000 to $100k who live in Maine. When my target market clicks on my Facebook advertisement, they are directed to a landing page that asks for their contact information including their email address. When they click “Save My Seat,” their email and name is directly added to my Constant Contact account and they are sent an email confirmation.”
- Host a Sweepstake – “People love to play games and win prizes. Create a contest/sweepstake with prizes. When doing so, make sure to keep the theme tied to your business, target your prospects and make the prize big enough to gain traction.
EXAMPLE: I sell furniture. I create a sweepstake to raffle off a free grill during the spring time. I use a sweepstakes program like ShortStack or Woobox to distribute the campaign. (Note – it’s important to follow your local laws when running a sweepstake.) I market the campaign on social media to homeowners within a 25-mile radius of my storefront. I ask people to tag their friends and share my sweepstake to their networks. The sweepstake software collects their email address and randomly pics a winner. I’m out a grill and a hundred bucks … but gained 400 email addresses.”
- Add a Lead Magnet to Your Blogs – “Blogging is a great way to create content, communicate with your audience, show off your industry intelligence and improve your SEO. Use your blogs to grow your email list.
You can do this in many ways. One way is to offer the blog as a PDF in exchange for an email address. Another way to use blogging to grow your email list is to offer “bonus” content. Create the blog and offer special VIP content that provides more depth. Of course, the price of the additional content is your reader’s email address.
EXAMPLE: I sell social media marketing services. I create a blog about why you should update your personal LinkedIn profile on a regular basis. Somewhere in the blog, I offer a white paper entitled “How to Sell on LinkedIn.” My reader wants more information. They click on the link, enter their email address and download the whitepaper. Do they ever read it? I don’t know. Meanwhile, my drip campaign has already initiated. They are in the queue to receive email communications regarding my expertise, my business profile and more information about my services and team.”
- Encourage Subscribers to Share and Forward your Emails – “Consumers and business buyers trust recommendations from other customers. This is why Word-of-Mouth marketing is so very effective. Include social sharing buttons and a “Forward to a Friend” button in your marketing emails. That way, you’ll gain access to their friends, colleagues, and networks and expand your contact list. At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” call-to-action (CTA) button as a simple text-based link so that the people receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.”
- Use Email Signature Marketing to Attract New Subscribers – “Every day, your employees send hundreds or thousands of emails to individuals at current or prospective customers. With Email Signature Marketing, you use the email signature block to promote new content like eBooks, research reports, podcasts and events that are relevant to the interests or needs of the email recipient. Hyperlinked email signatures lead these people to a landing page where they can sign up for these offers via their email address.”
- Use your YouTube Channel to Attract Email Subscribers – “Video has proven to be one of the highest-converting form of content a brand can use to engage consumers and business professionals. One email list building tactic I’ve found very effective is creating specific opt-in offers that are related to the content in the video. Just add hyperlinked “end cards” to your YouTube videos that encourage people to subscribe to your channel via their email address. And by including links to other useful content, you give yourself another opportunity to convert that video viewer to an email subscriber.”
- Host Free Webinars – “The number one tactic that has helped me build my list is to host free webinars. I cover all sorts of marketing topics, plus try to plug into wider campaigns like Small Business Saturday. Once the webinar is set up, I share it widely. Not just with my email list and social media, but also Facebook Groups I’m a member of, with organisations who have my target audience and who like to add value to their members. I make sure I give these people everything they need to promote my webinar: social media images, text that they can copy and paste and a link I can track to monitor clicks. Once people get to my webinar registration page, they have an option to join my email list. If that point, they decide not to, I make sure I send out follow-ups to the webinars that includes a link to join my list. The last webinar I did was in October last year. With that one webinar, I added 67 people to my email list!”
- Create Something Your Audience Will Love + Give It to Them for Free – “Think about a bit of your expertise you can give away for free. Yes, you read that correctly – free. When we see something that is great and will help us, and all it costs is an email address, we hand it over. In 2017, I created a template called the Marketing Success Plan. I want businesses to get great marketing results, but small business owners are scared of creating a marketing plan. So, I created a one-page template that would help them. Using a pop-up on my website, I managed to add 51 people to my email list. Offering a valuable piece of content is a great way to grow your email list. Put your thinking cap on and work out what that might be for your business.”
Ask! – “Yes, that’s my last tip. So many small businesses don’t ask people to join their lists. And, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. So, ask in every place you come into contact with your target audience. Grab a piece of paper and spend 10 minutes making a list of all those places. Now you have a list, go ask in those places. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few to get you started:
• Your website
• Your social media networks
• Your business cards
• Your invoices
• Your delivery notes
• Your email signature”
“And remember, it’s not the quantity you add to your list, but the quality. I never quite trust all those tips that claim to help you “explode your email list.” Getting the right people on your email list should be your objective, because the right people will be the ones to buy from you.”
- Feature Your Signup Form in as Many Visible Places as Possible – “If your website visitors can’t see the sign up form, then they won’t subscribe to your mailing list. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? You should try to highlight your signup form as much as possible.
● A pop-up or exit overlay
● In the sidebar of your website
● Below or in between your blog posts
● A notification bar at the top of your website
● A link to your sign up form on your social media channels
● An opt-in box with each form on your website”
- Offer an Irresistible Welcome Gift – “Seduce your website visitors with a valuable gift. This could be an ebook, video training, worksheet, template, blueprint… about your industry. When your gift offers a solution to your target group, you attract those who are looking for information. Or in other words: potential customers! In order to download the gift, you request your visitors to enter their email address and subscribe to your mailing list.”
- Be Crystal Clear and Transparent About Your Email Communication – “Tell your readers exactly what will happen when they sign up:
● What happens when I leave my email address?
● Is my data safe with you?
● How often will you email me?
● What are you going to send me? The free gift? Promotions? A monthly
- Give to Get – “People are unlikely to join your mailing list without some evidence that you have something worth their time to share. Be clear and upfront about what that is, and give them a sample of it before they even sign up or receive your first email. Examples are:
Free blogs/articles. These don’t have to be anything different from what you’ll provide after they sign up. People are pretty lazy, so the idea of having your content sent to them, rather than needing to return to your site to find it, is enough to get quite a few registrations for your list.
Downloadable guide. An oldie-but-goodie, a downloadable report or guide is a great sign up incentive. Pick one of your customers top issues and put it together. It doesn’t have to be long, but if you can include a worksheet, template or case study, your audience will love it.
Sign up discount. Retailers and B2C businesses will always do well by offering a discount for signing up. There’s a reason you see this everywhere online – it just works. If you have an online shop, there’s usually a function in your shopping cart system that allows you to set up discount vouchers and codes, so it’s not hard. 10% seems to be the most common discount currently, but that will vary in effectiveness by product type and price-range.
It used to be that sign-up incentives were delivered AFTER someone joined your list. Although that’s still true for discount incentives, it’s different now with content incentives. People want proof that what you have is worth exchanging their details for, so try giving away the articles or guides without requiring an email address. Instead, let them see it and THEN tell them there’s more where that came from IF they sign up.
N.B. None of these will work if your content is terrible! Make sure that written content is worth reading, and that any discounts offered are worth having.”
- Make the Ask – “No one joins your list by osmosis. You must actually ask them to sign up – and do it several times on one page. It needs to be easy for people to sign up from any page of your website as well, because no-one is reading every page of your site (except you).
Popups – Use these sparingly and at the right time, as people can find them annoying
Header forms – A box, button or link in your header. This can sit above your main navigation, if you’re short of space.
Footer forms – As with a header form, this is always there. As sites often have fat footers (with multiple lines of navigation) you can usually make a footer form bigger and more prominent than a header form.
In-content boxes – Create a break just after the introduction of any blog article (or similar) and pop in a sign up box. Then continue the article after the box. Include text in a bold font to say something like: ‘Enjoying this post? Get our articles sent to your inbox every month. Sign up here’.
Side-bar panels – If your site has a side bar for navigation (which many e-commerce sites do), add in a signup box there too.
Thank you pages – If a person makes it to your thank you page, it’s pretty certain that they like your content and/or products. On that page, offer them the opportunity to keep in touch and tell them what they’ll receive if they do.
Account set-up pages – If people have to set up an account to use your site or buy your products, add a tick-box on the set up page for people to keep in touch. A short line of text with that saying ‘you can unsubscribe at any time’ will increase the number of people who opt in.
Contact us pages – Although folks normally visit your contact page because they want to get in touch with you, there’s no harm in also asking them on the same page if they’d like you to stay in touch with them. However, don’t let this be the only place your sign-up box lives, as it’s a lower-response page.
Resource pages – Do you have a page on your site full of whitepapers, guides, case studies or videos? If so, add a sign up box here. Make it prominent and near the top. Add text that says ‘to get our resources direct to your inbox, sign up here’ (or something similar) so it makes a connection for them. If you have individual pages for each resource, include a sign up form there too as standard practice.”
- Less is More – “For every field you add to your sign-up form, the number of people completing the form diminishes by 30%. So, ask your potential subscribers for the minimum amount of information you need to stay in touch. First name and email address is plenty, as you’ll collect other data (like address) if they go on to become a customer.
Exceptions to this are optional tick-boxes like region, or interest preferences, but only use these if you are actually going to send different emails to different groups of subscribers. For example, retailers who have different pricing or product lines for different regions may not want to send the same offers to US subscribers as they do to UK subscribers.
Despite the warning, I give you a 50% of ‘just adding one more field’ to your first sign up form. Please resist! Go for the bare minimum and collect additional information later with an interests survey that you can send to engaged subscribers or give them the opportunity to update in their account.”
Turn Buyers Into Subscribers – “Whenever you have contact with your customers it presents an opportunity to gather their email address. A newsletter sign-up form at the bottom of websites is common place and increasingly you’ll see a pop-up with a sign-up form. These are good and a best practice, make sure though that the pop-up isn’t too obtrusive, just have it happen once.
Remember, the best value email address to capture is someone who has just completed a purchase or converted on your site so make sure there’s an opportunity to subscribe to your list in your shopping cart.
Another customer interaction is either in-store or over the phone. At the register, for example, asking for an email address is a good opportunity to capture a highly engaged customer’s email. Staff who are informed about the benefits of being a subscriber can help win people over to provide their details.”
Quality Information is Much Better than Quantity – “Incomplete or inaccurate addresses are costly, 1) because of the time wasted capturing details, 2) to your reputation as a sender and 3) you’re still charged for sending to a non-existent email address by your provider.
If you’re often on the move as a rep or at trade shows, or even in-store you can use a tablet with a subscription form pre-loaded so people can enter their details themselves. People are much more likely to enter their own details more accurately than your team member.
Do make sure people know why they are handing over their email address, that you’re taking it with the intention of sending them emails – you don’t want recipients to think they’ve been tricked into subscribing, that only leads to a very bad perception of your brand and a poor sender reputation when they hit the SPAM button!”
Offer an Incentive – “Offering an incentive is a good way to increase your overall subscriber list, however, quality over quantity comes into play again. Think about what the incentive is and whether that is really what your customer wants – no sense running a competition to win a caravan if you’re running a motel, you’ll end up with lots of people interested in caravans but probably not your motel!
For competitions, in Australia, there are rules and legislation to adhere to, each state and territory has different rules so watch out you don’t fall fowl of these! ADMA has some good guidance on this subject on their blog. https://www.andmine.com/blogs/competition-permit-australia/
A common incentive is to give a % discount on subscribing which is often sent in the “welcome” email. Sending the voucher or discount code in an email ensures people are giving you a valid address in order to get the discount. The welcome email also provides a great opportunity to engage with your new subscriber, set their expectations on when they’ll next hear from you and start building an advocate out of them.”
- Make Your Signup Form Visible on Your Homepage – “My top most tip would be to add a sign-up form field on your website’s homepage. Offer an incentive which would interest them – this could be anything from a competition or to receive a newsletter. This will also help you determine the demographics that you are reaching and therefore you will be able to then better segment future communications based on their preferences.”
- Decide on the Type of Person You Want to Target – “Profile customers so that you can see whether they meet the requirements of your company. Once you know the type of person you are targeting you can tailor your content for this purpose, which in return will gain you the needed numbers on your list.”
- Engage Contacts You Already Have From Other Activities – “Buying lists from 3rd parties is never a good idea. Why not make use of email addresses that you have at your disposal? Maybe there are contacts that could be ported over from your social media or PPC/SEO campaigns? Direct them to a personalised landing page asking them if they want to receive your content. Natural list growth using already acquired data.”
- Make It Clear What They Will Get – “First, the most regular advice that I provide to marketers is to emphasize the value exchange. Sure, you can just ask for email address and then move on, but the better strategy is to actually take the person to another page and lay out the value proposition. Really what you want are people that WANT to be on your list AND are going to give you their primary email address. Lack of value is going to get you their junk email address. You know, the one YOU use on sites where you just don’t care. Well, you’re always going to get them, but if you don’t “sell” your program and offering, you’re more than likely to get the junk email address. So, tell the subscriber why your program is awesome. You’ll find that you get more quality!”
- Promote It at the TOP of the Page – “This is always the battle of real-estate. To get the most out of your acquisition, put your “ask” for the email address, or link to another page to sign up, at the TOP of the page. I have commonly seen that rates for acquisition increase by 50% when you have it at the top vs the bottom. So, fight the battle with your UX/Tech group, but remind them that email addresses are golden and a ticket into the inbox…whenever the company wants.”
- Validation – “It’s a must these days for a few reasons. One being that we’re all in a hurry and sometimes we make mistakes when we’re typing our email address not to mention doing it on the mobile. So having validation at the time of submission is key to ensuring that you don’t have high initial bounce rates or addresses that could have easily been checked at the time of submission. Also, make absolutely sure that you have CAPTCHA on the sign up page to avoid fraud or problems with bad emails entered into your system. What we’re trying to accomplish is maximization of our acquisition. Sometimes “Killer List Building Tips” are about making sure that what you get…you can actually use.”
- Leverage Other Companies’ Email Lists – “If you’re looking to grow your email list don’t start from scratch, look at other marketers or businesses that already have an email list and make them an offer or offer something of value to them so that they share your product to their audience., ie, time, money, or resources.”
- Use Paid Ads – “Don’t be afraid to spend money on ads to grow the list because if the numbers make sense, you’ll make your money back fast. Do the math first and work the numbers out before you spend the money on ads.”
