Practical Tactics for Cross-Channel Email Acquisition

Generating a net increase in the number of email addresses on your email list should be a vital component of every email marketing strategy. However, it is not easy, and it cannot happen overnight.

We all know that buying or renting a list is not an option. So, I’m not even going to cover that.

The List Growth Landscape

Approximately 30 percent of your list will churn this year, according to research from Return Path, FreshAddress, and other email service providers. In addition, 51 percent of marketers say they are seeing slow list growth this year.

5 Essential Components of List Growth

These factors can affect your list growth:

  1. Email acquisition rate:Percentage of new email addresses opted in to your email program
  2. Unsubscribe rate: Percentage of customers who opt out of your email program.
  3. Bounce rate: Percentages of undeliverable email addresses.
  4. Spam complaint rate: Percentage of customers who report your email as spam.
  5. Unresponsive customer number (“inactives”): Number of email addresses that have registered no opens or clicks in a set amount of time (usually six months to a year).

Remember, list growth is not just a numbers game. Having 1 million opted-in email addresses in your database doesn’t give the full picture.

Half of those addresses could be considered inactive and are as good as opted out. Depending on your data history, you probably shouldn’t be emailing to them.

3 Quick-Win Strategies for Email Acquisition

List growth strategies should be present in all components of your overarching email strategy. Here are three ways to drive email acquisition:

  1. Grow your prospect list via quick sign-up forms and pop-up boxes. Reduce barriers to opt in by having a quick sign-up form in a prime area on the home page and every interior page of your website. Normally, you need only the email address at this stage. You can go back to your subscribers later and ask for relevant information such as preferences or profile data.One interesting option is a welcome pop-up box that displays the first time a customer visits your website.

    Here are examples from and Dylan’s Candy Bar:



    If you offer an incentive in your welcome program, be sure to advertise it on the quick sign-up form.

  2. Deploy qualified sweepstakes. Offering a prize or leveraging existing sweepstakes is a great way to collect email addresses. Advertise the sweepstakes on prominent pages throughout your site and ensure a sign-up form is located in a prominent position.I also recommend keeping the prize low value and relevant to your brand to pre-qualify entrants. Don’t forget to coordinate and promote the sweepstakes cross-channel to your social networks.
  3. View social media as an acquisition resource. Social media is another good source to leverage for email acquisitions. Run “email only” competitions or messages on all social areas to encourage users to sign up to email.Allow email sign-up directly on your Facebook page or link users to customized sign-up landing pages.


Growing an engaged email list is not easy and does not happen overnight. Focus on quality over quantity. Small improvements across all strategies will drive long-term list growth.

This column was originally published on March 31, 2011 on ClickZ.

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