Email List Growth: Marketers Rank Their Most Popular – and Effective – Tactics

November 5, 2013

ExactTarget-Email-List-Growth-Tactics-Nov2013Email marketers have a variety of goals in mind when conducting their campaigns, ranging from selling products and services (62%) to generating leads (52%), driving site traffic (51%) and driving brand awareness (51%), according to a new report [download page] from ExactTarget. With respondents saying that the quality of their subscribers is as important as overall ROI when gauging their email program’s effectiveness, the study looks not only at the most popular subscriber growth tactics, but also at their perceived effectiveness in drawing high-quality subscribers.

Of the wide range (42!) of tactics presented to email marketers, respondents reported the following to be most commonly used:

  • General email sign-up form on website (74%);
  • Require email to create an account on website (57%);
  • Sign-up requests specific to different sections on website (52%);
  • Registration with immediate incentive (50%); and
  • Email capture via Facebook (45%).

At the tail end of the list, few email marketers are using banners promoting email subscriptions within a mobile application (10%) and text email via SMS (10%).

As might be expected when looking at this type of study, some of the less commonly used subscriber growth tactics garnered high praise from email marketers. For example:

  • While only 23% capture email during inbound sales calls, 71% rate this tactic as being effective;
  • An equal 23% capture email during inbound customer service calls, with 63% finding this to be effective; and
  • Only 18% tie their email acquisition to loyalty program registration promoted in-store, but two-thirds find this tactic to be effective.

Other less-common tactics viewed as effective by a majority of users include the option to opt into email when viewing content on a mobile application (used by 12%; rated effective by 59%) and sales associates requesting email as part of the check-out process (used by 20%; rated effective by 57%).

That’s not to say that some of the more widespread tactics aren’t also effective. For example, one of the more popular tactics – requiring an email to create an account on a website – is rated effective by 70% of users. As the researchers note, though, some of the more widespread tactics may not be all that effective, but they’re easy to implement. Those include general email sign-up forms (42% rating effective), sign-up requests specific to different sections on the website (45% rating effective) and email capture via Facebook (31% rating effective).

While those are relatively easy to implement, many email marketers without a brick-and-mortar presence or call center simply cannot use offline tactics with high effectiveness ratings, such as capturing email during inbound sales calls and acquiring emails for loyalty program registration in-store. The study authors recommend that email marketers who can’t leverage these tactics try to employ parallel ones online, such as requiring an email to create a website account and promoting content via social media that requires an email registration to access. One of the key threads running through these highly-rated tactics is that they offer an immediate reward to the subscriber in exchange for their email address.

Meanwhile, the “greatest promise” might lie in the underutilized – but highly rated – tactics, such as the option to opt into email when viewing mobile app content and requiring an email to register a mobile app. Of course, those tactics also depend on the resources at hand – but the authors note that promoting cross-channel actions can encourage subscriber engagement in other channels, whether those be mobile apps or social channels such as Facebook or Twitter.

The full list of subscriber growth tactics used as part of the survey can be accessed here.

About the Data: The Audience Growth Survey looks at audience growth across email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and mobile app marketing. The study began with 17 interviews with marketers between April and July of 2013. Using insights from these interviews, a nationwide survey was developed and fielded from June 20 to August 5, surveying digital marketers predominantly from the United States. A total of 395 respondents completed the survey, with jurisdiction in the following marketing areas: email (91%), social media (66%), mobile (37%), and executive oversight (28%). The results contained in the article above are based on the responses of the 329 email marketers surveyed.

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