For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Building a more engaged email list




In order to reap all the incredible benefits email marketing has to offer, you have to begin with a strong foundation: your email list. Your marketing efforts will be fruitless without a quality, engaged list of subscribers, but it can be difficult to both keep your list growing and ensure it’s full of the right people.

During this live Q&A with our friends at Privy, you’ll:

  • • Learn how to curate the right email list for your brand and goals.

  • • Discover the tools you can use to grow your list quickly and easily.

  • • Get tips for nurturing your subscribers once they get in the door.

Elizabeth: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for joining us here today. I’m called Elizabeth Duffy. I’m the Email Specialist Team Lead here at Emma, and I’m joined today by Josh Mendelsohn, who’s the VP of Marketing at Privy. So today we’re going to be talking all about building a more engaged email list. And with that, I’ll go ahead and pass it off to Josh to kick us off.

Josh: Great. Thanks, Elizabeth. Really excited to be here today to talk a little bit about some of the things that people can do to build a more engaged email list from the outset. So, when I think about the best way to grow an email list, there’s sort of four things that we know about our website visitors. The first is that not everyone who visits our website are looking for the exact same thing, right? We’re all individuals.

We all have different needs, different goals when we’re visiting a site. The second is that, as I said, each one of those visitors brings their own unique set of interest to that experience. So, as marketers, we know that we should be creating more targeted, relevant experiences, right? We’ve been trained that as marketers. We know that to be true yet we accept these industry standard conversion rates of 2% to 3 % on our websites. But 2% is terrible, right? Imagine in real life, if you were working in a retail store and 100 people came into your store, and only two of them even gave you their email address?

Or you’re working at a trade show booth, and 100 people come up to your booth, and only two of them give you their contact information? You kind of feel sad and a little bit like a failure, but we accept that online. And so the most common response to this problem is a pretty straightforward one. People just say, “I’m gonna keep the math the way it is. I’m gonna keep my conversion rate… I’m gonna spend more money to drive people to my site.”

This is the easiest thing to do. You just kind of spend, you know, add to your ad words budget or add to your Facebook advertising budget, but what it doesn’t do is account for actual customer preferences at all. So the most popular way of dealing with this is really just to say, “I don’t know, sounds good. 2% to 3% will do. We’re fine. We’re in the ballpark.” The reality is that those answers don’t actually solve the problem in any way, shape, or form.

And as marketers, what happens is usually we fall into one of three buckets. The first bucket is this frozen group, right? People who are so overwhelmed by the prospect of doing more with their website to drive conversion that they just don’t do anything. The second is the one size fits all-ers. And I don’t think that’s proper English. My English professors would not appreciate that. But basically, what we’re saying there is, “I’m going to throw up a simple welcome message that has a signup form and call it a day. I can’t think about how I would take that further without being totally overwhelmed.”

The third group is the over-optimized, and this is really the other extreme. This is where marketers are looking at their business as a math equation. Thinking about, “Well, if I can crank this percentage by this much and that percentage by that much,” and they’re never actually thinking about the customer.
So the big question is, why don’t we try harder? And the answer is, we’ve been taught that it’s too hard or too expensive, right?

If you read a lot of marketing blogs, or you’re reading a lot of marketing literature or investigating lots of marketing software, everyone’s telling you that every piece of every funnel for every visitor needs to be personalized and optimized. As I said, we’ve been taught that 2% is okay, and 3% is great. And we believe that success requires tools, time, budget, and expertise that for most of us just isn’t readily available.

And you see this at the smallest retailers. You see this at the smallest businesses, and you see it all the way up to Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000s, right? That’s why so many marketers, even at the biggest companies, are falling back on a one size fits all approach. But there’s kind of a middle ground, which is where the sweet spot of marketing really is. So you can focus on these low-effort, high-impact campaigns designed specifically to grow a high-quality email list.

So the first step in doing this is identifying your top sources. So here on the screen, you can see these are the top sources for the site. We have a viral footer that drives people to our site from our emails and from some of our tools. Then direct traffic, Google Organic, and paid Google ads. Those are our top sources for traffic to our website. So you can take those top few sources instead of optimizing for everything, and say, “These are the big swings I’m gonna to take,” and start building campaigns for your top sources.

So what does that look like? So what you can do is you can target these welcome messages. Instead of creating a ton of unique landing pages for each ad set that you’re running, you can take these top sources and tie back the message to what they might’ve seen. So for example, here you’re seeing a pop up that is greeting people who are coming from Facebook or coming from Google Ad Words. They were advertised a certain offer, and then they’re getting that right when they hit your site.

But this is something you can build in just a couple minutes instead of trying to optimize a specific landing page for that. If you’re not in e-commerce, think about it in terms of a special welcome from an ebook or maybe an offer for a free consultation. Whatever offer it is that you’re putting into market, you want to tie that to the experience that someone’s gonna have when they reach your site. So Elizabeth will talk a little bit more about driving people back to your site with email.

But most importantly, you just want to remember to deliver on that offer. Whether it’s an ebook or that discount, you want to deliver on that offer right away with an autoresponder. You want to send reminder emails about that, and then you may even want to feed these people into retargeting ads. These are all pretty simple things to do but can make all of the difference in the world. And then you want to use your regular newsletters and announcements to drive people back to the site, and there you can greet them with this “Oh, Welcome Back” display that knows how many times they’ve been to your site, and where they’re coming from so you can give the most relevant message.

