Sneaking Duck’s Secrets to Growing Email Marketing Subscribers

By Mark Capps | 09 Mar 2012

Recognising the value of email marketing, Mark Capps shares Sneaking Duck’s successes and failures on the way to building the retailer’s subscriber database.

Now that Sneaking Duck is up and running, a key priority is to grow our mailing list. We have found that many people love our products, but aren’t necessarily ready to buy right away. However, these potential customers are often very happy to opt in for the occasional, well-targeted email with product announcements and offers.

We’ve tried a few tactics to grow our mailing list. Some have worked well, some haven’t. What’s great is that it’s incredibly easy to measure your success – you can literally watch the email addresses arriving!

Email marketing is a cost-effective way of letting people know what’s new – our mails often get open rates of over 40%, and click rates vary from 18 to nearly 50%. Important stuff!

What Didn’t Work

Sign-Up Box on Our Homepage

We thought our sign up box was wonderful and appealing. We highlighted it, let people know what they could hear about, told them ‘they’d be the first to know’.

  • Result: Fail! It wasn’t so popular. We moved it to the top right of the page, but still only received moderate sign ups. Though what was interesting was that when we suggested people joined whilst talking on IM or the phone, they nearly always did – this persuaded me there was untapped demand for being on our list.
  • Self Diagnosis: With no clear reason to sign up, people were literally blind to the existence of the option. Interesting to learn that people, when prompted, were keen to share details.

Posting to Facebook

A couple of times I’ve posted messages reminding people that we have a mailing list, and the benefits of being on it.

  • Result: Fail! We had literally a handful of fans subscribe, despite a Facebook fan base in the thousands.
  • Self Diagnosis: Low virality post, so not widely seen and no reason to join. Facebook is about engagement, not trying to bend people to your will.

By this point, I realised this was something we needed to prioritise – people were happy to join . . . but that we hadn’t found the right way to do it.

What Did Work

Pop-up Mail List Subscriber Box

Our analytics told us that the most engaging part of our site is our virtual mirror page, where you can try our glasses online. A lot of our visitors go there, and it gives them value. Given this, I thought we should test the option of subscribing to our newsletter, while customer’s were clicking through to this page. We were all nervous about forcing people, so we put in a ‘speedbump’ where users see an easy to dismiss option to subscribe.

  • Result: Win! Around 6% of visitors to our site subscribe to our newsletter using the pop-up and there’s no discernible decrease in time spent on-site, with only a small increase in exits from this page.
  • Self Diagnosis: Good idea! We’re adding hundreds of email addresses to our subscriber database, and what’s great is that the more traffic we get the more subscribers we get!

Facebook Competition

We have a competition running on Facebook where you can win 10 frames. To enter, you need to join our Facebook community, tell us why you should win and share you email address. You also have the option – not the obligation – to opt-in to our mailing list.

  • Result: Win! Over 80% of people opt-in to the mailing list. It’s too soon to see if they are as engaged as the rest of our community, but expectations are high.
  • Self Diagnosis: We have a prize and brand combination that’s big enough to engage people, and persuade them that it’s worth sharing their email address to hear more.

So what’s next? We have a few ideas, but I’m very keen to learn from you what has and has not worked for growing a mail list of engaged potential customers.

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