By Joanna Perry | Head of Marketing

An email database is one of the most effective tools for online retailers to develop brand equity and sales.  In the 2014 Email Marketing Industry Census by Econsultancy, in-house marketers ranked email as the most effective marketing activity they undertook, with 68% ranking it as either excellent or good for return on investment.

With many brands reporting a growing number of sales attributed to email (anywhere between 10% and 40% of total revenue) either directly or indirectly, the importance of email will only grow in the near future. Here are six proven (and relatively simple) strategies that will allow you to quickly and effectively grow your database.

Set store KPIs for your email database

For multichannel retailers who come into contact with customers in stores every day, database acquisition at the point of sale is a simple and effective way of growing a client list.  Setting realistic but strong database conversion goals for store staff, and rewarding your store team for their persistence and efforts will grow your list effectively (and quickly).  A good sign up rate to aim for is 80%; with many retailers aiming for a 90% conversion rate for maximum effectiveness and growth.

Website sign-up to your email database

Your website is an untapped resource when it comes to acquiring database names.  Given many retailers are only at 1% to 2% sales conversion, you should be doing everything you can to bring back window shoppers and browsers who have shown strong interest in your offer.

One retailer who is doing well to incentivise database sign-ups is Adidas.  Adidas incentivises every web visitor to sign-up to its database with a 15% off voucher, available for a limited time only.  The offer is strong enough to entice prospects to sign-up, whilst the time driven element is a key factor in driving sale conversion.

Another international retailer Aveda, offers an exclusive offer every year within your birthday month if you sign-up to the database and provide details on your birthday.

 

Six simple methods for growing your email database

Website pop-ups

Taking the onsite process one step further is a pop-up widget incentivising sign-up.  This is best utilised once a customer has shown sufficient engagement and interest in your site, and most commonly is based on time spent on site or number of pages viewed.  Launch it too soon and this could end up affecting site conversion, so use wisely and test often to see what works best for your own website.

Supporting the pop-up with an offer or value based incentive (e.g. free shipping, small discount or gift) can also go a long way to ensuring you secure an email address.  Ensuring you only show this once to new visitors will also ensure that you don’t annoy your regular customer base.

To reduce the impact to conversion keep the requirement fields light at the start (name, email and country/state). Drawing the customer into a welcome programme that further populates fields necessary for segmentation is a good way to go, and doesn’t feel like too big a commitment to your brand.

The Australian female fashion brand Dotti does this well with a small pop up offering 10% off, appearing on the screen for approximately 10 seconds and then disappearing.  The pop-up asks only for an email address.  When you visit the site again, it does not appear, ensuring the visitor is not ‘spammed’.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Perkins uses a light box pop-up and a stronger incentive to act with a higher discount that is time driven.

Six simple methods for growing your email database

At the checkout

Another overlooked area to collect database names is through the checkout.  Although the majority of brands offer the opportunity to sign up to the database through the registration or purchase process, many do not incentivise the customer for ‘checking the subscribe’ box when they are being driven through the checkout funnel, thereby missing out on a wonderful opportunity to both collect an email address and drive repeat purchase.

This can simply be done by adding an incentive next to the ‘subscribe’ checkbox at both the top and the bottom of the funnel if the customer has not already subscribed.  Once again, free shipping or a small discount for the current or future purchases are good methods to incentivise a sign-up.

Social media and your email database

The crossover between website and social media is rarely executed seamlessly, and the sign-up to email database function through social media is no exception.  Utilising Facebook, Acne Studios is a good example of implementing simple and accessible sign-up features to ensure the brand maximizes the potential of its 427,000 Facebook fans.  In this instance, Acne has used both the Facebook subscribe app and Facebook wall to prompt email sign ups.

 

Six simple methods for growing your email database

Six simple methods for growing your email database

Both striking and functional, the brand keeps the audience within their chosen medium and ensures that the experience is seamless.  If you are going to take the user off page, ensure that a specific landing page has been developed that is easy to use and quick to execute.  Too many fields and the user may abandon both the sign-up and the brand interaction altogether.

Competitions and giveaways

Believe it or not, the potential for competitions and giveaways to drive email database sign-ups is enormous.  Once seen as parochial and cheesy, even the most exclusive brands now use both owned and earned digital spaces, as well as partnerships, to drive database acquisition.

Take Burberry for example.  As a part of its #THISISBRIT campaign the brand has driven traffic from its Facebook page to the website, where consumers can request a fragrance sample by providing an email and mailing address.

Although the brand does not explicitly request that consumers agree to join its email database, the chances are that if they provide you with free samples, you’re going to want to know about their next campaign, and sign-up in the hope that you receive more free Burberry goodies.  That’s certainly the effect that it had on me!

Six simple methods for growing your email database

You can also extrapolate this idea to a simple enter and win competition mechanic, which may be simpler to execute (but not as enticing for the customer).

There are many activities you can undertake to drive your email database further.  Thinking holistically about your strategy is the first step.  Also treating the discount that you offer as an acquisition cost is a good way to justify the upfront discount and cost to margin.  As we all know, it’s a lot easier and cost-effective to engage customers you already have, than acquire new ones.

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