This is a guest post from Kurt Philip, the founder of Convertica.org, a conversion rate optimization agency for eCommerce, affiliate, and lead gen sites.
A strong email list is one of the most valuable marketing assets—if not the most valuable marketing asset—for an eCommerce site. When someone subscribes to your email list, it gives you the opportunity to convert that person into a paying customer—and, down the road, potentially even a repeat customer and brand advocate. That means list building is essential, and something that eCommerce sites need to focus on and optimize wherever they can.
In this article, we’re going to look at ways you can use your website to build your list by improving your techniques to convert visitors into subscribers.
Before we get into the specific tips, here’s the first fundamental aspect of turning visitors to subscribers: give people an incentive to sign up. In most instances, you can utilize a lead magnet to attract email subscribers. That can take the form of a discount—or a non-discount incentive like an eBook, toolkit, or calculator.
What magnet is right for your site? To figure that out, you need to consider:
- Your audience
- The product or service you are selling
- Your business model
From there, you can decide (and test) what your target audience will find most appealing. And once you have that lead magnet in place, here are four practical ways to use it to increase conversions on your website and get more subscribers.
You’ll attract more email subscribers if you characterize your audience well and create a suitable buyer persona for each “character” interested in your products and services. Each buyer persona is a member of your target audience. You might have one or two personas depending on your business type—or you might even find you have 10 or more.
For instance, if your eCommerce shop is selling shoes, you’ll have lots of different prospective customers coming in. A teenage girl buying a pair of shoes for school is a different persona from a middle-aged man picking up a pair to match his suit. As a business owner, you’ll need to market to each group differently. Each buyer character will respond to different messaging, products, and offers.
Here’s how the electric bike shop Evelo drives both sales and subscribers using one tool to cover all their different target customers. They have a quick, well-designed quiz on their site to give recommendations of the right bike for each customer.
And at the end of the quiz, they ask for a name and email address by asking “Where should we send your recommendation?” That’s a great way to build conversions across all personas—provide a tailored recommendation, and give value (in the form of the customized bike recommendations) in exchange for an email address.
Regardless of which persona you’re writing for, however, some things remain constant. You need high-quality copy that addresses their needs and makes a unique emotional appeal to that persona—an appeal that drives them to subscribe to your list, buy your products, or both. Copy should be written in the second person to make the visitor feel like you’re addressing them directly. And you may need to have multiple lead magnets that appeal specifically to your different personas.
You have the power to compile tons of data about your website using conversion rate optimization (CRO) tools. User behavior gives you information about how your visitors make decisions based on their clicks, the pages they visit, and the blog posts they read.
Traditional heatmaps (which you can generate for your site with several tools, like Crazy Egg or Hotjar) use color temperature to show where visitors engage most—or even look the most. Other reports give you information about user clicks, scrolling, and referral sources. All of that data is useful as you work to build conversions on your site.
Here’s an example of a heatmap that shows what catches the eye on a catalog page of Forever 21’s website.
How can you use heatmap data to build subscribers? See what’s catching the eye—and put tailor your sign-up form accordingly. Maybe a heatmap shows that users are more likely to engage with the sidebar of your page than a call-to-action in the middle of a blog post—so you’ll know you should put your sign-up form in the sidebar. Or maybe you find that a bright blue color stands out on your page—so make the subscribe button that color.
People want to know what others think before they do something—it’s human nature. So if you can offer social proof that speaks to the value of your email list, it can help you build subscribers. This type of proof can be in the form of anything from the number of people who’ve subscribed to your list to reviews from satisfied subscribers.
Here’s an example from Nerd Fitness, where they offer up the lead magnet for their email list with the social proof that the emails go out to “over 300,000 rebels.”
You can also use social proof to bolster your store as a whole, through things like testimonials and user-generated content. Those can help boost your sales—and also your subscriber conversions, since you’re demonstrating that your store clearly has something valuable to offer.
When it comes to converting a visitor to an email subscriber, never underestimate the power of the call-to-action (CTA) to close the deal.
Having an ordinary button like “Subscribe” may not grab the user’s attention. The CTA copy needs to be compelling to become highly converting. You should also evoke a sense of urgency, use action-oriented words. And try to write in the first or second person to add a personal touch; for instance, try button text like “Yes! Sign me up” or “I want my free eBook.”
Here’s a great CTA example from Toms. Their button reads “Join the movement”—it’s making an emotional appeal that indicates to their target customer they’re not just subscribing to an email list, they’re subscribing to a cause that fits their values.
It’s important for every eCommerce business to build its email list—it’s how you turn website visitors into customers and then into repeat buyers. And you can optimize your website to build up your email list numbers by converting more visitors into subscribers.
- Identify customer personas. Figure out who your target customers are and create lead magnets and copy that directly appeals to them.
- Use heatmaps. Examine your website visitors’ behavior to figure out how to optimize your site and calls-to-action to gain the most sign-ups.
- Use social proof. Drive visitors to subscribe by providing examples of all the other people who love your email list and your store.
- Craft effective calls-to-action. Make sure your calls-to-action are compelling and motivate people to click.
For more, check out how you can develop a strategy to increase subscriber conversions for your business here.