- Give Your List Lots of Value…Often – “Email your list and give them value, as simple as this sounds, you aren’t emailing your audience enough, they have hundreds of emails and if you’re not in front of them with something they find valuable often they will forget about you, your offer and your company. Best way to find out if someone will open your emails or want to buy from you is email yourself or friends first, wait a few days and look through your inbox and see if you’d want to open up your own email, if not try again.”
- Use Social Channels to Increase Email Sign Ups – “Leverage your social sites to get people to sign up for your email list by placing a link to your signup page. That audience is already interested in your brand and they are already open to consuming your brand’s content, so why not ask them to sign up to receive your emails?”
- Sweepstakes/Giveaways – “Those leads may not always be the best quality, but the draw to using sweepstakes is that you can get a high volume of emails in a very short period of time. I do think it’s worth a try, but make sure to treat them like any new subscriber and send them a welcome email.”
Don’t Ignore Offline Channels – “This might seem a bit antiquated but use offline channels to generate subscribers.
• Trade shows
• Business reply cards/Catalog requests
• In-store purchases
Depending on your audience and business, this may be a great way to collect information. I was able to increase an email list by 20% just by using business reply card information. There are many small to mid-sized companies that are missing out on potential subscribers by not doing this. You don’t necessarily need to have customers mail in the card. You can simply provide the URL to your sign-up page.”
- Don’t Be Afraid Of Pop-Ups – “Whether it is an offer for a discount on a customer’s next purchase or a free eBook download, having something to give in exchange for a visitor’s email address is sure to entice more people to subscribe. Hosting a giveaway that is catered to your intended market can help you build a subscriber list of individuals who will be much more likely to be interested in receiving your marketing materials.Think of hosting a giveaway as an investment that will pay off for you down the road in terms of future business. And it truly is a good investment, as email marketing has a 3800% ROI!
When growing your email subscribers, it’s important that you make smart choices. Be clever with your tactics and remember that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. By simply providing more opportunities for people to subscribe to your email list, you are likely to see a stronger response. Make sure that some form of opt-in box appears on every page of your website. Although many people shy away from pop-ups because they are worried about annoying their visitors, they are still extremely effective at gathering emails. One technique that many people forget is including an exit pop up option in your design. Make sure that whatever opt-in plugin you use has an exit pop-up capability. There are a variety of opt-in box formats to suit the aesthetic of your website and meet your needs, whatever those might be.”
Surveys and Quizzes Are Still Popular – “People love to take part in surveys and quizzes and love to see how they compare to everyone else. Sign-up boxes can be part of surveys and quizzes that you might host. Surveys and quizzes are a very effective way to grow your subscriber list because you can ask people to submit their email address to get the results and see other peoples’ answers. Making submission of an email a prerequisite for participating is likely to entice many more users to join your list of subscribers.
Besides surveys and quizzes, people will be more likely to want to subscribe to your email list if you offer original quality content. It may seem obvious, but this tip is essentially the cornerstone of any good subscriber-building strategy. Make sure to publish and distribute this content on a regular basis so that users will subscribe to ensure they do not miss anything. Content that offers real value to the reader will be shared more often bringing more visitors to your website and social channels, therefore increasing the likelihood of you extending your number of email subscribers. Content that solves problems for the reader, posts that teach the reader a skill, such as ‘how to’ posts and content that inspires are types of content that generally is received well by consumers. With more traffic to your website, you will have the opportunity to capture more email subscribers through the opt-in boxes and sign-up forms that you will have on your website, as mentioned above.
To gather even more email addresses, consider putting some of your content (like a summary sheet of your post) behind an email-subscription wall as an added level of exclusivity will always garner more interest in your content.”
Have You Considered the Power of Texting? – “There are a number of excellent applications available nowadays, which can work wonders on your email subscriber list. Textly, for example, is an excellent text message marketing service that can help you grow your email subscribers when used effectively. Believe it or not, text messaging is one of the fastest, most direct ways for you to reach your customers and unlike emails, 98% of text messages are read within 5 minutes of the text being received.
There are many different ways that you can utilize text message marketing to build your subscriber list. For example, if you are giving a presentation about your product or you are running another marketing campaign for your products/service, you can have your audience text a special code to a specified number to win a prize or enter a competition. As part of the entry, they must enter their email address and subscribe to your email list in the process.
Another fantastic tool that is used by many email marketers with overwhelming success is Opt-In Monster, a platform to help you manage your opt-in forms and pop-up subscriber boxes on your website. This powerful tool puts you back in the driving seat with managing your subscribers and building your email list over time. It provides analytics to help you see the big picture of what is and is not working on your website in terms of growing your subscriber list. Start experimenting with some of these platforms and find out what works best for your needs. With the right tools at your disposal, you’re sure to see positive results in no time at all.”
- Use the Right Tools – “There are so many tools out there now but we have found the best ones are full contact for Gmail ( paid version) as it cleans up emails automatically and also Zapier (https://zapier.com/apps/gmail/integrations/linkedin) this cuts down time and gives is great results building a list to over 100,000 in 2 years and growing at 1000 emails a month which obviously increases exposure and sales.”
- Find Where the Target Market Is and Engage With Them – “Join as many groups on LinkedIn as possible that relate to your services or where the target market is they will then see your posts, which you need to do at least 3 times a week with relevant useful content. Like and share other articles and follow as many leaders as possible.”
- Be Authentic When You get in Touch – “Import all Gmail into sendgrid and use an auto drip campaign (https://zapier.com/apps/sendgrid/integrations) and try and be as “yourself” as possible with useful relevant content, even if it’s an image on a regular basis. As Gary V says “the race is long.”
- In-Depth Articles + PDF Downloads – “Write in-depth articles that appeal to either your potential customers or competitors who are in the process of learning about digital marketing techniques that will give them a deeper understanding on how to go about attracting more traffic and converting that traffic into sales. Always be sure to add as many insights that cut through general marketing techniques and give practical information on how to achieve their goals, whether that be via bullet points that list the exact process of how to implement such strategies or by including screenshots of the implementation process. Take the best of these articles and turn them into pdf downloads that users can access when they sign up to your list.”
- Subscribe Forms + Pop-Ups – “Include a range of subscribe forms including simple static forms in the sidebar of your blog posts to popups that list the downloads they can access once they have signed up. Popups should redirect to a “thanks” or “download” page that is tracked as a goal in Google Analytics. I currently use a range of MailChimp forms and those that pull contact 7 forms into popups that appear once the user has scrolled down the page. This can be done with WordPress plugins that not only add the form but also automatically add the subscriber to my MailChimp lists.”
- Personalize Your Emails – “Create a set of auto responder emails that are worded personally to build up a rapport with your subscribers, but also bring them back to the most popular articles on the site via links. Best also to make a brief bulleted list of the things they will learn from the article and also include an invite for them to ask any question. This set of Auto responders is a great way to get in their inboxes for the next few weeks after they signed up and ensures they know about the articles that others have found of use on your site.”
WordPress Plugins to Use:
1. Contact form 7 – to create the forms that appear in popups
2. Contact form 7 Controls – to redirect the form to a tracked download page
3. Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension – to automatically add subscribers to your list
4. Slick Popup Pro – to create and design popups
5. Flamingo – to keep a record of all your form submitters in case you find emails have not been sent or subscribers have not been added to your MailChimp lists
Whether you’re the brand-new business on the block or the superstore on the corner, everyone wants more traffic in their doors. To help build your online footprint, it’s important to grow your list with a proper inbound marketing strategy. According to HubSpot, the average email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year. To keep your list on an upward trajectory here are a few tips to incorporate into your marketing plan.
- Exclusive Content – “Offer your customers and potential customers some value in a blog, newsletter, contest or giveaway. Perhaps it’s a quiz, infographic or e-book. Invite them to see the value in your brand beyond just making a sale. They will value the product they paid for and continue to come back. When they get to your site you can add an exit popup or lightbox to capture their email address if it’s their first visit. Offer them a discount or checklist that may be of interest to take the bait. Also, in email, make it easy to subscribe or forward to a friend. Having influencers promote your content on their social media platforms will also help raise awareness. Reach out to family and friends to help spread the good word. It’s very easy to “share” or forward something interesting or helpful.”
- Cross Marketing – “What’s being communicated in your store and/or on your site always needs to sync with email, social media, direct print etc. Trade shows, industry and local events are easy ways to get someone’s address to receive future emails. Research by HubSpot also points out that social media and blogging costs less than 62% of other lead generation methods. A loyalty or referral program can also do wonders to spread the word and provide value.”
- Segment and Target Your Current List to Optimize Engagement – “Are people complaining or unsubscribing at a high rate? Are they opening but not clicking or not opening at all? Database decay happens and it doesn’t need to snowball into more subscribers exiting the list than joining. Target specific audience groups for specials, newsletters or breaking news. Make sure anyone who hasn’t engaged with your data within a reasonable amount of time are cut from the list. It’s quality not quantity. If you are having deliverability issues this will also help get those campaigns into the inbox! Now, if you have a lot of stale data there is still hope. With the right reengagement strategies, you can win back a lot of those old customers.”
“In summary: Combine exclusive content with the right cross marketing tactics while targeting to the right audience and you are sure to grow your list.”
Bonus tip: “Never rent or buy lists. Most lists are watered down from being sold again and again. People end up abandoning those addresses. The companies also don’t guarantee those leads will convert or actually have interest in your product. Also, emailing blindly, and without their consent, is not compliant with best practices or various laws across the globe. It will also cause the potential customer to complain or unsubscribe and that could affect your overall deliverability in reaching customers who do want to hear from you. Take your time and build your list the right way to fulfil its true potential.”
- Delete “Dead Data” – “It’s a bit off-piste but the first tip to growing your list is to delete your old dead data and start with a pot of only your most engaged contacts. It’s always scary seeing your send numbers drop when you have cultivated them for a long time, but removing the people who have hard bounced, non-engaged in any content for a while (or ever in some cases), or who have opted out of all communications from you will pay dividends. It’s a quick win to seeing increased deliverability for your remaining contacts and ultimately will result in higher success metrics. It’s not cheating to only communicate with those you know will be interested and ultimately, its engaged contacts who purchase or convert! ”
- Tell People About Your Email List + Where They Can Sign Up – “Once you’ve cleared out your data, you want to encourage new sign ups. Having a simple but clear newsletter sign up box on your website homepage is a really easy way to do this. You can also include the option to opt into more email using a consent tick box which links back to your preference centre and grow multiple send lists at once! Sign up boxes should also be placed throughout your customer journey on your site. You can also think about including links to them on social media, at the end of webinars or even cross promote with affiliate companies. Ensuring you tell people where they can sign up is vital, without signposting and making it clear, people who do want to hear from you might be missing out. A lot of people have suggested using popover displays or light boxes on your website to encourage sign up (think groupon or wowcher), personally I think these are a turn off, but there is no reason not to test them as part of your ongoing list growth activity. ”
- Generate + Share Amazing Content Via Email – “Generate amazing content and then put it behind a marketing sign up wall. Okay so in the days of GDPR you can’t force someone to sign up to your emails to download the document. But you can encourage them to do so by telling them you can send a copy of the document to their inboxes or informing them that content like this is available in your regular email updates. Sing the praises of your email communications and let people know what great stuff they could get from you, whether this be whitepapers, research materials, offers or sneak peak sales etc. You’re doing good things that people want to know about so shout about it and make it seem like a no brainer to sign up. ”
- Laser-Like Focus – “Be incredibly well targeted and don’t stray too far from that niche in any of your marketing. It helps massively if your audience both recognise themselves in your marketing and also believe you are the go to person for solving their problems.”
- Keep Your Message On Point – “Test and reuse your sales and marketing messages and keep them targeted. Even if you have a legacy client in a different sector or demographic, don’t be tempted to mix your messages. Oh and keep them short in the beginning.”
- Use Video – “BOOM! The stats are there, it’s incredibly easy with your mobile, a video editor (also on your mobile) and a basic filing set up.”
- Create “Gifts” that Provide Real Value – “Create three to five items of value, whether that’s an eBook, an infographic, a resource guide, an educational PDF, or a video. The point is to really think about what will serve your audience. Then direct people off of social media or your blog and over to a landing page where they must opt in to your email list before receiving the gift. There, create an urgency to sign up by using ethical scarcity – i.e. make it a limited time offer, or only offer to share a limited number of your item, and stick to it.
If you have a B2C business, test out your various offerings using Facebook ads and take note of which incentives as well as what types of ads convert the most subscribers. You’ll want to pay attention to which images and copy have a higher conversion rate as well as your gifts. If you’re working in the B2B sector, consider looking at sites like LinkedIn to offer exclusive content through an email opt-in targeted at specific groups. A simple way to do this is by offering an exclusive opt-in when sending a welcome email to a new connection.”
- Collaborate with Businesses that Complement Yours – “Take the time to refine your offering by looking at conversion rates for the various incentives that you shared on Facebook or in LinkedIn (per Tip#1 above). Make sure to engage in conversation with your customers so you can get a sense of what is most important to them, and what their main issue is – then refine your offering to meet that need.
When you feel you’ve chosen the right gift and that it is genuinely helpful to your audience, a great way to bring in more signups is to share it with another similar business or person’s list.
Ideally they should be in a related business but not a direct competitor – think a software provider paired with an online marketer, or a life coach paired with a retreat.
Once you’ve found a good partner (or 3), team up with the business or blog to exchange free offers and opt-in forms on each other’s websites or newsletters.
You can also offer helpful content, such as a blog or article, to their website and include an opt-in and a free gift.
However you do it, it’s important that you are providing value to this person or business as well as to their audience so that the business or site owner is happy to spread the word – and their audience is happy to sign up and receive the gift.”
- Offer a Free Webinar Training Series – “Demonstrate your value as an expert in your field by offering a free training series in the form of a webinar.
By providing excellent free education to your audience you can clarify your services and your message as well as establish trust between you and your possible future customers.
Your webinar should show just how much knowledge and content you have to share on this topic. It also should provide a teaser about what future information you plan to share in your newsletter so that your viewers are inspired to join you and sign up for your email list.
You can also use a webinar to give away a free gift through an opt-in at the end. For YouTube you can structure it as a giveaway bonus for watching the video. Create a button on the video that links to an opt-in page. Make sure your free gift furthers the training provided in the webinar so that your subscriber feels he or she is getting the complete training by receiving the gift.
In the end, the greater service you provide your audience, the better chances you have of building up an email list and converting those subscribers into clients. By learning what your customer wants, refining your offering, and finding a variety of ways to incentivize signups, you’ll be building a much bigger email list in no time.”
