Subscription process defines quality of email marketing lists

Coming to the end of the year and looking forward to 2011 you will probably be looking at maximising the ROI from your email marketing campaigns. It is worth bearing in mind then that the quality of your list is defined by the subscription process. Sure your list is 100% opt-in, yet still you find your campaigns having email deliverability and low response issues? What can cause these problems? Let us take a look at what is happening in the industry at the moment…

Joining a website

A model that is becoming more and more popular, is for people to be able to join a brand, have a username and password and be able to log into a site. This is made easier and easier every day by popular paid for and open source CMSs, due to the advantages provided through the single view profiling of logged in individuals.

Get something for nothing

There are also many forms on many sites for people to fill in to get something for nothing. These are forms where people want something like a quote for insurance or downloading a white paper or a guide or even an instruction manual. These are very popular list building methods.

Why are there problems?

Like the subscription form these experiences will also be made as quick and easy as possible, so all additional details will be behind a linked Ts and Cs page. More often than not this Ts and Cs page will tell people that they are also opting into emails. It will be over half way down and not really highlighted, it is commonly known as small print.

People are often surprised to get these emails because they did not expect to, because they did not read the Ts and Cs. This often results in the recipients hitting the dreaded spam button and as a consequence brands have trouble delivering emails due to the negative effect on their reputation.

Additionally if someone is suspicious that they will get emails but still want to get to the other side of the form, they may just make up an email address. It is highly likely that this address will actually exist and that recipient will subsequently hit the spam button when it is marketed to.

When you get blocked, telling spam fighting organisations that you obeyed the law and they should not block you, will not wash. They have a harder privacy policy and their users have signed up to it because they want more than the law.

How can it be fixed

There are two main ways to fix all of these ambiguities in the sign-up process:

1. Be up front and provide the choice

Tell people on the sign-up form that they will be signing up for emails and provide a check box to tick in order to subscribe.

While this is best practice, many see it as a barrier to entry and are reluctant to do it through fear of missing out on opportunities.  However this is a dated point of view and can result in endless deliverability problems.

If people don’t ask for emails when presented with the opportunity, they don’t want them. These people are of no value. If the opportunity is taken away from them and they are then emailed, they hit the spam button. These complaints then negatively affect the ability to send emails to those who did request them and are of value to you.

Let people decide what they want on their own, if the site has created the right impression on the way in, they will opt-in, if not change something about the route to conversion, not the opt-in policy.

2. Send confirmation and welcome emails

Send a confirmation email to everyone who signs up and sell the opt-in to the newsletter from there.
In fact state on the form, that they will not be added to a list by filling out the form.

Everyone who fills out your forms, whether they are joining a club, asking for a quote or downloading a white paper, will expect a confirmation email.

This is also the place to sell the newsletter.

Make the form as easy to fill out as possible. The opt-in in the small print is gone and no longer a danger and they have achieved your goal of getting them to fill out the form. Then send them an email to confirm their completion and in that email, invite them to opt-in to the monthly newsletter.