004 Email: Kate Barrett “US vs UK Retailers: The State of Email Sign Ups”

by April Buencamino-dy

Kate’s spent the last 13 years working directly on eCommerce email marketing programs. Via her agency eFocus Marketing she provides email marketing consultancy, management, and training courses for 100s of eCommerce businesses.

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Getting Started in Email Marketing

Unlike a lot of people who stumble into the career, Kate got into email marketing while she was still at University.

She worked for the company which is now SmartFocus, an email service provider for a year and half before finishing her final year at University. The time she spent there solidified her laser focus on finding a job and career in email.

She worked directly for several businesses in marketing, but says she always stayed focused on email. Five years ago, she started working freelance and has since built an agency dedicated to helping businesses grow their email marketing prowess.

Email Sign-Ups

Often forgotten or neglected—sign-ups are the absolute starting point for any email marketing program and should be treated with care.

This first step sets the tone of the relationship and is the first step to collecting important data. The traditional way of doing business is on the brink of change and Kate says email is a crucial way to stay ahead of that curve.

It’s a great channel to nurture, educate and build a relationship with customers. Businesses will be building entire personas out over the course of their email campaign so it’s important to get the first steps right. 

Why Pay Attention to Sign-Ups

A shocking number of websites don’t really pay much attention to their sign-up process.

Not having a proper process in place means those businesses are missing out on not only the chance to build relationships, but also on tons of acquisitions. The majority of people being driven to a web site through all the various marketing channels will bounce off.

Optimizing email is actually a great way to improve the likelihood that someone will stay on and even convert on a site. Kate recently conducted an in depth study on how businesses are handling their email processes.

14% of sites Kate looked at in the study required people to sign up for an account in order to receive email. Kate says that this is often the case and completely misses the opportunity to nurture someone through the process of consideration to purchase.

She says that businesses have to show potential customers how they stand out from the competition—email is a great opportunity to differentiate yourself. 

Thoughtful Paths to Sign-Up

Think of sign up forms on your website in terms of a tailored journey for different types of customers.

Kate encourages business owners to think about where people are entering their site—is it at the homepage? What about people who are entering through long tail keywords on product pages for instance—tailoring pop ups and messaging for these specific experiences is crucial.

The more relevance you can get in front of people, the more likely you are to get sign-ups. Very few businesses (12% in Kate’s report) have more than one way to sign up for email, but data shows that having multiple opportunities for acquiring sign ups in an incredible way to maximize your opportunity.

Pop-Up Rules

Similar to an aggressive salesperson, Pop-Ups that happen immediately are actually quite annoying. Instead, think about different ways for your customers to sign up and consider exclusions to limit frustrations.

Kate says that for focused email sign up efforts like dedicated pages and Pop-Ups, business owners should be seeing 30% or more people sign up for their emails. 

Should you Offer a Discount?

Kate says you do not have to offer a discount, though it can be helpful. Her report showed that 81.6% of people used future benefits of being on the email list as their hook. 

A smaller percentage of people used discounts and specific offers. The wording is important—detail the benefits of signing up for your email and try to understand what your users might want.

If you want to add an incentive can help your conversion, but make sure the incentive is really specific and related to your business. Service businesses often offer free downloads, but the most important thing is to know what your customers want.

Think also about how to increase first purchases through your offer. 

Complying with GDPR

In regards to GDPR, it’s important to ensure that consent is freely given and easy to withdraw. It’s also important to seek legal advice and read closely the wording around incentivizing marketing.

Providing an incentive seems to still be acceptable as long as a person can still use the incentive even if they decide to withdraw or unsubscribe. To be sure, consult a lawyer and consider carefully!

Insider Tips

If we’ve inspired someone to take their first step with Email Marketing – what do they need to know to give themselves the best chance of success?

Know your Data and know who your audience is. It will stand you in good stead for what data you need to collect, what content your audience wants and how to best deliver it.

Once you’ve started of course you’ve got to ‘keep optimising’! So what’s your favourite way to improve email marketing performance?

Test it! Everything needs to be tested down to the color of the input field. The caveat is that testing without rigor or strategy.

First, form a hypothesis that is really specific. What do you expect to achieve and why?

It’s impossible to improve our marketing unless we’re monitoring the performance – but the list of stuff we could monitor can be overwhelming. So what, for you is the number one email marketing KPI?

Generally—it depends on what end result you want to achieve. For instance—if you want people to buy products, look at your conversion rates.

If you just want to optimize email, look at your open to click rate. This tells you how engaged  people were and how good your content is. 

Crystal ball time – what’s coming up in the next 6-12 months that we should be getting ready for in email marketing?

Interactive email and how we further use AI to understand our audience, produce 1 to 1 customer journeys and perfect segmentation. 

Interview Links

Kate on Social media:

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