4 Simple Strategies to Build an Email List for Ecommerce Stores

Jan 16, 2018

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122%.

That’s the median ROI for email according to an eMarketer survey.

Put it another way, for every dollar you spend on email, you’ll get $2.22.

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The study also tells us that email is way more profitable than other channels.

Every dollar spent on online display will only bring you $1.18 for example.

Are you saying that this decades old technology is still a major promotion channel?

Yes I am.

And after all, it’s not that surprising.

Emails have a unique position in our lives. 2 in 3 American adults admit they check their emails a few times a day. 40% of them check their emails even before they get out of bed.

Plus we tend to engage more with emails than with other media. Take Facebook ads for example. Their average click-through-rate is 0.90% according to Wordstream.

While according to MailChimp data, the average click-through-rate for emails is 2.32%.

What’s more? Email marketing is a long term investment. Getting someone to subscribe to your list marks the beginning of a relationship. It means you’ll be able to contact her more than once.

Put it simply, if you’re running an ecommerce website, whether it be a Shopify store, a Magento shop or any other kind of online store:

You need to invest in email marketing.

Today, I’d like to focus on the first step of your email marketing strategy: building your email list.

Getting your visitors to join your email list is an art. Let’s review its basics.

Opt-in Form

Traditional opt-in forms

Opt-in forms are these forms that ask for your email address on websites. Like this one on Reebok.com.

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On most ecommerce websites, they can be found in the site’s footer.

Why?

Because the footer is the same on every page of the website (which means that you’re collecting emails on every page of your website, not just the homepage) and also because the footer looks the same on every page.

These simple email forms are most of the time easy to set up and all emailing solutions come with an option to build subscription forms (this is what it looks like for MailChimp for example).

These forms have an additional advantage: they’re non intrusive.

Users see them only if they scroll down. And they don’t hide any content on the page (you’ll understand why I’m insisting on this point later in the article when we’ll discuss pop-ups).

Incentivized forms

To make these forms more attractive, you can add an incentive.

It could be a discount (like this example on Wrangler which offers 10% off to new subscribers), a free shipping coupon or a chance to win something.

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While opt-in forms are easy to implement and user-friendly, they have a major drawback.

Their results are very limited.

I haven’t found any case study mentioning a subscription greater than 1% when using only opt-in forms. For example, this experiment ran by AWeber reports a subscription of 0.4% when using opt-in forms.

Why are opt-in forms performing so badly?

First, because of their position. Most site owners choose to position their forms in the footer.

And according to a Content Square study, only 15% of ecommerce websites’ visitors scroll to the bottom of the page. In other words, 4 in 5 visitors won’t see your form if it’s located at the bottom of the page.

What’s more these forms likely blend in with the website and are not visible enough.

What should you do then?

Email forms still remain an interesting option. Just make sure you position them above the footer. And work on making them as visible as possible.

Here’s a good example on Adidas.com. The colors they’re using help the form stand out. Plus it’s above the footer which increase the chances visitors will see it.

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Lush goes even further with opt-in-forms embedded right between products on their homepage:

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Email Pop-ups

To increase the visibility of your email forms, there’s another solution.

Using email pop-ups.

Simple email pop-ups

What does a website pop-up look like?

Well there are a lot of different types.

From lightbox pop-ups which dim the background (here’s an example on dolcegabbana.com)...

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… to exit pop-ups displayed when the user is about to leave the website (this example is taken on nike.com; to be precise it’s both a lightbox and an exit pop-up)...
 
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...to pop-ups displayed in the corner of the screen (courtesy of maybelline.com)

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What do they have in common?

They stand out from the rest of the website. They’re VERY visible.

And as they’re not part of the website, they open a new world of segmentation and targeting. Allow me to elaborate this last point.

Traditional subscription forms are embedded in web pages. As such, they’re always there.

With websites pop-ups, you have total control over the forms. As they’re independent from the pages, you can set when they should appear, on which pages, to which users, and control their position on the screen.

This means you can adapt your message to your different segments and test a lot of different designs.

See this example on Misguided? It’s displayed only to new visitors and the message (“Hey newbie”) is tailored to this specific audience.

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Does it have an impact on their effectiveness? Oh yes!

 

On average our customers using pop-ups notice a 5.9% subscription rate. Remember the average subscription rate for traditional forms? If we take 1% as a reference (and it’s probably way above the market average), it means that subscription pop-ups work almost 6 times better!

Incentivized pop-ups

As with email forms, you can boost the performance of your pop-ups by offering incentives.

These incentives can be discount codes or free shipping offers.

For example Cheap Monday offers 10% off to their new subscribers:

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They can also be a freebie. For example a pop-up inviting to download beauty tips, styling advice, etc. in exchange of your email address.
 
One of the most efficient ways to attract subscribers without burning your marketing budget is to offer your potential subscribers a chance to participate in sweepstakes. Here’s an example on davidsbridal.com.
 
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Email pop-ups would easily justify an entire article. But your time is limited and I can’t cover everything today. So don’t hesitate to head over to our website where we’ve shared a full guide on the matter.
 
Pop-ups are great. But they can be controversial. Even if studies have shown they don’t have any impact on the bounce rate or the engagement, some webmasters worry that pop-ups may degrade the user experience.
 
If that’s your case, no worries, we have more solutions in store!
 
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Email Bars

‘Classic’ email bars

Email bars can be a good alternative or complement to website pop ups.

Why so?

Because they offer the same targeting possibilities as pop-ups. Plus they’re also very visible and don’t take a lot of screen estate.

This is what an email bar looks like:

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As bars take only a fraction of the user’s screen you can display them on more than one page during the same session.
 
And any additional page where you’re displaying the bar gives you an additional chance to convince the user to subscribe.

Mobile email bars

They’re also very useful on mobile devices where Google recommends avoiding interstitials or large pop-ups and using smaller pop-ups or bars.

Here’s a good example of such a mobile bar on zumiez.com.

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Some websites go even further and turn the bar into a simple call-to-action displayed on every page.
 
Once clicked, the call-to-action triggers a popup:
 
We recently tested this kind of call-to-action vs. a traditional pop-up with Skechers in Australia.
 
They ended up collecting +48% more email addresses with the call-to-action popup.
 
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Until now, we’ve reviewed techniques to turn new or unknown visitors into subscribers.

These techniques are especially interesting because they allow you to start building a relationship with potential buyers.

Now let’s review how you can turn buyers into subscribers.

Newsletter Checkbox During Checkout

Buyers are an interesting population to build an email list.

Why?

As they have already purchased on your website, they have a connection with your brand. So it may be much easier to convince them to subscribe.

And there’s an easy way to do so.

Adding an opt-in checkbox during the check-out or the registration process. Here’s an example on asos.com:

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What’s cool is that most of the time it’s easy to implement. Here’s what the setup looks like in Shopify for example. Just a simple copy and paste.

And it works wonders because of the population you’re trying to engage.

If you’re going for this option, think carefully about whether you want to pre-check it or not.

You’ll find a lot of different opinions on the topic. But keep in mind that in some countries, it’s simply illegal to pre-check an opt-in checkbox.

Plus, pre-checking the checkbox may not be well received

Wrap-up

That’s all you needed to know to start building the email list of your ecommerce website!

Any good tips on the matter? Please share them in the comments!

Happy list building!

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Bio: Greg d’Aboville is Head of Growth at WisePops, a website popup solution. WisePops is available on Shopify and Magento among other platforms.

Greg d’Aboville

Written by Greg d’Aboville

Greg d’Aboville is Head of Growth at WisePops, a website popup solution. WisePops is available on Shopify and Magento among other platforms.