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Growth

10 Ways to Grow Your Email List and Collect First-Party Data

Jim Babb
Jim Babb

We’ve talked (and talked and talked) about how recent privacy changes have made first-party data more important than ever. An astute reader responded:

“I want to rely more on first-party data, but I’m concerned I don’t have enough of it. I’m thinking specifically of email. How can I grow my list effectively? And is it possible to gain additional insights in the process, so I’m getting as much as I can from the effort?”

To answer these questions, I asked the Part and Sum team for ideas based on client work, industry expertise, research and testing. Here’s what they suggest.

Use Email Forms Best Practices

Keep signups short and sweet. Sure, it would be nice to know your customer’s ZIP code, occupation, household income, shoe size and astrological sign, but a cumbersome process is a huge turn-off. Make it as easy as possible for people to give you their email address. You can always follow up later with targeted survey questions.

Optimize Your Website for Email Signups

Have you ever landed on a website for the first time, only to be blocked by a giant popup prompting you to subscribe to a newsletter? This is like going up to a complete stranger and telling them to get into your car. Slow down, I don’t even know you!

A better strategy is triggering subscription pop-ups after a visitor has signaled interest by going three or four pages into your site. For pages with a lot of content—like a blog—you can use scroll depth as a pop-up trigger. Someone who gets 80% of the way through a blog post is clearly engaged, whereas someone who’s only 15% through may not be. To fine-tune these settings, check your analytics: How many pages does the average user visit? How much time do people usually spend on a page?

Site analytics can help optimize CTA placement beyond the footer and a subscription page. How might traffic relate to interest? For example, visitors who check out your mission, careers or story pages are probably more engaged than those who go straight to the clearance section. Experiment with CTAs on those pages, and test different messaging based on the page content.

Make Email Capture Part of the User Journey

Product reviews, support requests, event registrations and in-stock alerts are all opportunities for email capture and useful conversion data. Just don’t overdo it: Seeing the same CTA four times in a row is annoying. Work with your UX and creative teams to weave signups across different user journeys in ways that are on-brand, engaging and contextual.

Don’t Forget Your Own Inbox

A small but worthy step: Put a subscription link in your business email signature, and encourage your team to do the same. We do this at Part and Sum—we’re proud of our newsletter, and we want to share it with our professional contacts.

Build Your Email List with Giveaways

Have an online store? Host a monthly giveaway that requires an email address for entry, and reward winners with a product, gift card or unique discount. You can even highlight the winners (with their permission, of course) in subsequent emails or on social media, so people know it’s legit and the winner gets to show off their items. Create a list segment for repeat giveaway entrants who haven’t won yet, and consider surprising them with a small reward for their loyalty.

Stop, Collaborate and Gift It

Partner with another brand to make giveaways even better while doubling your reach. Offer a combined gift package or dual discounts, and promote to both companies’ current subscribers and social followers. Just make sure participants understand that by signing up, they’re giving their email address to both businesses.

Create a Fun Online Quiz

Quizzes are a proven way to engage… well, just about everybody. Use a quiz to help shoppers choose the right item or service, then ask for their email address to send the results (and perhaps a discount code, too). Or, try revealing some simple answers up front, then ask for an email to get more in-depth information or recommendations. Tracking activity and response rates here is a great way to learn more about your customers’ needs—and which products meet them best.

Make It Social

Include links and CTAs so it’s easy for subscribers to forward emails to a friend, and embed social sharing tools (most email service providers have these built in). These actions can provide additional data about your subscribers’ behavior, including which social platforms they use most and how shares relate to open and click rates. You can also bring the element of social proof to signup pages by including positive feedback. Here’s an example from our own newsletter sign up page. Yes, those are real quotes—you know who you are, and thank you

Use a Facebook Leads Campaign

There is some irony in using Facebook to capture leads for an email list that you’re building because Facebook has changed the way it tracks users. Nevertheless, a Facebook Ads campaign can help promote your email content and drive people to your signup page. The key is to keep it focused: Set a small budget and a campaign duration of just a few weeks. Monitor the quality of the leads you get and their engagement. Don’t invest a large amount until you’ve gotten some valid test results.

Go Big on Quality

I’ve saved the most important tip for last. Ultimately, none of the suggestions above will accomplish much if you don’t give people content they actually want. According to tech research firm The Radicati Group, 319.6 billion emails will be sent and received this year. People’s inboxes are overflowing—and they’ve got SMS messages, Slacks, chats and DMs to contend with, too. In order to stand out from the crowd, your emails need to be more than an outlet for coupons, deals and promotions. Offer insights. Offer service. Offer entertainment. Offer a voice and a point of view. Provide something that no one else can, and do it consistently, so your subscribers have a reason to stick around.