Sign up to our newsletter or Join our mailing list. It’s actually a bit of an old chestnut on web pages now.
Does anyone still sign up to these things? And are they even relevant any more with so many other channels of communication available ever since social media exploded into the internet? It might surprise you to learn the answers to those two questions are both yes, as is the answer to “should I consider it for my site?”
Email marketing is a proven digital marketing tool for both driving sales and retaining customers. Studies show that 60% of consumers have made a purchase as the result of a marketing email whereas only 12.5% of them even consider a buy button as a purchase driver on social media.
And research into US retail showed 80% of respondents identified email marketing as a key strategy for customer retention - more than any other digital tactic.
If you are a company whose primary concern is ecommerce, then driving sales is going to be the most valuable aspect of email marketing, but for most other businesses it will be customer retention and brand building that is the prize. Keeping in touch with your customers by simply delivering information of value helps keep you foremost in their minds for when they are ready to use your services.
The keys to success in email marketing are simple - the first is to get people to sign up to your newsletter, and the second is to stop them from unsubscribing.
How do I get visitors to sign up?
The first thing is not to ask them to sign up to your newsletter. Seriously. One of the most unengaging things you can see in a web page design is 'Sign up to our newsletter'. This would have worked quite well a couple of decades ago when the whole internet experience was new and exciting and people actually wanted more email, but now it is a non-starter. The phrase translates in users' minds to "give me more spam".
How you present the invitation to sign up is everything, and should focus on what your visitor gets out of it.
This is really a matter of how in your visitors' faces you wish to be. The most effective presentation is popups - they are attention-grabbing and have the potential to focus your visitor in the moment on entering their email address, but done badly they can also be a major irritation. By contrast, having something on the page itself, like a signup bar built into the web page design, is less intrusive but generally less likely to result in a signup in most cases. Knowing your audience is what will help you here, it will inform your choices on how soon to show the popup, what incentive is used, what language to use to best engage, and even whether to use a popup at all or stay more subtle with just a signup invitation on the page.
The most obvious tactic is to give something away. Everyone loves a freebie, even more so if it appears to have value. If you are an ecommerce website, then a code for some level of discount or free shipping is quite likely to get a customer to part with their email address. If you're not selling anything on your site, you still have something of value to offer your visitor: Information. If your site has only information rather than products, then that is why your visitor has come to you, so offer them a doozy in the form of a free downloadable PDF guide to something pertinent to what you do, or 'trade secrets', or some form of exclusive content - as long as it is something compelling to your visitor it will increase your chances of gaining an email sign up in exchange.
How do I stop recipients unsubscribing?
There are two things you can do to secure your subscribers so they stay subscribing - make sure that what you send them is useful or entertaining. Just as getting them to sign up was how to answer their question “What’s in it for me?”, getting them to look through your emails has to answer “Why should I bother?”. Because, be honest, it is a bother. There is so much email flying around, more than 300 billion each day as it happens, and many users have enough in their inbox that going through it is usually a job rather than a joy. Why should anyone read yours? The reason should be because they want to. Your content should be engaging enough that your recipient wants to look through it for reasons other than just checking if it can be deleted immediately.
Entertainment is a great way to engage, because people want to be entertained, especially someone going through the drudgery of clearing their emails. Sometimes entertainment is nothing more than the style in which your content is written, so that it reads like it’s someone talking to you personally rather than a company talking at you.
Information of value or interest is also a winning move. Provide content that readers will want to absorb because it is of real use to them, or even simply piques their interest. The more useful your information is, the more likely your next email is to be read.
Consider that unsubscribe button as a judge presiding over your content, if it gets clicked then your email was deemed irrelevant and that is the end of your relationship with one particular inbox.
Email marketing works. The caveat is it works if you do it right. Find a way to entice your visitors to give you their email address in such a way that they feel like they got the better end of the deal. Then make sure that what you send out is going to have value to them so that your emails are actually a welcome addition to their inbox as opposed to just more clutter. And don’t get complacent, the unsubscribe button is always waiting and you are only as good as your last mailout.