One of the most critical elements of successful email marketing is getting customers to opt-in to your email list. Your emails might have the best content since Shakespeare and the best offers since the Blue-plate Special, but it will all be for nothing if no one will opt-in.
Luckily, there are ways to make sure that your customers, current and potential, join your email list.
The Practical Side
There are two sides to getting your customers to sign up for your list: the practical side and the value side. Let’s take a look at the practical side of things first.
You want to make it as easy as possible for people to join your list. Here are a couple of key points to keep in mind:
1. Offer many ways to sign up
Some of your customers will find you while searching on the Web and some will discover you bywalking by on the street. But no matter how they find you, you need to ensure they have a way to sign up for your email list.
For the offline folks, you can offer a number of methods to join. Some examples include:
- Having an employee sign up customers through an online form (checkout is often the best time)
- Making a computer available where customers can immediately join your list using an online form
- Putting a fishbowl somewhere so your customers can drop in their business card or a form you provide, which an employee uses to sign them up later
- Including the online sign up address on every sales receipt so they can join at their leisure
- Displaying a QR code that takes customers to a sign up form or entices them to sign up in other wayswhen they scan it.
You can also offer different ways for online folks to join your list:
- A spot to sign up on your website’s sidebar or footer (or both!)
- Alanding page with a sign-up form and some content designed to entice them to sign up (see “The Value Side” below)
- Since there’s a chance that your customers will forward your email to share with others, you want to include a sign-up form (or a link to one) within each communication you send as well
2. Make it quick and easy to sign-up
This is one spot where it’s easy to misstep.
Most email marketing solutions allow you to include a number of fields on your sign-up form. To a business, these fields provide an opportunity to collect a lot of information about your customer when they sign up for your list.
No matter how appealing that sounds, however, I urge you to limit the number of fields on your sign-up form to three: “Email Address,” “First Name” and “Last Name” (or to two if you replace the two name fields with one “Full Name” field).
Why? Longer forms often elicit one of two reactions:
- The customer sees that they have to enter a lot of information to join chooses not want to take the time, or
- The customer is fine with providing their email address and name, but not any of the other information that you want (such as address, phone number, gender, etc.)
So save your information gathering for surveys that you can send as part of your email marketing campaigns at a later time.
One additional point I want to make here is that you should always use double opt-in meaning that, no matter how a customer is added to your list, they should receive a separate email asking them to confirm that they would like to join.This confirmation is often handled seamlessly by your email solution and will help you stay off of spammer lists and out of trouble with the law.
The Value Side
The reason most people opt-in to receive your emails is for the value they expect them to provide. You can determine that value by asking the question,”What do the subscribers on my list get out of being subscribed?”
For some, the value you provide by offering deals, discounts and coupons within each email newsletter is enough.For others, you may need to also provide useful and engaging content.
Many of the posts on this blog have addressed using content to do just that:
- Use Monthly Sweepstakes to Grow Your Email List: Using sweepstakes is a great way to hook your customers and keep them on the line.
- How to Tell Your Business Story: 5 Ways to Inspire Your Target Audience: These are 5 powerful themes that will help you engage your readers.
- Seven Ways to Engage Customers on Your Website: These work just as well when used within your emails.
- 5 Reasons and 5 Ways to Contact Your Customer Base: The “Top 5 reasons to contact your customers” list in here also applies to your email campaigns.
- Never Run Out of Content with this Email Marketing Approach: How to use “content curation” to add value to your emails.
Content Creation “Mechanics”
- Tailor Marketing Copy to Your Target Audience for Better Results: The copywriting tips in this post are great starting points for your own marketing content.
- How to Create Engaging Content for Your Customers: These techniques will help you get up and running with content creation.
- Get More Customers by Speaking Their Language: Learn an important copywriting lesson in this post.
- Marketing Tips From the Pros: Write Better Marketing Copy with a Swipe File: Here’s a method to obtain writing inspiration that you can use again and again.
One last point on value: whichever approach you use to create the value, you need to provide it on a regular basis or they will unsubscribe faster than you can say, “email marketing.”
For more tips and how-to information on email marketing, check out these articles:
Find out how you can put together an effective e-mail campaign with pbSmart Connections email marketing software.
Matt Mansfield is the Head Tour Guide at Matt About Business (http://www.mattaboutbusiness.com) where he helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies use the web to manage and market their business by connecting online strategies and tactics with real-world results. Matt is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.