The constant acquisition and scoring of email addresses should stay at the top of any marketer’s list of smart things to do. Not near the top. At the top. As long as you are in business you should be capturing email addresses to drive your business’s growth and health.
While mailing subscribers is indisputably important, there are several reasons why the importance of capturing email addresses has nothing to do with sending your new subscribers another email. And how you obtain those addresses has become critical.
What you can use your email addresses for is highly dependent on how you collect them. Permission and Process drive email address usability. In order to make sure that every email you capture retains its elemental value, here are six basic principles that can guide your email address collection philosophy:
1. ABC. Always Be Capturing.
You should know when someone shows up on your site whether or not they are a subscriber. If they’ve logged in, no need. If they haven’t logged in, check for a cookie. Don’t see either of these? Put up that modal now!
2. “Email is a form of currency.”
The exchange of email address data between you and a site visitor or customer is a compact, an agreement. In exchange of the customer’s valuable unique identifier (the email address) you promise to provide something of value, like access to site resources, a white paper, daily or weekly newsletters, friends and family rates, and so on. There must be a symmetrical exchange of value. If you fail to honor this pact, expect the users to unsubscribe.
3. Direct sign ups are most valuable.
Social sign ups, while reducing friction for the user, are in fact as sticky and valuable as a Facebook ‘Like’. Remember how marketers put all their time into campaigns to get users to ‘like’ their Brand Pages? You can’t do much with a ‘like’ anymore. Now if you want to reach users in Facebook you need – guess what – email address. Worse even, if you used a social sign up service, it’s more than likely you have almost no rights to that customer data. That customer belongs to the social service – not you. Nice move, huh? See the Facebook terms of service for more reasons why you shouldn’t use Facebook Connect to acquire email signups.
When you get someone to sign up, send her an email. Immediately. Not in 10 minutes. Numerous studies have shown that interacting with someone who is new to file is absolutely necessary. You can also use services like Experian’s Leadspend to check the validity of a signup before you even send a confirm.
5. Don’t be a list pimp.
Don’t get signups in order to rent them out. Treat your direct signups as the valuable asset that they are. Don’t cheapen your relationships.
6. Score acquisition sources and know your ROSS.
You may get 1000 signups today from that co-registration campaign that you ran on StationWagonStation.com. Unless you continually run a ROSS – return on subscriber source – analysis, you will have no idea who your long tail subscribers are where they came from.
Email Acquisition is an art, but doing it well requires some science. Test your modals. Test the location of your ‘Register’ links. Review your preference center to see if it ever gets updated.