Email marketing is all about building and maintaining strong relationships. The email relationship starts when someone opts-in to receive information from your company or organization. Start simple and build the relationship from there. In the beginning, most people don’t want to give out much personal information. Asking for to much right away decreases your chance of getting that initial sign-up. Even just asking for the email address is a great start.
What happens after you get their email address is where the relationship starts to build, and first impressions are everything to building a good and trusting relationship. It is important that these next steps are done right and not overlooked. There are three key parts to this process that help create a great opt-in experience. First is the opt-in form itself. Second is the subscription confirmation page and the third is the subscription confirmation and welcome messages.
Start by creating a “quick subscribe” opt-in form. A true “quick subscribe” opt-in includes only a text box for email address. This allows you to capture only the most valuable piece of information and allows the subscriber to sign-up in seconds. Make sure to place the opt-in form on your homepage and also include a “subscribe” link on every page of your site. This can link to a slightly more detailed opt-in from that includes other non-mandatory fields such as name, city, state, zip, etc. This main “subscribe” page is also a good place to expand upon your email program – identify what information will be delivered and how often. This is also a good place to include an archive of past mailings so the potential subscriber can see an example of your campaigns. Once the prospect hits the “submit” button, they’re headed toward your subscription confirmation page.
Now that you have the essential piece of starting your email relationship, you can now start to ask for more information. This can be done on the subscription confirmation page or within the welcome message. Either way, the information you ask for here is the starting point to segmenting your campaigns. Whether it’s by state, gender, products or interests, make sure you ask for what pertains to your campaigns and make nothing required. Make sure your subscribers can easily update their profile, as their interests may change over time.
Like the confirmation page, the welcome message can and should do many things. This is where you start to give your subscribers what they asked to receive. If you are promising “special offers,” why not include one in the very first message that you send? This is a sure way to start the relationship off on the right foot. Also, it’s a good idea to again ask your new subscriber to add the “reply-to email” to their address book to ensure delivery to their inbox.
These are very important aspect of an effective opt-in experience. Once these steps are setup in the beginning, it’s all automated from there. Be sure to moderate your opt-ins on a monthly basis to gauge its effectiveness and to look for ways to constantly improve, add value and enhance the user experience.