At Vitals, we have an amazing SEO team that deliver almost 10M unique visitors a month. The interesting thing about those 10M unique people is each has a different ailment, condition, disease or need to see a doctor. In some cases the information may not even be for themselves. The challenging part of the 10M is retention. Think about it. When you are sick, you need a doctor. When you are healthy…Vitals who?

I can’t wait to write about retention of users and maximizing your exposure to them. Providing them enough brand awareness to remember us the next time they get a sniffle or worse turn 40 years old.

This article is about the acquisition of an email address. The root of the word acquisition, acquire, being the verb meaning to buy or obtain an object or asset for oneself.

Acquisition, a noun, is described as an asset or object bought or obtained, typically by a library or museum.

And since we all know that we don’t buy email addresses. That would be wrong. We are faced with the challenge to use honorable and trustworthy techniques.

It is important to understand the acquisition because I am going to give it another name. THE GOAL.

The goal of an email marketer is to acquire email addresses. In the definition above email addresses are the asset. We are the library in the definition. We stores the emails in our favorite ESP like Exact Target or Pardot or on some database somewhere. Maybe we use CRM software like Salesforce.

But you want to know how. How do we obtain these most valuable assets. Keep reading.

Users are not ready to give out their email addresses without feeling like they will get true value. They are already expecting to receive Spam. They have a preconceived notion that some ‘scammer spammer’ is on the other side of that input field just wanting to send them nonsense they didn’t sign up for. Let’s make the Opt-In journey simple for them and you.

Rule #1: Offer Value and Keep It Simple
You have to gain trust and show value the instant a person lays eyes on your website. That means there is a level of professionalism and/or brand awareness that must already exist. Let’s assume your site is professionally designed and there is some, even small amounts of brand awareness.

My suggestion, from experience, is to present a SIMPLE email signup form, immediately upon entering the site. It can be in the form of a pop up, slide out, lightbox, on page, or what ever technology you have.  Within the form, the value proposition has got to be undeniably value centric. In other word the value has to be relevant. Make it clear they are opting in to receive your messaging and make the call to action obvious. We just want their email address. If we can acquire that we have achieved the GOAL.

Remember: The Value is not the offer on the screen, the value is what they are receiving in exchange for their submission. So make it worth their commitment.

If 1st point of entry is not an option as an opt-in source, then here are some alternatives:

  • Home page footer
  • Registration
  • Facebook & contests
  • Product microsites
  • Co-registration
  • Landing Pages

Rule #2: Confirm
Besides the opt-in process, you will probably want a confirm opt-in process. What does that mean? Well, it is in your best interest to confirm that there is someone on the other side of that email address. That someone should be an actual live body.

Many people will type false addresses into a form hoping to gain access to the content that is hidden behind a form. Add a 1 click activation or confirmation email that is automatically trigger when a person signs up. If they confirm they are real users. GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL. (In my best soccer announcer voice online)

Why is this important? Quick answer and I will move on. Bad addresses result in increased bounce rates. Sender reputation management dictates that you should keep your bounces to a minimum to keep your reputation score high and it is just good practice to have a clean mailing lists.

Rule #3: Welcome and Learn More About Them
Once the user has clicked the confirmation activation link, you should Welcome that user to the family. O yeah baby warm and cuddly messaging.

It is the perfect time to get as much information out of them without being too aggressive. Send that welcome message with a “We’d like to get to know you better” Call to Action. What does that mean? Well, If you sign up was for a user account then you should be asking them to complete the profile within the user account.

But there is a couple other ways to get to know someone. ASK QUESTIONS? That’s right, ask them to take a quiz or survey.  Gear this survey to your needs. What do you want to know about that person in just a couple question that will help you provide them the best value you have to offer.

At Vitals, for example, we may ask for a birth date. Why? Well at 40 years old you begin getting exams, test, procedure and seeing new doctors or specialist that you have never seen or done before. We will want to engage with you and send reminders to go for that Mammogram or Prostate exam. This will also remind the users that we are still here for them when they haven’t been to our site in a while. Brand Awareness Opportunity.

Point is, do you see the value in asking for just 1 attribute about a person? Now imagine if you could get many attributes from a simple quiz or survey the moment you “digitally” meet the people you will be emailing on a regular basis. Take the time to get to know them before you brand becomes an afterthought and you lose them to shoes and movie tickets. (Unless shoes and movie tickets are your market, then stop stealing our audiences with your cool products and fancy trailer video emails.)

What did we learn today?

  • Keep the signup process short
  • Make your signup calls-to-actions prominent and clear
  • Make it clear that people are opting in
  • Make them a valuable offer they can’t refuse
  • Set up a confirmation process
  • Set up a welcome process
  • Set up a way to collect more attributes from the onset