Exploring the Effectiveness of Email Acquisition Tactics

In April of this year, my firm surveyed 402 qualified marketers about their email acquisition tactics as well as the methods that were delivering the highest value. Not surprisingly, the majority of marketers (52 percent) stated that their own corporate website was the most widely used to acquire new email subscribers. When we asked them which method of email acquisition produces the highest-value subscribers, the corporate or branded website again was on top, as selected by 35 percent of the respondents. This chart details the responses to both questions.

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The research survey revealed the following findings:

  • The email acquisition tactics that marketers use do not directly correlate with value. As evident in the chart figure, marketers continue to deploy tactics that are not delivering the most valuable email subscribers, or the marketer is unaware of which method is delivering high-value subscribers. Overall, 11 percent of the respondents stated they were not sure which acquisition method delivered valuable subscribers, indicating that marketers are still struggling with the most basic direct marketing principles, acquisition source code capture, and analysis of subscriber value.
  • The widely embraced social acquisition methods do not deliver as much value as human interaction methods such as in-store and call center. While attempting to acquire subscribers through Facebook and Twitter has mass marketer appeal, just 16 percent of survey respondents stated that it was the source of their most valuable subscribers, coming in behind in-store and call center methods (see chart). While Facebook can be effective in driving advocates, it is proving to be a less effective means of acquisition, and I would caution any marketer to use their site sign-in, as that subscriber data will sit outside of your email marketing database. Marketers leveraging their own customer touch points such as call center and in-store report more success in delivering valuable subscribers.
  • All acquisition methods are not widely deployed. The majority of marketers are casting a rather narrow net in attempting to acquire new customers. Most marketers are failing to look beyond their own website, Facebook page, or store. While it is necessary to measure subscriber value in a trackable way from each acquisition source and then promote or demote them based on the value that they deliver, marketers must also experiment with new acquisition methods.

There are a variety of methods that have proven to deliver a high return on investment (ROI) of valuable subscribers including:

  • Using ads in other marketers’ email newsletters, which I covered in this column.
  • Leveraging in-store checkout, particularly for small businesses, to affordably build your list and acquire your customer’s email address, which I discussed in this column.
  • Investing in mobile application acquisition, and in this column I include a case study to illustrate its effectiveness.

Lastly, I refer you back to this column where I discuss the importance of the entire organization working together in order to continue to effectively grow the email subscriber database.

What email acquisition tactics are working or not working for you? Are you measuring the subscriber value for each acquisition source? Let me know.

Until next time,

This column was originally published on July 16, 2012.

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