Cultivating your email newsletter list

Of all the types of marketing that we do at Po Campo, email marketing is probably the most successful in terms of ROI. Our e-commerce conversion rate for newsletters is 1.49%, the highest of all our marketing efforts. Our newsletter subscribers may only account for about 4% of our website traffic, but over 8% of our conversions, so they’re active and engaged visitors too.

Building Your Newsletter List
We get about $17 in sales from each newsletter for every hundred people on our list. Naturally, the more people on our list, the more sales we can expect. That’s why growing the list is always a priority. Focus on growing your list organically rather than purchasing or trading lists so that it remains high quality, resulting in higher sale conversion rates.

The two most successful ways we build our newsletter list involve, unsurprisingly, giving things away for free.

1) Offering something irresistible. Try a couple offers (called a “lead magnet”) before figuring out what your customers like. Before offering a $50 gift card to one lucky new subscriber each month, we tried free content about tips for city biking and a free $5 on your first purchase. The bigger sweepstakes of a free $50 worked best for us. We get an average of 65 new sign-ups each month once we started this practice. Read more on lead magnets here.

2) We offer a free reflector pin (value of $5) in exchange for an email address at all of our events. Few people can resist the pin, plus they don it almost immediately and then other people ask where they got it from and are directed our way. We can get upwards of 200 emails a day at busy events.

Maintaining Your List
The obvious goal is to send people emails that they enjoy receiving so as not to unsubscribe. You’d think that sales/promotion emails are the best, but while those probably generate the most immediate sales, we have found general lifestyle topics, company updates, tips and how-tos to have the lowest unsubscribe rate.

Po Campo sends an email about every other week on Thursdays. Creating an email marketing calendar ahead of time reduces the “So what do we write about this week???” syndrome, which almost always results in boring emails. By creating a calendar, you can make sure that your sales are spread out throughout the year and that you are maximizing the content that you are creating elsewhere (e.g. for your blog or for Facebook). Our average open rate is 30.1% and click through rate is 6.9%, which are both above average (17.35% and 3.0% respectively, according to MailChimp benchmarks).

Discouraging Unsubscribes
About .6% of our newsletter list unsubscribes with each email. That’s not super high but of course I wish it were zero. Recently I did two things to curb the unsubscriber activity, or at least to not lose touch with them altogether.

1) An option to receiver fewer emails. I know sometimes I open my inbox and go on a major unsubscribe binge, removing myself from pretty much every newsletter just because I’m sick of receiving them and having to devote energy to them. Of course many of our subscribers unsubscribe because of a similar feeling, not that they don’t ever want to hear from us ever again but because we were just one more email that day.

Hoping that we could keep people subscribed if we gave them an option to receive fewer emails, I created a group in MailChimp called “Newsletter Types”with three sub-groups:

  • “All, including tips and how-to’s, event announcements, sales, and new product debuts”
  • “Just Sales/Promotions (about 6 times per year)”
  • “New Product Announcements (about 4 times per year)”

Now, when people go to unsubscribe, we allow them to update their profile and change their newsletter frequency preference.

2) Ask to connect another way. I think most of us have email fatigue and prefer interacting with brands on different mediums, like facebook or Instagram. On our unsubscribe confirmation page, we ask one last time if they would consider connecting with us on one of our social networks, so as not to lose touch with them completely.

I hope this inspires you to build and maintain a healthy newsletter list. Do you have strategies beyond what we’re doing to do so? Please share in the comments!