And then when you think about the bottom of the funnel, you know, if you’re selling online, it looks a little bit like automated sort of cart savers, right? So if you look at the displays that are on the screen, these are pop-ups that appear when someone has a certain amount of money in their cart or and they attempt to leave your site. So you’re giving them a special offer that’s targeted based on the page that they’re on, maybe a cart or a checkout page, and how much value is in their cart.

That way before they go away, you’re making sure to at least capture their information where you can email them later, but hopefully, push them to make a sale today. If you’re not selling online like this, you can use forums like this for a contact sales on a specific page or, you know, a download that ties specifically to a blog post. Anything that’s timely and relevant to capture people before they go away, and you making it easier to bring them back to your site.

So a couple more examples of that where you can use this type of targeting and simple campaign to engage people with a super relevant message. So for example, you can greet everyone who’s coming from a source like Instagram or Pinterest with a specific offer. The one on the bottom is one of my favorites. They’re from a company called 80s Tea. And that’s when people go to leave the site, they’re offering them a 10% off using the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger line.

Or you can do things like a free gift with purchase basically again, giving people a reason to give you their contact information before they go away. And again, these are things that you can do in just a few minutes using a tool like Privy to target your campaigns and create something compelling for your audience no matter what kind of business you’re in. And with that, I’ll hand it back to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Thanks so much, Josh. So Josh religious gave us some really awesome tips and tactics for getting those folks to sign up for your email list. So that really is that first step towards building a healthy list. Once you have those folks signed up, that’s essentially when you are starting your relationship with these subscribers. So just like with any relationship, once you’ve started that relationship, it’s super important to acknowledge it, greet them, and then nurture that relationship to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

So the very first thing that we want to talk about, once you’ve gotten someone to give you their email address, that is when you have to start really focusing on your strategy. The very first step of that is going to be setting up some kind of an automated welcome email. So welcome emails, I cannot stress enough how important they are. These stats should tell you right off the bat. These are emails that are non-negotiable. So many brands are doing this, and so many subscribers and customers are now expecting a welcome email.

You really don’t want to let your subscribers down right off the bat, so it’s super important to get that welcome email setup. And we’re gonna talk today about a few strategies to make sure that it’s really effective automated email. But before we do that, I want you guys to really read some of these stats. These welcome emails are going to be the highest performing emails potentially that you ever send.

This is really your chance to make a great first impression, to set the right tone in the inbox, and to set yourself up for success. This is also a really great chance to increase your longterm brand engagement. We all know that it’s much easier to build a relationship and sell to customers that are already on our list. Way Easier to do that than it is to go out and find new customers and new subscribers.

So this welcome email is so, so important. It’s so crucial. It gets set up right from the beginning. And we’re gonna talk about a couple of ways to make sure that it’s really effective, and then what to do after you’ve greeted them. So the very few essentials that I’d like to start with, number one, is making it timely. As soon as someone signs up, they should be getting a welcome email. Now, for some businesses like B2B companies or businesses that have a much longer sales cycle or conversation, you might not be able to necessarily set up a sign-up form and just have people get it right away.

Totally understand that. So if you have a business that’s a little bit unique in that way, it just needs to be timely according to your business and your bandwidth. So ideally, that would be right away. If not right away, then whatever is doable. But the key here is that you want it to be relevant. You want to say, “Hello” as soon as you can after you’ve initiated that relationship. So getting that welcome email or emails in place from the beginning is really important. Just make sure that it’s timely when your subscribers are at the height of their engagement with your brand.

This is when their interest is piqued. They’ve taken the time to look at your brand, your website. They’ve even given you their email address, so it’s time to make sure to strike when the iron is hot and send that email right away. We’re gonna skip through a couple of these, and we’ll come back. I want to just talk next about telling your brand story. Your welcome email is not only a chance to say hello and acknowledge that you have signed up or started that relationship, but this is also your chance to really build brand advocates.

This is your chance to set a really great tone. Let your subscribers know exactly what they’re gonna expect in the inbox, and really make sure that they get to know your brand. So I love these two examples here from a couple of customers that we work with. The first one is a Tequila brand. Now, I love this example because they’re not necessarily offering a discount or anything like that. What they’re doing is just really giving the subscribers a feel for their brand. They’ve got a great engaging photo at the top. They tell people exactly what to expect.

“We’re gonna send you drink recipes. We’re going to send you all the typical stuff, but we’re also going to send you cool Tequila facts, stories, and drinking games.” This is the kind of information, whatever that is relevant for your brand, anything that you’re going to be doing besides just the same old welcome email or newsletter, go ahead and tell people that.

Get them excited about what they can expect to see in the inbox and give them a reason to keep getting your emails and opening your emails. I’ve seen so many brands start to move towards this and even if it’s, “Hey, we’re gonna send you monthly newsletters and then occasionally some tips and tricks or some interesting blog content.” Whatever it is that you have to offer, be sure to let your subscribers know that. That’s going to keep them engaged and keep them opening.

And you can also see here at the bottom, they take a chance to just tell a little bit of their brand story. Every single brand has a story to tell. Whether that’s a story about how your name was created, or how your founder started the company. Whatever information you have to share, remember this is a relationship. You wanna do everything you can to start that relationship off on a really great foot, and then keep them coming back.

