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Best practices for recruiting email subscribers

Best practices for recruiting email subscribers Spencer Kollas

The other day, I was having dinner with my family at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, and when the bill came I noticed something different about it. At the bottom of the bill, there was, in the most basic sense, an opt-in for the restaurant's email marketing program.

Not only did the restaurant mention that it would send discounts to people that sign up, it also made it possible to sign up with either my email address or mobile phone number. Even better, the restaurant doubled my opportunity to sign up for its latest promotions by repeating the opt-in offer on my credit card slip. I was definitely impressed by the restaurant's initiative to build an email marketing list so it could build better and more profitable relationships with their customers.

Here I was, having a nice dinner with my family, and the next thing I know I'm thinking about how we as marketers could do a better job at acquiring customers and building our marketing lists. The Mexican restaurant did a lot of things right, and the following are some of the key lessons we can all take away from this example:

Lesson 1. The restaurant made sure that the offer on the bill clearly stated what the customer could expect by signing up for these emails, namely discounts and special offers.

Too often, we as marketers don't do the right things on the front end to make sure that our customers are acutely aware of what they can expect in terms of the type of marketing messages they will receive by signing up. If we don't set proper expectations when gathering information from new customers, there is a much larger chance that those customers will complain or unsubscribe from our lists soon after signing up.

Lesson 2. The restaurant understood the value of a pre-existing transaction and took full advantage of it. I was going to get my bill no matter what, so why not leverage it?

If companies made it a priority to review their normal sales processes and customer experiences, I believe they would find many new opportunities to build on the existing relationship. Obvious examples include putting a sign-up link on every page of your website or a registration form at various events that are popular with your customers.

During a time when many companies are looking at ways to save money, it is more important than ever to look at every avenue to increase the return on investment from existing marketing investments. Taking time to dive as deeply as possible into your customer experience is the only way to truly know where you can take advantage of your existing process flow.

Lesson 3. The restaurant made it possible for customers to submit their email addresses or cellphone numbers.

By giving customers two different options to receive promotions, the restaurant enabled the user to choose which form of communication would be most useful and convenient. Adding the mobile component is a great way to expand beyond traditional email, but companies need to make sure they are offering similar choices for receiving text or HTML email. This used to be commonplace, but now I find this option less and less when I sign up for an email newsletter or other marketing communication. I believe we're seeing this trend because most marketers now simply assume that everyone wants HTML.

Again, this is about choice. You need to make sure you are offering your users choices, which include what types of emails they want to receive, how often they want to receive messages from you, and even the types of messages they would like for you to send.

You never know when email marketing best practices are going to present themselves in your everyday activities, and we can all learn a lot from my local Mexican restaurant. If this little restaurant can get it right with regard to building its marketing lists, just imagine what larger companies like yours can accomplish with the right focus and follow through. The year is still young, so take the opportunity now to review your entire marketing program and look for opportunities to increase your marketing dollars. Follow these best practices, and don't forget to look for inspiration in everyday life.

Good luck and good sending.

Spencer Kollas is director of delivery services for StrongMail Systems.

Spencer Kollas is a recognized industry leader in email deliverability and subscriber engagement. For more than a decade, Kollas has worked with the world’s foremost email marketers to help them connect with their customers and increase the...

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