Grow. How to Authentically Grow Your List

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1 Grow How to Authentically Grow Your List

2 Grow acquisition is an important part of any marketing program. A report by Custora showed that acquisition quadrupled from , demonstrating that the channel is one of the strongest available to marketers. Read the report >> 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 2

3 Grow What s Inside acquisition has benefits beyond acquiring new customers. It also helps you reduce churn and retain and nurture your existing customers. This guide will provide you with best practices that will help you take advantage of all three of these benefits. It focuses on 6 strategies that will teach you how to: 01. Optimize your opt-in pages 02. Create multiple opportunities for sign-up 03. Create a stellar welcome 04. Develop valuable content 05. Implement an preference center 06. Focus on deliverability 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 3

4 01 Optimize Your Opt-In Pages Once you ve captured your users attention, you need to reel them in. So make sure your opt-in pages are working hard for your program, and not against you. Here are some tips. >> 1 Make Your Opt-in Form Visible sign-up forms are now competing for real estate, so if you want new users to sign up, don t bury your sign-up form. Include it in your navigation like Bed Bath & Beyond does below and design a standalone sign-up page that promotes the benefits of joining your list. In addition to the link placement, make sure content and calls to action on the actual sign-up page are limited so there are no competing messages (figure 1). FIGURE 1 Make your opt-in form visible. 2 Don t Ask for Much Depending on what you re asking people to sign up for, in most cases, less is more. If you re requesting them to sign up for a newsletter, a name and address may be enough. If you re offering a free trial, you might need additional qualifying information. Whatever you ask for, make sure you need and will use the information. You can always ask for more information later using your preference center or nurturing program. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 4

5 01 3 Provide Incentives To encourage sign-up, offer something of value like a research report or coupon upon sign-up completion. Providing an address to get something they need is a low risk commitment for the customer. Petco, for example, incentivizes new subscribers with a 20% off coupon to get them to convert fast and start shopping right away (figure 2). 4 Disclose Everything Make sure you include your privacy policy so that users know how you will use their address. Setting expectations from the very beginning will foster a healthy start to your new customer relationship. 5 Provide Your Credentials Subscribers want to know that they are giving their personal information to a legitimate sender. Include logos of your certifications, affiliations, or testimonials from your customers on your opt-in pages. You may even want to provide a sample to give prospective subscribers a preview of what they will receive. FIGURE 2 To encourage sign-up, offer something of value. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 5

6 01 A Shining Example emarketer s opt-in page is a great example of how to combine all of the elements above into one opt-in page. It includes a clear description of the content being offered and the frequency in which it will be sent. It also shares a sample issue and testimonials supported by a concise form backed by their privacy policy. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 6

7 02 Create Multiple Opportunities for Sign-Up Once you ve optimized your opt-in page, you need to promote it so that more potential users can engage with your brand. Here are some easy ways to promote your list. >> 6 Thank You Page Every time a visitor completes a form on your site, they should receive a thank you message. This is an excellent opportunity to include a call to action that encourages the user to sign up for your list. Make sure to include information about the list and the value gained from joining it. 7 Blog Your blog may be one of the most visited areas of your site, so it s another great place to include a call to action. Whether it s on the sidebar or in the top navigation, make sure the opportunity to sign up to your list is visible. 8 Website Include sign-up calls to action on your homepage and subpages, where appropriate. You can include them in your top navigation, in the footer, and on the sidebars to keep it visible to visitors at all times. Also, don t forget the power of the pop-up to put your call to action front and center (figure 3). FIGURE 3 Include sign-up calls to action on your homepage. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 7

8 02 9 Landing Page Include an opt-in field (i.e. checkbox) within your landing page forms to opt users into your list. This gives visibility to your offerings and provides a value add to customers who have already engaged with your product. Also, it s important to not pre-check the box instead allow potential subscribers to choose whether or not to opt in. 10 Lead Nurturing s If you re using lead nurturing to stay in contact and convert potential users over time, encourage those recipients to sign up for a relevant newsletter or provide a link to another offering they ll find useful. 11 Reward Your Current Subscribers Give your existing subscribers incentives like discounts, account credits, additional features, and more for referring other subscribers. 12 Collect in Person Bring an ipad to events and ask people to sign up for your lists in person and at the register (if you re a retailer.) Just be sure to have them enter and submit their own information to show consent. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 8

