The first marketing email was sent to roughly 400 potential customers in 1974. The story goes, the 400 recipients were converted into $13 million in sales. It’s just nowhere near as easy these days to send that little and sell so much. So how can you make your email acquisition and conversion efforts easier?
First things first, what’s your plan? Have you assessed your current email efforts and goals? Starting with a base plan is a solid way to map out the best options and weed out what has the least return. One way many marketers map out the path from obtaining subscribers to turning those email recipients into customers is through an “email conversion funnel.”
Why have a funnel in your plan? How does having an average ROI of 3,800% sound? Because for every dollar invested, the average return for email marketing is $38! Investing in one of your greatest tools to reap one of the greatest returns sounds pretty good, huh?
Email Conversion Funnel
You might organize your email conversion funnel in a way that makes the most of your best efforts while preparing for the transition from each step to the next. Below is an example of how this flow might work:
1. Create awareness
Your first bet toward acquisition is creating awareness. Why? If your prospects don’t know you and what you have to offer, how will you ever get them to want to know more? This goes for current, lapsed and prospective customers alike.
Example: One of the easiest ways to create awareness that turns into acquisition is through updates. You should always have something to share. Whether it’s new information about your product, brand or industry, the constant sharing (without bombarding, of course) will help keep you top of mind.
2. Pique their interests
The next step in acquiring email subscribers is to get them curious. To get here, you should already be sending usable, relevant and engaging content. You’ve already created the awareness -- now it’s time to really grab their attention.
Example: Tap into your prospects’ fear of missing out (FOMO). Be straightforward to anyone who isn’t a subscriber, or in some cases a full-subscriber (someone who receives more than one type of your emails), that by opting in they're less likely to be left out of something awesome.
3. Get them to decide
At this stage, prospects may be considering whether they still want communications from you, if they’ll interact, and ultimately if they want to be a customer. Sometimes they’ll make the decision on whether they want to be a customer based on how you’re already communicating with them, and other times you’ll have to offer up something that entices them to activate.
Example: Outside of giving insight into upcoming products and deals, consider offering something that will drive them toward making a decision. Consider something that won’t significantly dent your bottom line, like a small discount.
4. Push them toward action
Even if a prospect wants to be a customer, chances are, you’ll still need to influence them to do something about it. You’ve already had many wins: They’re aware of your brand and offerings, you’ve created an ongoing interest and lead them to the decision fork-in-the-road.
After reading through the four-stage funnel, take a moment to revise your plan of attack. Start by jotting down answers to any questions or ideas you got as you were reading about it. Would you look at that? Up next are ways to get consumers to sign up for your email communications, so you can fill this funnel.
Positioned for Acquisition
Whether you go with the four-stage funnel route or create a plan of your own, these tactics are just some of the ways you can prompt prospective subscribers to opt in:
1. Subscribe box
Start with the time-tested “subscribe box.” Many site visitors will look for it once they’ve found something on your site that is appealing to them.
2. Modal window
One step above the good ol’ subscribe box is the modal window. Modals are a sub-window that display your prompt over the current page the consumer is visiting. These still allow for the content to be visible and scroll with the page, but ultimately give the visitor only two options without taking them away from your site. (We’re talking more possible subscribers with less bounce rate, people!) Just make sure to use this to your advantage -- not to annoy prospective subscribers.
For further opportunities, look into using cookie-driven reminders for first-time visitors. There are many integrations that allow you to customize these types of options.
3. Exit intent pop-up
This one’s similar to the cookie-driven modal window for first-time visitors, but tracks when someone on your website is about to leave and prompts them to subscribe/join.
Why consider this acquisition strategy? Well, at least 70% of the people who leave your website will never come back! You’ve seen this before, the “wait, don’t leave us yet!” prompt. It may seem silly, but it works. Get ‘em before they exit if that’s what it takes to engage them.
4. Opt-in box or subscribe link at the end of content
Add an opt-in box or subscribe link at the end of articles, blog posts, eBooks and emails (those being forwarded your emails might want to get the correspondence themselves).
Hey, if they’re already reading something by you, they’ll probably want more! Think about it as your favorite series of books or on TV. When you get to the end of the last chapter or final episode of the season, you already want more. When it comes to being informed, even if they’ve read half of what you wrote or skimmed all the way to the bottom, that reader took the time to do so. By making it that far, they’re showing enough interest to potentially fill out a subscribe form.
5. Subscription options
Give prospects more options than just email for subscribing. Since mobile accounts for more than 50% of online search, try using SMS to acquire subscribers. (Example: “Text email address to 46989 to receive the greatest deals.”)
6. Lead magnets
Lead magnets are the things you know will draw, or are already drawing, traffic.
Consider adding a way for subscribers to “find out more,” “be notified when major events/releases/offers happen,” or “hear more from us.” Build these lead magnets into popular posts, giveaways and receipts/orders. (Fun fact as you consider digital receipts/orders: Transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email and can generate 6x more revenue.)
Create a schedule your prospects can get used to, to a point where they can count on your content. If they expect to receive the best of what you have to offer, they’ll anticipate your emails.
Here’s an example: Start sending themed promotional emails at consistent times each week. For those who love alliterations, imagine how weekly Markdown Mondays and What’s New Wednesdays can become a part of your top prospects’ reading repertoires. (See what we did there?)
8. Content locking/blocking
Be that brand who does this, because it works. Write something really good, but don’t give it to your readers all at once. They’ll want to give you their email just to finish reading.
Try giving prospects roughly one-third to one-half of what you’re trying to sell. Or tell them, and right before it gets really good BOOM! It’s time for the virtual troll under the bridge to ask for the toll of an email address for those who want to cross the content connector.
9. Leverage testimonials/reviews
People believe other people. It’s that simple.
If someone states “Brand X has the best newsletter/deals/emails/etc.,” you better believe others will follow to see what the hype is all about. (So you better continue to bring it).
10. Social posts with subscribe links
This is another time-tested tactic.
Make a post so good that readers will want the long versions in their inbox. Or come up with a deal/great information that you can offer in exchange for their information.
"Ever wanted to find the best way to shop for all the gear you’ll need for your next vacation? We’ve got the expert advice and the best products at the best prices to make the most of your time and your dime in our ‘Thrifty Travels’ digital shopping guide." You get the idea.
11. Content previews
Make a capture page that entices prospects to opt-in via a preface of “this is what you’ll get.” They’ll land here via SEO or browsing your site, and the preview you share will entice them to fill out a form (usually with more information than just their email address).
Don’t limit yourself to just these acquisition strategies. Leverage every way you share information as a way to create opt-in opportunities. Remember, this is just one part of the email marketing ROI journey, and while it may seem long, you’ll find the worth sooner than you think.