I also love this example from They do a really good job of welcoming and introducing the brand. “Hey, thanks for signing up. You’re on the newsletter list.” They tell you exactly what you’re going to see in the inbox. You’re going to see updates from Lauren Conrad herself. You’re going to see behind the scene shots. You’re even gonna see shopping list discounts and so much more. This right here sets them up for success.

So when someone sees a newsletter, great, that’s what they signed up for. When they see behind the scenes information. Awesome. I knew I was expecting that. Then things like shopping lists and discount codes. Those are those fun things that people will keep coming back for because they were told those are gonna happen. Then they take a chance to say, “Hey, here’s some of the blog posts that people love to read.”

This right here is your chance to direct people back to your website, get them engaging with your most important or most popular content, and really start that cyclical relationship of sending an email, they open it, they see something exciting, content they want to interact with, and so they keep coming back for more. Hopefully, then they’ll continue to go back to the website, and it’s a really great way to just set that right tone and make sure that you’re really, really starting that relationship off in a way that people are pleased with.

I also love that both of these emails do a great job of really telling the brand story and really creating that seamless experience from their website to the inbox. You’ll notice they have their logo, colors, and branding that really match what experience people are having on the website. Super important to keep that experience consistent so that it seems like a really natural transition when they sign up on the signup form, then they get the email, then they go back to the website. We want all of that to work well together.

You’ll also see that the welcome email is a really great chance to make it about the subscriber. Take this time to tell them what’s in it for them. Total Training. I love this example because they do a really good job of personalizing this. Rather than saying, “Hey, we’re total training, and we want you to buy our classes.” They say, “Hey, we’re doing this to make you have an effective workout and to make you happy.” Anything that you can do to let people know what’s in it for them and make your content subscriber focused is going to be a huge, huge, huge win.

You can see they personalize using first name. They have a nice welcome, and then they have steps here that show you exactly how to be really successful in your first few interactions. This is a really fabulous example too of working in some nice social media icons and letting them know exactly what they’re gonna get in the inbox. “Hey, you’re gonna be getting some tips. You’re going to know how to build your body, and we’re also going to be telling you exactly how to be successful when you attend a class.” This is such a great way to, again set the right tone and really just make your brand memorable, so people know exactly what they’re gonna get.

It’s also important too to follow through with these promised content pieces. As Josh mentioned earlier, if you’re telling someone, by signing up for my email program, you’re going to get a discount, this is the time to follow through with that content. If you tell people they can expect a coupon, make sure to send that right away. People, as I mentioned earlier, they’re primed, and they’re ready to get a welcome email and to interact with that welcome email, so it’s really important that you deliver on those promises. This is also, can’t stress this enough, one of the best performing emails you’re ever going to send so it’s so, so, so important to make sure that your brand is very easily recognizable.

You have a from name that people will recognize. You have some content that is worth opening and reading, and then you really do take advantage of this. If you offered something during the signup process, it doesn’t have to be a coupon. If you’re a retail brand, that could be information about your products or your employees. If you’re a restaurant, it could be behind the scenes recipes or information about your chef. It doesn’t have to be a coupon, just whatever it is that you promised on the front end, make sure that you’re delivering.

I also love this opportunity to really get people engaged in your brand and your business. So we’ve welcomed them, in this example, “Hey, thanks for signing up. We’re happy you’re here.” Here’s a little bit of the story from our founders, and here’s a nice welcome code. You can click on Get Started, and it takes you right back to their website where it tells you all the ways to get involved. You’ll also see here at the bottom, “Hey, we’ve got an app.” This is another way that you can get involved.

If you have social media, if you have an app, if you have a blog that you’re trying to direct traffic to or even a store, this is the perfect opportunity to greet people, tell them you’re happy they’re here, tell them what to expect, and then make it really easy for them to take the action that you want them to take. Get started in a nice call-to-action button here, or you can download the app if you’re not quite ready to jump in. So really, really important. You’ll see throughout this, all of these emails do a really good job of saying, “Hello,” but also taking it a step further and giving them a way to engage and interact.

The welcome email is also a really awesome time to collect more information. I’m sure you all have read and heard in blog after blog,  industry report after industry report. You don’t want to have too many fields on your signup form, and a really great thing that you can do is have those really important signup pieces of information, things like first name or email, the things that you need for your email marketing. But then take this welcome email as an opportunity to collect additional information.

This is a really fabulous example from our friends at Koloa Landing. They’re a resort in Hawaii, and they say, “Hello,” “Aloha” in fact, and then they take this opportunity to say, “Hey, introduce yourself. Give us a little bit more information,” and then they use that information to start tailoring and customizing their inbox experience by sending them segmented emails, sending them first name personalization. So this welcome email really is more than just a chance to say, “Hello and welcome.” It’s a chance for you to start that relationship and start making it work for you.

I always, always, always see people take that awesome first step of launching their welcome email, which is absolutely the first step you need to take, but then I see too many people fall victim to setting it and forgetting it. I’ve got this image of the crock pot on here because I can’t encourage you guys enough to not just launch your welcome email and then never think about it again. Your welcome email is one of those emails that almost everyone who interacts with your brand is going to see.