9 03 Create a Stellar Welcome Once you have a new subscriber, you need to welcome them in the best way possible. Make sure you focus your message on validating their decision to opt in to your list. The adage, You never get a second chance to make a first impression is especially true when it comes to . The welcome sets the tone for every delivered to your subscribers inboxes thereafter. So be sure to start off on the right foot by keeping your well branded, friendly, and helpful. Here are some tips: >> 13 Make it Personal During your sign-up process, you ve probably asked for first name, last name, and an address use them! Some companies like Visual.ly address their users by their username instead. Whatever method you choose, make sure to personalize your welcome (figure 4). FIGURE 4 Create a personalized welcome TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 9

10 03 14 Say Thank You Customers have a plethora of choices out there, so be sure to thank them for choosing you. It s a simple phrase that can make a big impact on how your customers view your brand. Retailer, Kate Spade New York relays a BIG THANKS to their new subscribers (figure 5). 15 Spark User Engagement If you have a service or FIGURE 5 Say thank you. product that needs a little explaining or requires a next step to get started, use your welcome to give them a few tips on how to get there. EventSpot, for example, provides a video tutorial, step-by-step guide, and a webinar to help new users take advantage of their tool. It s important to find ways to incorporate quick and easy getting started steps to spark user engagement and help foster higher retention rates from the get go (figure 6). 16 FIGURE 6 Spark user engagement. Deliver Your Right Away Don t hesitate to acknowledge receipt of your new user s request to subscribe. Users expect immediate confirmation when they sign up for something; when they don t get it, they think something is wrong. Be sure your first impression is a good one and let them know you not only received their request, but that you are all over it. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 10

11 03 17 Provide Incentives You want to get customers using your service right away. If you re a retailer, you may want to offer a coupon within your welcome message to entice your new subscribers into becoming paying customers. You can put a time limit on the offer to help ensure a faster sale, but the main point is to get subscribers to click through and start browsing your site for something they want. It s a great way to get subscribers familiar with your brand and to stimulate a sale. 18 Gather Additional Information To maximize conversion on your landing page, you may have limited the number of fields you had, and as a result, you may be lacking the data you need for segmentation information. You can use your welcome message to gather additional demographic or preference information to target your offers in the future as Marshalls does in the example below (figure 7). FIGURE 7 Use your welcome message to gather additional information. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 11

12 04 Develop Valuable Content All of your efforts detailed above will be for naught if you don t have something interesting to say to your subscribers. Content is still king and you have to provide useful information if you want to stand out in the crowd. Here are several ways that you can create meaningful, relevant content that is tailored to your audience. >> 19 Write Addictive Subject Lines Have you ever seen a subject line you just had to open? That s exactly what you need to create. The subject line s one and only goal is to encourage an open. Though there s no exact science, a very general rule of thumb is that the subject line should be no more than 50 characters, but you ll have to test what s right for your audience. Stay True to Your Topic No matter the length, write a subject line that captures attention and accurately reflects the content of your . Nothing is worse for your reputation than a bait and switch, so stay true to your content while being absolutely captivating in its introduction. 20 Get To The Point Keep your content short and straightforward. Introductions to longer articles are fine, but s should be just a few short paragraphs with a main call to action. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 12

13 04 21 Dress Your to Impress How your looks is just as important as what it says. Some may argue it s even more important. A well-designed will ultimately be more appealing to your subscribers, so make sure your is responsive to accommodate all devices and don t forget to have a text version in addition to HTML. 22 Personalize Your Messaging Before you press send, make sure that what you re saying is something your subscriber wants to hear. Segment your by location, demographics, and past purchase behavior to give your subscriber the most personalized experience possible. Cultivate Brand Ambassadors Your content should focus on how you can fulfill your customer s needs. So make sure every you send provides value. Most importantly, refrain from telling them how great you are, but instead make your messages all about them. If your brand helps them accomplish something or be something better, they ll turn into ambassadors for you without you even asking. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 13

14 05 Create an Preference Center An preference center is a tool that helps you establish a healthy communication cadence with your subscribers. It provides an easy way for your subscribers to manage their by giving them a centralized portal to control what they receive and how often they receive your messages. What might motivate you to set up a preference center? Preference centers have a positive impact on both your deliverability and on your relationship with your subscribers because they: >> 23 Reduce Unsubscribe/Complaint/Spam reports There are many reasons why a customer may decide to unsubscribe from your list and attrition is normal. However, an preference center helps provide alternatives for those who may be unsubscribing for reasons that are within your control. When people want to remove themselves from your list, there are 3 things they can do:»» Unsubscribe»» Report you as spam»» Manage their preferences (Continued on next page) HubSpot administered a survey that revealed that 54% of their respondents felt that they were receiving s from a sender too frequently. And 49% of respondents said that the content became too repetitive or boring over time. Both of these reasons are easy fixes if you implement a preference center! 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 14

