Building a customer email list is comparatively easy in the eCommerce world. Unlike with brick-and-mortar sales that only require a card swipe or cash, online you need to ask for an email address at checkout in order to send your customers necessary transactional emails like shipping confirmations and email receipts. Once you have their email address, you can opt your customers into your marketing emails without much effort (though remember that depending on your jurisdiction and that of your customers, you may need to ask first).
But what about all those shoppers who visit your site and never make a purchase? In general, at least 96 percent of visitors to your website aren’t ready to make a purchase, but they’re at least a little interested in your store. Wouldn’t it be great to get them on your email list, too?
That way, you have a chance to delight them over time with email content and turn them into buyers down the road.Most visitors to your website won't make a purchase. But wouldn’t it be great to get them on your email list? Click To Tweet
Capturing pre-sales eCommerce leads is challenging—or at least, more challenging than collecting email addresses at checkout. But it’s not impossible. There are some clever strategies you can use to entice your shoppers to sign up for your email list.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective methods you can use to build your email list.
The most common way to capture eCommerce email addresses is at checkout, as mentioned. But most shoppers never actually get to checkout. Let’s say your store gets 1,000 visitors each day. How many of those would you be able to add to your email list if you only collected email addresses at checkout? Let’s do some quick math.
- The industry average eCommerce add-to-cart rate is 10.91%. Let’s say your store slightly over performs and you see a 11% conversion. Of your 1,000 visitors, only 110 visitors will add an item to their cart.
- Now let’s assume your store also sees the industry average 69.89% cart abandonment rate (we’ll round that up to 70%). Yikes, now you’re down to just 33 sales out of your initial 1,000 visitors.
So if you only rely on checkouts to drive your email list growth, your list will grow pretty slowly. That’s a big deal because email is one of the highest ROI marketing channels available to eCommerce sellers.
In reality, you’ll get more than 33 emails from the above example because some of those abandoned carts will happen when a user is either already logged in (so you already have their email address) or after they’ve added the email. If you’re recovering abandoned carts with a tool like Jilt, you’ll capture those email addresses as soon as they’re entered. But you won’t get 110.
There is another way, however. With Jilt, you can collect customer email address earlier in the shopping experience with our early email capture feature.
Early email capture prompts shoppers to enter their email address when they add an item to their cart. That means you’re recording their email address so you can send abandoned cart and other types of marketing emails even if they bail on your site before reaching checkout. (Jilt will only ask for their address once, so you won’t annoy customers with a popup every time they add an item to their cart.)
This feature works on all our supported platforms (WooCommerce, Shopify, and Easy Digital Downloads).
Giving something away in exchange for an email address is called a lead magnet. What should you give away as your lead magnet? That depends on your customer and your business. Consult your buyer personas to identify what your customers want and then craft a lead magnet to match that desire.
Common lead magnets include discounts, eBooks, infographics, checklists, and videos. They’re almost always digital goods that people can access instantly after entering or confirming their email address.
Many customers just want to save money, which is why discounts or coupons are among the most popular lead magnets offered by eCommerce shops. Holstee offers a simple $5 discount when you sign up for their email list.
Content is another popular freebie. People like product or industry guides, how-to manuals, advice and tips, sneak peeks, downloadable resources, etc. Some customers value things like donations to a charity in their name or invitation to a special VIP section of your website.
The key is to make whatever you give away valuable and compelling to your customer. A simple “sign up for our newsletter” call to action can work, but it probably won’t convert as well as a freebie in return for signing up. But make sure your lead magnet is relevant to the products you sell. If you sell dog collars, a puppy training eBook is a great lead magnet, but a packing checklist for last-minute travel doesn’t make much sense.
Here are some places you should promote your lead magnet across your eCommerce site:
- Your home page
- The sidebar of your interior pages
- At the end of your blog posts
- On social media
Landing pages are pages on your site that have one specific and clear purpose. Your product pages are technically landing pages designed to persuade shoppers to purchase each individual product.
In this case, you would build a page devoted to persuading your website visitors to subscribe email list. Using a landing page specifically designed for email capture has been shown to lift conversion rates by as much as 50 percent.
Your email list landing page should detail for visitors exactly what they’ll get by joining your list. Tell them kind of emails they’ll receive. Depending on your brand and your buyer personas that could be things like personalized recommendations, stories about your company, how-to guides, discounts and deals, exclusive offers, curated content, or product announcements. Make sure anyone who visits your landing pages knows quickly and clearly all the benefits they’ll receive by signing up for your mailing list.
Promote the landing page anywhere you can, including your social media profiles, relevant blog posts, sidebars and footers, email signatures, and anywhere else you can think of. If email is a big part of your overall marketing strategy, you can even purchase online ads that link directly to your email list landing page.
