While email marketing may seem like it’s been eclipsed by more novel forms of digital marketing, such as social media, the humble email still holds a place as an important pillar in any businesses’ marketing mix.

But here’s the clinch. Anyone who has experience in email marketing will readily inform you that there’s a prevailing issue: gaining and retaining email subscribers.

There are a few solutions to this you should be considering.

Why bother with email marketing at all?

Before we get into how to retain and gain email subscribers, why are we even bothering?

“I already have a great Facebook following” I can hear you say, right? That’s a good thing, but it can’t be your only digital marketing channel. Why?

  • Because email marketing is particularly effective for customer retention, upselling and any form of communication which relies on existing contacts, interested parties and previous customers.
  • As any sale person will know: It’s far easier and markedly cheaper to sell to an existing customer compared to gaining a new customer.
  • Email inboxes and social media news feed are not equal. Everyone who’s opted into your email marketing will, at the very least, receive your targeted communications. Whereas on social media you’re relying on the platforms’ engagement algorithms to send it to followers’ news feeds.

This is why email marketing remains relevant and worthwhile.

Let’s say you have a special or promotion – sending that directly to a previous customer who spent money on similar items will be far more fruitful than popping up an ad for example.

Email is also a great way to keep loyal customers informed about your business.

Ways to gain subscribers

What are some quick ways to gain yourself some new email signups?

1) Bribe ‘em!

Yep, just go right ahead and dangle a carrot in exchange for an email subscription. Offer them a:

  • promo code
  • free e-book or resource
  • bonus product or sale
  • valuable piece of audio or video content.

2) Use modern unobtrusive pop-ups

Have you got any pop-ups or bolder methods for asking for an email address from your website visitors? Without being obnoxious, try upping your courage a little.

You can do this with modern software which tracks behaviour and will only ‘pop-up’ when someone is about to leave your site or is in a relevant spot.

Don’t do this haphazardly or by ruining the browsing experience, make it discreet and easy to click away.

3) Minimise the pain

When you ask for an email address, consider asking for nothing else. Not even a name – you can get this later when they start engaging with your email offers.

Some people will say ‘how do I personalise?’ You don’t have to. Nowadays, people have zero patience for long-winded, online opt in form processes, so make it as painless and simple as possible. Your list will thank you.

4) Point of sale tick-box

Make sure you have a pre-filled email consent tick box at the point of sale, namely an eCommerce transaction. This technique of joining your email list is used by almost every online store and it’s very effective.

5) Social media

Use every opportunity to offer your email newsletter subscription to your social media following. Make sure to dangle that carrot to encourage a subscription.

6) Membership

Create a membership program which offers exclusive deals or site wide discounts to get people to subscribe to your list. Also consider a points system that will encourage customers to sign up with an email address and gain extended value from your business, above and beyond a one-time deal or promotion.

Ways to retain email subscribers

Now you have an email list – how do you deter them from tapping the dreaded ’unsubscribe’ button?

1) Don’t burn your list

Don’t harass your email list.

Keep communications relatively sparse, to the point and succinct. If you spam them with long winded, low value and incessant emails, they’ll drop you toot sweet.

2) Value, value, value

Make sure you’re offering distinct value with every email or newsletter: relevant information, deals, tips, offers, freebies, or insights. Make every email count.

3) Clear subject and sender

Make sure they know it’s from you and has a point – clear subject lines and sender details will keep people’s confusion at bay.

4) Keep the design professional

Use well designed, clean email templates based upon solid branding, otherwise you’ll lose people who see you as low rent and unprofessional.

5) Segmentation of lists

Where possible segment your list into interests, modes of subscription and previous sales activity etc. This means you can target people with specific email content and avoids irrelevance.

How not to gain email addresses?

Since many jurisdictions, including Australia, have effectively outlawed the use of farmed email lists through spam laws, in most cases you’ll need to gain some form of consent from your email list.

  • This consent is known as either ‘expressed permission’ or ‘inferred permission’.
  • This permission is usually gathered by collecting email addresses at the point of sale through a tick box or otherwise garnering willing and knowing subscribers to your email newsletter.
  • These spam law restrictions effectively mean that you can’t just buy an email list or start emailing people marketing material that you don’t know.
  • Even if you could, it’s not effective to spam people, as you’ll be swiftly junked as an unknown entity.

Before you go emailing anyone – read up on the Spam Act and applicable laws and restrictions.