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Web Marketing: Incentives to Increase E-Mail Sign-ups

Because your web marketing e-mail list is an asset, offering an incentive in exchange for an e-mail subscription is really the least you can do to thank and reward your most valuable contacts.

Offering incentives for joining your e-mail list can reward your business in at least two ways:

  • Increased sign-ups: The number of people willing to share their contact information with you is likely to increase if they feel that they’re getting something of value in return.

  • Increased loyalty: An incentive rewards your subscribers and can cause loyalty, repeat business, and referrals to increase.

After you determine where and when to ask for e-mail addresses and permission, decide how to ask. For example, if you offer subscribers a link to Join the E-Mail Blast, people who don’t want a blast or don’t know exactly what they are likely to receive will pass on the opportunity to subscribe.

Find out what motivates your prospects and customers before determining an incentive. For example, some people will join an e-mail list in exchange for a discount on all future purchases.

If your customers aren’t motivated by discounts, consider using a more creative strategy, such as a Very Important Customer (VIC) club, where e-mail subscribers are the first to know about the latest high-tech products available at a reasonable price.

Immediate incentives

Some incentives, such as ongoing discounts, can be an inherent part of being on the list — and are, therefore, immediate upon the subscription. Immediate incentives abound and could include

  • Discounts or reward points on every purchase

  • VIP access to special events, front-row seats, and so on

  • Access to members-only information

  • Free trials, gifts, or additional services

Future incentives

Some incentives aren’t immediate but are instead forthcoming for members of the list. For example, imagine a clothing store that has a 48-hour sale twice per year, and only e-mail list subscribers are invited to save 50 percent if they order within the 48-hour period.

If e-mail list subscribers are the only customers invited to the event, the invitation is the incentive, but it isn’t immediate because the subscriber has to wait for an invitation to take advantage of the incentive.

Because the sale happens only twice per year, the store could send other e-mails between the sales with other offers and information. Imminent incentives could include the following promotions:

  • Early shopping hours during the holidays

  • Invitations to periodic private events

  • Random rewards, such as prize drawings

If you can’t think of an incentive to offer your e-mail list subscribers or if the intrinsic value of the content in your e-mails is the incentive, use your messaging to be as clear as possible about what subscribers can expect in place of an incentive.

For example, asking potential subscribers to Sign Up for Friday Quick Tips tells them what to expect. Comparatively, asking a subscriber simply to Sign Up for Our E-Mail List is too generic and might cause prospective subscribers to hesitate.

Adding a privacy and permission policy to your data collection forms as well as clearly stating your intended usage upfront helps put people more at ease when sharing information. Even if no one reads your privacy and permission policy, the fact that a link to privacy information appears is often reassuring.

Remember that people who share an e-mail address always do so with personal expectations in mind, and sometimes those expectations are hard to determine. As a best practice, make sure that your privacy and permission policy benefits your subscriber more than your business. Keep your privacy and permission statements short, using information in accordance with people’s expectations at the time of information exchange.

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