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The commerce marketer’s guide to better list building

Saima Alibhai, managing principal consultant at Oracle + Bronto, on engaging via email

Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. With more and more consumers checking their inboxes daily, the opportunity to meet customers at this important touchpoint can’t be ignored.

The challenge retailers then face is how to consistently grow their subscriber database, and how to maintain subscriber engagement after. Too often the focus is on acquiring the sign-up, and then reverting to a generic batch-and–blast messaging strategy. However, this strategy causes your subscribers to disengage earlier because it’s difficult to personalise your emails enough to be truly effective.
So, how do you grow your list size in a way that will help you collect the right customers and keep them engaged?

Growing your email sign-ups

When looking to grow your contact database, you need to take a consistent, multi-pronged approach. Include a sign-up above the fold of your homepage or, even better, on all pages of your site. This gives consumers an easy way to sign up, which can be especially important if they link directly to a product page from the web. Limiting the sign-up to only the homepage decreases your ability to secure a new subscriber.
Other tactics you’ll want to consider are popups, dropdowns and ribbons. These are all great at being front and centre to new visitors, and are routinely the most effective list-growth tactics. Of course, don’t ignore other areas of growth, such as social pages, co-registration partnerships and bricks-and-mortar stores.

Now to address the elephant in the room: Should you offer an incentive for signing up? The answer is – it depends. There is nothing wrong with using incentives to entice new subscribers but be wary of training your customers to wait for discounts before they make purchases. Get creative with your incentives. Try offering a gift with their next purchase, or partner with a cause that is meaningful to your subscribers.

Get personal

Now that you have acquired new subscribers, it’s time to personalise their experience because regardless of the products you sell, personalisation (even on a small scale) can have a lasting impact.
Even if you are using a batch-and-blast email strategy, look for areas where you can maximise personalisation. This could be acquisition source (on-site), email or purchase behaviour. The best part is that this can all be automated, taking a large burden off your team.

Make them believers

You should never look at commerce marketing tactics as acquisition versus retention. It should be a combined strategy. You want to acquire the right customer and then engage them effectively along the way by showing that your brand understands them.
Focus your overall strategy by getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. This is where using segmentation, automation, send frequency and personalisation can help. Remember: one-size-fits-all might work for hats, but it rarely, if ever, works for email.

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