November 15, 2011
Case Study

List Growth Tactics: How Kodak added 33% more email subscribers and 53% more YouTube followers

SUMMARY: You are always losing subscribers -- everyone is. The trick is to grow your database faster than it shrinks. You need to constantly build the list or, eventually, you won't have one.

See how a B2B team at Kodak overhauled its capture page, added more calls-to-action, and updated its welcome series to grab 33% more email subscribers. Find out how the team integrated its social media channels and grew its audiences there, too.
by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter


Every email marketer is challenged to grow lists. Alyson Shurtliff, the Internet marketing manager for Entertainment Imaging at Eastman Kodak, was no different. Her team needed to boost the audiences for its email and social media marketing programs.

"It became important to us to cross-populate and to integrate these channels with one another … Our objective was to drive high-quality and a high quantity of subscribers to all our channels," Shurtliff says.

But the team did not want to rent lists or spend a fortune on advertising. The Entertainment Imaging team at Kodak serves the motion picture and television industry, and it needed to grow its lists with the resources it had on hand.


The team spent two weeks auditing its email capture forms and opt-in requests. It identified how current pages could be improved and where opt-in requests could be added.

Here are the steps the team took after the research:

Step #1. Update email capture page

The team first improved its email registration page. This ensured the page would make the most of traffic generated by the team's later efforts and would not deflect potential subscribers.

The older registration page was a blank slate, allowing the team to build up a stronger performer. The team used the following best practices to build the new page:
  • Clear value proposition - the page's headline, "Stay connected," and sub-headline emphasized that subscribers would receive information on the latest industry opinions, news and events by signing up.

  • Set clear expectations - the page displayed three examples of emails subscribers would receive and mentioned the emails arrived "every month or two." This information told subscribers what they would receive rather than making them guess (which can lead to poor engagement rates).

  • Beneficial button - rather than the typical "submit" button, the team used a word that emphasized the benefit of filling out the form: "subscribe."

  • Remove unnecessary fields - the team stopped requesting the cities and addresses of subscribers because it never used the information in the email program and did not plan to. Requesting these items slowed visitors and likely undermined conversion rates, so the team removed them.

  • Provide privacy policy - the team linked to its privacy policy on the new page within the following text: "We take your privacy seriously. When you share your information, we do not share it with others." This statement was designed to ease any concerns subscribers may have about providing their information for yet another email program.

Identify key segments

Film students are an important segment in Kodak's database. The team helps identify the group on this page by asking "what is your primary job function?" with an option for "Student/Grad Student." When this option is selected, the page reveals another field for the student's estimated graduation date.

"[The date] allows us to keep track of them better and to follow them as they move from the student segment into the emerging filmmaker segment, because their level of needs will change as they move up the chain," Shurtliff says.

Step #2. Add more opt-in requests

With the form now improved, the team needed to get it in front of a relevant audience and encourage registrations. Here are several places the team called attention to its email program and asked visitors to sign up:

Follow-us page - The team created this page to list its email programs and social media profiles, including its Twitter feed and YouTube channel. The team links to this page from the site's "about us" page and several other areas described below.

Homepage and navigation - The Kodak Cinema and Television homepage includes small buttons to follow the company in social networks, contact it via telephone, and sign up for its email programs. A link to the "follow-us" page is also included under the "about us" tab in the site's top navigation. A link to "find us on Facebook" is included in the site's footer.

Education section - Students are a key group, so the site provides ample opportunities in its "education" section for visitors to join the database. Links to the "follow us" page are included in the main page of this section, as well as on sub-pages.

Blog - Kodak's "The Storyboard" blog includes an opt-in request on its homepage, as well as widgets displaying the team's latest Facebook fans and Twitter updates.

Relevant audiences only

The team also has a "text to sign up" program for industry events. Attendees can subscribe to Kodak's emails by sending an SMS text of their email address to a short code provided on posters at the event. Furthermore, the team has an email registration form on its Facebook profile (more on that in a moment).

