Ecommerce Customer Acquisition:

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1 Ecommerce Customer Acquisition: Tips for Acquiring Subscribers Who Will Become Loyal Customers by Donna Fulmer, Listrak Marketing Communications and PR Manager May 2013 With 55% of marketing professionals agreeing that marketing is the most effective marketing tactic, it s not surprising that it plays an integral role in successful ecommerce merchants overall marketing strategies. The fact that it is widely known to return more than $40 per dollar spent makes its cost effectiveness undeniable. What is also undeniable is that any successful marketing program begins with a sizable, healthy list of subscribers to reach out to with your marketing messages. In fact, 71% of B2C marketers surveyed in the 2013 MarketingSherpa Marketing Benchmark Survey reported growing and retaining subscribers as a goal in the next 12 months to increase the ROI of their marketing programs. But simply growing the number of subscribers on your list even if you are able to retain them - is not enough. Joe Devine, Listrak solution consultant and senior ecommerce marketing strategist, explains, Acquisition is hugely important in the channel. After all, we can t be effective in without an audience. That being said, there are many solutions that can help to achieve the goals of list growth, subscription and customer acquisition, but they re not created equal. He continues, List growth for the sake of simply adding more numbers to your list, while achievable, doesn t align with your ecommerce marketing goals. Prompting and motivating folks to subscribe may definitely get you closer to your goal, but in the end, the real desired result is acquisition coupled with purchases. Converting Subscribers to Customers For subscribers to become and remain customers, your marketing campaigns must keep them interested and engaged. In fact, 71% of the B2C marketers in MarketingSherpa s benchmark report also stated that one of the goals for their marketing in the next year is to increase engagement metrics , Listrak 01

2 The bottom line is that in order to have the greatest chance of converting subscribers to customers and retaining them as customers, the subscribers you acquire must be quality prospects from the start. For this reason, there is no question that organic list growth has much more value than inorganic means like list acquisition. Not to mention the fact that ing frequently to a large number of unengaged subscribers could actually harm your reputation and negatively affect your deliverability. For more on this, read the whitepaper Don t Be Left Out of the Inbox: Deliverability Tips for Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle. So what methods should be used to acquire new subscribers who have the best chance of becoming new customers? There are many options. Website Signup Website visitors have already shown interest in your brand simply by virtue of the fact that they re there. And while you have them there, it s the perfect time to ask them to engage at the next level by subscribing to your program. To be most effective, a website subscription strategy should include mini forms prominently displayed on multiple pages of your site. Beware, however, that asking too much upfront may drive potential subscribers away, so only ask for minimal information, such as name and address, and ask for more information at other points in your program (see below). Modal Acquisition A modal pop-up is like website subscription sign up on steroids, and the results are pumped up, as well. Simple and highly effective, modal acquisition uses modal pop-up technology to draw attention to important information when a visitor lands on your homepage. With modal acquisition, a pop-up window opens and the homepage fades in the background and is inoperable until the visitor either interacts (in this case, signs up for your program) or closes out of the window. Even with a sign up form on every page of your website, visitors may miss or ignore it, but a modal pop-up leaves nothing to chance. A leader in the plus-size clothing industry, Kiyonna acquired several hundred subscribers the first week after launching its modal pop-up. 02

3 If you opt to use this strategy (and it is highly recommended for nearly every ecommerce merchant), consider these best practices: Fade the background to focus on the pop-up, but not so much so that visitors may think the homepage has disappeared. Prominently display an exit button so visitors can easily close the pop-up if desired without interfering with their website experience. Include brief copy describing what the visitor is signing up for. Set URL rules so the pop-up only appears on certain pages. Show it too often and you risk annoying visitors. Don t show the pop-up too often to non-subscribers. If a non-subscriber closes the pop-up every time she visits the site, begin showing it less frequently so she doesn t start to close it immediately as a matter of habit. Once a visitor becomes a subscriber, make sure the modal pop-up no longer appears when she visits your site. Consider offering an incentive for signing up to show that you value the information the subscriber is providing. When a subscriber completes the signup process, a thank you window should appear or the subscriber should be directed to a preference center (see below). A subscription completion should immediately trigger a series of welcome s (see below). Modal pop-up signups represent nearly one quarter of subscribers for online beer and winemaking supplies purveyor E.C. Kraus. Welcome Series Welcome Series s are among the most popular types of automated s. In the 2013 MarketingSherpa marketing benchmark report, 64% of marketers reported that they deployed welcome s, which is more than any other type. What s more, according to the Stat Center, 74.4% of consumers expect to receive a welcome when they sign up. 03

4 There are many reasons that a welcome series is highly recommended. To begin, it validates the address, which protects your sender reputation. It also reminds subscribers about their opt-in and confirms what they may expect as a result of signing up. In addition, welcome s may be used to request more profile information while reinforcing your brand. And finally, a welcome series immediately engages new subscribers and keeps them engaged beginning at the moment they have shown interest in your brand. A welcome series is significantly more effective than a single welcome message, as it offers the opportunity to monitor new subscribers behaviors and get to understand their preferences and habits so you can engage with them more relevantly, which results in higher conversions. A well designed series also provides additional ways for subscribers to interact with your brand such as social networks, testimonial videos and reviews. Survival Straps grew its subscriber list by 25% within one month of launching a modal pop-up, and modal signups now represent 56% of the company s subscriber list. The first welcome following signup has an impressive open rate of 45%. Ideally, the first welcomes the new subscriber and provides details on taking advantage of the signup incentive, and subsequent s in the series set the tone for the relationship and get the new subscriber more familiar with what your website and your brand have to offer without asking for a sale. Detailed tips on developing an effective welcome series are available in the whitepaper Creating an ecommerce Welcome Series to Increase Subscriber Engagement and ROI. It is also worth noting that the open rate of welcome s is on average double that of general marketing s and click through rates are on average nearly triple, which means that welcome series s will also play an important role in helping you to establish a positive sender reputation. 04

