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Email Opt-ins: Be Where Your Customers Are

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
14 March 2012

Your customers aren't just shopping on your websites anymore.

They're comparing prices or searching for product information on their smartphones or tablets. They see your brands and products mentioned in their social networks, and they're using local apps to hunt for your stores, get local deals or just tell their friends, "I'm here!"

These emerging channels can also help you attract streams of new subscribers to your email database. Below is our list of the most important new channels, along with tips on how to leverage them for your own marketing program. (See our related infographic on using mobile, social and local to build your database.)

1. Facebook brand pages:
Use your Facebook page to drive email sign-ups:

  • Promote your email sign-ups in wall posts visible to anyone who comes to your page, as in this post from King Arthur Flour:

"Pssst! Watch your emailbox Wednesday for a 1-day-only, super-duper shipping offer, available only to our free subscribers. Not a subscriber? There’s still time—click “Stay in touch” at left, under the King Arthur logo, and sign up by midnight Tuesday to become a subscriber and receive the offer. PJH"

  • Create an “email” tab and opt-in form, where fans can sign up for emails without leaving Facebook. See this in action on the Silverpop Facebook page.

Don't just stop at Facebook. Promote your email program on your home or "About" pages on other social networks, such as LinkedIn and Google+. Additionally, use your news feeds and streams to promote great email newsletter content and your email value proposition.

Even the hot new visual social network Pinterest provides a URL option that you can use to link to your home page (with highly visible email opt-in) or to a specific landing page with opt-in form.

2. Blogs:
Blogs almost seem old-school these days, but 500 million people follow their favorites regularly.

Your blog page should always include a link and benefit-based promotion to subscribe to your email program. Whenever you publish a newsletter, promote the content in a blog post. Also, cross-promote your blog by sharing relevant posts in your email messages.

3. QR codes:
About 325 million smartphone users have scanned these coded squares of squiggly lines to link up with more information, such as product data, videos or white papers.

Use QR codes in a print ad or trade-show flyer, on a product package, in a catalog or on a printed receipt and link to a special mobile-optimized landing page. Because users will be on the smartphone, make sure any form is short, sweet and touch (finger) friendly.

4. SMS/Texting:
Your customers don't go anywhere without their phones these days, so like QR codes, make it easy for customers in your physical locations or viewing billboard ads or event signage to text to opt in to your email program.

Context and value is key to getting people to opt in via SMS. Texting at a rock concert to opt in to receive email updates on the band is a great example. Adding copy to the address label on a magazine read mostly by those older than 50 may not make sense.

5. Check-ins:
It started as a game ("I checked in to more places than you did!"), but Foursquare, with more than 20 million users, Facebook (350 million mobile users) and other location-based apps are becoming the new model for loyalty programs, contests and coupon delivery.

Once you claim your business location on Foursquare, for example, you can create rewards, sweepstakes and other programs and ask visitors to register via their Facebook or Foursquare account. You’ll then have access to their email address and can message registrants via email about the program and special offers. (Learn how to get started with location-based marketing.)

6. Mobile apps:
The sheer numbers of mobile apps—1 million for Apple and Android users alone—and their increasing sophistication presents both opportunities and challenges.

The growing adoption of mobile apps means you may be reaching new customers not currently in your database. So make sure you ask new downloaders for their email address or offer social registration such as Facebook where you can obtain their email address and permission.

A key challenge with apps is that according to Localytics, 25 percent of downloaded apps are only used once. Capturing their email address enables you to educate and nurture these downloaders and increase engagement.

7. Kiosks/Tablets:
Tablets offer an attractive and simple option for consumers to opt in to your email program in retail and other physical locations. Securely mounted on walls with high traffic and near POS systems, tablets offer consumers the convenience of signing up for your program and greater data integrity for the marketer.

Essential: Take Out the Friction
As handy as many mobile opt-in channels can be, they can be a stopper if the forms they link users to are long or hard to fill out on a small screen.

You can take out the friction in this process by using social sign-in, which allows users to connect with you through social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

With one tap on a button, you can capture all the details they choose to make public, which often includes their email address.

The other essential element is a simplified registration form, optimized for mobile screens and "fat finger syndrome." Once in your database, use progressive forms and a nurture email approach to capture more data over time.

Related Resources:
1) Blog: “Social Login: A Data Capture Game Changer"
2) Infographic: “Using Mocial Channels to Grow Your Email Database
3) Blog: “A Step-by-Step Guide to Collecting Opt-ins on Facebook
4) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Expanding Your Reach with a Larger Database

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