It’s so, so, so crucial that you constantly look at it, make sure that it’s optimized. Make sure that your branding is consistent. Make sure that your wording is great. Make sure that the links are working. This is such an important email. Super important to just not launch it and never look at it again. And so I always use this metaphor because, although you do have the beauty of automation in most email marketing tools, you definitely wanna make sure that you’re constantly finding ways to assess it. See if there’s room for optimization, and make sure that it really is representative of your brand.

So once you have the subscribers on your list, you’ve given them a great welcome and you’ve really started that relationship, now it’s time to nurture your subscribers and really make sure that they stay engaged, they stay happy, and they stay connected with your brand. The easiest, easiest, and most important way to do this is to segment your audience. The days of mass blasting your entire email list are over. There’s very few times that I see a business or a brand that every subscriber on their list is exactly the same.

And even subtle tweaks in your email marketing efforts can make a huge, huge, huge difference. A lot of people get nervous when they hear segmentation. They think it’s going to be a ton of extra work. It’s gonna require lots of different tools, and lots of different emails, and tons of extra time, but it’s actually fairly simple to make some really small adjustments. And I’ve got a couple of great examples that I want to show you guys here.

First and foremost, I really just can’t stress enough how crucial it is to segment your audience. We know that relevant emails can drive revenue up to 18 times higher than mass blast emails. We also know that relevant and targeted emails using segmentation just perform much better. People are smart. Subscribers are smart. They have been receiving segmented emails in their inboxes, so when they see a message that’s irrelevant to them, they’re gonna notice. Really important for you and for them that you do take the time to see if there are ways that you could make some of these subtle tweaks that we’re gonna talk about here.

I love this example from our friends at the Escape Game. They realized that in their audience, one thing that they knew about their subscribers was the location. They knew which location of the Escape Game their subscribers were visiting. And so what they decided to do is to make the very subtle tweak here to the top image so that the logo, the phone number, and the image was relevant to the city that they were in. You can see pretty much the rest of the email is totally the same.

All they did was make the first email, customize it to Orlando, make two different copies of that email, and then swap out the top information. This is the simplest way to think about segmentation. Is there anything about your audience that you know differentiates them from someone else? For a lot of customers… Excuse me, a lot of brands, that could be customers versus noncustomers. For some brands, that could be donors versus non-donors.

For universities, that could be alumni versus donors versus faculty or staff. You probably know a good amount about your subscribers more than you think, and we’re gonna talk about a few ways that even if you don’t have that information, you can actually get it. But I love this example. It shows that the email itself doesn’t actually have to be super different, it’s just the idea of finding ways to make subtle tweaks.

This is another great example from ecobee. This example here that just says Get More. These are for people who weren’t customers yet. We know from our information that some of the people on their list already were members. In that case, we wanted to show them how much they saved. In this example, it looks like we’re actually missing some information. We want to make sure we have that. So you can see that this email again is exactly the same, just that small piece in the middle is the piece that’s different.

And by using segmentation, we can segment folks that are already members and have savings, folks that haven’t signed up yet, and then folks that were just missing that information. Then we’re able to send three really, really relevant emails based on what information we have. Also, love the first name touch at the top. That’s always a plus if you do have first name information.

This is one of my favorite, favorite all-time examples from my friends at Canyon Ranch. They are really, really fabulous people that are open to all the suggestions that I give them. And this was one that they have done a membership campaign every year since they’ve been around. They are essentially a resort where people go and visit and they realized that membership actually meant a few different things to a few different types of people.

In this case, you can see that the email is essentially the same. The differences here are the text over the graphic, and then the button wording. In this first example, these are people who had shown an interest in a healthy living membership but hadn’t ever committed. So in their case, this graphic says, “Commit to healthy living, it’s an incredible value.” And the call-to-action button says, “I’m ready to commit.”

In the second example, these are people that have been a member before, but they’re just not a member now. In this case, it’s basically, “Hey, I’m ready to do this. I don’t need to necessarily hear that it’s an incredible value. I actually know that because I’ve done it before,” but they are tailoring this to say, “Hey, I’m ready to get back in it.” Finally, my favorite change here is the renewal for people that are already members.

“Renew now for additional savings and commit for the first time.” Those are two very, very, very different audiences. And by making this small tweak to the graphic and the button, this is so relevant to whoever opens it in the inbox. Before they just had a beautiful graphic of the resort, and then a button that said, you know, “Start your membership.” And by having this super tailored to the person that’s seeing it, this is gonna be that much more relevant.

I always hear the stack that our attention spans are fading so, so rapidly, typically less than six to seven, eight seconds for a human, and that’s so important to think about. If you have less than 10 seconds to catch someone’s attention, you have to be willing to work and make these subtle tweaks. That when I read this email, and I see, “Renew Now,” that’s relevant because I have a membership and I’m ready to renew. If I saw, “Commit to healthy living,” it wouldn’t just resonate quite as much.

So I love this example that shows you really can make simple tweaks that do make this that much more relevant, and really up our chances of catching our subscribers attention, and getting them to engage with what we’re sending. Another tool that I want to mention is dynamic content. This is a fabulous way to save the time of having to create totally separate emails, and really just make a subtle difference in something like a graphic to make your email relevant.

Dynamic content is a way that you can display different content based on your subscribers’ information. So in this example, this email could be just their regular newsletter, or maybe a location opening, anything like that. The email itself, the content is going to be the same for everyone. But to make it more relevant, they’re gonna use different graphics based on the location information. You can see here, Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, Memphis, those are all cities that we might have that information for those people.