While it might seem the team asks everyone in the world to join its program, it limited its opt-in requests to a relevant audience. The team did not launch a national ad campaign, for instance, but instead added calls-to-action across its website and blog. This ensured the database added relevant subscribers who were interested in the team's content, and not just anyone.

Step #3. Add email capture form to Facebook

Kodak created a customized Facebook tab to offer visitors a chance to join its email program. The tab is comparable to a small landing page. It mentions the email program's value proposition and requests visitors' information.

Visitors do not have to leave Facebook to sign up; they can register directly on this page. (Send your resident developer to the "useful links" section at the end of this article to get started on your custom Facebook tab.)

Ad campaign

The team ran a small-budget Facebook ads campaign to drive traffic to its profile. By making this capture form the welcome screen for all visitors, the ad droves traffic to the form by default.

Incorporate other channels

Kodak's Facebook page includes tabs that display its YouTube videos and Twitter messages. This step is another of the many small ways the team integrates these channels.

Step #4. Overhaul triggered welcome emails

A welcome email is a great tool for:
  • Reminding subscribers that they signed up

  • Continuing to set their expectations

  • Preventing them from ignoring your emails or clicking "junk"

The team depended on its older triggered welcome email for too long, Alyson felt.

"It did not reflect current branding, and we didn't have our social networks when that version had been created. We really wanted to freshen it up," she says.

The team scrapped the older email in place of a two-message series:

Welcome email #1

New subscribers immediately receive this message after signing up. It includes the same header and logo as the team's website, which helps remind subscribers that they signed up. The message also emphasizes that subscribers will "continue to stay on top of the world of film and never miss a beat," which reiterates the program's value.

The email includes a button to visit a page for Kodak's mobile apps, as well as links to connect with the brand on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Welcome email #2

This second message is delivered 14 days after the first and emphasizes "why film remains the gold standard for motion capture." The email links to a film clip on YouTube, additional information, and a form to contact a Kodak sales rep. Links are also included to share the content on Facebook or connect with the brand on the network.

Step #5. Send "email invitations" to connect

The welcome emails encouraged new subscribers to connect with the brand on a social network, but they did not reach the team's older subscribers. Not wanting to leave them out, the team launched two email campaigns that encouraged this group to connect.

For example, one email encouraged subscribers to subscribe to Kodak's Shoot Film YouTube channel. The email included:
  • Headline: "Keep up with the world of film today"

  • Three video screenshots and descriptions

  • Calls-to-action to visit the channel and subscribe

These calls-to-action were not stuffed at the end of a newsletter or tacked onto another message. They were the focus of a dedicated email, which gave them much more impact.


"We are very pleased with our results. Some of [these tactics] we have recently implemented and we are still collecting the data, but we are very happy with the way the results are trending," Shurtliff says.

Since launch earlier this year, the team achieved:
  • 33% increase in email subscribers

  • 143% increase in Twitter followers

  • 53% increase in YouTube subscribers

  • 4% increase in Facebook fans

Kodak Motion Picture Film launched its Twitter profile shortly before this campaign, which explains the large jump in followers. Conversely, the team has been active in Facebook for years, making large percentage gains harder to achieve among an audience of more than 22,000 fans.

These results are only the beginning, the team says. Much of this campaign focused on setting up the architecture necessary to drive future growth. The team can now focus on increasing traffic into this architecture to further build its lists.

Useful links related to this article

1. Old registration page
2. New registration page
3. Student form field
4. Follow-us page
5. Homepage and navigation
6. Education section call-to-action
7. Blog call-to-action
8. Custom Facebook tab / email capture form
9. Welcome email #1
10. Welcome email #2
11. YouTube email

Landing Page Test: Why less equaled (54%) more when reducing friction and highlighting value proposition

Social Email Marketing: How to encourage sharing wisely, not randomly

Sherpa Chart: Most effective email list growth tactics

Growing Email Lists with Social Media: KFC's Facebook tool adds subscribers

Mobile Drives Email List Growth: How to use SMS and relevant content to add opt-ins

Catalyst - created the marketing strategy behind the creative and execution

Kodak Cinema and Television

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