- Optimize Your Signup Box – “Optimize your signup box FIRST. The sooner you do this, the faster your list will grow. Make sure it includes the three P’s
• Prominence: It’s obvious and easy to see
• Promise: It tells them what they’ll get if they subscribe
• Proof: It tells that that other people get it, either by showing number of subscribers or giving a little testimonial”
Here is a simple example:
- Collaborate with Influencers – “It’s one of the only shortcuts in digital marketing. Getting the voices, names and faces of people who are influential over your audience does many good things: it build credibility, it improves quality and it can increase traffic.
If the influencer has a decent and engaged social following and they share the content once it’s live, it can create a short spike in traffic. And since you have a well optimized signup form, you can expect new signups from these visitors.
Those are subscribers you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t collaborated with the influencer.”
- Put your subscribe call to action EVERYWHERE – “You probably have it somewhere on your blog. But think about all the other places you could add a sign-up CTA. Here are 10 places to make sure you suggest they subscribe.
1. At the top of your blog’s main page
2. At the bottom of every blog post
3. Halfway down each blog post in the body of the article
4. On your about us page
5. In your website footer
6. On your contact thank you page
7. In your email signature
8. On your “page not found” page
9. At the end of your videos
10. In the closing words of your podcast”
- Create a Cross Channel Plan – “Don’t think of marketing channels as just verticals; they all play an important part in your cross-channel online marketing strategy. If you have a strong social presence, leverage that to engage with current and perspective customers by promoting exclusive promotions, offers, or “freemium” content, and drive them to individualized landing pages on your website. Landing pages should be designed to collect 1 to 2 pieces of demographic data, along with their email address. Focus product or content-based posts on Instagram and Pinterest and then utilize Facebook and Twitter for time-based or transactional promotions, so they can easily be shared and retweeted. Utilizing multiple channels can lead to exponential lead generation opportunities and generate a larger online presence and reputation.”
- Leverage the Power of YouTube – “YouTube, now the world’s second largest search engine, offers a unique platform to generate leads and create a community of loyal customers for products and services. YouTube provides several ways to integrate videos and content with your company’s website, through call-to-action cards and embedded media. Videos you share on YouTube should be about creating perceived “added value”, through a combination of demonstrations, how-to’s, and testimonials. Adding YouTube’s call-to-action cards on your channel page will direct viewers to a localized product page on your website, by utilizing customized images, titles, and calls to action. Create individualized product pages on your website, each containing a lead form to capture specific data about each potential customer. These landing pages can offer additional content, offers, or promotions. Combining this demographic data and product information is vital for you to be able to personalize future email campaigns.”
Use the Power of Pop-Ups – “If you want to build a customer base, there are at least two ways to go. The first is traditional – with customer buying a product or creating an account online and leaving their email address. The second is a bit tricky, yet extremely efficient – you incentivize customers to leave their emails through the “anythings” methods. One of them is pop-ups.
The second method turned out to be extremely efficient in my case, especially for industries like real estate or education. Let’s take look at the results I achieved through the use of pop-ups.
Building the relevant base of potential subscribers: new visitors and repeated sessions of clients without email registration (only for the desktop version)
Converting leads into registered users: 13.7%. This result was achieved due to the ability to collect the data within the pop-up.
Converting users into buyers: 7.2% of the pop-up registrations made purchases and became first-time customers.
For better conversion, you should use the GET parameters in the links, leading people to a certain part of the order form and filling empty fields on the page for new users.
These results were achieved on a site with about 30,000 monthly active users, out of which:
– Desktop visitors: 15,000;
– New visitors: 5,000.
Important to mention: On the pop-ups, Am email series was created to easily onboard clients and guide them towards making their first purchase.
For creating pop-ups, you should concentrate on the following 2 things:
– The moment of collecting customer emails;
– The content you use to ask for an email (located on the pop-up).
Now that you know what to take into account, let’s take a closer look at the process of creating a pop-up:
1) Display conditions. A pop-up should appear when a website visitor is leaving the page. But how do you know when it happens? Well, when the mouse cursor is at the top of the site, it does not always mean the end of the user session. Perhaps a customer just wants to respond to a message in another window.
2) Placement on the pages should be everywhere. The only exception is the order page, as you don’t want to distract the customer during the purchase process, do you?
3) Devices. Using pop-ups is convenient only for the desktop version. For the mobile environment, other methods of building a list are more effective.
4) Pop-up content:
4.1) Pop-up structure: it should have only one email input field. Check whether the spelling of an email domain name is correct; in the event it is not, display an error and explain the reason for it.
4.2) Design: it should be designed to fit in with the overall website/brand style and interface color.
4.3) Content: it should be as short and concise as possible. Motivate users to subscribe: offer prizes, news, gifts, discounts, participation in the contest, etc.
Important: customers’ motivation to subscribe must align with your product. Otherwise, despite the increase in registrations, you will not get the result you expect – subscribers and buyers may not be interested enough in your product/business.
When you are building the client base, make sure you use the correct formatting. It must align with all laws of the region you are located in. This is important.
User interaction with the pop-up:
– If users are not interested in your offer, they should have a simple opportunity to close the pop-up. You can but you don’t need to disturb them until you have something else to offer.
– If the user subscribes, you should turn the text on your pop-up into a friendly ‘thank you’ message. This will ensure that the registration in the pop-up is completed and the welcome email is already in the user’s inbox. Prompt users to check the confirmation email right away and confirm their subscription.
For maximum convenience, the user should have 2 ways to hide the pop-up:
– Automatic closing after a certain period since successful registration has passed;
– Manual closing by pressing the button.
Record 3 types of cookies for different customer groups:
1) those who closed the window;
2) those who have successfully registered;
3) those who have previously registered emails in an organic way on the site.
Before showing the pop-up to the user, you should read the cookies you have written. Then, you should set the end-time for each category of cookies you created.
Sure you will have those users who have been previously registered on the site and who have already seen the pop-up earlier. This situation may happen due to a number of reasons. One of the most comprehensive explanations is that the user does not have the specified cookies at the moment: they could log in from another device, clean the cookie, reinstall a browser or reset an operating system, etc.
In this article, we looked at how you can get additional registrations to your email list using the power of pop-ups. I hope my experience can help your business.
To conclude, I want to give you a recommendation. While working with pop-ups, you can create automatic GA reports, automatic tests on the performance of this method, and anti-abuse protection rules. This will ensure that your competitors do not misuse your registration forms, do split tests of everything related to pop-ups, and much more.
You can start for yourself with several options:
– Creating pop-up windows independently with the development department;
– Using the pop-up functionality of different ESPs. Examples: Mailchimp.com, Esputnik.com
– Using specialized services for creating and working with pop-ups. Examples: Popmechanic.io, Popupmaker.com”
- Less is More – “The moment you make someone hesitate, you lose them.
I always go back to the “Jam Study” by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University. I highly recommend giving it a read here.
In essence, the more options provided reduce both initial interaction and subsequent conversion rate due to analysis paralysis.
It’s best explained by when you walk into a supermarket and you stare at this huge selection of similar products before you go “whatever” and grab the brand you recognise as it’s the easiest decision or grab the one on special. You’re subconsciously deciding that undertaking the analysis of each choice available is too tedious due to the number of options. This is Analysis Paralysis
The easier you make it to join your list with the faster it will grow.
You can personalise based off their email, web and purchase behaviour; you don’t need to know their mother’s maiden name or their favourite colour.”
References are here for Jam study:
- Get Physical – “Digital is great. I love digital. But I don’t love overlooking the endless opportunities a physical interaction presents.
In a past role, I calculated that each email address we gathered would return nearly $4 over a 12 month period.
Our focus was purely growing our list on the digital front until someone suggested we could push this in the physical stores of the business.
We began an education program to customer-facing staff and put an emphasis on sharing the monetary ROI that collecting these addresses would bring. This resulted in a significant uplift. By sharing the business reason for collection we gave staff incentive.
There are multiple ways to build your list in a physical location:
• At the point of sale
• CTA to signup pages on in-store advertising
• Placement of tablets that prompt the user to join”
- Provide Incentive and Communicate Expectations – “Sounds like the title of welcome journeys 101 right? That’s because it is. The signup process is the first step in many businesses’ welcome journey and it cannot be neglected.
It comes down to an exchange of value. You go to a website, up pops the join form and in that split second you consider the value proposition.
The Australian e-commerce store “The Iconic” has always done this very well.
In that split second they provide a clear incentive. Sign up to get $20 off.
But this isn’t the only way. You can provide value through education, events, exclusive news and updates.
Regardless your signup process needs to communicate what they will receive and for it to be successful these need to align with what your customers want from this value exchange.”
- Don’t Overlook Business Speaking – “Don’t just think ebooks. Business speaking is a brilliant way to build your list – but you need to create a talk that leaves people really wanting that additional information. Plus you need to create a FOOLPROOF and hard-to-ignore way to capture people’s details. On a large scale you can do that with a super easy opt-in form linked into a short and simple unique url that people can easily type into a phone during the session – share the url on the screen during your talk – or hand out individual signup sheets for smaller events. Passing around a list for people to add their name to does NOT work – it’s likely to stall half way round the room or, if the first few people don’t add their name, most others won’t either. Typically I can grab around 80% of an audience’s details from a small event and 50% from something larger.”
- Really Think About Your CTAs and Form Placements – “Ditch ‘sign up for our newsletter’. Let’s be really honest – NO-ONE wants to read your newsletter. And I really do mean NO-ONE! It’s lazy, lacks thought and suggests you just are more interested in yourself than your customers and prospects. Think much more adventurously – like ‘share your details in order to be one of the first to hear about our customer offers and price deals’. And don’t relegate your ‘sign up’ to the contact page – make it prominent on the home page and make it sound really compelling. Building a list shouldn’t be an end in itself, so back up the request with a multi-part autoresponder sequence from your CRM system, driving prospects towards a ‘next step’ with you. ”
- Leverage Tech to Create Amazing Lead Magnets Efficiently – “Creating super attractive material to help you build your list is critical but, in my experience, people often seem to struggle pulling together ‘leadbait’ such as ebooks or useful ‘top strategies’ type material. Make this easier by using https://beacon.by/ which magically transforms a set of your relevant blogs to quickly create a professional ebook for you. Use this on your website, in social media and via talks.”
- Put Sign Up Forms in Various Places – “Be sure to have a newsletter/email list sign up form on your website (may be a given), but also in your email signature. The more touch points you have, the better chance you have to build a solid list.”
- Promote Your Email List in the Author Box – “Add a sign up form to your “about the author” section of any content you create. Make it the last sentence: “For more tips, sign up for my email list…”
- Reach Out to Your Social Followings – “Use social media to build your list. Offer incentives to join your list, such as an eBook, and let your network know they’re available.”
- Use a Tiered Incentive Program – “I’m limited in what I can share, but one of my favorite acquisition programs was for an organization with an active inbound call center selling direct to consumer. The active customer base far exceeded its email subscriber base.
The goal was to convert inbound callers without an email address on file, as seen in the customer service/order screen, into email subscribers. The organization had a lackluster history of previous attempts to enlist the call center for email acquisition.
We developed a tiered incentive program packaged as a limited-time contest with a set beginning and end. The first of 5 tiers were within easy reach for the average rep with gifts and goals increasing to a grand prize of a large TV.
Inbound call representatives were provided a form where they would input a customer-provided email address if the email field in the customer service tool was blank; which was the majority of customers.
The form supported real-time validation allowing the call center rep to correct any typos to the email address while on the phone with the caller. The form included a field for the rep’s ID for tracking and attribution. Hidden fields were added for identifying the program/contest.
A script was developed to explain the value of becoming an email subscriber and the steps to make sure they receive the company’s emails. In order to qualify the recipient would have to open three messages within ten days, with the first being opt-in verification followed by two messages within as many days welcoming the new subscriber.
With a 37% stick rate the value of the new subscribers well exceeded the costs of promoting and producing the contest; even in the short term. What wasn’t measured was the camaraderie and friendly competition that seemed to energize the call center with reps motivating others in competition for the gifts and grand prize.
The gaining of email subscribers from the customer base didn’t shift attribution from call-in to email, but instead brought additional sales from the growing email subscriber base.”
- Add a Sign-Up Pop-Up on Your Website. – “Your website is the first contact many people have with your business. Don’t miss the opportunity to stay connected with new visitors.”
- Offer an Incentive for Their Email Address – “Whether on Social Media or your website, offer something of value that your customer will want to download to provide their email.”
- Collect Emails Through a Hosted App via Wifi Access – “When a customer wants to access wifi, they will need to provide an email address. Try Gazella.”
- Leverage Affiliate Marketing Networks – “Ensure that you have set yourself up across all the top affiliate networks offering email marketing as a traffic source, potentially the main traffic source on your campaign.
If you have PPC/SEO set-up already, email marketing with the correct content is an excellent tool along with search in growing your database by allowing the content on both to work together and increase visibility on search engines.
When running an email marketing campaign, you need to ensure that your email creative is content focused, providing the reader with all the relevant and important details of the product you are selling within the email. By providing the focused content you can then direct the reader/user to the purchase/checkout page and cut out any middle landing pages that could become drop off points within the process. This will encourage a much higher conversion rate, or opt-in from the customer to be contacted again without them dropping out during the process.
You need to ensure that you have an opt-in on your checkout pages and get permission for you to market to the user. These opt-in boxes may not be pre-ticked under GDPR regulations, but once you have the double opt-in, which is the customer accepting the terms and privacy and to receiving future emails, you will be growing a solid high-quality email list with interested parties that have shown intent.
Affiliate marketing gives you access to email marketers that already have their own data lists and can be targeted correctly, to ensure that your product and email is being seen by the relevant demographic.”
- Re-Targetting – “Retarget marketing is becoming more and more relevant these days. A pop-up providing the customer with an incentive to return to your website when leaving the page or site altogether is a sure way to increase your database, either by them making a purchase from the incentive or asking them to opt-in to receive future communication within the pop-up.
There are also GDPR ways of retargeting your customers directly through email marketing. Companies such as SmarterClick provide technology that allows you to engage to the fullest ability that you can and not miss out on those all-important email addresses and the customers potentially moving onto the competition.
In some cases, it is known that up to 80%+ of traffic can leave a website without engagement. By hitting this leaked traffic, you are sure to increase not only your email list, but your sales and future email communications too.”
- Never Rent or Buy an Email List – “Under no circumstances should you use rented or bought email lists. These lists are very dangerous as there are loads of fraudulent and bad lists out there. These can cause great damage to your company/brand name and can also lead to large fines, especially now with the new GDPR regulations that are in place. Always ensure that when working with email marketers, they have legitimate opted-in emails and the provider is registered on ICO – https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/what-we-do/register-of-fee-payers/ – and they are fully GDPR compliant.
Working with reputable networks and data-list owners will go a long way to ensuring that this happens, but my advice to you is to always be vigilant and ensure you know who you are working with. This also gives you comfort that the targeted email data is trusted, high quality and relevant and will grow your own email list with the same quality.”
“All the above are the best ways to grow your data lists outside of your standard search and seo marketing. Content is king and run correctly through the right partners, you can grow your lists with high quality email addresses.”
- Give Away Something of Value! – “It doesn’t have to be the secrets of the Lost Ark, but there needs to be original content to disseminate that people need. Speak to your audience, either literally to find out what it is they need, or in a “how-to” way via the article for your industry and target market.”
- Great Landing Pages are Key – “One focal point of having a great landing page – have only ONE goal and link. Use the link in multiple places, but have only one target destination. Confusing people will only make it more difficult to track let alone build your email list.”
- DON’T LIE – “Be authentic! Touting your article as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but having it contain the same tips as 500 other articles will lose you followers, not gain them. Doing your research will enable you to provide much more insight to your market than idle threats.”
- Make the Most of Some Great Plugins – “There are some fantastic free and premium WordPress plugins out there that should not be overlooked because they make list building an easy thing to do on your website that can be targeted to first-time visitors, returning visitors, or just before exit. I love AddThis and their Website Tools plugin for WordPress – it is fantastic and nicely customizable “right out of the box” and free! They also send you weekly performance reports on how you’re doing. Our clients see a 1-4% opt-in rate pretty regularly, often more, which is pretty competitive. OptinMonster is also fantastic but will cost you more and for more advanced marketers, is likely worth the investment: https://optinmonster.com/. Their email tips are also top notch, so get on their list!”
- Don’t Forget About Offline Opportunities for Data Gathering – “Many of our brick-and-mortar clients overlook the simplicity, high conversion rate, and accuracy of asking customers or clients for their email address at the time of appointment setting or payment/checkout. Many also overlook importing their contact lists for their active email exchanges that qualify as having engaged in business together.”
- Buddy up with a Complementary Business to Host a Giveaway Together – “Contests for Pages is a great premium Facebook tool for hosting contests which are always a popular means of list growth. You have to be cautious not to “over contest” and also temper your expectations on the quality of consumers you’ll get (some are just in it for the freebie), but once or twice a year is doable. https://contest.app.do Be sure that all participating businesses share the fun with their audiences so everyone wins promotionally.”
- Leverage Other People’s Email Lists – “One of the most effective list building strategies is to have other list owners mail your offer to their list. You can pay other email list owners to promote your product or service. These are typically known as Solo Ads. I also refer to them as Email Media Buys. Find relevant websites that target a similar audience as you do, and ask them if they sell email ads to their email list. For someone who is a beginner to building a list, this is a fast way to get your first email subscribers.”
- Use a Multi-Step Opt-in Page – “When you send a visitor to your site, you want to make sure there are clear instructions on what they need to do next. For instance, you can have a call-to-action button such as, ‘Access Your Free Gift Now’. Once they click on the button a box pop-ups asking for their email address. This multi-step opt-in strategy can increase opt-in rates by 33% or more. The psychology behind this is that when someone clicks once, they are more committed to finishing the process. Most popular landing page software have this multi-step opt-in feature available.”
- Test, Test, Test – “Many entrepreneurs who are new to digital marketing underestimate the power of split-testing. One small change to your landing page, or your call-to-action can make a significant difference in the success of your campaign. Do be afraid to test. Make sure you track your test results and scale the ones that perform the best. Never stop testing.”
Kenny Van Beeck
- Stimulate the Conversion on Your Registration Forms
“1. Include an abbreviated registration form or prominent sign up graphic on every page of your website to increase newsletter visibility.
3. Explain the benefits of becoming an email subscriber.
4. Allow subscribers to choose the frequency of email delivery. Giving the subscriber control over delivery frequency allows you to stop guessing and start listening to your customer’s preferences.
5. Thank your customers for their registration. It may sound incredibly obvious, but we still come across websites that don’t provide a “thank you” page at the end of the email registration process.”
- Even in Digital, Don’t Forget Offline
“How to collect email addresses:
•Ask permission to use the email address
•Send a confirmation email”
- Reduce Friction on Your Registration Forms (#1 Conversion Booster) – “Friction elements is a specific resistance due to a given element on the landing page.
Pay attention to:
•Limit the length of your copy
•Use the same tone of voice as your invitation message
•Make it easy to interact
•Make your text scannable
•Limit the number of fields in a registration form”
- Giveaways – “This one is THE most effective way of building a large and responsive email list. It is rather simple: determine what your target audience likes and hold regular give away. I have seen lists grow 10x within 6 months. The secret is to entice the community members to share it with others. This will give you even more vertical penetration.”
- Collaborate with Your Peers – “This one is one of the rather underutilized methods. Don’t fear others in your space; not everyone is your competitor. Reach out and work out deals to expose each other to your audiences. You would be surprised how quickly a fair share of their email subscribers opt for your list as well.”
- Provide Free Valuable Information Regularly – “Be it some industry news you happen to get the scoop on or a comprehensive curation of industry news. Never underestimate how little time people have and how much they appreciate a round up to keep up to date.”
- Make the Most of In-Person Events – “At every event (presentation, fair, chamber, etc.) offer something of value in return for an email address.”
- Use Social Media – “Use your email service provider’s tool to acquire email addresses from your social media platform.”
- Use Entry into a Raffle as an Incentive – “In retail environments, have a raffle box with a sign inviting customers to enter their email address to win a monthly prize.”
- Make Your Email Sign-Up Ubiquitous – “Be sure to leverage every customer contact point—not only on your web site but in your stores, contact centers, and points of sale—to invite your customers and prospects to opt-in to your emails. This may sound obvious, but many companies fail to leverage every customer contact as a list-building opportunity. I have seen consistent double-digit list growth from restaurants that promote their email lists on-site, and from travel companies that make opting in clear and obvious through their web sites.”
- Provide a Specific Benefit to Signing Up – “Being ubiquitous by itself isn’t enough, however. You also have to make sure that your customers and prospects are given a clear incentive for opting in. Examples: retailers who offer a discount off a first order after signing up see consistent list growth, and travel companies who provide email-only offers and “insider” information via email.”
- Integrate Email Sign-Ups with Your Paid Search Campaigns – “If you’re spending money to drive search traffic to landing pages for your marketing campaigns, but have not included email opt-in that is specific to the campaign, chances are you are leaving money on the table. I have seen time and again, especially for products and services with a longer purchase cycle, how intelligently placed email opt-in forms on a landing page can capture customer intent and build a sales funnel. BUT, the emails sent to those subscribers need to be very targeted to the specific campaign and search terms that generated the user session–don’t just start sending these folks your weekly newsletter. That is a big snooze and they are likely to just opt-out or, worse, simply ignore you.”
- Tactics are Nothing Without Strategy – “And by this I mean give people a good reason to sign up (and stay signed up) to your list. The specifics of this will always depend upon the audience. For an ecommerce site this could be regular offers or some such; it does not have to be complicated, we just need to consider what the customer wants and needs and then work from there.”
- Deliver Real Value – “It’s no good adding 100 subscribers a week if you lose 100 subscribers a week. A marketing email I always read is a summary of the Google Webmaster Hangouts. I have not got 90 mins to watch the whole hangout but a 2 minute summary of key points is absolutely golden – so I stay signed up.”
- Content Upgrades – “A tactic we have some success with at Bowler Hat (my agency) and for our clients is to use content upgrades. This is where we have an additional element to any content that performs well via whatever channel we promote it on (organic search and paid social mostly). So, for an SEO Checklist we will actually provide a template that folks can get hold of if they sign up to the email. We then likely combine this with a small program of automated emails to help the client use the checklist and just keep hitting them with additional value to keep hold of them (see #2).”
Javed S. Khan
- Add a Form to Your Website – “Easily add a link to your sign- up form on your website and collect emails from people who visit your site. Give your sign- up form plenty of visibility by putting it on every page.”
- Offer an Online Coupon – “Offer new subscribers a discount that can be redeemed in-store or online. Plus, add an extra bonus for those who share with their friends!”
- Offer a Piece of Valued Content – “You can offer up a great piece of content—like a whitepaper, eBook, or guide—to entice people to join your list.”
BONUS TIP: Test different calls to action!
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Test different calls-to-action and see how your audience responds.
- Make Your Sign-Up Forms Visible – “My number one top tip is not to hide the sign-up option. Many websites hide it at the very bottom of the site, without any explicit call to action or enticing copy to encourage new sign-ups. Make your sign up form stand out and give your customer a reason to subscribe. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to provide a discount or an offer; it could be that you’ll provide your subscribers with sneak previews, personalised content, or reward them for their loyalty to your brand.”
- A/B Test Your Pop-Up Boxes and Optimize – “A/B test the variety of ways that you capture new sign-ups. For example, a lightbox which is a pop-up box that appears on your website promoting your email sign up is an incredibly useful technique to not only driving new sign ups but also in promoting your email marketing activity. A/B test different designs of this lightbox, the time in which it is displayed and the amount of information you’re asking for to optimise this form. And if you’re asking for more than the email address at this stage, question how clear the value to the new subscriber is? What benefit does the new subscriber receive in providing all of that information?”
- Provide Relevant and Valuable Content – “It’s great to grow your email marketing list continuously, but that won’t be effective if you don’t optimise the campaigns that are sending. Make sure that the content you are sending is relevant, as personalised as possible and adds value to your subscribers. The best way to assess this is to review the performance of your email marketing campaigns over time. This can also be correlated to the length of time your recipients have been subscribed. I’ve consulted with brands that were experiencing a steady decline in their email marketing performance over time. When analysing their performance it was clear that recipients that had been subscribed for more than 4 months began to lose interest, their engagement waned, and after six months more than half of the email marketing list was no longer opening emails. So make sure your content is optimised and continuously measure your email marketing performance.”
“Certainly in the UK, in the post-GDPR world, we’ve seen lawyers (rightly or wrongly) advise many brands to cut databases to ensure compliance. In many cases, these cuts have all but decimated marketing databases.
So now it really is time to go ‘back to basics’ for brands to start to rebuild and use every opportunity to do so – but whilst clearly explaining what you intend to do with that data, what the recipient can expect to receive (for compliance), but perhaps most importantly, what VALUE are they going to receive from you.
For me, the value exchange has always been the most important, and often overlooked element of any data collection – and perhaps now, more than ever brands should really be dialling in on how they are going to create something unique and with a high level of perceived value for the recipient.”
- Lightboxes/Pop-Overs/Exit Intent Monitoring – “For me, this is still number 1 for organic growth – after all, if you’ve managed to get someone onto the website it’s a totally wasted opportunity to not use this.
As for the arguments that they are annoying etc…well, they are if you don’t think about how to execute properly. Do it right, and they work. Fact.
The key is in having flexible technology to trigger them intelligently…and most good Marketing Automation platforms should allow you to do this.
Here’s how to use them effectively and what to avoid.
– Don’t make them pop up immediately when I land on your site! That’s definitely annoying. Give the recipient time to browse for a while. If you’re working with a company using exit intent monitoring, it may be beneficial to use this to trigger the lightbox.
– Don’t keep making them pop up if I keep hitting the ‘close’ button! Clearly I don’t want to leave you my data, but I’m happy to shop your site…keep annoying me though and I may change my mind on that too…!
– Don’t make them pop up if I’m already a subscriber…do you not know who I am…??! As mentioned before, a good technology platform should be able to intelligently display only if I’m not already subscribed.
– Do be super clear on the value exchange. Why should I give you my data now? What’s in it for me, but more importantly, what will I miss out on if I don’t sign up.
Remember, incentives don’t always need to be monetary – whilst many brands seem to still want to give discounts/ free shipping etc. consider instead something exclusive. This could be first access to new products or exclusive content or offers that they won’t get if they don’t sign up.”
- Use CRM Tools to Target Prospects – “Technology has evolved fast – many platforms now give you the opportunity to leverage Google and Facebook Ad networks for acquisition. And of course this also increases reach into the likes of YouTube and Instagram.
Intelligent, AI driven profiling gives you the opportunity (for B2C brands) to identify their best customers, profile them and target lookalike audiences through CRM based ads into social networks.
Being targeted like this not only helps control spend (ie. you’re not blanket advertising to everyone), but it’s more likely also to engage those people who are most likely to actually buy from you, or be higher spenders etc.
Think about something special and unique for those who you attract this way – really go to town in making this compelling for them to signup and link through to a landing page that presents a seamless experience (ie. branding/ offer/ feel/ messaging) and makes it very easy to sign-up. By this I mean only collect data you actually need right away…you can always add preferences later or build their profile and tastes based upon their actions.”
- Build an Immediate and Solid Welcome Program – “Capturing data is all very well, but actioning and nurturing is key to success. This means that time is of the essence once a recipient has undertaken an action, and the first message of ‘Thank you for joining’ should be immediate.
Structure a solid Welcome Program which is a journey of touchpoints to push engagement, experience and ultimately drive that first purchase.
It’s always been my recommendation that Welcome Programs should not be too hard sell. Think about the next step you want someone to take to increase their engagement – this may be to create an account for example, or engage in more content on other channels.
Make it more content focused for value rather than simply pushing product or discount – how can they use your product, how will it benefit them etc.
By way of example, a friend of mine runs a makeup brand. Whilst they do sell concessions in department stores, the majority is online, so engagement with brand across channels is key.
The entire journey from signup is rich content driven to give people makeup tips and techniques.
They then start to recommend their products to ‘get the look’. The value is in the learning – the products are then much easier to recommend and sell…”
“Above all – and as with everything, keep measuring, testing and refining!”
Quality Over Quantity – “Key to any email list is the quality, don’t just go for quantity! With that in mind I’ll start with actually reducing your email list…
From the DMA website:
“Email marketing’s return on investment (ROI) is up to £32.28 for every £1 spent, from £30.03 the previous year. According to the DMA’s Marketer email tracker 2018 report, sponsored by dotmailer, half of marketers (50%) are now confident they can accurately calculate this ROI figure, while just one in five (19%) believe they can determine the lifetime value of an email address to their business.”
