Finally. Finally. The traffic for your eCommerce website is ticking up. You did so much work to earn that traffic. You deserve this success.
But as important as getting visitors to your eCommerce site is, a visit is only worth so much on its own. For your eCommerce business to make money, you also need those visitors to, you know, buy your products.
And lots of people aren’t gonna be ready to make a purchase the very first time they come to your website.
Think about it: for a first time visitor, you’re still mostly an unknown. According to research from Google, consumers need to encounter a brand an average of 2.8 times before they’re ready to click that “Buy” button—and more for higher-cost items.
So, how do you make all that hard-earned traffic pay off? Give those visitors an easy way to keep hearing from you with eCommerce email marketing.
How to Grow Your eCommerce Email List
When a visitor signs up for your email list, they’re giving you permission to pop up in their inbox regularly. That keeps you on their mind, and gives you more opportunities to win them over. But for email marketing to get you anywhere, people have to take that step of signing up.
Even though it may be tempting to consider growing your list the easy way—by purchasing an email list—that’s the best way to end up in the spam folder, not to mention on the wrong side of the law.
No, you want to stick to legitimate, opt-in focused methods. They’re slower, but they mean that everyone who gets your emails actually wants them. And those are the people most likely to head back to your website and make a purchase—which is the whole point. And have no fear, we have some strong suggestions for how to build your list the legit way.
1. Offer a discount to sign up.
This is a tried and true tactic for eCommerce businesses, and it’s probably worked on you before. Give people a discount on their first order in exchange for signing up. It’s a straightforward incentive that anyone considering a purchase will likely go for.
You can do this via a pop-up on your site (but make sure you use pop-ups responsibly so you don’t piss your visitors off), or add a box to the side of the page that pairs a sign-up form with your offer.
When visitors sign up, you can automate sending them a discount code. The discount increases the chances they’ll come back and make a purchase, and the code allows you to easily track how many purchases come as a result of your offer.
Here’s an example from The Company Store:
2. Add a subscribe call-to-action on your homepage.
This is an easy step you can take that ensures any visitor that comes to your website can see right away how to stay in touch. While this step seems pretty basic, you’d be surprised how many eCommerce websites skip putting an easy sign-up option on the homepage.
Many people automatically X out of any pop-up they see without even checking to see what it says. This way you’re still giving interested visitors a means to sign up on their own time when they’re ready.
3. Promote your email list across your social feeds.
Anyone following you on social media has already signaled an interest in your brand, products, and content. That makes them a prime audience for your email list.
So schedule the occasional social post urging your followers to sign up. Use the character count you have to make your pitch for what they’ll get out of signing up—give them a taste of the kind of content they’ll see, or the exclusive deals and early announcements they’ll be privy to.
4. Promote your email list with Facebook ads.
Facebook has over 2.6 billion active users, around 1.7 billion of which use the site every day. That puts the odds high that your target audience is both on the platform, and scrolling through it on a regular basis. You may already be using Facebook ads to promote your products, but they can also be a smart tactic for growing your email list as well.
When setting up an ad campaign, Facebook provides the option to select Lead Generation as a goal. Then you use the ads to highlight the benefits of signing up for your email list, select “Sign up” as your main call to action, and even include the fields you want people to fill in right there in Facebook.
But do be careful in how many fields you require. Usually the best bet is to keep it short and just ask for the email address, and maybe the person’s name, so they don’t decide signing up looks like too much work.
5. Put amazing content behind a form.
A big part of successful online marketing involves creating useful content for your audience that you make available to anyone that lands on your website. But in addition to the stuff you put out there for anyone to find, a smart strategy for building your email list is creating especially awesome content that you put behind a form on your website.
This is called gated content, because the form works to make it just a little harder to access. But as long as the information you’re providing is valuable enough, many visitors will be happy to hand over their email address to access it.
Make sure you’re providing something that’s a step above the free content you publish in terms of quality or usefulness. And keep the form to access the content short—a name and email is easy to provide, but if they have to fill in ten required fields that cover job title, annual income, their best friend’s name, and their favorite color, that’s taking it too far.
6. Offer a personalized quiz.
People like taking quizzes. Buzzfeed built a media empire in part on the human desire to be slotted into fun categories after answering a series of questions. eCommerce brands can get in on that by providing relevant quizzes to visitors, then sending the results over email to anyone that takes them.
Winc asks website visitors to take a quiz about their taste preferences in order to get personalized wine recommendations. Not only do they end up with the visitor’s email address at the end of the quiz, but being able to provide personalized product recommendations makes the visitor more likely to purchase.
7. Host a webinar.
What unique expertise do you (or your employees) have that you can provide to visitors over a live webinar? If you sell gardening supplies, maybe you can teach prospects about how to organize their gardens. Or an online spice store could provide cooking tutorials to potential customers.
If you can provide useful tutorials or presentations during a live video event, many visitors (and potential customers) will gladly sign up to attend, providing their email address in the process. Webinars can therefore be a good way to grow your email list and get to interact with your target audience at the same time.
A Strong Email List Can Build Loyalty and Increase Conversions
Building an email list can be a slow and difficult process. That’s because finding the right prospects—the ones that genuinely want to hear from you and value the idea of having an ongoing relationship with your brand—takes time.
But your email subscribers have the potential to be some of your most loyal and valuable customers. The work you put into growing an email list of committed prospects will pay dividends over time.
Sheridan Scott is the Director of Customer Lifecycle Management for HostGator, where she and her team develop and maintain communications and marketing strategies for the HostGator customer base. Spanning a career of over 15 years in publishing, communications, and marketing, she works and lives by the motto “Content is King,” and wields her red pen in the name of grammatical correctness. Sheridan’s hobbies include arguing the importance of the Oxford comma to anyone who will listen, attending local poetry slams, and proofreading billboards while riding in cars.