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Line of peopleMy colleague, Mark Robertson, just wrote an interesting blog on Welcome Email Programs. I thought I would add to this by discussing the very first point – growing that email list.

With that in mind, here’s my checklist of things to consider when growing an opt-in email list ….plus a few additional comments/opinions:

What are you looking to achieve – quality or quantity?

Put simply, is it double opt-in or single opt-in?

•    Double opt-in: As Mark suggests, best practice would be to take a double opt-in approach when capturing data. Anyone within the industry would have a hard time arguing against this, yet this isn’t the norm as it isn’t a legal requirement.
•    Single opt-in: The most common method used, yet all too often people are simply collecting with growth targets in mind and not really thinking about why? Write down the objective.

What are recipients opting-in for?

There are two quick wins here – point of sign-up and welcome program.

•    Sign-up: We hear people talk about ‘competing within the inbox arena’, so let subscribers know what they can expect to receive straight away (e.g. newsletters, promotional offers, both, …). I’ve seen examples of some retailers actually giving a click option to see an example newsletter (e.g. www.elc.co.uk/SignUp.php). No confusion here.

•    Welcome Program: A ‘triple-whammy’ here.  A chance to thank them for joining your email list, inform them about what they can expect to hear and, most importantly, your first opportunity to get a recipient engaged.

What to capture?

A few things to cover here. The reality is it might be an area to test – email only vs. full data capture. Things to consider would be:

•    Industry: B2B would differ from B2C (e.g., organisation vs. post code).

•    Types of Data: If you stick to the types of data that can be used for personalisation, I don’t think you can go too far wrong. If you’re not at that stage of your contact plan, then there’s no need to worry, collect that information by way of ongoing process (e.g., reintegration of click behaviour, preference centre/edit profile).

•    Type of Communication: If you perform other forms of marketing communication (e.g., mobile), capture that data BUT be sure to give them that preference as an option.

•    Frequency: I’ve heard it discussed that you should give a recipient a choice of how often they wish to hear from you? A good idea in theory, yet how would they know? That’s not to say it’s not a good idea, yet it might work better to have a preference page link within the email so this can be done after they gain a feeling for your contact frequency.

•    Sharing Data: The recipient has opted to receive newsletters from your brand. Make it absolutely clear if you intend to share their data with ‘trusted 3rd party partners’. If not, both brands will suffer, yours most.

Where else can I capture data?

Numerous places, write them all down and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised:

•    Online: Both new and existing customers. If they have to sign up to receive these emails, make sure any unsubscribe process is still 1 or 2 clicks. I hate those ‘can’t remember password’ scenarios.

•    Offline: I bought my Godson a present from Baby Gap just the other day. As soon as I finished my transaction, the till assistant was tapping my email address into a hand-held device ….she looked terrified when I quizzed her as to where that was sending my email address?! No spelling or hand writing problems here for Baby Gap. Tim Watson wrote an interesting blog about How to grow email lists through offline touch points read more here.

OR

•    Lead Generation Specialists: Oops, shameless eCircle plug time: www.ecircle.com/en/products-services/lead-generation-services

Generally, when reading a blog I tend to work to the 5 minute rule – any longer and it’s eating into something else I need to be getting done. So whilst this subject could warrant the breaking of this rule in its importance, I’m going to end with one comment. With email list growth requiring such a detailed thought process, do you know your list growth rate versus your rate of unsubscribe …? I’m often surprised as to how many don’t, worth a check I’d say.

Other related articles can be found below;

http://www.email-marketing-reports.com/iland/2008/10/new-email-marketing-22-ways-to-build.html

http://dmaemailblog.com/2010/02/16/generating-new-email-recipients-from-facebook-apps-why-integration-is-the-key-to-success/

https://ecircleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/email-relevanc…t-go-far-wrong/

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CupidHolidays are popular for email marketing with Valentine’s Day the second largest retail date in the calendar making it a major marketing coup. I can’t help be cynical that it happens to fall so soon after Christmas, helping boosting revenues after the post-Sales slump.  Email marketers are only just drawing breath from the Christmas rush and January sales campaign activity when it’s time to start dropping the V-day teasers.  The fight is on for Inbox supremacy and the all-important clicks to tempt a purchase, almost as fiercely as in the ramp-up to Christmas.