5 Preference Center Directing subscribers to a preference center upon sign up and providing reminders to update preferences in your marketing program keeps subscribers engaged and provides you with detailed information that can be used to make your content as relevant as possible. Allowing subscribers the opportunity to call the shots so to speak about their specific interests, the types of information they d like to receive and how often they d like to receive it shows that you value your relationship with them and makes your engagement more personalized. Offering a preference center and encouraging subscribers to keep their information up-to-date on an ongoing basis helps to ensure that your program will be as engaging and relevant as possible, which results in maximized open, read, click-through and conversion rates and boosts your sender reputation, which ultimately affects your deliverability. Sweepstakes Sweepstakes and contests are another effective way of acquiring new subscribers. Subscriber attrition and churn averages 30% per year, and sweepstakes can help to attract new subscribers to replace lost or un-engaged ones. As always, however, the goal must not be to attract as many new subscribers as possible, but rather to secure quality subscribers who will become and remain purchasing customers. Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies incorporates a preference center into its modal pop-up, allowing the company to send targeted messages beginning with the first welcome series . It is important to note that you want to avoid subscribers who are only interested in the prize and not your brand, as these subscribers are likely to be unengaged and to eventually unsubscribe or, worse yet, report your s as spam, all of which can damage your sender reputation and deliverability. 05

6 For your sweepstakes to be effective, consider these best practices: Be transparent about your intentions. Let subscribers know that by entering the sweepstakes they are also signing up to receive s from you and describe what those will be. Make the time period for entry brief to illicit quick responses. Make your products the prize to ensure that subscribers are truly interested in your brand. Encourage subscribers to share the sweepstakes sign up information with friends and family by offering them a second entry or incentive for sharing. Leverage acquisition opportunities by promoting the sweepstakes not only on your website, but also instore, in social media, in advertising, etc. Trigger entry confirmations immediately to ensure address validity and to kick off your welcome series. Legally speaking, developing a legitimate sweepstakes is a detailed and highly-regulated process, so be sure to have your legal department review all sweepstakes details. Social Media Social media is a powerful platform for reaching people who are already interested in and engaged with your brand. Use Facebook, Twitter, your blog and other relevant social media channels to invite your followers to subscribe to your program. In addition, encourage your existing subscribers to invite friends and family to subscribe via social media. Most s feature a Forward to a Friend link. Although the number of forwards received is relatively low, the s that are forwarded result in high conversion rates. Update your s with a Share with your Network link and encourage subscribers to share your invitation in broader, more viral channels. Off-line Channels Don t overlook offline channels to acquire new subscribers. Promote the opportunity to receive special announcements, exclusive offers, etc. via in your advertising, on your on-hold messaging and in catalogs, as well as in-store. Get creative in-store by encouraging sign up on signage, in store literature, on receipts and at the register either with sign up forms or by the cashier. Be aware that collecting addresses on paper or typing in on cash registers can easily result in errors. If using this method of acquisition, it is especially important to follow up with a welcome series to validate all addresses and protect your sender reputation and deliverability. 06

7 Mind Your Permission and Privacy Matters As a final note, remember that if you re sending to addresses in the United States, your s must be CAN-SPAM compliant. If sending to other countries, be sure to comply with their specific guidelines. Here is a brief overview of the components of the CAN-SPAM Act: Do not use deceptive subject lines or false or misleading header information. Messages must be labeled as advertisements and include a valid postal address for your business location. Messages must contain a simple, straightforward opt-out method and opt-outs must be completed within 10 days. All messages that contain information from multiple senders must designate a single sender who is responsible for compliance. For more details, read the whitepaper Don t Be Left Out of the Inbox: Deliverability Tips for Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle. Also be sure to include an up-to-date privacy policy on your website that clearly states what types of information you collect, as well as what the information is used for to remain compliant. The best marketing program is nothing without a healthy list of subscribers to market to. While acquiring as many subscribers as possible may seem to be the logical approach for maximizing all metrics, acquiring the wrong addresses can actually be detrimental. Acquiring subscribers who are most likely to remain engaged with your brand beginning with modal acquisition and a welcome series - and then using the valuable information they share with you to reach out to them with the right messages at the right time is the key to turning those subscribers into loyal customers with optimum lifetime value. About Listrak Listrak is an marketing solutions provider that works with online retailers to drive revenue growth, profitability and increase the lifetime value of customers. Founded in 1999, the company s solution suite boasts analytics technology that enhances campaign performance, shopping cart abandonment solutions that help recoup lost revenue, post purchase solutions to increase lifetime value, seamless integration across multiple platforms, as well as , mobile, sweepstakes and more. Listrak has more than a decade of marketing experience and works with leading U.S. online retailers including Deb Shops, Waterford, Ten Thousand Villages, Swell, Vintage Tub, and La-Z-Boy. For more information please visit 07

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