Platforms like Shopify or Magento are making it easy for anyone to create an E-commerce store without much experience, all you need is a product to sell & you’re ready to go. But how do you ensure that you’re noticed in the sea of other businesses all vying for a similar slice of the revenue?
There’s a frustrating side to building a lasting E-commerce business – driving growth & revenue. Long gone are the days of thinking “Build it and they will come.” Consumers now have more choice than ever, there’s more competitors than ever & store owners need to work harder to build a lasting brand.
Store owners need to think about attracting new customers, retaining them, engaging them – then ultimately doing all the other activity needed to drive long term value (i.e. optimising for conversions or revenue). After all, over 40% of all online revenue comes from returning customers.
What is one of the biggest drivers for returning customers? Email. Having a strategy for getting users onto your email list is paramount for the growth of your business.
In this guide we’re going to look at some advanced email acquisition techniques for E-Commerce businesses. After working with hundreds of E-commerce businesses here at Gleam we understand that a solid email list is one of the primary growth engines for online stores, as such you should always working & testing ideas to maximise the amount of customers you can directly market to via email.
The Onpage Opt-in Form
This has always been the bread & butter way to get a user onto your list – by giving your customers an easy way to opt-in at any time whilst they browse your site.
Usually you’ll find these forms buried in the footer, forcing you to look for it if you really want to signup.
This isn’t the most optimal way to get new subscribers, but it’s worth having so you convert those that are really seeking out your list.
Victoria’s Secret take a much better approach by making their opt-in box one of the first things you see on the page.
The Standard Popup Opt-in
The next option you have is ensuring that everyone that comes to your site has a chance to opt-in or not. You can do this by popping up the opt-in form when the user lands on any page.
This method ensures that customers know you have a newsletter & that you’re almost making customers choose whether or not to opt-in. This can have downsides, since it can be more obnoxious & intrusive. You will also need to make sure you have rules setup so the popup only shows once.
I’ve seen popups increase subscribers anywhere from 5% all the way up to 600% depending on what type of offer or creative you’re showing to the user.
You can take your popups to the next level by offering an incentive to subscribe. This is one of the most common tactics used by almost every large E-commerce store – plus we know from a recent RetailMeNot study that a huge 71% of users prefer to use coupons that are sent to them directly via email from brands.
The Slide-up Optin
The Slide-up form is a much less intrusive way to let users know there’s a special or a discount for signing up to your email list. The beauty of this type of form is that you can show it on every page until the user hides it.
With a discount tab you can tease the idea of a discount until the user is ready to grab it. Generally clicking the tab will pop out the incentive & show the user how to grab it (By opting into your mailing list or performing a social action).
Targeted Popups via Personalisation
You can take your messaging to a new level by adding in elements of personalisation, this example below is a specific Gleam Capture opt-in form that only visitors from Pinterest will see.
These types of opt-ins allow you to tailor & test very specific messages that resonate with certain audience types. Thus increasing the likelihood they will subscribe.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Popups
There’s nothing worse than a user adding products to their shopping cart, then leaving your website never to return. Many E-commerce sites use various shopping cart recovery techniques to try & convert these abandons into paying customers.
The idea is simple, you probably already know if this person is an existing customer or a new customer. If they are a new customer then you won’t have access to their email address, therefore you’ll want to popup an incentive as they are about to leave. The incentive is designed to do two things:
- Capture their email address
- Provide them with a discount to incentivize their order
If you already have the users email address then you could simply just popup the incentive without asking them to re-subscribe.
A study in 2013 showed that up to 75% of carts are abandoned, this means there’s a huge revenue opportunity for E-commerce businesses to address this particular issue.
There’s another tactic that can be used to recover lost cart value when the user is already a customer – that’s to email the customer with a summary of their cart after a short period of time (i.e. 30 minutes), along with a coupon code to convert the business.
Checkout these case studies to show you what type of gains you could expect from cart abandonment emails.
Email Specific Landing Pages
Quite often users want to see what kind of content to expect from you before joining your list. There’s a number of ways to use this to your advantage.
The first method is to build specific subscription pages that highlight why the user should be joining your list. You’ll see in the example below, this particular store is sending:
- Weekly tips
- Gear reviews
- And finally a $5 off coupon to sweeten the deal
The great thing about this method is that you can direct external traffic to this page – for example Tweets, Ads or even add it to your customer email signatures. Add some Google Analytics tracking to the mix & you’ll soon be able to see the conversion rates for your pages by traffic source.