“Hey, if we know someone’s in Nashville, let’s show them something that catches their attention.” “Nashville, see what’s new.” If someone’s in Atlanta, that’s gonna catch their attention more than if they’re in Nashville. And then even for the people that we might not have their city information or they live in a city that doesn’t have a location, they can show them some generic content here that says, just, “Hey, see what’s new.”

This is such a fabulous way to, again, catch a subscriber’s attention as soon as they open your email, so they’re more likely to read what you have to say. A really great example for people who are in universities or retail customers. Really a lot of brands these days actually do have information like gender, and location, and even sending two different versions of an email with a female versus a male is a great way to just make it more relevant. You’ll notice that I’ve said that quite a few times now.

Segmentation and sending those relevant emails is just so, so crucial, and it’s the way that you’re gonna take your email strategy from good to great. This example is exactly the same. The graphic down here, the headline, everything is the same. The only difference is the graphic up here. This probably took less than two minutes to put together and swap that out. So I put this in here to show it really can be a small, small thing that you add to your list to make it that much more successful.

And a lot of times when I’m working with folks, they’ll say, “Well, Elizabeth, that’s great advice,” but I just don’t have that information. Or I have it on some of my subscribers, but not all of them. And I love this email from Steve Madden. I actually did get this in my own personal inbox, and this is such a great example. A way that you can say, “Hey, I actually don’t have your information. Why don’t you give it to me so I can then return the favor?”

Of course, in this case, they have the incentive of giving you a special gift on your birthday, but this can be something as simple as, “Hey, we’re missing your first name, and we want to make sure to customize your inbox experience.” Or, “We don’t seem to know your birthday, and we want to send you a special something on your special day.”

This can be relevant and tailored to whatever your brand and your business goals are, but the key here is that even if you don’t have the information, you can get it. If you decide, “I’d love to put some information or fields on my signup forms so moving forward, I can collect maybe gender, or first name, or location,” you can do that. And then for the people that are already in your audience that you might be missing that information, go ahead and send an email like this that just asks them to give you that info.

Again, these are your subscribers. They are in a relationship with you at this point. If you have welcomed them, nurtured them, and created a really nice relationship up until this point, they’ll probably give you that information that you’re asking for. So I love sharing this example because I think it’s a great way to really get that info that you might be missing from folks.

This is another example that our pro football team here, the Tennessee Titans. I loved seeing this email hit my inbox because this was a thing they realized, “Hey, we want to send information to people about game days relevant to their time zone, but we don’t have that information.” So they put together this email, and they said, “We want to make sure we send you relevant information.” By sending this email out, it has a really focused call-to-action. It’s saying, “We want to know where you’re coming from,” and then they’re going to use that to then segment and make the inbox experience more customized for their subscribers, so this is a really great win-win.

I really encourage you guys to think about even if you don’t have that information, is there a way that you could ask for it and then moving forward, start to collect that in the welcome email, in a targeted email like this, or in any of the other ways that you’re interacting with your subscribers? So that wraps up everything that I had for you guys today. I did want to just quickly recap because I know we flew through quite a bit in just a few minutes.

The key things that you want to make sure after you do have your signup form setup and you customize that experience, you really want to make sure to welcome your subscribers, set the nice tone, tell your brand story, and make sure to follow through with promised and relevant content. After you welcome them, make sure to do anything and everything you can to segment your audience, and make the inbox experience as relevant as possible.

If you’re missing that information, feel free to just ask for it and then make sure that you’re constantly optimizing all of it. Your sign up form, your welcome email, the data you’re collecting. It’s really important to always be thinking about ways to make this a real strategy, and never just rely on one tip or one trick. Make sure that it really is an ongoing effort. That’s how you’re going to build and engage your email list.

And so with that, thank you guys so much for listening to both Josh and I. We do have quite a few questions so I wanna take a second to pull those up, and we’ve got a couple of questions for both Josh and I. Josh, I’m gonna ask a couple to you first and then there might be a few that I take. So it looks like the very first one I see is from John. John asked, “If you get content and just require email address, are you saying those people are subscribers even though they didn’t technically subscribe to something?”

Josh: Great question. So the best practices, John, are really to make it clear on that signup form or certainly on the Thank You page that they have signed up for your email list. So, you’ll want to say get 10% off when you sign up for my email list or get this piece of content when you sign up for my email list just to be super clear about that expectation. And, you know, with any email you’re sending, obviously, you want to make it super easy for people to unsubscribe as well.

That way if they’ve signed up by accident, you’re giving them an easy way to get out. One thing I wanted to add on that is, you know, I love to talk about segmentation, and I was looking at the Escape Game example, just to circle back to that. Now one of the really smart things that they do is they’re actually running a bunch of different geography-based campaigns on their site. And what they do is for each of those campaigns, they’re syncing people directly into city-specific lists. So those people are signing up for those email lists. They’re explicitly opting in, and then they’re automatically getting only the relevant emails to them. So just to take that sign up form to a whole another level.

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s a really great example. And I know the Escape Game has definitely loved working with Privy. It’s really been interesting to see how they have been able to customize that experience without having two tons of extra work. It really is fairly simple to use tools like Privy and Emma to make these experiences really memorable, and really relevant. So that is fun that both Privy and Emma were involved in that one.

