While holiday shopping earlier this week, I was reminded of the importance of the integration between your subscription list and your
e-commerce site. Too often, website forms and acquisition methods become too focused on a single purpose. A contact form is only a contact form, a catalog request form does only that and your checkout process is for shopping only.
At the basic level, the site I was shopping offered three pre-checkout / shopping cart contact methods / forms:
In all likelihood, they have several other customer-facing forms as well. They could be running sweepstakes, contests, on-site customer reviews, Facebook, Twitter and have many other marketing activities running concurrently. All of which present subscription opportunities and offer the opportunities to build and enhance the customer database.
Unfortunately, on the site I was browsing, they opted to include a subscription form onto the newsletter signup form only. While this allows the form field list to be kept to a minimum, the opportunity to maximize that subscription is being missed. Not only should the other forms include a checkbox to opt into their newsletter, the newsletter signup form and create an account option should include an opt-in to the catalog list as well.
Most customers are going to assume that the data between the lists is shared in some fashion, so, no customer (non-marketing customer, anyway) is going to take the time to fill out all the forms even if they would be highly interested in all three (e-mail subscription, catalog and online account). So, why not make it easy? Worrying about data duplication should not be a concern. Any e-mail service provider is going to offer some kind of option to eliminate duplicate e-mail addresses. If the e-mail address field is complete and the user has opted into the database, use the e-mail address as the “unique identifier” or “search” field. When you upload new subscribe data to your newsletter / mailing database and the system finds a matching e-mail address it should “update” the data wherever it finds conflict rather than “replace”. In other words, if you upload a subscriber's record and it finds that the the subscriber already exists in your system, but the “Name” of that account has changed from “Mary Jones” to “Mary Smith”, it should update accordingly. In addition, for recording keeping and tracking, the system should flag that account as having been updated with the date and time.
In your system allows for it, set up a field in the database or a subscriber segment to track how the subscriber was originally acquired. Doing so will allow for the tracking of these subscribers by group and by subscription count, but most importantly, will provide a mechanism to find value for each subscriber by their originating source.
Furthermore, with the cart abandonment rate at any e-commerce site likely to be fairly high. It's important that while a transaction may not occur, a marketing relationship may still be established.
In our experience, less than half of a site's subscribers will be subscribed to a list via the traditional “e-mail subscription” field. Instead, a significant percentage of your list will subscribe through a combination of other subscription methods. Search out and optimize those other methods to rapidly build your subscriber list.
Email Marketing, B2C Marketing, eCommerce, Web Development