A conversation amongst friends over dinner recently argued for a boycott of lavish Valentine’s Day presents or trips away.  You’ll be unsurprised to learn it was mainly the blokes who were protesting, ‘surely breakfast in bed is proof enough of my love!?’  but we ladies were concordant with the general sentiment that it’s the thought that counts when expressing love and affection, not the price tag.  Retailers have an even bigger fight on their hands if men are less inclined to throw money at the problem.

 We’re all caught up in the growing national mood of eschewing crass consumerism in favour of spending quality time with friends and loved-ones or giving home-made or ‘meaningful’ gifts.   In one way, this piles on even more pressure for us as consumers to find the perfect ‘thoughtful’ V-day gift, and for marketers they need to be more and more imaginative. 

It’s a bit of a minefield:  men are under a huge amount of pressure to buy the perfect thoughtful, tasteful, romantic gift at the right price-point for their beloved (as a rule of thumb, the more recent the relationship, the more they have to spend); women want to find the perfect understated-yet-cool gift that won’t send him running for the hills; singletons may be ignoring V-day completely or are somewhat embittered by persistent reminders of their single status, so they should be encouraged to treat themselves (saucy underwear, pampering or foodie gifts good here); everyone should be encouraged to remember their mum or sis or best mate, especially if they won’t be spending it with a significant other. And the sentiment behind the campaign must plug into the target group’s mindset – romance, affection, cynicism, self-love or down-right raunchy?

The onus to be romantic is more on men than women. It’s a brave man that really does stick with breakfast in bed, even with posh toast and a single red rose. Men spend more than 40% than women, with most of them making their gift purchase the week before. A third of men buy their gift online. Almost 40% of women plan to spend nothing but may splash out on special underwear or cook a meal for their partner (source: Discovery Cards)

For me and my friends this year, we’re not looking to spend much but we are looking for inspiration from retailers, so enewsletters featuring creative or unusual  gift/experience ideas, or editorial suggesting romantic ways to spend the day, will be well-received. 

Looking back over my inbox last year. ASOS had by far the best subject line, ‘Stop in the name of love’ (I rate this as it pretty much appeals to all the aforementioned target V-day sentiments). The airlines and holiday companies had variously inspiring trip offers (Ryan Air’s ‘Flight deals you will love’ – trust me, don’t go budget for Valentine’s, stay at home instead). Apple gave it a good shot with ‘Show the Love. Give an iPod this Valentine’s Day (I’d recommend uploading a special playlist).  Fortnum and Mason were typically proactive with their excellent selection of picnic hampers.

But overwhelmingly I noticed a lack of even simple targeting – male/female being the most obvious. Or creating urgency – surely a winner for blokes: remove the stress and get it sorted NOW.  I didn’t spot any unusual suggestions from either big-name retailers or small boutique brands, like a ‘perfect night in’ package (candles, rug, picnic), or ‘for the girl who has everything’ (a small and unusual gift from a small retailer)

I received my first 2010 V-mail yesterday, from Kodak (‘Take your Valentine’s Day personally’), and  I spotted V-day offers in newsletters as early as the 7th December (eg. British Airways offering discounted V-day breaks, as it falls conveniently on a Sunday this year). Early birds going for highly-organised worms indeed.  The guys in my office commented, ‘who the hell thinks of Valentine’s this early in the year’ which I must say I agree with, seeing as it’s barely mid-Jan, we’re all skint and grumpy, but I did point out that V-day is just over 3 weeks away, which turned a few of them visibly pale.

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