Another question, Josh, that we had about Privy is, can Privy target signup form offers or forms based on referral source so Facebook visitors might see a different forum compared to Google search visitors? I know you alluded to that a little bit, but Patrick was wondering if you could share a little bit more on that.

Josh: Sure, that’s a great question. Yeah, you can absolutely do that. And you’ve got a few different options for targeting those campaigns based on the referral source. So the simplest possible way is just to say to set it so that the referring URL includes or one of the links, short nurse, for example. You can also actually target your campaigns based on the UTM source.

So if you’re using UTM tracking codes, you can use that to say, “This group of people is gonna see this message when they arrive on site. This other group is gonna see a different message.” So there’s dozens of different options for doing that, but a simple source targeting can be really, really powerful.

Elizabeth: Awesome. And I see a question on here that is probably more suited for me. It’s really two questions that go along together. The first one is from Anne. Anne asked, “Do you have any best practices for list hygiene over time? And then Jill also asked, “How do you define inactive contacts, and how can you re-engage them?” So I’d love to just talk about that for a moment because just like segmentation can be a really powerful tool once you get subscribers on your list to send them relevant emails.

It can also be a really powerful tool to figure out who’s not opening your emails? Who’s not clicking? Who are those people that we’ve just lost some interest? We know industry standards tell us that your list is naturally gonna churn around 20% to 30% each year. That’s a combination of a ton of reasons. Things like people just becoming uninterested, they move jobs, their email is no longer active. They just might have not opened in a while, so their messages have moved to the spam folder, so your list is naturally going to churn. That’s just the way it goes.

One thing that we encourage folks to always do is definitely keep an eye on the people who are opening, and who are not opening. The simplest way to do that in a program like Emma, we do some functionality to use the segment builder and just run a segment and see who hasn’t opened an email in 30 days, or who hasn’t opened my last three newsletters. Once you keep an eye on those inactive contacts, whatever you’ve been doing is not working, so it’s time at that point to start making some changes. So the simplest way that we like to approach reengagement at Emma is first, identify those people that are inactive.

Second, pause sending for them. Maybe consider sending them less email overall. We know the number one reason that people opt out of emails is just getting too many. And so by just pausing their sending or reducing the amount of emails that those unengaged people are getting, you might win them back naturally that way. At that point, if you realize people still aren’t opening, there’s certainly a chance that they just don’t want to interact with your brand, or maybe you’re going to a spam folder.

They’re not seeing your emails, or they don’t have any desire to open your emails. It’s great to offer them a reason to opt back in or at least acknowledge that you’re noticing. I know I’ve seen some great examples in my inbox when I haven’t opened for a month or so, I’ll get an email that says, “Hey, you haven’t opened our emails in a while. Do you still want to be involved?” So that’s the simplest way to do that is really just acknowledged that.

Something like, “Hey, we miss you.” Or, “Are you still interested?” If you have something you can offer as an incentive, like a discount or a coupon, definitely do that because it’s really important to win these people back in. If you don’t have something like that to offer, it’s worth just at least acknowledging that they’re not opening, and telling them, “Hey, if you want to stay on our list, we’d love to have you. Update your preferences, so we can send you the right information.” Or make it easy for them to opt out.

So I’d say first and foremost, you definitely want to identify those people that are inactive and second, try something different to see if that wins them back. At the end of that, it’s really important to just give them the option, “Hey, you can either opt in, or you can opt out.” And for people that still don’t decide to opt back in or take any action at all like unsubscribing, at that point, you might want to remove them from your list. So it’s really important to keep a clean list though, a lot, a lot of information out there about how constantly sending to people who aren’t opening or engaging with your emails can actually hurt your chances of ending up in the inbox at all. So it’s really important to keep an eye on that and then try some of those tactics that I mentioned to win them back over.

So I’ve seen a couple of questions here about B2B companies. The first one comes from Ann. And Josh, I’ll let you take this first one. Basically, Ann is asking she works in a B2B space, and how do some of these signup form tips and tricks relate to B2B businesses? I know I have some thoughts on the email side as well, but do you have any thoughts on how Ann or anyone else in the B2B world could customize or use some of these tips that you shared for B2B specifically?

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, this stuff works really, really well in the B2B side, especially when you’re promoting pieces of content or trying to draw, you know… It almost doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to drive someone to a shopping cart if you’re a B2C business, or you’re trying to drive them to some conversion action, right? So whether that’s a download of an ebook or something or whether that’s a contact sales form, using these same methods, you can create a more relevant experience for people and push them to take that action.

So if you’re trying to drive people to contact sales for example, and you know that they’re reading a really important page on your website, that’s a perfect time to trigger a pop-up and ask if they want to join your list, or ask if they want someone to reach out. So there’s a lot of different things you can do. You just need to think about, you know, for your business, what is that beginning, middle, and end of the funnel, and what do you know about the people at each stage? That way you can deliver them that relevant, targeted pop up that gets them to take an action.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and I would definitely echo that in the email side of things as well. We have done a ton of work here at Emma with B2C customers, B2B customers in all different industries. And what we found is, a lot of the best practices really do resonate regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C. We do find that in the B2B world that the sales cycles are much longer. People might not be ready to necessarily maybe buy today. So in that case when you’re thinking about like a welcome email or a welcome series, that might be a perfect place to take some of those tips like telling your brand story, and really build out a series in the beginning.

