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A quick guide to better list building

Email remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. And it’s not difficult to see why. With more and more consumers checking their inboxes daily, the opportunity to meet customers at this important touchpoint can’t be ignored.

The challenge retailers then face is how to consistently grow their subscriber database, and how to maintain subscriber engagement after doing so. Too often the focus is on acquiring the sign-up, and then reverting to a generic batch-and–blast messaging strategy. However, this strategy causes your subscribers to disengage earlier because it’s difficult to personalise your emails enough to be truly effective.

So, how do you grow your list size in a way that will help you collect the right customers and keep them engaged?

Growing your email sign-ups

When looking to consistently grow your contact database you need to take a consistent, multi-pronged approach. Include a sign-up above the fold of your homepage, or even better, on all pages of your site. This gives consumers who may decide while browsing an easy way to do so. This is especially important if they link directly to a product page from the web. Limiting the sign-up to only the homepage decreases your ability to secure a new subscriber.

Other tactics you’ll want to consider are popups, dropdowns, and ribbons. These are all great at being front and center to new visitors, and are routinely the most effective list-growth tactics. Of course, don’t ignore other areas of growth, such as social pages, co-registration partnerships, and brick-and-mortar stores.

Now to address the elephant in the room: Should you offer an incentive for signing up? The answer is – it depends. There is nothing wrong with using incentives to entice new subscribers, but be wary of training your customers to wait for discounts to make purchases. You can always get creative when it comes to what to offer. You can offer a free gift with their next purchase, a weekly/monthly raffle for a gift card or other prize for new sign-ups, and even partner with a cause that is meaningful to your subscribers.

For example, if your brand sells men’s underwear, consider supporting a testicular cancer foundation. Promote and communicate this cause on your website, and ask them to sign up to receive more information on how they can help get involved. You can even provide a “coupon code” to use at checkout that will allow that discount to be donated, rather than taken off the purchase price. This way the consumer becomes emotionally connected, and the brand can track the effectiveness of the campaign.

Get personal

Now that you have acquired new subscribers, it’s time to personalise their experience. Regardless of the products you sell – men’s underwear, cookies or car parts – personalisation (even on a small scale) can have a deep and lasting effect. It can keep subscribers engaged, as well as reduce unsubscribes.

Even if you are using a batch-and-blast email strategy, look for areas where you can maximise personalisation. This could be acquisition source (on-site), email or purchase behaviour. If knowing your subscriber signed up to receive emails while viewing men’s shoes, your welcome message or series should have a high focus on men’s shoes. Include intuitive product recommendations into your batch-and-blast messages, making them immediately more relevant. If users click on a maternity link inside of your emails, they should be sent emails focused on maternity items. If they are a recent purchaser, helpful tips on how to care for a newly purchased product is a great way to build trust and provide value to a customer.

The best part of all of this is that this can all be automated, taking a large burden off your team.

Make them believers

You should never look at commerce marketing tactics as acquisition versus retention. It should be a combined strategy. You want to acquire the right customer and then engage them effectively along the way by showing that your brand understands them.

Focus your overall strategy that will help get the right message to the right customer at the right time. This is where using segmentation, automation, send frequency, and personalisation can help.

Remember: one-size-fits-all might work for hats, but it rarely, if ever, works for email.

Shannon Ingrey is general manager of Oracle + Bronto APAC and can be contacted at 1300 564 112.

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