Every successful marketer knows that acquiring email addresses is the backbone of a healthy marketing strategy. Capturing email addresses has always been important, but recent changes to third-party cookie regulations and constantly changing social algorithms make the practice more critical than ever before.
While sending messages to subscribers may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about email acquisition principles, email marketing is only a small piece of the puzzle. Acquiring opt-in audience information opens the doors to lots of ways to talk to prospects and customers that wouldn’t be possible without the all-important email address.
Below, we’ll talk about some of those powerful ways to connect. Remember that permission and process often determine what you can and can’t do with email addresses, so the six rules below should guide your email acquisition strategy.
1. ABC: Always Be Capturing
It’s important to Always Be Capturing email addresses because they serve as digital passports. Just as a physical passport has stamps that show an individual person’s comings and goings, email addresses help connect the digital dots across the internet — and, critically, across devices. Without collecting that all-important personal identifier, you really don’t know who is crossing your digital borders… or how to communicate with them again once they leave.
Collecting email addresses means you’ll know when someone who hits your site or your app is a subscriber or not. If they are, you can serve them exactly the right email content to increase the odds of conversion, regardless of which device they’re using at the time. If they’re not a subscriber, you can offer an immediate incentive to encourage a sign-up.
2. Email addresses are a form of currency
Consumers these days know that email addresses have real value, so be prepared to make an offer that entices them to share it. Offers like Free Shipping and 10% Off have become standard. Think outside the box and serve up an instant-gratification offer that has even more value to up the number of addresses you capture. This is a chance to really let your brand personality shine.
While there’s nothing wrong with a standard offer, like free shipping or 10% off the first order, pairing those types of offers with something like a free eBook, white paper, video, or access to a community will help connect your brand’s story to the prospect or customer in a more meaningful — and lasting — way.
Think of the exchange of email address data between you and a site visitor or customer as a pact. You’re promising to deliver real value to them, both at the onset of the relationship (the instant-gratification offer) and on an ongoing basis (with regular emails and offers). If you fail to meet the user’s expectations at any time, he or she will likely unsubscribe.
3. Direct sign-ups are most valuable
To badly paraphrase Madonna, we’re living in a first-party data world, and you should be a first-party data girl (or guy). Anything that is not a direct sign-up is the equivalent of rented digital property. While it may be tempting to collect social media sign-ups to reduce user friction, the value of a social sign-up is only a fraction of that of a direct email address. And, guess what? The social platform owns that contact information, not you. You’re beholden to the landlord, who can (and will!) change the rules and demand more, more, more for you to contact that user in the future. You have a few (if any) rights to the customer’s data in these walled garden environments.
Collecting email addresses directly is the best way to future-proof your marketing funnel and control your ability to communicate with your audience. And, since social media sites like Facebook use (you guessed it!) email addresses to target users with ads, you’ll still be able to reach your prospects and customers in social environments.
4. Confirmation messages are a must
Confirmation emails have among the highest open rates of all emails. When someone gives you their email address for the first time — either from an opt-in or as the result of a purchase — they are highly engaged. Take advantage of the momentum that exists to deepen the relationship at that moment.
While many forms of marketing and advertising are one-to-many, email marketing is a one-to-one channel. Lean into this differentiator by speaking directly to your customer. Show them that they matter and that you’re thrilled to welcome them into your world. Let them know what to expect from you in the days and weeks ahead. Fostering a highly engaged customer relationship early can have a significant impact on their lifetime value (LTV), so don’t give in to the temptation to write a generic, throw-away confirmation message — or, worse, skip this important step entirely.
5. With great lists come great responsibility
Never, ever rent or sell your email list. Period. Not only does this destroy trust, but it also cheapens the relationship you’re working to build. Privacy is paramount in today’s environment, and customers are becoming savvier when it comes to the practices of the partners they entrust with their precious email addresses.
LiveIntent values and respects customer privacy. Our email newsletters do not leverage third-party cookies for targeting. Instead, they use hashed emails. A hashed email is an email address that’s run through a hashing algorithm to return a series of characters unique to that specific email. Each time an email address runs through a hashing algorithm, the algorithm returns the same unique value. Hashed emails cannot be reversed to reveal a user’s actual email.
With email, businesses can rest assured that they’re communicating directly with their customers while honoring their privacy preferences. LiveIntent helps advertisers and publishers respect their customers’ privacy preferences while still displaying ads that are contextually relevant. Talk about a win-win!
6. Score acquisition sources
Email acquisition is an art, but doing it well requires some science. And, not all acquisitions are created equal. Make sure you’re regularly reviewing your acquisition sources — and tracking and scoring them effectively — to increase the value of your data and serve the most relevant content to your subscribers.
It’s never too late to implement best practices around email acquisition. Ask any marketer when they wish they’d started, and you’re sure to hear “sooner than I did.” The best day was years ago, but the second-best day is today. Follow these six email acquisition principles and you’re sure to see positive results.