Email Acquisition: Focusing on the Forest, Instead of the Trees
"As email marketers we often get ‘in the weeds’ – focused on whether or not the opt-in box is checked (if you’re collecting email addresses from Canadians, CASL says it matters), agonizing over where the email sign-up call-to-action appears on your Website and trying to figure out if someone who offers to send your ‘sign up today’ message to 70 million qualified (according to them) prospects around the world is worth the $1,500 they’re going to charge you (hint: it’s likely not)."
Bill is looking for articles on email acquisition this week – in other words, missives on ways for an organization to grow its email list. I have some standard ways that I address that topic, and to my dismay, I used them back in December 2013 in a post for this blog.
But it now occurs to me that I might have more to say on the subject.
As email marketers we often get ‘in the weeds’ – focused on whether or not the opt-in box is checked (if you’re collecting email addresses from Canadians, CASL says it matters), agonizing over where the email sign-up call-to-action appears on your Website and trying to figure out if someone who offers to send your ‘sign up today’ message to 70 million qualified (according to them) prospects around the world is worth the $1,500 they’re going to charge you (hint: it’s likely not).
And right in the midst of writing this I got a ‘sign up for our email list’ card with my check (I am working while I eat dinner at a restaurant, as I often do when I travel). The incentive – a free entrée during my birthday month. Needless to say, I’m in! (Yes, seriously. I’m a sucker for a free meal. Sigh.)
But let’s take a moment and zoom out – away from the trees to look at the bigger picture. Here is my question to you is: why should someone sign-up to receive email from your organization?
Sounds like a silly question, right? You’re in charge of the email marketing program for your organization – so of course they should sign-up. But take a step back. Wipe from your memory everything you know about your organization (and ignore the goals for your bonus plan, if you have one). And ask yourself -- if you were a first-time visitor to your Website or your store or wherever a new person might run across a call-to-action to sign-up for your email list, why would you do it?
Put yourself in the shoes – no, put yourself in the SKIN – of someone who is a highly qualified and much desired new member of your email list. Someone who is very likely to purchase or take whatever action you need them to take to keep the lights on for your organization. Don’t think like you – think like them – and then see if your efforts are swaying you in the right direction. Swaying you enough to give up your much coveted primary email address.
There are so many elements to a call-to-action. The immediate incentive, the long-term value proposition, the amount of information asked for, the level of intimacy of the questions, the relationship the prospect has – and wants to have in the future – with your brand. And these are just some of the considerations that come into play in the decision to – or not to – sign up for your list email.
Still with me? Looking at one of your own calls-to-action, would you sign-up? If yes, good for you! Then think about what would make you even more likely to sign-up. If no, then you have some work to do. I can’t tell you, in this article, exactly what needs to change. But if you can put yourself in the mindset of one of your target prospects, you should be able to figure it out.
And if you’re not sure or you have no idea, then it’s time for some first-hand research. Start talking to people who match your target audience profile. Ask them what would entice them to sign-up for your email program. Understand that there’s almost no one who WANTS to receive more email – but if you can offer a benefit in return for the right to send someone email (a quid pro quo, if you will), then they will sign-up.
Let me know how it goes…