Connect with Subscribers: Webinar Q&A

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Summer is all about sun, sandals…and subscribers! At least that’s true at Return Path, where we’re hosting a 4-part webinar series for our customers on the importance of the subscriber experience across key stages of the subscriber lifecycle.

  1. Make It to the Inbox – Do Subscribers Have an Opportunity to Engage With Your Brand? (June 14)
  2. Connect with SubscribersDo Subscribers Want to Engage With Your Brand? (June 21st)
  3. Stay RelevantDo Subscribers Want to Continue Engaging With Your Brand? (June 28th)
  4. Build Brand LoyaltyAre Subscribers Loyal to Your Brand (July 12)

We recently wrapped up our second session: Connect with Subscribers: Do they Want to Engage with Your Brand?  During the presentation, we discussed the importance of the subscriber experience during the early stages of the subscriber lifecycle, from initial acquisition through the welcome and on-boarding phase.

In this follow-up blog, we’re answering some of the great questions we received from our webinar attendees.

Q: Do you recommend offering subscribers a specific incentive to opt-in, such as a coupon, or does that just cause people to sign up to receive the initial offer?

A: Offering an incentive can be a great way to increase your acquisition rate, but there are some things to keep in mind, like timing. If someone is visiting your site to shop and signs up to receive your subscription offer, it is critical to trigger the welcome offer immediately while those new subscribers are on your site and ready to purchase.

You also want to make sure you’re providing ongoing subscription value beyond that initial incentive so that subscribers remain engaged. Messages following the Welcome email should continue providing exclusive email offers and discounts; sneak previews; sale alerts, and other value-added benefits.

Consider testing the impact of different opt-in incentives, but make sure you measure not just acquisition rate, but also conversion, engagement, and unsubscribe rates during the first 60/90/120 days after the subscriber joins the program to understand the downstream effect.

Q: Do I need to send a welcome email for new subscribers who sign-up during checkout, since they’ll already receive an order confirmation email?

Yes.  It’s a good idea to send a welcome message to all new subscribers, regardless of their acquisition path. The welcome email provides you with an opportunity to confirm opt-in and set expectations about the types of messages subscribers will continue receiving.

Many subscribers opt-in with secondary intent, that is, they sign up through another process such as order check out or loyalty sign-up. So it’s especially beneficial to carefully introduce this more risky group to your email program to help reduce future complaints and ignored messages.

Q: Is there a way to get out of the Gmail promotions folder?  

A: Keep in mind, the promotions folder isn’t a bad place, it where your subscribers expect to see you. If you try to evade it, you can increase the likelihood of subscriber complaints and messages that are deleted without reading. Both of these can lead to future messages being delivered to the spam folder – the one folder you absolutely don’t want to land in!  Gmail’s filtering algorithms are smart and will know if you’re trying to trick the system.

Q: Is there a way to determine if you are under-mailing your subscribers? 

A: The best way to determine ideal mailing frequency is to segment your file into buckets and then closely monitor the metrics across each segment by mailing frequency.

Q: I don’t have the ability to create a detailed preference center.  What other ways can I ensure I am properly targeting my customers? 

A: Start by determining what subscriber data you have available. Often it’s not that marketers don’t have information available for targeting, but that they have so much data that they’re not sure how to use it for targeting.

Examples of data you may already capture include browse history (categories or items viewed) and purchase history (i.e. what did they buy, when did they buy, what goes well with what they bought).  Subscriber behavior may speak volumes more about subscriber preferences than fields on a preference form may reveal.

Be sure to check our blog for more webinar recaps in the coming weeks! And if you are a Return Path customer who missed the chance to register for these webinars, please reach out to your Return Path Account Manager, who will be happy to provide you with a link to the recordings.