Review your list at the beginning, who to keep (active), who to re-energise (no longer active) and who to remove (invalid emails). This can be hard for stakeholders to hear, but it is vital. I once reduced an email list from over 20,000 down to 6,000, and that was before GDPR.
This also means your reporting is going to be far more meaningful! In my example above, open rates appears as:
Old List 20,000 – 2,000 open, 500 click = 10% opens, 2.5% CTR
New list 6,000 – 2,000 open, 500 click = 33% opens, 8.3% CTR”
Add Situation Specific Opt-Ins – “Understand the legal and regulatory requirements, how they have recently changed and what change may be coming next, ideally be open and transparent about who you are and what you are doing with the data you collect.
Add specific opt-ins to everything, give them a reason to opt-in and be clear about how you use their data. Make sure your privacy policies, preference centres and unsubscribe systems are all setup correctly, be clear and open.
Collect email addresses at a trade show (consider how you are gathering consent, it is often best to follow up with an email quickly to confirm an opt-in)”
Test, Measure and Refine – “Don’t forget the more technical side too, always be testing:
– Shorten the length of your lead-capturing forms, for each field added you will lose potential signups and extra data can always be added later.
– A/B test different campaign copy, find out what works. If it doesn’t work, how can you fix it, if it does work how can you make it better.
– Add engagement features to your YouTube channel or other videos.
– Use Forward to a friend for specific email campaigns such as sharing discounts or useful articles.
– Consider where email can be automated, but make sure it remains personal.
Remember a 200,000 recipient list will be useless if no one is opening / clicking / subscribing / buying. Keep your data clean and up to date, segment where you can.”
- Look for Organic Opportunities – “Organic growth is the ONLY way to go. Utilize any and all available integrations – online ordering, online shop, gift card purchases, app download, etc.”
- Use Highly Visible Calls-To-Action on Your Website – “You have a website, have an obvious callout for sign-ups on that real estate – if there’s a rotating carousel of images at the top of the homepage include a link to the join page there and/or use a lightbox pop-up if there isn’t real estate to devote on the homepage.”
- Don’t Ignore In-Store Signups – “Don’t ignore in-store as a viable list growth option. Sign-up slips are still successful if easily available to guests, or go the Text-to-Join route if you’d like to allow quicker joins/be more advanced. There should be signage and staff members should be trained on some talking points about the program so they can answer questions (or ideally be directly bringing it up to members).”
Bonus Tip: Practice Killer List Hygiene – Not Building But Certainly Management
“A well-managed list will perform well and consistently. Ignoring list maintenance best practices will create issues pertaining to deliverability and engagement, resulting in lost revenue and brand reputation issues. You have to know when to say goodbye to a non-performer; set email triggers for engagement activity before they go cold.”
- Talk to Your Social Media Following – “Use your social channels to remind followers to subscribe to email. Don’t assume that your followers are already subscribed!”
- Invest in Onsite Tech – “Invest in your list building practices to gain quality leads that will earn you more over time. Work with a company that supports onsite technology to enhance the ease of the acquisition interaction – one of my favorites is Justuno. Don’t rely on just one pop-up/overlay to capture email addresses on your site. Work in a full plan to provide both static and disruptive at different points of the user’s site visit.”
- Remarket to Unsubscribers – “Use your unsubscribe list to remarket and request re-subscribes via other channels (you may even consider increasing the subscribe offer!) Unsubscribe is typically selected for a few key reasons, like receiving too many emails, so work on a strategy to improve common complaints about your emails and once you’re set, let your previous subscribers know via social, display, and even onsite marketing that they should re-subscribe.”
- Let Your List Grow Organically – “The most successful email marketing campaigns revolve around sending information to the people who want to hear from you. When your content is focused on what you do best and delivers value to everyone on your list, they spread the word. An email list does not have to be large to be effective in bringing in business, both new and repeat. It’s not about the size of the list, it’s about how many people are opening and reading your message and then doing business with you.”
- Make it Personal and Ask – “Whenever you exchange business cards, take a moment to discuss the type of information your send in your emails, as well as their frequency, and simply ask if it’s okay to add that person to your list.”
- Offer Something of Value in Exchange for Signing Up for Your Emails – “This can be done through forms on your website or in person such as at a trade show or business expo. The more you educate someone on the benefits of working with or buying from you, the more interested they’ll be. Remember that we all receive more emails than we want, especially when we’re added to lists that we didn’t agree to. Luckily, that hasn’t stopped us from continuing to sign up to lists that are meaningful to us.”
“Email marketing is about being part of a relationship. When you deliver great information that people want to read, they read it. They also talk about it and share it. So, no matter what tactic you use to create and then grow your list, if your email content does not resonate with the people reading it, they’ll unsubscribe faster than you can add the next person. Many things in business come down to a numbers game, so of course you must grow your email lists and you grow your business. My best advice is to take care of the people who are on your list and not worry too much about how many new people are joining.”
- One-Two Punch – “I have found the greatest success in recent years with what I call the “One-Two Punch”. The first punch is creating killer content that offers something different. I’ve had the most success with short eight-page eBooks that offer potential clients and investors relevant solutions and insights that they won’t be getting anywhere else. The second punch comes from extensive social marketing of those eBooks. A few years ago, we launched an eBook and grew our email list by 400% in six months through a social campaign that positioned the eBook to multiple audiences. We were able to position the eBook as a must-read for everyone in industry from C-suite executives all the way down to hourly employees, all of whom found benefit from the content and perspectives we shared. We didn’t limit our audience, but found ways to make the content appealing to as wide of a global audience as possible.”
- Refer-a-Colleague – “I’ve been able to successfully use what I call a “refer-a-colleague” technique to grow my lists. This is achieved by sending emails to your current customers and prospects and offering them some incentive for sharing contact information of a specific type of colleague you are trying to reach in order to grow your list and prospect to those colleagues. Many of my current contacts have been more than willing to put me in touch with someone at their organization who might be better suited for a particular offering and they’re generally glad to make the introduction, particularly if that means they may not be receiving as many emails from me because I now have a new contact to reach out to. At one organization, I was able to track a $400,000.00 sales within the first three months of doing such a campaign. List growth from this sort of technique is slower than other techniques, but generally the quality of the leads is much higher than what you’ll get from other sources.”
- Implement Strong Exit Intent Strategies – “In the world of engagement marketing, key for anyone owning a site/or email service is to literally “own” the exit pages on your site and enable retargeting for those that don’t convert. This isn’t out of the box, it’s required. Exit intent surveys, pop ups on the site are all mainstays for list growth.”
- Use the Power of AI Bots – “AI bots are evolving and with applications like Drift and others that help you collaborate with people visiting your site, this is a prime opportunity to be interactive and gather information.”
- Re-Engage Subscribers on Other Channels – “Use your unengaged email audiences for look alike targeting on Facebook and Instagram. There is simply a point in time when someone will just not use the email channel to engage with your content. This is when you use the only durable key in the dataset (an email address) to target the subscriber on another channel. We’ve found that by doing this, you can re-engage up to 20-25% of an inactive list.”
- Don’t Jeopardize the Inbox – “In other words, don’t engage in any acquisition tactics that may have a negative impact on your delivery. In practice this means that you should never add anyone to your subscriber list that you don’t know for certain wants to be there. Sounds straightforward, right? But every time you use co-registration to acquire new addresses you are breaking this rule. In fact, if you bury a pre-checked “sign me up for email” box during the purchase confirmation process on your site you are also breaking this rule. Free-will opt-in means exactly what it says. That person willingly gave you his or her email address (or permission to use it) with the express intent of getting promotional emails or newsletters from you.”
- Quality is in; Quantity is out – “It’s no longer about how many email addresses you add; what counts is how many email subscribers you add to your list. What’s the difference? An email address just sits in your database. You want to add email subscribers who open, click and transact. You know there is a person behind an email address that does those things. You don’t know what may be behind an email address that never engages. If these inactive email addresses were just overhead, that would be one thing. But we know they’re not. ISPs pay close attention to the promotional campaigns marketers send and will throttle campaigns (or worse) if a marketer continues to send campaigns including what the ISPs consider to contain too high a proportion of inactives.”
- Don’t Rely on Dumb Luck – “In the old days of email address strip mining you could rely on dumb luck because it was a game of numbers. You knew you would get some quality addresses as long as you brought in enough total addresses. Today, email subscriber acquisition should be as disciplined as any other type of direct marketing. Which means you should target those sources that provide you with the highest quality of new email subscribers. And you should be continually testing new sources to see how they perform against your best existing sources. To do these things, however, requires that you know exactly where each new subscriber came from, and you also know exactly how well that subscriber performs after being added to your database. The real winners when it comes to email subscriber acquisition are those marketers who optimize on an ongoing basis the sources of new subscribers. Over time, they are adding more subscribers who engage and transact more often. Luck is not a strategy.”
- Avoid Competitions – “Don’t use a competition to build up your Subscriber List. Likely chance is they are just going to be looking for a freebie and won’t ever purchase your product. It is much better to have a smaller list with potential customers than a big list for the sake of the ‘numbers.”
- Be Careful When Using Images – “Beautiful emails are well…. beautiful but be careful! If your email is all images and no text, then you will fall in to a trap. Many email systems in particular will block images from downloading by default therefore, to get around this, ensure all of your images include Alt Text. By including Alt Text, you will ensure your subscribers see text that will explain your image instead of just seeing a blank box.”
- Having a Storyline is Important – “Create a story line to your emails to keep your audience engaged with your brand. Make them look forward to reading your email instead of annoying them with spam like the 100’s of other emails they receive every day. Instead of telling stories round the fire back in the cave man days, email marketers are telling stories around the digital campfires…emails. Create a storyline and warm that digital fire up, we’re cold!”
Don’t Ignore the Importance of Keeping Existing Subscribers – “This may seem obvious, but one of the best ways for growing a list is to keep it from shrinking. By spending all your time focusing on growth you run the risk of losing focus on those leaving your list each month. For every person you lose, you need to get two just to stay ahead. Ironically retention begins at registration.
• Start by sending new registrants a welcome program introducing your brand and letting them know what they will receive.
• Use web and email behaviour and survey data to send them information that they want
• Be brave enough to not send what you want to say if it is not right for them.
As Dorothy Neville famously said, “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
- Be Wary of List Growth Targets Based on Percentages – “A 20% list growth target is fine when your list is small. In fact it may be too modest, but as your list grows so does the number of registrations you need to hit that 20%. It is unreasonable to think that the potential audience for your product or service is going to grow at the same rate as your target. The only way to achieve that target, is to get registrations that are not into your product or service. You just end up spending money on acquiring people who will not buy, leave your list and have to be replaced.
Either set a fixed number target or if you have to use a percentage then make it a percentage of traffic to each collection point. The percentage should reflect the potential of getting the opt-in at each location. The opt-in rate on your website will be very different than it is in a shop or on social media.”
- Smart Pop-Ups – “The first two tips were really about making list growth easier, so here is a tip for growth itself – POP-UP. I hope by now we are past the discussion about how we all hate pop-ups. They may clash with our brand ethos, but they work – even the ham fisted ones that appear as soon as a consumer lands on your site.
That said, we are in a new year and if you haven’t yet, you should make 2019 the year of the smart pop-up. Think about going to a party- you want to get into the room, feel the vibe and then start meeting people. Nobody likes the over eager guy who hovers by the door waiting to pounce on the first person who walks in alone.”
- Affinity Marketing Gets Best Results – “Say you work in credit Reports and you want to grow your business. Strategic partnerships with loan companies, debt management and ID theft solutions where you get opted in is a quick way to garner growth.
Non incentivised co reg campaigns will build quick volumes, profile openers and conversions in order to make future co-reg media buys more efficient for a greater return on ROI.
Well tested landing pages that are focused on demographic information capture i.e. name, email, etc. For accurate campaigns it is important to have a verification system for data accuracy.
Survey data purchase to find hand raisers.
Data profiling by taking converting users and then targeting similar profiles on other channels with follow up email campaigns to get conversion.
Relevancy and personalisation allows you to cut through the wastage, and if one uses an omni-channel approach the target consumer will become aware of and feel comfortable with brand.”
- Choose Your Email Marketing Software Carefully – “The email platform you use is critical to any campaign. It’s important to understand that a lot of your success with email marketing depends entirely on the email marketing software you choose because they are responsible for making sure that your emails actually get delivered.
If you aren’t careful, then you will end up paying a lot more money for fewer features and terrible deliverability (which causes you to lose even more money). A good email marketing service enables you to create highly engaging emails. It also allows you to manage your contacts, segment users into groups, and track the performance of your email campaigns.
Five I have used and recommend:
5. Infusionsoft (Infusionsoft is a very robust email marketing provider)
These above give you a shared IP with a good reputation and should get you started, but once comfortable, it is worth buying your own package and building your own reputation. Your IP is what email service providers use to work out if you are a spammer. So don’t blast a million emails on day one; spread it over 30 days and build that trust organically with consumers and with companies that control the inbox.”
- Use Analytics to Really Get to Know Your Customer – “Analysis of the results can be used to determine when your customers are likely to buy one of your products and what that product is going to be. To achieve this, you need to use transactional, demographic, geographical and most importantly behavioural data. By combining and analysing this information, it is possible to understand your customers and their individual journeys. You’ll then be in a position to send the correct message, to the right customer, at a convenient time, on the apt device, using the appropriate channel.”
- Use Pop-Ups…in The Right Way – “Widely used Pop-up Subscription Forms on websites have a killer effect in two ways. On the one hand, such forms can get on users’ nerves and turn “the devil mode” on. On the other, they still work very well. You should develop them so that they are as subtle and good-looking as you can to diminish a negative effect. Offer a discount / white paper / (whatever is useful for users) in return for their subscription — and you’ll get a good result. BTW pop-ups like a “Fortune circle” with random discounts are quite minty fresh and popular now due to their interactive and entertaining format.”
- Start a Brand Loyalty Program – “Participation in the brand’s loyalty program can be a strong incentive to subscribe for newsletters and special offers. Just make an email field and double opt-in procedure obligatory to validate a user’s account in this program.”
- Encourage Sign-Up on Checkout Page – “Suggest your clients subscribe on the checkout stage. They are at the peak of their interest and loyalty to your brand/product at that moment — so make hay while the sun shines and convert really engaged customers into new active subscribers.”
