Hello . . .? Is it subscribers you're looking for?

We’ve all heard a version of the old adage “it’s cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to gain a new one” and that’s true. But another truth is that you will never retain every single customer, no matter how great your loyalty program or customer service department is. If you want business growth, you’re going to have to grow your customer base. But how?

A great way to get potential customers into your funnel is through your email program – get them on your list, keep them interested with compelling content, and before you know it your subscribers have become customers! Buying or renting lists might be the first thing that pops into your head, but most digital marketers (including me!) would advise against that for a variety of reasons  – deliverability and IP reputation damage, low quality names, etc. There are many more reputable, more profitable ways to build your email list, some of which are outlined here.

Popups (aka site takeovers, aka email gates)

One of the most widely recognized tactics for email acquisition is the email pop-up. Pop-ups sometimes get a bad rap, with many arguing that the interruption of the user experience increases bounces and drive customers away. I argue that it’s all about your targeting and timing.  Most tools allow you to create rules for serving the popup, everything from when to serve it up (immediately, after 10 seconds on site) and how often to serve it up (every visit, stop after the first visit, etc.) to referral source, landing page and more. Take a look at current site metrics like bounce rate and time on site to help inform these initial settings, but you can always optimize along the way if the settings aren’t performing well. Check out this case study for how an email popup helped drive email acquisition without sacrificing the overall user experience.

Facebook lead gen

While email popups seem to have been around for ages, a newer acquisition tactic is Facebook Lead Gen. Similar to Twitter Lead Gen cards, this tactic allows Facebook users to opt-in to your emails without even leaving their news feed. And since they are already signed into Facebook, you can auto-populate at lot of their contact information into the opt-in form. This ease of use, combined with Facebook’s extensive targeting options, makes for a highly effective acquisition tool. Lead gen ads were initially only available in mobile news feeds, but Facebook recently rolled out this feature for desktop as well, opening up even more possibilities for acquiring customers. Learn more about Facebook Lead Gen Ads in this blog post.

Refer a friend

According to Nielson, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. Clearly people are looking for their friends and family to make recommendations, but are you even asking them to? This is where a refer a friend program comes into play. Especially great for services, refer a friend programs apply digital tactics to traditional word of mouth marketing by rewarding current customers for bringing on new subscribers. The keys to a program like this include:

  • Providing a great product or service that people will want to recommend
  • Appropriately rewarding current subscribers for the referral
  • Making the referral personal so the potential new subscriber feels special

Companies like StitchFix and theSkimm do a great job with referrals, incorporating their brand voice into the program and making it easy for current users to make a referral.

This is just a short list of email acquisition tactics – I didn’t even touch on basic best practices like site footer sign up and opt-in check boxes on account creation. Choose the option(s) that work best for your business and get growing!


Laura Madden

Email Marketing Strategist, DEG