So when someone indicates interest in your brand, maybe using one of those signup forms for contacting a salesperson or learning more, at that point, you could start to really use email to get people closer and closer to conversion. So whether that’s a one-week sales cycle or a two-year sales cycle, the welcome email is still a really great way to tell your brand story. Tell them what differentiates you from their competitors, and tell them what makes you the best choice to make their life easier. So I would say the welcome email is just as important for a B2B company as it is for any company if not more important.

And then using segmentation for the B2B world is so, so crucial, especially if you’re selling different products or different services, or you’re trying to talk to different people at different levels of businesses. It’s really important to send messages to, for instance, people higher up and maybe the C level different than the people who might just be reaching out to get first information. So I’d say segmentation and welcome emails, definitely the same tips there. Just really think about what that means for you and your business.

Josh: Yeah, and I just add in that, well certainly you don’t want to add too many fields to your form. This is a great opportunity to add more than just an email address. Find out someone’s role. Find out what their top challenges are, and then you can really use those in your segmented emails going forward.

Elizabeth: Yeah, and one thing that I recently heard or read, I think was that people are willing to give up information in exchange for perceived value. So if you’re a B2B company and you’re selling a very important product or a tool that really is gonna change someone’s business, they’re willing to give more information out than if you’re just saying, “Hey, I sell t-shirts.” And so it’s important to you to think about what you’re offering. If you’re offering may be a white paper, which a lot of B2B companies offer, or some gated content like a webinar, or maybe a blog that’s exclusive to them, you have a little flexibility there to ask for more information up front and then use that information to segment and send relevant welcome emails or relevant emails down the road. So I think that’s a really great point to bring up too. You do have more flexibility there to add a few additional fields on that initial signup form as well.

I see that Gary asked, “We’ve never tried offering discounts at signup. What are some of your suggestions for where to start? Is there a certain percentage off or a dollar amount? What are some ideas that you have there for someone who’s trying out some discounts for the first time on their signup forms?”

Josh: Sure. So a couple of things to think about here. One is, so what can you afford? Sometimes people get very aggressive with their discounts, and they end up losing money on those types of deals. So you want to be thoughtful about what you’re offering. What we see as the best starting point is usually something like a 10% off your first purchase or 10% off your whole order. It’s a little easier to apply the thinking for a consumer rather than a specific dollar amount off that might vary by product.

So that sort of blanket offer can be really, really effective. Other things that work really well too are sweepstakes are great. Free shipping is very popular. We actually just put out some research recently, and free shipping and percent off the whole order were both the most used and seen as the most effective offers on the sites. So that’s really a great place to get started.

Elizabeth: And I know that from some of the customers I’ve worked with as well, they’re trying to figure out that same thing. What discount do we offer? What incentive do we offer? And since people are putting that in their welcome email typically, that does translate into the email world. And we always say to just bounce that with the value of what you’re selling. So if you are a really expensive B2B brand, and you’re selling something that’s really high dollar, maybe offer a free consultation or a percentage off.

If you’re someone that is maybe a retailer that has more onetime interactions, then something like free shipping or $10, that’s gonna be way more relevant to you. So again, I would say listen to all these best practices, but really just figure out what do you have that you can offer that would be enticing but not just give away the form? I also see that someone asked, there’s really two sides to this question.

So first and foremost, someone said, “Do adding things like music notes or emojis in the subject line make it more likely your email will be marked as spam?” I definitely like to say that, being marked as spam, there’s a couple of things to think about that. If you have a great relationship with the subscriber and you’re sending them content that they care about, it’s a form name that they recognize. Something as simple as a music note or an emoji would absolutely not be the reason for them to mark you as spam.

It’s certainly not gonna be the only reason that a spam filter, for instance, would put you to the spam folder. All the inboxes are working really hard to make your inbox experience really enjoyable. And so if they see something that has all caps, and lots of exclamation marks, and like free money today, those are the kinds of spammy things that could potentially trigger a spam filter. But something as simple as an emoji, that really is not the kind of thing that you need to worry about. And we actually have found people who have tested using emojis versus not emojis, and a lot of people see some really great success with emojis in the subject line.

Again, it’s not gonna be right for every brand, but if it’s something that might match your brand voice using an Emoji and something more playful then absolutely try it out. Just be important to test that and think about all the other factors we talked about before. Make sure that people recognize you in the Inbox, make sure that you’re sending them content that they care about. And if you’re doing all of those things and collecting them in a way that you’re telling them they can expect to hear from you because they signed up on the signup form, you shouldn’t have to worry about that.

And sort of building on that, someone asked, “How do you feel about popups that use negative language to exit? Things like, ‘No, I don’t want great deals.’ How does that work on a signup form? Does that turn off-site visitors? Do they work? What information have you seen on that?”

Josh: Yeah, so they actually do work, but personally, I’m not a huge fan. I mean I think it’s just a question of who you want to be as a brand. If that is the way that you normally speak to your customers. If you’re sort of an attitude driven company, I think that can really play strongly and actually enhanced the brand. I think where you see things that are really weird frankly is, you know, you get a B2B service that’s using… that has an otherwise sort of friendly, upbeat tone and then they’re using something like the negative “No Thanks” on their popup. So, there isn’t a ton of data to say that they work or don’t work. I’ve seen them be very successful. To me, it’s more of a brand question of is that how you really wanna speak to your customers and your prospects? And personally, I find it a turnoff.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That’s really interesting. Another question here, just on the same signup form train of thought. Someone said, “Do you have any design best practices or advice thinking about images versus no images, the color choices, etc.?”