Create a Landing Page or Pop Up with an Incentive – “Thе Cору
Your fоrm should tell rеаdеrѕ еxасtlу what thеу’rе gоing tо get аftеr signing uр to уоur list. Will уоu bе sending them a wееklу nеwѕlеttеr? Prоduсt рrоmоtiоnѕ? Sеtting сlеаr еxресtаtiоnѕ will be key tо attracting ԛuаlitу ѕubѕсribеrѕ whо want tо hear frоm уоu – аnd staying оut оf thе ѕраm folder.
Yоur ѕign uр form should clearly explain thе benefits tо ѕigning uр fоr your liѕt, inсluding infоrmаtiоn about соntеnt (i.е. blоg updates, email newsletters) аnd how frеԛuеntlу you’ll bе ѕеnding (i.e. dаilу, wееklу, monthly). Bу dеfining thiѕ up front, уоur subscribers will knоw еxасtlу whаt thеу ѕignеd uр fоr, which inсrеаѕеѕ thе сhаnсе thеу’ll view уоur emails аѕ vаluаblе instead of ѕраmmу.
Thiѕ is thе раrt оf уоur sign up form whеrе уоu аѕk rеаdеrѕ to take a ѕресifiс action. In this саѕе, уоur call-to-action (CTA) is tо sign uр tо уоur еmаil liѕt. Inѕtеаd оf gоing with the generic “Sign Uр” button, however, try gеtting сrеаtivе. A uniԛuе, соntеxtuаl аnd асtiоnоriеntеd рhrаѕе ѕuсh аѕ “I wаnnа join!” оr “Sеnd mе mу frее ebook” will сеrtаinlу grab уоur rеаdеr’ѕ аttеntiоn. Also, the colour of the CTA button will affect the conversion rate, please keep in mind that you will need to test different colour and see how your audience reacts to it.
If you are using a pop-up, your ѕign uр fоrm should appear on highlу trаffiсkеd wеbѕitе pages, such аѕ уоur hоmераgе оr blog. Idеаllу, уоu wаnt tо place it in a lосаtiоn where it’ѕ noticeable and grаbѕ уоur visitors’ аttеntiоn. Since the location will аlѕо dереnd оn the type оf pop-up уоu uѕе, be ѕurе tо consider thiѕ as you dесidе оn whаt pop-up iѕ the bеѕt.
To сrеаtе a соnѕiѕtеnt еxреriеnсе, уоur sign uр fоrm dеѕign ѕhоuld reflect thе look and fееl of уоur wеbѕitе and/or brаnd. A cohesive uѕеr еxреriеnсе hеlрѕ to еѕtаbliѕh уоur сrеdibilitу and build trust with your audience.
In аdditiоn to carrying оvеr various brаnd elements, соnѕidеr thе size оf your sign uр fоrm and colors used within it; fоr example, уоu might want tо use a mоrе аttеntiоn-grаbbing color fоr уоur CTA buttоn.
Pеорlе lоvе rесеiving exclusive giftѕ аnd diѕсоuntѕ. So why nоt аdd one to your ѕign uр form? Offering аn inсеntivе (оr lead mаgnеt) thаt арреаlѕ tо уоur audience is a great way tо еnсоurаgе thеm tо sign up tо уоur еmаil liѕt – еѕресiаllу individuals who аrе оn thе fеnсе.
Common lеаd mаgnеtѕ include рrоduсt diѕсоuntѕ, еbооkѕ оr whitepapers, a dоwnlоаdаblе checklist or printable аnd mоrе.”
- Text to Join – “Without a doubt, my favorite way to grow my email list is using the Text to Join feature in Constant Contact. It’s so simple: grab a unique, branded key word, get a short code assigned, and you’re good to go! Now, it’s as simple as prompting potential subscribers by saying, “Text ‘keyword’ to 22828” and boom! Your list is automatically updated with your new subscriber! No handwriting to decipher, no work on your end, and you know the subscriber wants your info! Now that you have that keyword and short code, you can add it to all your print collateral, like business cards, rack cards, and print ads; you can even create graphics and post them to your social media platforms! One really super way to use Text to Join is at events: create eye catching posters, hang them all around your booth, use a creative Ask and Welcome message, and connect with your event visitors on a more personal level!”
- Do Your Homework – “Successful list building begins with knowing exactly who your audience is. Google Analytics is your friend. Doing surveys or (gasp!) talking to existing customers will help clarify further. Explore tools like SEMRush. Figure out who your audience is as specifically as you’re able before doing any advertising to acquire new users.
Next you need to create a simple financial model of the value of those who do opt-in, update it frequently (at least monthly), and use it to determine what you’re willing to pay to acquire a new user to your email list.
Once you’ve done your homework it’s time to implement a mechanism that is simple and quick for users to opt-in to your email list. And make sure you’re GDPR-compliant so you don’t capture a lawsuit instead of an email address.”
- SMS + Text Can No Longer Be Ignored – “Email’s imminent demise has been heralded by media pundits for well over a decade now. Yet it remains a top 3 channel for profitability and conversion rate, with $38 gained for every marketing dollar spent. Over the past few years, however, site traffic and purchasing behavior has shifted hard to mobile, especially with younger audiences..Figuring out ways to build relationships via SMS and text should be at the forefront of any list building strategy. As AdWeek recently pointed out, 73% of Millennials use their phone to shop online. So still collect emails, but also realize that it is imperative to explore ways outside of email that provide a similar mechanism and engagement level.”
- Use Paid Ads on FB/Instagram to Reach Your Target Market – “Remember the work you did in Tip 1? You can use all of that on Facebook & Instagram to acquire very targeted opt-ins cost-effectively. There are a variety of different ways to do this and it’s all clearly explained on their website. For users it’s a simple two clicks to sign up—no lengthy forms to fill out and no landing pages for you to manage. It’s common for a brand to add some form of incentive to induce the opt-in. Often brands run contests, offer a discount off first purchase, or some other form of enticement. A nice thing about this method is you can automatically feed the folks who opt-in directly into your ESP / CRM database.”
Bonus Tip: “As with the mobile shift noted above, a similar trend has been happening in Social—more people now use social messenger apps than the social platforms themselves. Because of messengers relative newness as a marketing medium, open rates and conversion rates tend to be notably higher than email. There are any number of different platforms that can assist you with implementing a messenger-based lead generation program; you’ll need to research and find the one that fits your particular needs best.”
- Participate in Someone Else’s Offer/Giveaway – “I recently participated as a contributor in a multi-entrepreneur giveaway – it grew my list by about 350 people. That may not be massive growth for you, depending where you are in your business – for me, that was pretty substantial. It’s worthwhile to consider joining a giveaway where you can be a contributor. The idea being that several people coming together to share an offer/giveaway and everyone gets more exposure that way.”
- Hold Your Own Free Challenge – “Come up with a theme, set a time frame (some challenges are 3 days, others are 14 or 30 days…pick something that works with your theme as well as fits your business style – you’ll need to do content for each of the days of the challenge ?). I created a 10-day “make delegation a habit” challenge and launched it using a few ads on social media, promoting it to my list and asking a few people to help me promote it and it attracted 200 sign ups over 2 different launch periods. Again, the numbers may not be substantial, however, for my list, it was pretty significant.”
- Host a Telesummit – “One of the ways I support my clients in massive list building is hosting telesummits. We’ve seen clients grow their lists as much as 3,000 subscribers during one telsummit. The idea with a telesummit – which, by the way is not the cool thing to call your online series anymore…so when you decide to do one of these, be mindful not to call it a telesummit ? A series like this is focused on a theme…for example, if I hosted a telesummit it would be on the topic of eliminating overwhelm in your business and I’d have experts from all areas of life come on to share tips and advice about eliminating overwhelm. The guests can offer a free gift (in some series, I’ve seen a paid or discounted service or product offered), all geared toward exposure for everyone participating. The host does the interviews of each expert, provides some juicy nuggets for each of the interviews in an email to their subscribers for the series. Each interview “airs” for a limited time and all interviews may be available during a replay period after the series concludes.”
“In my opinion, there are some key components to any offer to grow your list: making sure you provide massive value to your audience and then deliver on whatever promise you made. From there, the key with employing any of these tactics is repeatability and consistency.”
- “What’s in it for Me?” – “Your list building efforts should address two key elements, how badly do you want my opt-in and what’s in it for me? To that end, approach list building as you would a potential romantic interest. You know the attraction is there, but what distinguishes you (your messaging) from every other strategically placed suitor on the web? Laser specific, easy to digest content that solves my issue and gives me something extra for my time. In other words, make me swipe right. For example: I’m looking for discount tickets to a specific theme park. I google “discount tickets to
” and within my search results is your offer for $25 off and free parking. In exchange for your email address, I promise to never spam you, sell your information and I will only contact you to offer exclusive discounts that you can only receive by dating me. Enticed? I thought you might be.”
- Make Your Lead Magnet Ridiculously Human – “Your offering (also known as a lead magnet) should come across as ridiculously human. Building upon what’s in it for me, in the world of sometimes creepy laser targeting, your lead magnet should directly connect to your audience in a very specific and intimate way. Your potential audience wants to know that you not only get them, but you’ve provided so much value, that you’ve distinguished yourself as the go-to expert, when it comes to solving their very specific issues. Quite literally like a magnet, your offering should have an irresistible element to it.”
- “Where” Really Matters – “When using social media outlets to generate leads, choose industry specific, laser targeted social channels. Location, location, location. There are literally tons of highly trafficked social outlets. When targeting a specific audience, while your prospects are likely on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, if they’re looking for specific solutions they’re definitely visiting industry specific outlets. Example: You’ve got a hankering for a salad and walk down the isle of your favorite local neighborhood health food store. You come across a strategically placed, gluten-free dressing that’s all the rage. The potential of purchase and definitely your interest just dramatically increased because this store is your staple and if they’re displaying this dressing, they’ve already gained your trust, it may be worth a try. The same is true for your list building prospects, so meet them where they live and work and the likelihood of them opting in to your list increases exponentially.”
- No-Strings Giveaway – “Offer a free giveaway competition with no strings attached for a prize that’s worth it for your customer base. Post the competition on reddit, and other platforms and collect emails in exchange for a chance to win. Once you’ve picked the winner, use the rest of the emails to send them other great deals with share functions so they can share with friends.”
- Instagram/Facebook Competitions – “Create another format of competition, but this time for your facebook/instagram audience. Get them to tag a friend, or comment (or both). But as a bonus and for an extra chance of winning, ask them for their email address.”
- Quality Lead Magnet + Follow-Up With More Value – “Offer a free product, or tips manual/ebook in exchange for their email address. But then use the email to inform them of tips for the field rather than spamming them with sales emails. Nurture them and gain them as customers in the long run. When you bring value, they will stay, and share with friends because they are happy customers.”
Malcolm James Forrest
- Get to Know WHO You’re Targeting – “So, you’re looking to build a list? Well first things first, you need to narrow down WHO your potential follower will be. Typically, someone who can benefit and/or needs your service. Once you do your demographics, start looking in areas you can find these people! Facebook groups, Instagram, Twitter, Live speaking events, business events, etc. Do this and you’re well on your way to building a list.”
- Create a Free Offer Product – “Alright my friend, once you figure out WHO you want on your list, you need to create what we call a “free offer product”. This could be an e-booklet, pdf guide, or short video training. Once your product is created and ready to be launched, you’ll need to set-up some type of business funnel to draw in traffic. This can be done by using ClickFunnels or any other site you can set funnels up with. Now, all you have to do is advertise your free offer & start capturing information!”
- Use Paid Advertising to Send Traffic to Your Funnel – “Last but not least, using paid advertising to get traffic drawn to your funnel is the FASTEST way to start building a list. With my clients, I use referrals systems & word of mouth to continue adding onto the list. If you found this information helpful, share this article! Good luck!”
- Reward People Who Sign Up and Provide Their Details – “One of the best ways to get customer information for your email lists for your email marketing initiatives is to run an offer. Provide discounts, or any sort of reward for customers who provide their details.
I have used this tactic and it really works. In fact, I am currently running one such offer on my website. I provide people with a free report on their mobile app or a website analysis, but ask them to enter their information first.”
- Add Opt-Ins and Email Registration Forms on All Main Pages – “Optimizing your website to include opt-ins and registration forms on all main pages is another great way to build email lists.
I have multiple such forms on my website, across various web pages. I also include an option to subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of the page on several landing pages.”
- Add CTAs and Email Registration Forms to Your Blog Posts – “Blog posts are a good place to engage with your audience and get their details. People who visit your blog are already interested in your brand or content and have a high likelihood of signing-up for future content.
Use multiple calls-to-action on your blog posts to get readers to sign-up or provide their details. Use these CTAs to link to your website’s registration forms and opt-ins.
You can also ask for an email address before a reader can comment on your blog posts. Anyone who engages with your content and wants to comment will likely be happy to provide their email. But make sure that you limit the form to 2-3 fields, otherwise it will be a hassle for your readers to comment.”
- Make It Easy for Someone to Subscribe – “Use a tablet or similar mobile device in person, send a link, or otherwise collect digitally – no one wants to take the time to write their email address for you, and this also lessens the opportunity for errors. If, in person, you’re verbally collecting email addresses, make sure there’s a real-time email triggered to the person immediately after collection – this will ensure accuracy and quickly start to nurture the relationship. In the same vein, make sure to use a double opt in, not only to improve quality but also to ensure people want to receive your messaging. It’s really about quality over quantity in the end.”
- Offer a Meaningful Incentive for Subscribing – “A discount, gift, or bonus of some sort. Then, make sure your welcome/introductory email is absolutely killer: the first email after subscription usually has the highest open rates, so make sure it’s worth reading and remembering. Keep the messaging transparent, clear, concise, and valuable (this is a tough combination to achieve, but highly worth the effort).”
- Stay Fresh – “Statistics show that email databases degrade by 20-25% each year as contacts’ email addresses change, new email accounts are opened and old ones abandoned, and opt outs occur. Keep your metrics moving forward by implementing storage for unengaged contacts, using reengagement campaigns, adding new, quality contacts, and sending meaningful messages. It’s much more efficient and less expensive to retain customers/subscribers you already have, but there’s heaps of competition for inbox and mental real estate.”
- Great Content – “In my opinion, it all starts with great content. Whether it is on your website, weblog, YouTube channel, a live presentation, or whatever other platform you have. If you’re content is great and it leaves me begging for more, I’m willing to share my email address with you. Good examples to me are www.benlcollins.com (about data analysis) and https://conversion-rate-experts.com/ (self-explanatory address). This way new great content will find its way to me without me having to check every great website every day. This is not the easy way, since you have to make great content first, but it will pay off in the end. www.emailmonday.com, my friend Jordy’s international blog about email marketing and more, is another great example.”
