Even with all of the burgeoning technology, social media networks, and evolving methods of marketing at our fingertips, email has remained an integral vehicle for connecting directly with our customers (and potential customers). Even in 2020, 80% of marketers claim that email is the best tool at their disposal for customer acquisition. It can deliver an impressively high return on investment, can be leveraged by businesses of any size, and can be fully customized to align with a brand or the preferences of a given audience.
Email also gives marketers creative freedom and digital real estate that may not be possible with other marketing methods. Better yet, email audiences can be segmented by a variety of different categories (such as location, interests, or behaviors) which allows marketers to tailor their messaging to be more effective for specific groups of people.
While email marketing may not be new and shiny, it still remains a highly effective method of connecting with an audience if done well. But first, a brand needs to capture the email addresses.
A substantial email list can be the lifeblood of many modern businesses. By building an audience on an email list, a brand has the access to tell their story, build relationships, and (most importantly) deliver high-value offers to drive those customers to the point of sale. In short, email marketing is the best way for brands to make sales with new customers and deliver value to their existing customers.
Email is also ‘owned’ content that a brand can fully control, free of restrictions, limitations, and algorithms imposed by social media sites and search engines. Websites and social networks will come and go, but a brand will own their email list for as long as they want to continue managing it. Even better, everyone on the list has opted in to receiving content from a brand, and those who are no longer interested in the content can unsubscribe. Depending on your industry, you will likely see unsubscribe rates of between 0.1% and 0.3% per email you send out. This makes email lists one of the most targeted forms of communication a brand can conduct with its audience. It is also much cheaper than paid advertising, making it a more cost effective approach once the list reaches a substantial size.
Email can also be a very personal and steady form of communication. Many people check their email first thing in the morning, some before they even get out of bed and pour a cup of coffee and many before they check any form of social media. According to Mailchimp the optimal time to send emails is at 10am in the recipients’ own time zones on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there is no golden rule here. Since every industry and audience is different, it is best to experiment with different email distribution times to determine what works best for that email list.
Email can feel like a one-on-one conversation (if crafted well), and can facilitate interactions with the brand - either by replying to the message, clicking on a link, or by engaging with a call-to-action (CTA). Data from HubSpot also suggests that 73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. Nearly every internet user has an email address, making it an accessible resource as well.
The formula for capturing email addresses really has not changed much over the years. The standard approach typically utilizes a “lead magnet” of some sort that is enticing enough for consumers to be willing to exchange their email information (and somewhat blindly opt into email content) for it. This could be an informative download or other digital product, eBook, video, a discount code, a promise of exclusive promotions, or other clear incentive to sign up to receive future communications from an email list.
Once a lead magnet has been determined, there are a variety of ways to promote that content and capture emails. Most of these methods will incorporate some language around the lead magnet to demonstrate value to the prospective email-list member. Some of the standard methods of initiating email captures include:
While these methods of email capture have proven to convert (albeit to varying degrees of success), it is important that we continue to evolve and reconsider what the best practices are for brands’ email acquisition strategies. In most of the traditional methods outlined above, the user experience is less-than-ideal and at times intrusive - further discouraging engagement with the campaign.
Additionally, brands should consider how their lead magnets or incentives align within the rest of their customer ecosystem. The email sign-up offer should in no way cannibalize other offers a brand has, and the level of incentive should be strategically selected in alignment with the preferred action for the customer. The easiest way to do this is to have one vendor manage all offers on the site, including email, referral, and loyalty incentives.
Any time a brand asks for a visitor’s email address, an exchange of value needs to take place. The brand gets the email address and the visitor gets something in return. There has to be a reason to hand over the email address - hopefully something more significant than the promise of receiving a company newsletter on a regular basis. Truthfully, consumers have become more and more savvy about this practice and many have become more selective about when they choose to share their email address. Because of this, brands need to ensure value up front and be diligent (but respectful) about building the consumer relationship on an ongoing basis. Here are some ways we believe the strategy could be improved to seamlessly capture email addresses:
One of the best ways to gain traction with email acquisitions is to interlink email marketing with a more robust referral marketing strategy. Now when they sign up with their email address they are able to (for example) gift one of their friends with a discount code AND they will get store credit when that friend makes their first purchase. This is called a “double-sided incentive” - and it is incredibly effective. Of course, this offer can be customized by the brand, giving them an opportunity to create a real value-based incentive in exchange for the customer’s email address. This is a win for the brand, the referrer, and the new customer in one fell swoop.
