By Anne Holland, President
Your house list, customers and prospects who've eagerly asked to hear from you, is one of your most valuable marketing tools.
However, MarketingSherpa's research has determined that one of the most significant factors in response rates is the age of an individual email name's opt-in. If an individual signed up for your list fewer than 60 days ago, they are vastly more likely to open, click and convert for additional offers.
(This makes sense, because it's always been true for print direct mail names, but it's still good to know real-world studies have tracked the recency factor in the email world as well.)
So, if you want a high-performing list, you must focus on two activities, aside from overall email best practices:
#1. Place an email opt-in *form* near the top of your home page
When visitors come to your site, you should try to get as many of the truly interested prospects as possible to sign up for your list. Multiple site analytics and usability studies have shown two critical factors play into getting more sign-ups, including:
-> Put your email offer above the fold because the vast majority of visitors won't scroll down.
-> Include a form field for email address immediately rather than merely asking visitors to click on a hotlink or button to go to another page to sign up.
This spring, MarketingSherpa's research team conducted two observational studies to determine how well typical marketers were following these two critical rules. The results were mixed. Of 100 ecommerce sites visited (such as Amazon), 79% placed an email registration form above the fold on their home page.
However, of 200 online publisher's sites visited (such as WSJ.com), a mere 49% placed an email sign-up offer above the fold -- and of those only one in four used a form. The others simply gave a hotlink to click on to sign up. Given that online publishers depend commercially on the strength of their email lists, these results are fairly pitiful. #2. Send all newbies a special welcome
As noted above, multiple MarketingSherpa partnered studies have found that new names are far more involved in your email than folks who've been on your list for a while. So, best practices would be to take advantage of this heightened interest by sending the new names something special.
Some companies, such as Dutch Gardens, send a special Welcome promotional offer as soon as a new shopper signs up. Other companies, such as Travelocity, send a carefully crafted series of welcoming messages, all designed to convert a new opt-in into a faithful customer. We've got anecdotal evidence, via a series of MarketingSherpa Case Studies, showing these sorts of new-subscriber campaigns do extraordinarily well.
So, for our two studies this spring, we signed up for email at the 100 ecommerce sites and 200 online publishers sites and then watched our research mailbox to see what would arrive. Sadly -- and somewhat shockingly -- very little did.
Only 3% of ecommerce sites we signed up at sent us anything with a promotional offer -- defined as a sale, a product offer or a newsletter. 71% sent some type of non-promotional form letter, often a subscription confirmation or text-only thanks note with no offer or engaging links. 26% sent us absolutely nothing at all for at least 14 days, if not longer.
The 200 online publishing sites we tested had extremely similar numbers. In that case 75% of sites we opted in at sent us some type of welcoming note -- but it was a "weak" effort, a "you have been subscribed" form message with no other involvement device to bring the recipient back to the site, and back to interacting with the brand right away.
My suggestion based on this evidence? Go to your own site(s) and sign up for email. Then watch what arrives in your in-box. See if it would move you to take action, to buy something, to read something, to return to your site…
If it would not (or if nothing arrives at all), then task your email creative team with creating, testing, and tracking the results of a welcome series that is more powerful. And then sit back smiling at the comforting knowledge that you're probably five steps ahead of your competition by doing so.Useful links related to this article
MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Benchmark Guide: