Double Your E-Mail Registrations in Seven Steps

You probably know the number of new email registrations your site gets per month. The number is a key indicator of how well you’re doing in building your site’s traffic and customer relationships. It helps track the effect of ad campaigns and other events that drive people to your site.

By itself, the number of new registrations only tells part of the story. That’s because it doesn’t help you understand this metric in the context of total site usage. According to Return Path, an email performance company, a second indicator is just as important. It’s the ratio of new email registrations to new unique site visitors, and it should be close to one-to-one.

Seven Steps to Double Your E-mail List

If the new email registration to new unique visitor ratio is substantially less than one, use the following tips to help double your email list. Though some suggestions may sound obvious, they yield real results.

“Many companies we work with have seen registrations more than double simply by focusing on the ease of sign up for the site visitor,” says Tami Monahan Forman, Return Path’s director of strategic solutions. “If someone comes to your site looking for information and doesn’t sign up to receive your emails, you have missed an opportunity in the offer, the permission flow, or the registration form.” Each of these techniques must be correctly tested and implemented to produce the best results:

  • Streamline email registration. Streamline the process by asking for as little information upfront as possible. You can always give customers an incentive to provide more information after they experience your newsletter.

    To measure the optimal number of fields, test different forms. As long as customers and prospects find your email engaging, they’ll enhance your brand and keep your company top of mind.

  • Make sign-up easy. Place an opt-in registration box or button and a text link in the footer of every page of your site. This facilitates registration for people who want to receive your email. Don’t bury the registration form on a page deep within your site. Test different presentations, such as color, text, and position, to determine which yields the greatest response.
  • Add a registration box or link to all e-newsletters. Add the box or link to the top and bottom of the newsletter. Although this may sound redundant as the recipient is already receiving your email, consider the pass-along effect. Make it easy for people who get your email forwarded to them to sign up themselves.
  • Add a registration button or link to all email correspondence. This includes customer service, confirmations, and bills. More broadly, request email addresses at every customer touch point. The aim is to broaden customers’ view of your firm. Integrating email addresses acquired offline may be a manual process, but research shows customer purchases increase with the number of channels used.
  • Include a “forward to a friend” button. Put a forward function on every site page, as well as in email newsletters. This way your visitors, often trusted sources who wouldn’t steer friends wrong, act as your spokespeople. Increase “forward to a friend” exchanges by promoting a list of popular products or stories, such as “Top 10 E-mailed Stories.”
  • Offer a sign-up incentive. This helps customers overcome the perception companies are just trying to extract more personal information from them. An incentive related to the value of newsletter content is best for attracting serious subscribers (not incentive seekers). Offer something in line with your brand, such as discount coupons for retailers and free white papers for content providers.
  • Partner with similar Web sites. This will help cross-pollinate your lists. It may involve an exchange of advertising, either on Web sites or in email. Alternatively, it could be part of the registration process, assuming you both have similarly robust permission. The logic is you’re providing a service to customers. Copy could read: “If you like our newsletter, you may be interested in one on a similar topic provided by our partner….”

Analyzing E-Mail Registration Results

To better understand these initiatives’ results and how they affect your email list’s dynamics, track the following:

  • Number of new email registrations. Track the number of new registrations by day, week, and month. Use more than one results period to determine cyclical factors, such as day of the week. This also enables you to calculate a rolling average number of registrations, a more stable indicator. Then, compare registrations before and after making improvements.

    email registration growth rate = (new registrations for period/old registrations for period)-1

  • E-mail registrants per page or source. Add the ability to track registration links on each page separately to determine which pages or type of content drives registrations. You may also want to track what people do on your site after they register.
  • Revenue per registrant. Code offers so you can check email order and dollar response volume by the source code. You can then analyze response rate and average order size. In a multichannel business, email effect is more complex to track, requiring more attention to how you code and track results.

    Revenue per email registrant = total revenue from new registrants/total registrants per source

  • Cost per new registrant. Generally, the cost of the above recommendations is negligible. You probably already have email registration functionality. You may have an existing white paper or related product to use as an incentive, and you make regular changes on your Web site. If not, acquisition cost should be measured to determine its value on a basis relative to other registration initiatives. Look at cost per registrant to ensure numbers are on a uniform base.

    cost per email registrant = total costs per source/total registrants per source

  • Abandonment rate. Track how many new registrants unsubscribe after receiving their first email by registration source. Determine if some sources have higher unsubscribe rates. High abandonment rates tend to mean new users don’t see the connection between what your site promises and what your email delivers.

    abandonment rate = number of unsubscribes after first mailing/number of new email registrations

Building an email list is an ongoing process. Always try new initiatives to improve results, have metrics in place to measure these results, and tune your next set of initiatives based on what you learned. This enables you to do more of what works… and less of what doesn’t.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

Nominations are open for the 2004 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.

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