- Give Something Away – “Yes, I know, it’s a cliché: give away something in exchange for an email address. But hey, it works. Keep whatever you give away close to your other services / business though. So no free iPads for every 100th subscriber. Unless your business is selling iPads of course. You want to attract the proper audience, not people who are more interested in your free goodie than in the value your business really ads. A good giveaway could be a whitepaper, an hour of free consulting or an exclusive video with tips. Again Ben Collins’s website is a good example, he provides you with a free eBook packed with ‘35 unusual tips & tricks for Excel & Google Sheets’. Conversion Rate Experts give you a free CRO Toolkit. And the aforementioned Jordy holds back his best tips and shares them exclusively with his newsletter subscribers.”
- Ask Everywhere! – “Ask for an email address in as many places as possible. In your web shop. In your blog. But also offline. The worst thing you can do is hide your email address sign up form in the caverns of your website, although I see this happen all too often. Also do not use the caption ‘stay up to date’. This is way too vague. People don’t care about staying up to date most of the time. Tell them why you deserve a place in their crammed inboxes. (It starts with Tip #1 actually: great content). If you’re allergic to the concept of ‘newsletters’ get creative. www.wildaudience.com promises to ‘help 6 and 7-figure entrepreneurs automate their processes to accelerate growth. They send you emails on a regular basis but never call their program ‘a newsletter’.
I teach about email marketing and marketing automation a few times every month. To help my students-and myself-prepare for class I use Typeform to ask them a few questions about their situation, behavior, needs and wishes. I email them their answers as a future reference. At the end of the questionnaire, when they know more about me and how I can help them, I also ask them for their consent. This way I can keep them informed about email marketing developments. I get a 95-100% opt-in score every time.”
- Have Optimized Pop-Ups on Every Page of Your Website – “Have email sign-up pop-ups and forms optimized on every page of your business’s website. Make sure it’s always top of mind when a person comes to your site (header, footer and pop-up).”
- Make the Most of Events – “Have physical email sign-up forms at any event you attend”
- Nurture Quantity Into Quality – “You can use services like Opt-in Monster or contests. These services build quantity leads, but with nurturing those leads can turn into quality leads. The ROI on email is still higher than other online channels.”
- Survey Existing Subscribers – “Survey your existing constituents to know what interest areas they have in common to know how you can help them become better at what they do. That is really how you will fine tune your value proposition and offer value to future subscribers. Building your list must be equally beneficial to both you AND the subscriber. The type of email address given (Primary, Secondary or Junk) will vary based on the perceived value of your content so a little pre-list building preparation will go a long way to building a quality list.”
- Killer Content + Refer a Friend Functionality – “Once you fine tune your value proposition, craft or curate killer content that is immediately useful to readers. The content is immediately consumable to existing subscribers using a “refer a friend” functionality of your communication platforms to motivate them to share content that is relevant to their connections. A content teaser is immediately available to non-subscribers and access to full content is behind a subscribe widget or data/sign-up collection form. The teaser should contain enough text to motivate a non-subscriber to give their email address to you.”
- Make Use of Every Opportunity to Promote Your Email List – “Have the subscribe/sign-up form available on your website’s header ideally and all social media profiles you have a presence on. Also add links to sign-up to all transactional emails (receipts, registration confirmation, triggered notifications) and outbound SMS/Text Messages. Also add links to sign-up in the footer of the email in the event an email was forwarded to them but are not currently a subscriber. A side note to make sure forwarded HTML messages don’t have many or any layout shifts (it’s common that HTML layouts break when forwarding an email using the forward button in any email client) is to stick with a single column fluid layout.”
- A Lead Magnet – “A lead magnet is a great way to get a site visitor to give you their email address. A lead magnet can be any type of free digitally downloadable content. Think of an eBook, a case study, a checklist, a tutorial, or even a video. It’s just most important that you make sure your content piece is value-packed. For example, we offer an IP warming guide as a lead magnet. The landing page highlights what the user will get in the guide. This kind of information is highly relevant to our target audience. Not only are we using it to get more subscribers on our list, but we are getting more qualified subscribers.”
Use Browser Push Notifications – “Although push notifications are not a way to capture email addresses, they are a great way to bring visitors back to your site. Once a user accepts push notifications on your site, no matter which site they are visiting they will see your notification when you send one.
This increases brand awareness, helps you gain repeat visitors, and increases your engagement which also helps your SEO. Many push notification tools are free or low cost to implement on your site which is another perk.
However, the reason why I’m recommending them for list growth is you can guide your audience to pages that you have which they have never seen. As I previously mentioned lead magnets are a great way to collect emails, use push notifications to drive users to your lead magnet pages. In no time you will be racking up email subscribers.”
- Collaboration – “If you are in the B2B space, you know growing your list is not as easy as it is with consumer targeting. This is where we’ve found collaboration and co-marketing to be a major player in driving business. Networking is the key to establishing solid business relationships that will help you grow your list. One of the methods that helped pull in a lot of leads in the past was hosting a webinar with a partner. It’s a strategy where you both promote the event then share your lead list. It’s a win-win for both parties involved.”
- Run a Competition – “Believe it or not, Competitions are a great way to accelerate your email list building. Setting up a competition with a prize (Cash, Gift Cards, VIP experiences or a reward) will help you have people sign up with their email address. Encourage people to share the competition in order to get extra entries for each person that signs up to the email list via their referral.
It’s important to understand your audience, so make sure your prize aligns with your target audience. Prizes should be appealing enough and make them want to sign up and tell their friends about it. My suggestion would be to have tiered prizes, such as one main prize, and a second and third prize. The process should be designed to nurture them from competition entrant to a prospect.”
Provide Valuable Content – “Share valuable content, whether it’s blog posts, research papers, videos, or other types of content highly relevant to your target audience. By providing valuable content, you will encourage your readers to link to it, share it, and forward it on to colleagues and friends.
This process will drive more traffic to your site, where you can then guide visitors through your email sign up process.
Excellent and valuable content also helps you rank higher in search engines, which in turn drives organic traffic to your site. Finally, by offering actionable content, you’re building trust, credibility and confidence in your brand or company.
A quick way to generate relevant and valuable content is to think about the problems your products or services solve for your target audience and base your content around it. Great content delivers real value to readers, incorporates data and insights. Note, you can outsource this process to copywriters, video experts, and researchers, but ensure the content matches your brand voice and personality.”
- Become an Industry Expert – “Grow your email subscriber list by selling your personal brand/yourself as an industry expect and promoting your business. Blogging on your own website is an essential element of this, but you also contribute to industry blogs and newsletters, cross-post content and partner with different business websites, give free talks and sharing your content with different communities is a great way.
For example, look for Facebook groups and other online channels where you can spread your voice, provide valuable information, and link to your email sign up landing page.”
“Email marketing might not be the most popular digital channel, but in reality, it can offer you an unbeatable ROI when implemented correctly. So, it’s important to focus your effort on growing your email subscribers list. With the right email growth strategy, you can drive forward your core email marketing strategy, as well as your other marketing tactics and efforts.”
- Go Deep, Rather Than Wide – “Numbers aren’t always the answer to most list building strategies. If you go for quantity, you are in danger of having an unqualified list, which soon clogs up your database with hard bounces and unresponsive emails. So if you want any chance of being opened and clicked once you send them your follow up emails, focus your list building on strategies that go deep into your market place and get laser focused on your target clients.”
- Offer Access to Time Sensitive Events – “Live events, such as webinars or summits, are time sensitive which means that your audience are more likely to make a decision to sign up to your list if they know they have to act now. Using events such as these to build your lists also creates campaign momentum in your marketing. So if you are feeling a little staid in your list building activity, this can eject some much needed energy into your business. ”
- Don’t Go All Out Digital – “It’s easy to forget that traditional methods, such as speaking on the stage or printed publications, are still important channels for many audiences. The added benefit to using non-digital is that it takes more effort for your person to sign up to your list, which in turn makes them more likely to want to read, engage and act on your emails.”
- Focus on the Whole Experience Not Just the Hook – “Building your list is about more than just the ‘hook’, it is about the entire experience. Those early brand interactions around sign up and how they influence not just signups but people dropping out early on through lack of engagement. Look at your recipient’s entire experience, from initial hook and landing page to confirmation and welcome email (or series). Are they all consistent and resonating with your target audience, answering questions that will help move them towards a sale? Test each aspect and make sure you optimise each one. The landing page needs to be clean, clear and to the point with a very clear call to action. The offer or magnet needs to be relevant and actually helpful if you want to stand out, not just another checklist or token giveaway. A good welcome email is a must and will ensure people engage with your emails from the start rather than unsubscribe when they get the next communication. Manage expectations, ask to be added to their address book and give something extra for them to click on. ”
- Offer an E-Series as Part of Your Pitch – “Since GDPR, there has been some concern over what can be considered appropriate enticement for list growth and with separate check boxes for marketing emails, this may put off subscribers selecting if they don’t know you very well and can just get a freebie. However, if your ‘hook’ is an e-series, they are giving you permission to send multiple emails and you can use ones later in the series to re-offer the newsletter subscription once they have had a chance to get to know you better and decide whether your content is right for them. Let’s face it, we are more likely to want to hear from someone we know provides value than when we have just clicked an enticing ad. Also, if your e-series encourages interaction then this will be better for future email deliverability with that recipient since this is increasing a consideration for email providers, particularly Gmail.”
- Send a Follow Up Email After Networking – “If you do a lot of networking, send a ‘nice to meet you’ email as a follow up afterwards which invites people to sign up for emails as well. Try to personalise it with the recipient’s name and where you met, but you can still make this relatively automated adding recipients to a list weekly and then deleting any who don’t sign up. Sending something of value at the same time can also help sign ups. Make sure you only send to people you actually met and don’t blanket email the entire attendee list as this will only irritate people.”
Bonus Tip: “Make the most of your social media channels. Drive people from social to email with a sign up option on your Facebook page for example. If they are engaging with you through multiple channels this increases their touch points and chances of conversion or deepening the relationship. Just make sure messaging is consistent or clearly as channel exclusive as appropriate!”
- Actively Ask for Sign-Ups and Make It Easy – “The most important thing in building your mailing list is actively encouraging people to sign up to receive your emails. Email sign-up needs to be a core element on your website, blog, and other marketing channels. It’s essential to prompt email sign-up messages at the right time when your website visitors aren’t busy doing something else like buying your products. You should also make it extremely easy for people to sign up, so forget a mile-long sign-up forms and cumbersome processes.”
- Set the Right Expectations at Sign-Up – “This might sound like a deja vu, but digital marketers can’t really stress the importance of setting right and realistic expectations for email sign-up enough. When your website visitors or (prospective) clients sign up to receive email from you, you’ll absolutely need to give them an extremely clear idea of what they will receive and how often. If you don’t do this step well enough, you’ll certainly end up with tons of unsubscribes and your mailing list might end up shrinking without growing.”
- Present the Best Content to Your Audience When They Want It – “When you have an email sign-up and you’ve set the right expectation with them, it’s time to wow them! Segment your audience very carefully. Then, get to know each segment really well and try to anticipate what kind of content they like. Present them with highly relevant content, whenever they want it. Once again, if you try to cut corners here, you’ll end up shrinking your mailing list, and that’s gonna cost you a lot of money. Remember, mailing list building always goes all together with a killer segmentation and content strategy.”
- NOTHING Beats Being a Presenter – “You don’t have to be the big conference keynote – presenting just about anywhere will always lead to qualified leads entering your database. Speaking is awesome – it’s the perfect way for people to experience you and what it might be like to work with you. Now I don’t mean being an in-your-face sales person, I mean being a sharer of tremendous value and information. When you give your knowledge, people want more – and they’ll get that when they sign up for your list. So at the BEGINNING of your talk (not the end) pass out a feedback form – ask them to share what they liked about your program, what they learned, what they need help with – and include a box they can check off: “Yes, I would like to receive even more valuable information from you” – which means they are asking to be placed on your list. It helps to tell them that you will share your slides or materials with them when they give you their contact information.”
- An Incredible Lead Magnet – “A FANTASTIC lead magnet on your website can do the job – IF – what they receive is something “meaty” and not “fluffy”. And If your campaigns continue to live up to the reputation you’re building as the expert who gives great value. Several times I’ve signed up to receive some “report” or blueprint or checklist or whatever, only to find it not worth my time at all. Meaningless fluff. And then after that, I get bombarded with almost daily emails as my “reward.” Be better than that: think of something truly valuable your audience can use right away and offer that on your website in exchange for their name and email address. When they sign up for it, be respectful of their time and keep to a manageable campaign schedule (twice a month should do it). If I receive 3 or 4 emails in a week, I opt out, simply because I cannot push everything aside just to read every email that comes my way. So the formula is: Useful stuff + valuable emails + reasonable launch schedule.”
- Better Not Bigger – “My third tip is list QUALITY building: getting a BETTER list not a BIGGER list. So many people tell me their open rate is disappointingly small. This is indicative of too-large and too generic a list. Better to have 100 people on your list who love what you have to say and are super qualified to be your next best client; than to have 10,000 people who may have been in the same room with you once, never read, never open and don’t know you from the next person. Scrub your list clean and boot out anyone who NEVER engages with you. Consider removing anyone who is NOT a qualified prospect. You’ll see your engagement go from 16% to as high as 60% by cleaning out the clutter. Those folks were never going to buy from you anyway, so the high volume was just fooling you into thinking you had a great list. You just had a fat list. Not the same. I clean out my list relentlessly. Don’t reply, don’t click, don’t open? Vote them off the island. They’re just not that into you.”
- Live Webinars With Experts – “Recruit a group of experts, and record a webinar with a live audience. People will attend to get great advice from people whose names they’ll recognize. If you sell the expert’s product as an affiliate, it’s a great way to make money.”
- Make the Webinar that You’ve Already Done Evergreen – “Let it run as if it’s live… forever, if you want to. There are several different platforms you can use to do this, but a new one – Ever Webinar – seems to be very streamlined. Everything you need to accomplish this evergreen system is included – email templates to be sent to different groups according to their participation levels, webinar hosting, landing page templates, and so on. Very cool. I’m about to use it for one of my clients.”
- Facebook Ads – “These are inexpensive, and if you set up a squeeze page (lead capture page) with great copy and have something valuable to give away, you can build your email list easily. The trick is in the squeeze page copy and your offer. It has to be good!”