What goes on a landing page?
- A persuasive headline that uses benefits-based messaging
- Body copy or video that explains the benefits of your offer
- A sign-up form for visitors to join your email list
- Social proof, like testimonials or trust badges
Make sure to use SEO best practices so your page ranks well in search results!
Exit intent is a clever technology that recognizes when a visitor is about to leave your website by watching for their mouse movements. When their cursor moves near the back button or toward close the browser tab, a popup is triggered asking the user to consider taking an action. The popup can display anything, but website owners often use exit intent popups to ask visitors to sign up for an email list.
Does this really work? Yep! When WPBeginner installed an exit intent popup, their email subscribers jumped from 70/day to 445/day!
This technology is especially powerful for eCommerce because often visitors aren’t ready to take the big step of making a purchase, but they’re willing to take a smaller step by signing up.
When you try to leave World of Watches’ site, you’re shown a popup that offers a coupon code in exchange for your email address. (This is a great example of how these concepts can be combined.) Notice how the popup doesn’t just offer the coupon code—it also acts as a mini-landing page and talks about the specific benefits of being a subscriber to their email list.
A simple way to increase the number of visitors signing up for your email list is to make sign up super easy and obvious. A great way to do that is to keep your signup form visible at the top of every page with a persistent sticky bar.
A sticky bar is a thin message that sits above your logo and menu navigation and usually stays there even as visitors scroll down your page. It’s noticeable, but because it’s so small, it doesn’t negatively affect the user experience. Use a color that is different from the rest of your site so in stands out and make sure your message is clear.
Hello Bar is a great tool for this. When DIYthemes added the bar to its site, the tool captured 1,180 subscribers in the first 30 days. ProBlogger added a top sticky subscribe bar to their site (using a different tool, but same function), and increased its conversions by 25 percent.
You don’t have a lot of room here (just one line of text), so keep your message simple. Use something like “Sign up to receive $5 off your first purchase,” “Sign up to download our summer fashion guide,” or “Sign up to stay on top of our latest product news” would all make sense in this setting.
Like most eCommerce shop owners, you probably send a lot of emails every day to vendors, partners, and—perhaps most of all—potential customers. You can prompt these folks to join your email list by adding a link in every email that directs them to your signup landing page.
It’s super simple: Just add a link to your standard email signature. If you give something away in return for sign up on your site, make sure to mention that and extend the same offer here.
It’s a good idea to add your email sign up link to the default signature for your help desk software, too. That way all customers (existing or potential/pre-sales) have an opportunity to turn into email list subscribers every time you respond to a question.
Giveaways are one of the most popular list building tools. Most people seem to jump at the opportunity to give you their email address for a chance to win something.
The logistics of promoting your giveaway are simple—just use any of the techniques already discussed (e.g., a popup, landing page, sticky bar, email signature, etc.). Actually running a giveaway is a bit more complex, so be sure to check your local laws to make sure you’re in compliance when giving away any prizes of value.
Though it’s not required, it’s a good idea to create a dedicated landing page for your giveaway with a simple, easy to share URL. That way, it’s easy for you and others to share the giveaway (there are even apps that make it straightforward for you to award extra entries when people share your giveaway link) and it lets you put all the rules and specifics about the prize, drawing, and winning notification in one place.
In addition to advertising your giveaway on your site, post about it on social media, private groups, forums, and anywhere else you can think of. Send an email to your list about your giveaway, too. Even though they’re already subscribed, you can build some good will with your fans by giving them a chance to win (you’re already giving it away, after all, so it’s not like more entries cost you anything).
You can also drive additional entries by partnering with similar, non-competitive brands. If you sell mattresses, for example, partner with a company that sells bedding to deliver an even larger giveaway. Have partner brands add their products to the prize package to make it even more enticing, then get everyone involved to promote to their customer base. At the end of the giveaway, share the list of email addresses with all the associated brands.
A word of warning about giveaways: Many people will subscribe who don’t have any intention of buying your products. They just want the free stuff. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth it, but it does mean you’ll want to prune your email list over time to remove subscribers who don’t engage with your content.
Once you capture email subscribers, don’t let them sit on your list too long without sending them something.
We recommend setting up a welcome series that begins engaging your subscribers right away, then segmenting your list based on subscriber characteristics and delivering targeted emails that meet the specific needs of each customer group.
This post details several methods for capturing email subscribers without making a sale. And remember: you can combine many of them together to make them even more powerful. Which one will work best for your store is hard to predict. Like all marketing, you’ll have to experiment and test. Try out different techniques and play around with the variables (copy, location, timing, content, etc.) to the find the tactic (or multiple tactics) that maximizes your conversions.