Webinars & Courses
Email landing pages can also be used to drive registrations for other tactical campaigns like Webinars or short courses.
A common tactic is to ask influential people from your industry to provide insight & knowledge to your customers (in the form of a Webinar or email course). This ulimately drives more brand awareness for your own products or services, alongside giving you credibility.
Email My Shopping Cart
This is a widely under-utilised feature in modern E-commerce. Businesses underestimate the number of shoppers that browse & add to cart from work.
This particular feature allows you to do two things, email the shopping cart to yourself so you can make a purchase later. But even better than that, you now have the user subscribed to one of your lists, so you can market to them.
Newsletter Checkbox During Checkout
This is probably the most primitive method for getting users on your list, but I still see many stores forget about it. Give your users the option to opt-in to your lists when either creating an account, or making a purchase. This hack alone should see you steadily increase your list day by day.
If you’re not aware already we offer an app that allows you to run awesome competitions, to date we’ve processed over 20M entries & we’ve seen a lot of E-commerce businesses create huge success with their giveaway strategy.
On average a Gleam E-Commerce giveaway will convert at 26% (we’ve seen the upper limit convert at 70%), which means it is one of the most cost efficient ways to get customers onto your email list (we also integrate with nearly every major email provider).
The example below shows a popular E-Commerce store Swanson Vitamins popup their current competition to every customer when they land:
A common technique to drive revenue post contest is to email a consolation coupon to your entrants. This works particularly well when you are giving away one of your own products (since everyone that entered was eager to win a product you stock, now they can buy it). Check out other ways to drive engagement for your contest here.
Instant redeem rewards, work in a similar fashion to contests but there’s one major different – the user redeems them instantly (instead of going into a draw).
These are super flexible & can be used in many different ways:
- Give users a coupon in exchange for an email list subscribe
- Allow users to unlock a specific piece of content
- Incentivize your users to follow you on social networks
- Get your users to give feedback about their shopping experience in exchange for a coupon code
All of the methods above also allow you to capture the users email address & send to your email provider.
Twitter Lead Gen Cards
If you’re looking for Ads that are frictionless then Twitter’s lead gen cards are probably my favourite. Once setup they allow users to opt-in to your list in a single click (without even having to enter their Name/Email address).
You can also setup the card to send to your email provider (provided they support it) using the POST submit URL option.
Ensure that you leverage these ads by offering the user something for opting, I’ve found that these particular ads work best when you engage the user as fast as possible.
Consumers love to give feedback, good or bad. Survey platforms like Qualaroo can allow you to popup questions based on rules that you set. For example, once a user has viewed 5 pages you might ask them something like this:
You can also choose to capture their email address (for responding to the feedback) which also gives you an opportunity to add them to your mailing list.
Retail / Event Acquisition
This is probably one of the most under utilised methods for email acquisition. If you have a retail store with walkin traffic you should be doing everything in your power to get their details – especially when they are making a purchase.
Marks & Spencer in the UK have built specific digital booths in-store to capture information from customers.
You don’t need snazzy technology or POS systems either, here’s a simple template that fits on an iPad that allows you to send subscribers straight to a MailChimp list. There’s also a bunch of apps, that allow you to capture the emails offline then sync with your email list when you get access to the internet again.
Email Receipts to Customers
If you’ve ever been to the Apple Store you will have seen this technique. The Genius reps there use a Linea Pro to take your order on the floor, then give you the ability to receive the receipt via email (and also ask for your newsletter opt-in during the order).
This is a very nice scalable way to add consistency to every order.
And last but not least is harnessing the power of customer referrals. Harry’s ran a pre-launch campaign with their own Prelaunchr application (which is now open source btw).
The application is simple, the more friends that you refer using your own special referral link the more freebies you unlock.
- 5 Referrals – Free Shave Cream
- 10 Referrals – Truman Shave Handle + Blade
- 25 Referrals – Winston Shave Set
- 50 Referrals – 1 Year of Free Blades
Harry’s successfully used this technique to capture 100k emails in just 1 week prior to launch. This in itself shows the power in incentivization when it comes to list building.
Want to Grow Your Own List?
Here at Gleam we’re working on something special to help you grow your email list, something designed to help you do all of the things that you’ve seen in this article. We’d love to have you along for the journey.
It has multiple templates, smart behavioural rules & it connects with nearly all of the major email service providers.