Some people think that there is a moment between indecision and decision where the outcome can be influenced by even the gentlest breeze. There are also those who believe that destiny is not fixed, but rather that every action creates a multitude of possible futures that we navigate along during our life’s journey. And right about now is when you start saying, “Where are they going with this foray into philosophy? Are we going to be discussing solipsism and radical empiricism next? I came here for marketing talk!” Ok, ok. But marketing is about influencing customers’ choices and trying to guide them down a path to buying – a path which doesn’t feel predestined but rather the result of a positive personal choice.
Why Do We Need Their Emails?
That discussion leads us quite nicely into addressing the serious problem of the choice to abandon an online shopping cart before purchasing. We know that sometimes our customers go down the abandonment path. But we also know that one way to get them off that path and back on track is to send them abandonment recovery emails. Recovery emails have a 40.5% open rate and a 10.3% click-through rate. That is astonishing when you consider that the average email open rate is around 17% for eCommerce. Of course in order to send out those recovery emails, there is one small requirement. You need your customers’ email addresses.
Why Are They So Difficult to Get?
Generating and maintaining a robust email list is hard. Getting customers to part with their information is a challenge for all eCommerce sites. People hate filling out forms. It is annoying and takes up valuable time – time better spent on Netflix or surfing Reddit. People are even afraid of giving out their email addresses. They hate spam (who doesn’t?) and they’re nervous that by parting with their email@example.com email address, they are inviting an inbox full of Viagra ads and casino promotions. Fair enough.
Our Own Worst Enemy
But it isn’t just the customers that are the problem. A lot of our sites have forms that are poorly designed and difficult to understand. We ask them for their email address, their first name, their last name, but not together, and what is your home phone but not your work phone and can you create a password that has 42 characters that aren’t sequential and contain no vowels and no consonants next to each which also has 11 symbols but no ?, !, or #.
And then we wonder why people aren’t completing the forms. Sometimes we obscure the form labels or make the inputs too narrow so you can’t see what you’re typing. Sometimes we ask for the same information more than once, so the customer has to retype their billing address, when it’s the same as their shipping address.
Bad. Bad. Bad.
Frankly, even if people complete the forms, the process has left them exhausted and, honestly, ticked off.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
If we want customers to release their personal info, we have to make it easy, and if possible, even fun.
Simplify your forms’ UX. That means removing extra fields that you don’t need. Make the labels easy to read and the inputs large and clear. Submit your forms using AJAX. For the uninitiated, that means the page doesn’t reload after submitting the form. This makes it feel quicker and less cumbersome. You also want to make it easy for your site’s visitors to find a place to hand over their email address.
Place forms in multiple locations on your site. Don’t just limit them to a small one in the footer or one at the bottom of your sidebar. Put one on the homepage, front and center. Yes, add one to the footer, but also create email collection popups and slide-down forms. Finally, don’t forget to use your social networks to collect emails. Facebook and Twitter both let you create places where you can gather emails for recovery campaigns.
Another excellent method for gathering emails is by implementing a pre-submit email capture solution, such as the one we offer at AbandonAid. Many customers enter their emails into the form but decide to bail before submitting. When you use AbandonAid’s solution, they don’t have to submit the form and we still capture their email address.
Finally, make sure you have a well-designed Contact Us form. That form is a perfect place for lead generation.
Make ‘em An Offer They Can’t Refuse
Making it easy to find and fill out your forms is only the first step. It doesn’t hurt to incentivize your visitors to cough up the goods, so to speak. Using an email collection popup on-site can help you increase your email collection rate, which in turn translates into a higher sales rate. Whenever you ask for an email address, offer a clear value proposition. “Stay up to date on the latest sales!” “Get our weekly coupons.” “Sign up for decoration tips on a budget.” Got it? If they think they’re getting something worthwhile, they may be more likely to ignore the fact that your form should have been updated 10 years ago. Another smart tactic is to make it clear what a user is signing up for. Show examples or provide links to sample emails. Be transparent.
Sharing Is Caring
How many times have you gotten an email forward from a friend with the subject, “LOL” or “MUST READ”? Have you ever liked the email so much that you signed up to get it yourself? I have. The best way to get new email addresses is to have your content shared so people want to sign up for your emails.
Make your emails share-worthy by taking the time to write good content and frequently publish new content. Make it easy to share your emails. Use an email template with social sharing icons, “send to a friend”, and an email sign up link so that people who receive the email as a forward can navigate to your sign up form.
Whether they are choosing to complete their purchase on your site or choosing to give you their email address, try to create positive associations and inspire loyalty. Dare I say it? Make ‘em love you. Once you do, they will gladly part with their emails and, hopefully, open their wallets too.