The benefits of pairing email marketing with referral campaigns can be further amplified with software tools.
Capturing email addresses is an integral part of growing the relationship between a brand and customer, and can be leveraged for future opportunities for engagement for years to come. Once the email is acquired, subscribers can be provided with an email to share offers with their friends - opening the door for the referral marketing cycle to be integrated. This has the potential to expand a brand’s reach exponentially. After a consistent relationship has been established and referral marketing has been introduced, loyalty marketing can be leveraged for even more impact.
Similarly to the referral marketing strategy, combining email acquisition with a loyalty program can also be effective. While some loyalty programs require you to sign up for a branded credit card to become a member, what if a brand lowered the barrier of entry to simply providing an email address? Once the email address has been provided, they can have access to entry-level loyalty perks, and earn their way to better perks (in a tiered system) through ongoing patronage. From a consumer perspective, this feels less like an even value exchange and more like setting up an account to score benefits for shopping they may already have engaged in. Alternatively, an email list can be used to encourage a brand’s best customers to sign up for the loyalty program.
Again, this is a win-win for both parties as the customer gets rewarded and the brand gets repeat sales and another engaged consumer to communicate with down the road. If done elegantly, a brand can supercharge their efforts by bundling referral marketing and loyalty marketing together for a next-level ecosystem to incentivize their customers and brand advocates. When each program is running on all cylinders, email, referral, and loyalty marketing should work in tandem to improve their effectiveness and the customer experience.
Data can be your best friend when it comes to optimizing any digital campaign, especially when it comes to your email-capture efforts. For traditional methods of email capture, this could include impressions, conversion rate, time spent on pages, click-through-rate, and more. However, the most valuable data a brand can receive is from the customers themselves. Brands should consider creating a series of ‘profile building’ emails for new subscribers that help identify individual preferences for each consumer. Think brands, styles, sizes, colors, and other options that are relevant to the brand’s unique offering. Once this information is obtained, brands will be able to segment their emails further for more efficient targeting. They will also be able to use those key insights to determine which offers should be shown as an incentive for a referral campaign or to encourage participation in a loyalty program.
The right referral marketing software empowers users with insights and recommendations to make changes as necessary to improve their campaigns. For instance, the ability to see if email subscribers are actively engaged with a brand’s referral or loyalty program, clearly pinpointing where they are at in the marketing funnel. Users can also leverage A/B testing so that data can be analyzed to determine which offering is performing most efficiently. This can be a game-changer when it comes to capturing email addresses, keeping engagement high and having the programs growing at a healthy rate. Since email, referral, and loyalty marketing are all interconnected, referral marketing software allows you to view the performance of each together to help understand their collective impact.
With the use of referral marketing, loyalty marketing, and analysis through A/B testing, you are setting your email-capture campaign up for success. This is partly because the responsibility for promotion no longer lives solely with the brand but is crowdsourced, spread through word of mouth, and backed by data. More importantly, as complementary initiatives each of these programs can help improve the level of engagement for each other and provide deeper insights for further interactions. By more deeply understanding your customers, their preferences, and how deeply they are involved in the programs you are offering, you are able to more effectively communicate with them in a way that is relevant and effective.
Of course, having a compelling referral or loyalty program is a prerequisite for these more effective email-capture strategies. When you are setting these up, be sure to define your audience, determine what they would want from a referral or loyalty program, and strategically select the perks you are offering. It is important to make the user experience as seamless as possible, and make it easy for them to get involved in the brand ecosystem (such as simply providing their email to get started). If you need assistance with getting a top-tier referral or loyalty program off the ground with best practices that will supercharge your email capture efforts and help your business thrive, book a demo with Talkable today.