15 05 You really want your customers to select manage your preferences instead of hitting the spam button. By asking your customers how frequently they want to hear from you and about what content, you re putting control back in their hands. See the example below by FTD where they provide two paths for their would-be unsubscriber:»» An option to reduce the number of s they receive to once per week.»» The original option to completely unsubscribe. FTD also collects data on why people are unsubscribing to presumably improve their program for their current subscribers. Well done (figure 8). FIGURE 8 Use your welcome message to gather additional information. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 15

16 05 24 Showcase Your Offerings Do you have multiple lists? Your preference center is a great way to let subscribers know about them! Via the preference center, they can not only remove themselves from unwanted mailing lists, but also self-select the ones they are more interested in. This is a great way to manage your content frequency and relevancy. However, when you ask your subscribers to manage their preferences, you have to make sure that you have enough content to provide them to make this choice worthwhile. If someone wants to receive s and tips every day, you need to have that; if you want to vary your s by industry, role, etc., you need to have that content ready as well. The key here is to start slowly with a few options and build it out as you have more options. Conversely, too many choices can be overwhelming, so if you have plenty of content, consider dedicated preference centers by subscription or subscription groups for a better customer experience. Here, emarketer s preference center provides their marketing lists along with a description of each to help the subscriber decide what they want to receive (figure 9). FIGURE 9 Showcase all of your lists. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 16

17 05 25 Help With Segmentation Strategies preference centers remove some of the guesswork from your marketing campaigns. By asking subscribers about their interests and preferences, you can deliver customized campaigns that are sure to elicit a better response. For daily deals site, Groupon, their preference center is grouped into three main categories:»» Location»» Types of deals»» Notifications With this information, they can localize their content based on what their subscribers want on a daily basis. They also give subscribers the option to change their frequency (figures 10 & 11). FIGURE 10 Encourage your customers to manage the frequency of communication. (Continued on next page) 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 17

18 05 FIGURE 11 Encourage your customers to select relevant topics for communications. Having an preference center is key to managing your deliverability and to building a transparent, respectful relationship with your customers. If you re able, consider asking your subscribers to set their preferences from the get go either in your welcome or in one of your other initial interactions with them. There s no better way to build an initial trust with your subscribers than by asking them how they d prefer to be communicated with. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 18

19 06 Deliverability Getting your messages to your customers inboxes should be your main goal for any campaign. 22% of routinely goes undelivered, so you can t afford for acquisition practices to negatively affect your deliverability. To help you achieve your goal, there are a few best practices you should follow to keep a clean subscriber list. >> 26 Use Strong Permission Practices Don t take the easy way out by purchasing or renting lists. Only send to those who have specifically opted into your program. 27 Eliminate Inactives Remove s that have been non-responsive for the past 6 months (or less, depending on your industry). This will ensure that you are only mailing to active and engaged subscribers. For more details on how to clean your list, and for more specific schedules for removing inactives, reference our blog post. 28 Focus On High-Value Customers Evaluate who is the most engaged, who purchased the most often, and who has the highest order value. Once you identify your highest value customers, tailor your communications accordingly. 29 Test Before You Send Testing your campaign with a small group of subscribers before deploying to the entire list is a great way to ensure maximum response from your users and to catch delivery problems prior to it affecting your campaign on a larger scale. 30 Monitor Your Engagement Rates Employ tools, like SendGrid s Event Webhook, that allow you to view your subscribers engagement rates. This information will help you better tailor your campaigns to keep your subscribers happy and active. 30 TIPS TO AUTHENTICALLY GROW YOUR LIST 19

20 The Bottom Line The key to building a strong subscriber list lies in optimizing your opt-in pages, creating multiple opportunities for sign-up, and providing content that will empower your users. Once you acquire a new customer, make sure that you deliver on your promise by providing the tools and information that will keep them engaged with your brand for years to come. Get Started with SendGrid Learn More Read Our Customer Success Stories Sign Up About SendGrid SendGrid helps you focus on your business without the cost and complexity of owning and maintaining an infrastructure. We manage all of the technical details, from scaling infrastructure, to ISP outreach and reputation monitoring, to whitelist services and real-time analytics. We offer world-class deliverability expertise to make sure your s get delivered, handle ISP monitoring, DKIM, domain keys, SPF, feedback loops, whitelabeling, link customization, and more. To learn more, visit

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