5 Insights from the Email Acquisition Panel at Email Insider Summit

May 3, 2013
By Tom Burke

Email Insider Summit Screen ShotAcquiring quality subscribers is an integral process of any successful email marketing campaign. Yesterday I moderated a panel called “Converting Consumers Into Subscribers: Acquisition Strategies” at the 2013 Email Insider Summit, exploring just how email marketers can effectively grow their email marketing lists with quality subscribers.

The panelists included Kelly Briggs, director of corporate communications for the Dallas Stars; Chris Epper, Pei Wei Asian Diner (P.F. Chang’s) brand manager; Greg Martz, director of strategic business at The Motley Fool; and Justin Orgel, associate director of strategic accounts at Experian Marketing Services.

To emphasize how important acquiring new subscribers is, I started off by asking the audience: “Who feels they have enough email subscribers on their list?” As expected, I was met with silence. Fortunately, our panel had some insights on how to address the acquisition challenge.

Insight One: Social Media can be a Bridge to Acquiring New Emails

Kelly Briggs shared that social media is a great first touch point with your audience. People can be reluctant to provide their email at first, but with social media, they feel more in control of the relationship with the brand. Once they become a fan or follower on social, you can engage them with your content, enticing them to subscribe to your email list. She explained that the Dallas Stars’ social media fanbase has been a lucrative channel for acquiring email subscribers.

Insight Two: Quality Content Attracts Quality Subscribers

Our conversation shifted from driving visitors to your webpage via social media to attracting visitors with content. While growing traffic is important, Martz explained, ensuring the quality of that traffic is even more so. “We don’t want just traffic, right? It’s not 1999 anymore,” he said. “We want to capture emails.” He continued by saying The Motley Fool has been successful in capturing quality emails by creating a blog network to help create quality, targeted content that answers more than just the “what?” – it answers the “so what?” or “now what?”

Insight Three: Specific Content is Best for Mobile

In addition, when targeting mobile users, content should be specific, Martz said. Thirty percent of Motley Fool web traffic comes from mobile devices with users who behave differently due to their smaller screens and slower connections. “If we present [our subscribers] an offer on cloud computing, for example, they’re not going to take that unless it’s very specific for [the stock they’re interested in],” he said. “The more specific, the better on mobile.”

Insight Four: Offer Something of Value

For Briggs, increasing her subscriber database can be as simple as offering freebies. “Never underestimate the power of a koozie, people,” she said. “Who doesn’t like something for nothing, you know? But it is something. You’re gaining an email address. You’re gaining that connection.”

“You’d be amazed at what a Motley Fool baseball cap does,” Martz said. “Those work, but it’s got to be quality list growth.” He explained that understanding the difference between quantity and quality growth is vital for email marketing success, saying that knowing the motivations of visitors (small data) and providing them with actionable content is key.

Insight Five: Cater to Your Segments and Recognize Channel Preferences

Briggs segments her subscribers into season ticket holders and fans. Season ticket holders, she said, receive much more exclusivity than fans. “They like to feel they’re more exclusive, and they are. They’re monetarily committed as well as emotionally committed.”

Orgel said this kind of segmentation can be taken one step further by utilizing Big Data to recognize your subscribers’ channel preferences. To explain, he used the example of J. Crew: “I get J. Crew emails – I have never bought something from in email. But I will go into a J. Crew store and buy something.”

The panel closed with discussion on retaining those newly acquired subscribers. To this, Orgel suggested suppressing the urge to bombard them with special promotions and offers; instead, he said, warm them up to your email marketing with a welcoming stream that shows the value of being an email subscriber. “Having a nice welcome stream can kick things off nicely,” he said.

Once your subscribers are engaged, remember to keep it personal, Epper said. “Continue to personalize and provide dynamic content. If we push a new beef dish to a vegetarian, the likeliness of their interest is slim to none.” Martz agreed, saying, “The number one roadmap strategy for us is to make it personal. They want content they can use and is actionable…make it personal.”

The 2013 Email Insider Summit continues today, May 3, through tomorrow. The Summit is streaming live online for those unable to attend. You can also follow the Summit on Twitter using the hashtag #MPEIS.

Need more expert tips for acquiring email subscribers? Download “20 Great Ways to Grow Your Email List” today!

Photo Credit: Email Insider Summit 2013 Live Stream

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