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Marketers and customers will agree: data is gold, and knowledge is essential to ensure the relevance of communications. However, the challenge of data collection remains. As consumers become increasingly suspicious of brands, they are less inclined to share their personal information. Newsletter subscriptions are one of the data collection tools at marketing teams’ disposal, as they can use it as a starting point for establishing relationships with new customers.

To work in the best possible way, a customer journey must include many steps: recruitment, registration forms, double opt-in, registration confirmation, and a welcome email. None of these steps should be overlooked before starting a fruitful customer relationship, but how do we know which tools to use, which messages to send, and which strategies to adopt?

To answer these questions, Validity’s Loïc Péron, Director of Customer Success South EMEA & BENELUX, conducted a study in February and March of 2021 assessing the newsletter subscription procedures of 70 brands across France, the UK, Spain, and Germany. In March 2021, he presented his findings at Inbox Expo as part of a presentation titled “Newsletter signup forms, pop-ups… Learn how you can improve your registration rate” (you can find a link to the full presentation at the bottom of this page). Here are some of his key findings:

Find the ideal spot for the registration link.

The location of the registration link on the webpage is decisive. Our research shows more than 45% of brands integrate the registration link directly into the customer’s account. This is particularly relevant for well-known brands such as Ebay, where the customer is used to logging into their account and can therefore subscribe to the program on their own. However, the same does not apply to companies with a weaker brand image.

Fortunately, there are other alternatives, such as integrating the registration link into the footer (30%), into the page header or body of the page (5% respectively), or even directly into a pop-up (2%). It is quite common to find subscription links in a website’s footer, which users tend to go to when trying to contact a brand. For the French brand Darty, the signup call-to-action is integrated into the body of the page, attracting consumers with special offers.

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Use offers to motivate data sharing.

Eighteen percent of websites have set up “promotional tools” or “incentives” within their subscription forms, and these can take many shapes.

In the most widely used approach, the promotion comes first. Whether the offer is a percentage off or a fixed deduction (e.g., a promo code for £5 or 10 € of the total cost), this incentivisation can increase the capture of larger customer segments. With the gamification of marketing still popular, the integration of a lottery is also used as an incentive. In this instance, the customer’s registration is automatically entered in a draw for a predefined prize. This approach isn’t without risk, as it could potentially recruit opportunistic subscribers who are not really attracted to the brand or its products.

Other brands – particularly German brands like Lidl and Obi – are far more transparent, clearly stating the benefits of their programs by using creative and attractive visuals.

Collect more than one email address and segment.

It is not enough to simply collect an email address. Once the consumer has been won over and registered, it is important to position this commitment as a genuine value-added exchange. Marketers must go further by developing the customer knowledge that helps them to send more personalised communications.

To achieve this, some brands encourage users to share more personal information. As part of Marks & Spencer’s newsletter subscription, first and last names are sourced, as well as any additional information users are willing to share (date of birth, title, etc.). Adidas asks for this type of data using follow-up emails that form part of the customer journey. Brands like FNAC in France and Spain offer ultra-detailed preference centres where each subscriber can specify their areas of interest. This way, segmentation and ultra-personalisation of campaigns can be used to deliver optimised performance that leads to improved customer experience and loyalty.

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Ensure good reception of communications.

All subscriptions result in emails being sent, and email is a highly-valued marketing channel. As part of this trusted relationship, users need to know their data and consent will be handled confidentially and in accordance with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Use of double opt-in allows consumers to be contacted by email to confirm their registration. Validity’s study shows 100% of German sites, as well as some Spanish ones, have implemented this approach.

Once new subscribers are registered, sending a welcome email is a must. Brands should ensure it is sent immediately after subscription for maximum effectiveness.

The spam folder remains a pet peeve of marketers in 2021. Our research revealed that 6.6% of the sites studied saw their first message land in the spam folder. However, some brands were proactive, suggesting to their customers that they check their junk mail and spam if they didn’t receive a confirmation email in their inbox.

The world of marketing is currently experiencing a small revolution with the disappearance of third-party cookies. Email will become increasingly decisive in providing the ability to monitor customer behavior within CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) and analytical tools. In this context, newsletter subscription is an essential tool for collecting customer data in a consensual and transparent manner. Brands should see this as an opportunity to get to know their consumers better. By acquiring data and customer knowledge without having to go through expensive service providers, brands can build qualitative and lasting relationships.

Click here to watch the full presentation, “Newsletter signup forms, pop-ups… Learn how you can improve your registration rates,” or to watch any of the additional five sessions Validity’s email experts held at Inbox Expo.

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