Less than five months to Christmas Day, now is the time you should be growing your newsletter database as fast and effectively as possible.
I just signed up – or attempted to sign up – to 14 online gift retailers’ newsletters and here is what I’d suggest.
1. Put your newsletter sign-up above the fold
Eight of the 14 companies buried their newsletter subscription boxes well below the fold. You are assuming far too much of visitors for them to scroll down to more than halfway, or even right to the bottom to search for your newsletter section – even if they’re interested. Show it immediately so they can quickly fill in their details if they’re too busy to hunt for it. My own subscription numbers literally tripled the month after I pushed my newsletter subscription box above the fold.
2. Put your newsletter sign-up somewhere on the home page
Two of the online retailers didn’t even have a newsletter box on the home page and I looked and looked. Worse, one of these had a Business for Sale ad on the home page! This would not engender confidence in those who haven’t dealt with you before: you might go out of business before they get their gift delivered! If you must show this type of ad at all, perhaps you should arrange with your web developer that only heavy repeat customers see this advertisement.
3. Ask for more than their email address
Five of the 14 online retailers asked only for an email address. This makes it quick to sign up, but doesn’t let you personalise any of your messages. Even adding a second field for a first name wouldn’t take visitors long to fill in.
4. Send an immediate welcome email
Ninety minutes after signing up, only six of the 12 online retailers confirmed I had signed up. Only one of these six instantly sent me a 20% new member welcome discount in my confirmation email – the rest simply confirmed I had signed up to hear from them. People who visit your website and like what you sell can discover more about who you are and what you offer in a welcome email. And they might want to go shopping straightaway…
5. Tell them what they’ll receive for signing up
Seven of the online retailers’ newsletter sign-up boxes did not mention what I would get in return for giving them my contact details. The one which sent me a 20% new member welcome discount had actually promoted that on signing up for the newsletter I would receive a 10% discount – 20% is obviously better! One said only they would “send only nice things”. When I get my first newsletter from them (after the confirmation email which I still haven’t received), I’ll know what that is.
6. Tell them how often they’ll hear from you
Not one of the 12 online retailers mentioned how frequently they would email me. It wasn’t clear if I’d get my first email from them within five minutes, on the 1st of every month, or when they had their next sale. Let them know the frequency. If you email thrice-weekly – as Gap, J Crew and Banana Republic seem to – let customers know upfront so they don’t unsubscribe, feeling spammed.
7. Give them the option to adjust their preferences
Only one of the 12 online retailers provided a preference centre so I didn’t have to receive irrelevant special offers. It’s a battle to get customers to sign up in the first place – make sure they’re only getting the messages they want.
With luck, all of these things will help you increase your subscription list before the holidays.