Updated By: Travis McGinnis on Tue, Sep 26, 2017
When it comes to email marketing success, there are four key areas you need to optimize:
- Capture – you’ll need email addresses and associated contact information so you can segment your mailing lists (that's this one)
- Open – this step is all about ways to improve your open rates. Read it here.
- Click – now that your email has been opened, you need the recipient to click. Read it here.
- Convert – the final step is optimizing your landing page so users convert. Read it here.
You’d think that a series about email marketing would start with the obvious: writing killer emails. Not so. There are actually two things that need to happen before you start writing email copy. The first thing is arguably the most important. Capturing qualified emails from your website and landing pages.
In this post, I’ll dive into what that looks like in action and how you can make your forms convert at the top of their class. Over the next few months, I’ll post each installment in the series for your email marketing pleasure.
Capturing Qualified Email Addresses for Your Database
One of the most important things you can do as a content marketer is to stop thinking like a content marketer and start thinking like your users (read: buyer persona). Human beings are cautious by nature and we’ll abandon pretty much anything at the first sight that something might be awry. This is only exacerbated when it comes to handing over our precious information.
The tactics in this post apply to any type of form. It could be as simple as a blog subscription form with just an email address or as complex as a decision stage multi-step form to request a quote from your company. Following these best practices will ensure you’re collecting the most (and best) information about your contacts.
Eliminate Friction & Anxiety
Think about yourself for a minute. What makes up your online identity? Your name for starters, and obviously your email address - or several of them if you’re like me. But what else can you think of? Here’s what I came up with:
- First & Last Name
- Email Address
- Job Title
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- Address (City, State, Zip)
- Credit Card Information
- Social Security Number
Some of these bits of personal information are pretty common to encounter on the web, others – as you can obviously imagine, would make you think twice before handing it over. Few industries should be asking for a social security number. Only banking, government, and some financial websites could dare ask for your SSN.
Every single question you ask (or require) on your email capture forms will convey varying amounts of anxiety. According to Meclabs, here are the associated levels of anxiety when users encountered these fields on website forms.
Do you find any of the above surprising? When I first saw this, I didn’t think phone number would carry so much anxiety – second only to your social security number. If you are asking for a phone number on your forms, try removing it and watch your conversion rates skyrocket.
If removing it isn’t an option, make it optional but also make it clear that it's optional:
Tips for Reducing Anxiety
- Only ask questions on your forms relative to the offer behind the form. On blog subscription forms, for example, there’s no need to ask for anything other than an email address.
- Make sure the landing page copy clearly conveys the value of what the user will get for handing over their information. I’ll cover landing page optimization in part four of this series.
- Use badges or seals near the submit button to reinforce that their information is safe in your hands.
- Consider using an SSL Certificate to make your page submit information over a secure (https) connection. This is especially true (and in many cases required by law) when dealing with sensitive information like credit card numbers for e-commerce sites, or social security numbers for financial institutions.
Quality vs. Quantity
If you’re doing inbound marketing the right way, you’ll have a fully armed and operational website ready to collect leads at any stage of their buyer’s journey. Therefore, you’ll have many forms of various length and question types to speak to users at each of those stages.
You can take advantage of both the amount of form fields and the type of form fields when collecting email addresses on your landing pages. By ammount, I’m referring to the number of fields on a single form. By type, I’m referring to questions like you saw in the above graphic about anxiety. This handy animation from Meclabs illustrates it better than I can:
Keeping your persona(s) in mind, you’ll want to ask questions on your forms to help identify your personas so you can bucket them into the right lists and send them content they want to consume.
One of our clients has two personas: Business Owners and Marketing Coordinators. The key difference between the two is who makes the final purchase decision, and who influences the decision. Essentially, we have Decision Makers and Influencers. If we want to promote a piece of content tailored specifically to decision makers, it would be silly to send it to the Marketing Coordinators. It wouldn’t resonate with them and would likely bring about negative feelings about the company who sent it out.
Keeping that in mind, we need to know who our users are fairly quickly in the capture process and Job Title is the field we use to segment personas for that client. Looking at the above anxiety chart, Title is pretty low. However, since we need that tidbit of information as soon as possible, we decided to ask the question in a less intrusive way by asking the user to simply describe themselves.
From there, we use a HubSpot Workflow to segment users into their specific persona based on their answer to that question. We ask for the actual Job Title in later forms just to verify who the contact is one more time.
Don’t Forget the Little Things
Button copy is an often overlooked part of the email capture process, yet it’s one of the most important elements on your form because every user who sees it will be forced to make a decision: to click, or not to click. That is the question.
Therefore, always customize your button text. The default “Submit” is generic and lacks clarity. Here are some better alternatives:
- Learn More
- Get Started
- Place Order
Pro Tip: If your button text includes verbiage implying a final action, but that action cannot happen once the user clicks the button, you should change your button copy. For example, let’s say your button copy says “Buy Now” but it only takes the user to a product listing page. Instead, change your copy to something less final (and noncommittal) such as “Learn More” or “View Product Info.”
Conclusion to Email Capture
Statistics show that email marketing has the highest ROI over any other form of online marketing. Likely due to the personal nature of email. Yet, few marketers seem to move beyond the “monthly newsletter” mindset. Perhaps they don’t grasp the full power what email marketing can do, or they don’t understand all the nuances to execute it properly. Regardless, if you’re sending emails to your contacts, it’ll benefit you and your company to learn proper email marketing tactics. Whether your database has one thousand contacts or ten thousand, a properly executed email marketing strategy will bring great returns for your business.
About The AuthorTravis McGinnis
I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.