Josh: Yeah, so less is definitely more with your popups, especially in a mobile experience. So you got to remember a couple of different things. People are not necessarily expecting a pop-up, so you want to make them super easy to read, and you want to make them crisp and clear with a very obvious call-to-action. You know, people are evaluating these things in a second or two, so you don’t want to make them work too hard. If the font is too small, if the colors are too hard to read, they’re just not gonna interact with it. They’re going to close it out, and they’re potentially even gonna leave your site.

So what you want to really do is think about contrast, and then you want to think about minimal text and minimal images. You got to remember these things are going to be in the context of your website, so you don’t need to necessarily put your logo on it. You don’t need a ton of pictures. You want to make it something that’s simple and easy to deal with. And then if you think about the mobile experience, you want to take that even another step further. So, you want to create that contrast. You want to have as few words as possible and a very clear call-to-action that gets people to engage with the form right away.

Elizabeth: Great. That’s really good advice. I see here that Christina has asked, “Do you have suggestions regarding the best time to send an email?” And this is a question I get asked almost every day, “What’s the best day to send an email? What’s the best time?” And this is something that there has been so much work to figure out what is the best time to send an email. And I know that I’ve seen plenty of studies that say, Tuesday at 10:00 a.m is the best or Wednesday at 9:00.

And the key here is that there are some proven times that do get higher open rates. There’s some days and times that get higher conversion rates. What it really comes down to is what you’re trying to achieve, and who your audience is. So the best way to really figure this out for you is to know there’s absolutely no magic bullet, time or day that you can send an email that’s just gonna make it great results.

Now the other thing to think about is you can absolutely test it and figure out, does it make a difference if I send on Monday at 10:00 a.m versus Friday at 5:00 p.m? We do typically know that super early in the morning is tending to perform better because people are checking when they wake up, and when they get to work. During the day is seeming like it’s less and less active because people are focused on their jobs, but then you have to think that there are some brands out there that are sending daily deals or that are sending time-specific content.

So all of the best practices and all the trends that we’re seeing out there can definitely give you some starting points for testing, but what you really need to do is set up some test for yourself. For instance, if you want to say, “Okay, in March, I’m gonna send all my emails on Tuesday at 10:00 and then in April, I’m going to try Wednesday at 10:00 and then the next month, you know, try Thursday at 10:00.”

After those three months, you’ll be able to see was there any significant difference in those three days? Once you figured out the optimal day, maybe try a different time. So the shortest answer there is you just have to test to see what works for your business. If you need a place to start early to midweek, early in the morning or mid-afternoon typically is a higher-performing time for opens. When we’re thinking about purchases or conversions, we tend to see that skew a little bit more late afternoon and later in the week so it really just depends what you’re trying to optimize.

If it’s opens, maybe try earlier in the week, early in the morning. If it’s conversions, try later in the week and later in the afternoon. I also see that someone has asked how often should we be sending out emails, and the shortest answer that I can give there is that you should only be sending emails when you have relevant content to send. So there’s two sides to every story, right? On one hand, we always want you to be relevant and to have a regular cadence, so your subscribers or are primed, they’re conditioned to know what to expect, like a monthly newsletter.

But we also don’t want them to get bored and to know, “I know one’s coming next month, I’m not going to open this one.” So it’s really important to think about what content do you have. Strive to get on a regular cadence, but make sure that you’re peppering in other things like subscriber milestones. When they sign up, send them an email. If you have their birthday information, send them an email. If you have information on their last appointment date or their last purchase date, send them an email a few months later and say, “Hey, we miss you.” So the easiest way to mix up that typical cadence that people tend to get bored with is to sprinkle in those subscriber milestone emails and then really focus on finding out, again, what works for your audience.

For some audiences that have tons of information coming out every day or every week, it makes sense for them to send more often than someone who might just have information to share once a month. So it’s just gonna have to weigh partly with what content do you have to share. And on the flip side, are there additional emails that you could add in to go outside the box and get out of that regular cadence because both really are important. You also don’t want to totally overwhelm yourself, or your subscribers thinking, “I have to send an email every single week,” and bore them with the same message over and over, or send out something that isn’t really great.

So just be sure that with every email you send it is very intentional. You know exactly who the audience is, what the goal is, and how you’re gonna gauge success. That’s definitely more important than trying to set a goal of one email a week or one email a month. You might recall, I said earlier, the number one reason people opt out is always receiving too many emails. So it’s definitely important to stay relevant, but never send email after email after email, especially if you do see open rates declining. And I think that really wraps up all of the questions here. I don’t see any additional ones coming in.

So with that, I do want to say again, thank you, guys so, so much for tuning in with us. We really hope that you can take some of these examples and ideas and implement them in your own business. And if you did have any thoughts or want to interact with us, you can tweet us @emmaemail or @privy. You can also send in any additional questions. If you do have those,  we’re happy to answer those if we’re able. And definitely check out Emma and Privy, really great tools to help you build and maintain your engaged email list. And Josh, thank you again for joining us today. We had a blast sharing the session, and I hope you guys have a great Thursday.

Josh: Thanks a lot.

Ready to do your best email marketing?

Request a tour

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.