It is illegal to send unsolicited email messages except in limited circumstances. If customers have consented to receiving information from you in the past, ie opted in or signed up to your email marketing list, you can send them information on other things you think they might be interested in.
However, you must give these people the option to opt out of or unsubscribe from receiving any further messages from you. Read more about email marketing list opt-ins and opt-outs.
Using incentives to get email sign ups
People are more likely to sign up to your email marketing list if you give them a useful incentive. For example, you can offer special services or discounts on selected products to customers who sign up for your email updates. It's even more effective when you make offers available exclusively through your email marketing. You can then be more confident that recipients will check for the latest email from your business.
You can also offer things like exclusive online content, eg access to downloads or entry to competitions, in exchange for email sign ups.
Capturing customer data for email marketing
There are a number of ways, both online and offline, how you can capture customer data to be used for your email marketing lists. A common method is to encourage email sign up through your website. It's always worth highlighting the benefits of subscribing to your email service and providing an online form to register.
You should make this process as quick and as easy as possible for the customer by capturing only a small amount of essential data initially eg name and email address. You can then follow this up with an email where a customer can inform you of other preferences or areas of interest. It is also best practice to inform customers what they will receive by email and how often they should expect to receive your emails.
See an example of the sign up form nibusinessinfo.co.uk uses to capture customer data.
Using overlays to encourage customer signups
Website overlays are a type of pop-up that appear on the user’s screen. They can be configured to appear after a certain amount of time, once a customer looks at a set number of pages, lands on high value pages or when they exit your website.
Website overlays can be very effective in helping you to capture customer data. They interrupt the customer’s web browsing to present a message that you can use to outline benefits to signing up to your mailing list.
Best practice advice for using overlays on your website are:
- Don’t annoy the customer – think carefully how you can best use overlays. Don’t have them appearing on every page of your website. Ensure the user can easily cancel the overlay and make sure it won’t reappear for the same user for a set period of time afterward.
- Highlight the benefits – make it clear and brief in your overlay what you are offering the customer in return for their data, for example, a newsletter, discounts or access to premium content.
- Capture only essential data – capture only the data you need such as an email address and name. You can always build up details of their preferences afterwards.
- Use triggers - consider using different types of overlays that will be triggered depending on the customer’s action:
- Entry overlay – once they appear on a certain page
- Timed overlay – once they have been browsing your website for a defined period of time or number of pages
- Scroll overlay – once they have scrolled through a certain point on a page
- Exit intent overlay – once they go to exit your website
- Cross selling – if you sell products or services on your website and a customer is browsing particular ones you can use overlays to cross sell other popular products or services eg customers viewing this product also viewed.
- Create a sense of urgency – you could use overlays to highlight special offers, discounts, product availability or access to premium content. To encourage immediate action from the customer to signup you could highlight in your overlay that a special offer is only available until a specific date.
Collecting data offline
Methods in which you can build your database offline include asking customers for their email address when they are at an event you are running or in-store. For example, some retail businesses capture customer email addresses by offering to email electronic receipts when a purchase is made in store. You can also offer a small discount or free gift as an incentive.
Email can be a very cheap and effective marketing tool if you can get customers and potential customers to request updates from you by email.