8 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Sign-Up Process
Lots of factors play a role in your success as an email marketer. From your offer to send window to email frequency, there is a special recipe for your industry and even your brand. Perhaps the “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” of email marketing – what seems to hog the spotlight – is our list: quality of prospects and customers on the list, size of the list(s), growth and attrition rates, list cleanliness. Each of these contributes to the quality of your email marketing list, but the one that it pains me to see is bad addresses at opt-ins.
Let’s say you gain 5,000 new email addresses a week (woohoo!), but 8% of them consistently bounce as “bad addresses.” Four hundred people every week are signing up for your emails and never getting them. Inaccurate email addresses are typed up to 20% of the time, according to FreshAddress. Each bad address is a lost opportunity to connect with a potential customer who asked for your emails. If you’re seeing a 5% or more bounce rate on your new sign-ups, you’re due for a review of your sign-up process. When was the last time you went through the process of signing up for your own brand’s emails?
Let’s look at the top 8 (mostly free) ways you can improve your email sign-up accuracy:
- Provide value in exchange for their email address and promise to deliver that value to the email address they provide and not on the response page for email sign-up. This is the best way to get your prospect’s real, primary email address and not their junk mail inbox. One of our clients sends an ordinary $.55 coupon in their welcome email and is rewarded with an over 65% open rate. Customers are on the lookout for the coupon and will whitelist if they have to, to get it!
- Make the field where subscribers type their email address long enough to show their entire address. We’ll see email addresses up to 60 characters long. Also, avoid gray type in the email field or tiny font sizes. If they can’t read it, they can’t proof it.
- Validate for syntax errors before subscribers are added to your list. Explain why the address doesn’t pass, i.e. “The address you entered does not match the email@example.com format.”
- Rather than asking subscribers to type their email addresses twice, simply ask them to verify what they typed on the resolution page, i.e. “You entered firstname.lastname@example.org. Is this your email address? Confirm or Edit”
- Better yet than #5, suggest corrections for common errors on the resolution page, i.e. “You entered email@example.com, did you mean firstname.lastname@example.org?”
Warning: don’t just assume and make the changes. Ask the subscriber to confirm or edit your suggested change. With new top level domains all the time, you don’t want to accidentally subscribe the wrong person.
- I’ve seen one example from a list I subscribe to where they suggested that I use my personal email address since some employers block external or commercial email. Not only does this give email marketers a better shot of getting into the inbox if business emails are restrictive, it also means we’ll stay with that prospect even if they change jobs. For B2C email marketers, this is a huge benefit.
- Offline sign-up? There are still some tricks to better opt-ins. On paper forms, you’ll get more legible entries if you provide boxes for each character on the form. Leave sufficient space for email address. Remember: 60 character addresses are possible. On the phone/in person, repeat back the email address and ask the customer to confirm it.
BONUS: Use Text-to-Opt-In to improve your accuracy for offline email sign-ups. Just about every customer has text capabilities on his/her phone and a texted email address means you don’t get stuck having to read handwriting or type up thousands of forms!
Ok, so Text-to-Opt-In is probably not going to be free (thus, the “bonus” status). In fact, there are a couple of good ways to pay for cleaner lists that usually pay for themselves in ROI, but that’s for another post. The 8 things you’ve read here are hopefully things you can manage through some good QT with your IT (or your Email Service Provider).
This is the low-hanging fruit! Go forth and maximize your list growth with a new and improved sign-up process.
Takeaways: Relatively small updates to your email sign-up process can help ensure that those who sign up for your emails – and really want them – make it onto your list with their right, primary email address.