Retail marketers are approaching one of their busiest times of year -- the holiday shopping season -- and it's easy for them to get caught up in the stress of this planning period and lose their heads, much like the Headless Horseman in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
One of the most vital elements of successful email marketing is having comprehensive contact lists, and the most strategic way to build them is through investing in effective opt-in strategies. By doing so, marketers can ensure that email recipients actually desire their content, which in turn increases engagement and decreases list attrition.
However, cultivating opt-ins can be a daunting process, but just as Ichabod Crane fled from the horseman's grasp, so can email marketers watch out for certain pitfalls and dead ends to avoid. This Halloween season, keep these lessons from Ichabod Crane in mind in order to increase opt-ins and grow your contact lists ahead of Black Friday:
Beware the Single Opt-In
The last thing email marketers want on their contacts lists are eerie email addresses that may lead them astray. While many marketing professionals prefer sticking to the single opt-in for their own reasons, the double opt-in process will often result in higher quality recipients and lists.
Most importantly, double opt-ins confirm the validity of new subscribers by asking them to complete a second step in the opt-in process -- usually by clicking a confirmation link in an email that was automatically triggered during the first step. The malicious trend of subscription bombing is unfortunately on the rise, and, by making sure that new subscribers are well meaning individuals, the double opt-in promotes clean lists for senders.
Additionally, this process allows subscribers to correct email addresses that may have been entered inaccurately on the opt-in page or verify that messages from the brand aren't being sent to junk folders (or if they are, mark them as safe).
Don't Delay For Risk of Disengagement
Much like Ichabod was in a hurry to make it through the woods and home to safety, today's consumers are always in a rush. As they jump quickly from site to site and page to page, a lengthy email opt-in page will likely turn away potential new subscribers.
Keep your opt-in page brief and ask for only the most basic information that you need to add them to your contact list, i.e. just their email addresses. Additional information such as name, address, preferences, etc., will be automatically collected over time with their purchases and survey participation.
Consider Multiple Paths
Ichabod's story may have had a happier ending if he had multiple routes to choose from to flee from the Headless Horseman.
Alternative routes can benefit email recipients too, so once new subscribers begin receiving your messages, give them options to customize their experience with your brand. This can mean allowing them to opt-up, opt-down or even pick and choose what type of content they'd like to see from you.
This flexible approach will build a better brand connection with contacts while simultaneously increasing engagement and helping prevent opt-outs.
Don't Go It Alone
Perhaps if Mr. Crane had had company on his ride home, he may have made it out of that fateful night alive. Take a cue from his misstep of going solo and rely on your current customers to help increase your opt-in rates.
Incentivize these brand champions with special offers and ask them to spread your subscription page to their friends and family. Make it easy for them by working with email service providers that offer various methods and places to push people online to sign-up -- such as websites, social media properties and emails.
By taking these cues from Ichabod Crane, email marketers can steer clear of opt-in danger this season and in the months ahead.