“If you’ve been in online business more than a week, you’ve probably heard the axiom: You make $1 per day for every person on your mailing list. That would be great, right?
It’s not guaranteed. You have to work at it. But building that list is the first step to making money online, while you sleep, on autopilot. Having a responsive list should be a primary objective for any business.”
Getting the List
“First, how do you get a list? One quick way is to advertise for it. Set up a squeeze page (lead capture page, landing page), which can be very simple – an image, a headline, three to five bullet points, a call to action and an optin box. Just be very sure that your image is engaging and that your copy is strong.
What’s strong? Benefits are always strong. What’s in it for them? Why should they exchange their information for your free gift? (Yes, you need something to giveaway – a special report, a book chapter, or maybe a video.) Explain what your giveaway will do for them. Make them really want what you have to give them.
Then, set up your Facebook Ad. Just some short copy with a benefit statement is all that’s required, but you can also use a 15-second video. Folks love videos, but whatever you use, you’ll also need to test your ads to find out what works best. One hundred percent of marketing well is testing well. If you don’t test, you’ll never get better results.
Also target your market very closely. Who are they? You need to decide this before making your ad live. Don’t say something silly like “everyone.” That’s just not true. If you don’t know who your perfect audience is, you’re not ready to advertise. Use Google Analytics Demographics option or other analytics sites to figure that out.”
“Another way to get a good list going is by having a teleseminar (if you want to be old school) or a webinar. To do this, you still need to know your market and what they want. Once you figure that out – give it to them.
You can find out what they want by running surveys. You may want to run ads for your survey before you ever start. Or if you have any list, even if it’s small, you can learn what those folks want to make their lives or businesses better. They’ll be a good barometer for the folks you want to attract.
Once you know what your audience wants, set up your webinar or teleseminar to pertain to that topic. Let’s say they want to know how to get more patients into their medical practice. Your webinar should give them information only about that. Invite a medical professional that has a thriving practice and who wants to talk about how they built it. (And get more patients at the same time.) Expert help is always appreciated.
If that expert also has a list, encourage them to get their people to the webinar by mailing out for you. Send them to a registration page for the webinar and build your list at the same time.
Webinars are great for getting new people onto your list. If you use Facebook to target your perfect audience, you’ll have the most success.”
“You can build your list other ways that might be great or not so great, depending on the calibre of the platform and its captain.”
Write for Prestigious + Niche Publications
“First, write for prestigious publications in your niche. Editors are often looking for content, and if you can write well, they might be happy to add your article to their publication. Your URL will always be shown. Send people to your website (where your optin form is front and center) or to a landing page that pertains precisely to the article you’ve written. Either way, you’ll pick up some people looking for advice.
Also write for blogs in your niche that get some good traffic. You can check for this information in free analytics sites around the Web, too.”
Appear as an Expert on Podcasts/Internet Radio Shows
“Again, these folks are always looking for content, so if you can speak logically about your topic and know how to be a good guest, this is another way to build your list. Listen to several interviews on the channel you’re interested in appearing on to understand the format so that you’re better prepared before speaking.”
Guest Star on Related YouTube Channels
“YouTube should have some great channels in your niche, too. Be sure you have your web cam ready and that your audio is clear. The folks who run the channel will probably make you do some testing first, so be ready!
Maybe even buy a special domain and load your landing page onto it so that you can give the channel master a domain that builds your list. Make it short, keep hyphens and numbers out of it, and have the broadcast send people to your squeeze page. Build your list! (You can use this strategy for any of these miscellaneous methods)”
“Mobile advertising is another way to build your list. Just understand that the people you get from mobile marketing may not be as responsive as they are from other ways we’ve touched on above. You have to really work them – immediately — with instant informative emails, reminding them of how they signed up for your list. The people that want to continue with you will stay, those that don’t will leave. Mobile list building is still worth it, if you want to spend some time.”
“Co-registration is another option, but as with mobile marketing, you have to work the list. With co-reg, the people are offered several different lists to join at the same time. They choose the offers they want, but don’t always remember that they signed up for yours. As with mobile marketing, you have to work this list hard for it to pay off.”
The Bottom Line
“There are many ways to build a list, but the thing to remember is that you need to stay in contact with the people on your list, once you acquire it. They’re people, not money. Set up a follow-up series that gives the folks on your list great content and every few messages offer something for sale – a product of yours or a related affiliate product. It’s a great way to stay in touch and make that $1 a day for every person on your list that people talk about. Who knows? If you build a big list and do it well, maybe you’ll make more than a dollar. Let’s think that.”
- Offer Something of Value – “Many companies spend a lot of money to drive traffic to their site – but if a person leaves without buying anything or without you capturing any information on them – all that money has been wasted. One of the best ways to try and capture information such as email addresses is to use a Conversion rate optimization (CRO) tool. When implementing user acquisition campaigns one of the most important factors is what you can provide in exchange for getting a potential customer’s email. There are numerous CRO tools out there and I had an opportunity to work with a few: Picreel, Bounce Exchange, Sumo Me, as well as built-in modals of email platforms like Emarsys, to name a few. I listed below what my US customers and I tried using the Picreel tool (not everything described below may be supported by other tools).
Offer a discount – a discount encourages shoppers to go through with a purchase they were on the fence about. Even if they don’t buy today, offering a coupon rarely fails to at least collect their email address, so you can market to them in the future. The increase in conversion has a direct correlation with the discount size and price elasticity of a product.
Offer free shipping – did you know that shipping costs are the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment? Offer free shipping in your exit popup, and you stand to recover 44% of shoppers who are about to abandon their carts.
Offer a free trial – it takes approximately 7 touches to make a sale. Offering a free trial gives you the opportunity to get your foot in the door and warm up your leads with multiple touches. About two thirds of B2B trials successfully convert and about a half of B2C do the same if done right.
Offer downloadable content that has to do with the product or service you provide. Example: if you are an advertising agency, you can provide an E-book that goes over SEO tips for increasing visibility and traffic to a potential client’s website.
Offer an entrance into a giveaway or sweepstakes – Sometimes visitors need a little extra incentive to take action. Free digital downloads are increasingly common, however physical items tend to have a higher perceived value. You don’t need to give everyone a physical gift. Just give them a chance to win the gift when they sign up for your newsletter. This one is my favorite – it is very cost effective (you don’t have to give something away to every subscriber rather just a few of them and once in a while).”
- Use Overlays Wisely – “It is important to understand your customer journey and when it is appropriate and non-invasive to serve overlays to your viewers. Overlays have gotten a bad reputation because most of them interrupt your customer consuming your content or navigating your website. An effective overlay or drop down should: i) Respect the customer journey, ii) Capture the viewer’s attention, and finally iii) Provide value in return for the visitor providing their information.
Serving an overlay on exit (aka exit intent) is the last effort to interact with a viewer before they leave but there are other strategies such as serving the overlay after a customer has spent a certain amount of time on page, if they have visited X number of pages or if they have scrolled to a certain percentage of a page. This means you will need to understand what your viewers are doing on your website. Website analytics can give great insight on how long viewers are staying on your website and the average page views.”
- Optimize Your Email Capture Forms – “Every day, we are exposed to thousands of ads so it is incredibly important to effectively capture your viewers’ attention. Images are a great way to help visually impact your viewers. Our eyes can take in way more information than our brain can actually process. Therefore, people look for visual cues to tell them what’s important and what they can ignore.
Call to action – Your call to action needs to be very simple and straightforward while enticing your viewers if you want to maximize conversions. Don’t make visitors read a lengthy message, fill out multiple fields, go to their email to retrieve a code, then come back to your site to redeem their offer. Optimizing CTA area and personalizing CTAs themselves can yield conversion increases anywhere between 40%-230% or even more.
Create urgency – It is human nature to procrastinate. Whether it’s deciding to enter an email address or to make a large purchase, people tend to avoid or postpone making difficult decisions. Urgency gets the ball rolling by defining a deadline: either you get the offer before this time or you miss out. Having the urgency aspect in your campaigns can triple your conversion rates in certain cases.
Powerful words – Power words subconsciously evoke an emotional or psychological response in a reader. A reader thinks they need what you’ve got. You reel them in with simple, albeit effective, words that speak to the power of Curiosity, Greed, Urgency, Trust/Logic, Simplicity, Exclusivity. Here is an example of simplicity: “Get our simple step-by-step guide to align your sales and marketing teams in less than 1 week.”
Be creative, be different! Use humor if you can and remember to ask yourself: “If I was served my own overlay would I convert?”
- Consistent Web Site Collection – “However you advertise email signup, keep it consistent. So whether you have a static footer input box, or a pop-up modal upon arrival on the main site – make sure the experience is consistent. Meaning don’t provide an incentive offer through one but not the other. Don’t ask for 5 pieces of data on the pop-up but only two pieces during reward signup. The more consistent – the more reliable the data you collect will be. And Speaking of the data…”
- Be Concise With What You Require – “I have seen great success in a two-part collection process. This means start off by asking the absolute bare minimum – which may very well mean just an email address. Once that is collected, the next page can be a thank you with a brief sentence on how a few more pieces of information would be hugely helpful. Such as “Tell us your birthday and we will make sure to send you an exclusive offer!”; then on that second page get the secondary information such as First Name, Last Name, Birthday and Zip Code. At this point though, make sure to have this second page be optional – meaning if they “x” out the box at this point – it is fine – the first step got them signed up. You can always have a trigger series setup to try and capture that page 2 information if they bounce beforehand. The real goal should be to create an easy – simple experience.”
- Track Source! – “At first this may not sound like a way to build your list, however by knowing where your names are coming from organically – this helps inform you with where to spend more of your effort proactively. So many companies spend tons of money acquiring new customers, but fail when it comes to the reporting behind these sources. Also, by tracking where your customer comes in from, you can in turn provide a more personalized experience back when it comes to welcomes or subsequent communications. A sign up in Store for example is most likely a different profile than someone who signs up through your website. And knowing that breakdown will help you know when things are working right or not working well in the future.”
“I am sure many marketers like myself who went through GDPR last year would have come out of the whole process with a smaller list of subscribers – I certainly did. Although most of the subscribers lost were inactive or not-recently engaged, there were a few active subscribers who requested to be removed from the database as well. Luckily, this did not impact my email campaigns performance, instead it improved it since the remaining contacts were happy to receive and engage with my marketing communications.
For those of you who may have experienced the opposite and are looking for ways to re-generate/increase your subscriber volumes, here are 3 tips that I would recommend.”
Create an Omni-Channel Customer Acquisition Form Strategy– “Most business use multiple channels to interact and engage with their potential customers/audience. However, many don’t utilise these channels to acquire new subscribers, but instead use them only for building brand awareness or to draw their attention to specific offerings.
Let’s say you promote your products/services through your Website, social media, blogs, etc on each one of these digital channels you should have a way to capture subscribes directly from the page they’re viewing. You can do this by creating a form in your CRM or marketing tool and embedding the script onto these pages. For example, if you get a lot of engagement on Facebook, you can use their widget tool to create a form on your Facebook page to acquire new subscribers. I personally like to capture potential customer details from a form submission as well as likes on my post. The same applies to blog pages and websites. However, I would recommend you test each of the different form options, i.e. whether you are using a simple form, timed pop-ups, exit page pop-ups, etc…
Once you’ve optimised this process you can build an automated journey or a series of triggered emails to welcome and find out more about that person’s interest – with compelling content of course. This data can be fed back into your CRM from various channels, which you can leverage to effectively target and convert your subscribers over time.”
- Launch a Competition – “l love a good competition, especially one that I have a chance of winning. If you really want to engage with your audiences and get them excited, make the competition interactive. I get bored of constantly being asked to enter my details for a chance to win something. Its great but I forget about it the next day and then I am bombarded with emails afterwards.
If you are an online retailer for example, why not make the competition interactive. Build a landing page that has a wheel of prizes, promote it through your different channels. Those that sign up get a chance to spin and potentially win a prize instantly, plus if they refer their friends they’ll receive additional spins. You can also get the winners to post or share their prizes online to get more spins and you “the retailer” can share the excitement of the winners as well on your social media pages. At the end of the competition everyone gets a chance to win the main prize (something worthwhile) with multiple consolation prizes and if you really want to go all out, give everyone who participated 10% off their next order as a thank you. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be this sophisticated, but something simple with a bit of creativity can go along way and work just as well.”
Use Lead Magnets – “A lead magnet simply put, offers your visitors something of value in return for their details (email address, first name, etc). For example, a free eBook, access to a specific report, whitepapers, webinars, etc. One of the newest emerging trends taking off at present are Podcasts.
The type of lead magnet you use depends on the industry or sector you work in and the products or services your business offers. However, to effectively capture your audience’s data. I can’t stress enough that whatever you offer must be of VALUE to your demographic, or else you’ll end up with low sign ups.
For instance, if you’re a book publisher and one of your popular authors is releasing their newest book, you could run a podcast where fans can sign up for the opportunity to listen to the author speak about the book (his inspiration, his experiences, etc.). If you really wanted to create a WOW factor, send everyone who listened to the podcast until the end a unique code allowing them to enter it at the point of purchase entitling them to receive a signed copy.”
“There are many techniques you can use to grow your email subscribers list. Whatever approach you decide to take always remember to test, monitor and optimise your strategy to achieve the best results for your organisation.”
- ASK – “I worked for Ted Kennedy twice with a 10-year gap. He told me he never took it for granted that folks were going to vote for him. I personally observed him, while campaigning, asking everybody for their vote. 25+ years and a Kennedy in Massachusetts and he STILL asked. You’ve got to ASK for the email address – don’t take it for granted. AND you’ve got to THANK everybody.”
- RELEVANCE – “I can feed my cat dog food, call her Spot, take her for a walk with a collar, but she ain’t never going to bark. It’s a cat. Find YOUR audience. It’s not about numbers, it’s about relevance. If your audience is deleting or unsubscribing at epic rates, you have an issue. If you are not getting subscribers, you have an issue. Make sure you know who you are talking to and make really sure it’s ALWAYS relevant to them.”
- “BANG THE DRUM” – “We receive more messaging in a day, than our grandparents received in a lifetime. Our brains had been trained to selectively ‘cut out’ what’s not important. BECOME important by sending out your messaging more than once. Did you see a Coke ad today? How about McDonalds? Find the balance between annoying [unsubscribes] and relevant persistence. FIND something to discuss, impart or make people aware of. Something happened today, LET THEM KNOW.”