How to grow your audience during COVID-19

With consumers flocking online, due to lockdown amid COVID-19, businesses shouldn’t miss the opportunity to grow one of their biggest assets – their customer and prospect databases. A brand’s database is it’s owned audience that they can have a regular conversation with – an audience that, with the right strategy and technology, it can have a one to one conversation with.

If COVID-19 has led to an increase in web traffic but not sales, for the short term, it is necessary for long term success that brands ensure they are capturing this audience. It doesn’t matter if you can’t service this audience immediately through the lack of ability to service demand, what matters is that you build long lasting relationships for when the time is right.

With email rated as the best channel to receive marketing messages, by both marketers and consumers, it’s also one of the highest channels for ROI. As documented in the DMA Marketer Email Tracker 2020 email marketing has an ROI of £35:£1

Post GDPR, list sizes reduced significantly for many brands but luckily those lists were full of highly engaged consumers. Over time however, lists have degraded, due to customer churn and malaise. This can have a long term knock-on effect on the revenue and engagement generated through email marketing.

In this guide we take a look at:-

  • Increasing your audience through awesome (GDPR compliant) sign up forms
  • 7 ways to increase sign up conversion rates
  • 6 different places to add a sign up to your website

Ultimately, this guide will ensure you maximise the opportunity to grow and stay engaged with an audience that may need your products or services today and into the future.

Remembering GDPR

When it comes to collecting data, GDPR is something we all need to be clear on. GDPR remains high on the agenda for many marketers. In recent research conducted by the DMA with Pure360 we found that over 35% of marketers say they were concerned about compliance and the threat of fines.  Encouragingly almost half of the industry (48%) state that GDPR has improved data quality and email metrics.

GDPR consent is defined as: –

Consent of the data subject means any freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.

The 7 key features of GDPR compliant consent:-

  1. Unbundled: The consent mechanism must be separate from other terms and conditions. Consent can no longer be a prerequisite for signing up for a service.
  2. Active:  Under GDPR opt-in rules, pre-ticket opt-in boxes are no longer valid. You must use blank opt-in boxes (or a similar binary method, where each choice is equally prominent) so that customers can actively choose to give consent.
  3. Clear: You must phrase your request for consent explicitly, in a way that’s easy to understand. Do not use vague descriptions that confuse the consumer.
  4. Granular: You must give granular options when possible. This allows customers to consent to each way you intend to use their data separately.
  5. Named: You must give the name of your company and name any third party you are requesting consent on behalf of. This ensures customers are fully informed about who they are giving consent to.
  6. Easy to withdraw: Consent must be easy to withdraw. You need to make your customers aware of how to do this. Never hide your unsubscribe button.
  7. Documented: You must keep a record of what each person has consented to, what they were told, and when and how they consented.

For full examples on how other brands have implemented best practice sign up forms click here.

Now that you have created GDPR compliant sign up forms the next section will help you improve the conversion of these forms.

7 ways in which you can increase sign up conversion rates.

  1. Above the fold. Your web team might argue that consumers are scrolling through the fold, don’t let them convince you that hiding the newsletter form at the bottom of the page is a good idea!

  1. Be creative. Just to say sign up to our newsletter is pretty boring these days. This is a great way to build in some personality of the brand a cinema may create “Behind the Scenes” a clothing business may invite an audience to join “The catwalk” or a B2B business may invite prospects and customers to join their “Academy”.
  2. Benefit led. Once you have created this exclusive club be clear on the value to the audience. Use clear and compelling language.
  3. Test the call to action. Instead of submit – test different words that fit with your brand tone of voice and the club you have created.
  4. Use overlays. These are an effective way to get your sign up form in front of your visitors. Overlays can be set up to appear at these different touchpoints:-
    • When a visitor goes to close a browser window
    • After the visitor has scrolled to a certain depth
    • After the visitor has been on your page for a certain time

Be sure to only activate these for those not already in your database. Used badly overlays can detract from the customer experience and may actually disrupt the path to purchase.

  1. Don’t ask for too much. If you ask for too much information you may overwhelm your audience and drive them to abandoning the whole process. Only ask for what’s most important at that time, you can go on to progressively profile as you start building a relationship with that audience.
  2. Use social proof. Robert Cialdini says it best in his ‘6 Principles of Persuasion’, by referencing the multitudes of similar people acting in a particular way, brands can persuade or convince the recipient follow suit. 

6 awesome places to add an email sign up to your website

There are so many places you can add a newsletter programme sign up that are apart from above the fold and on the footer. Here are some ideas that will help you reach audiences wherever they are on your site.

  1. Welcome Gates. These are full screen calls to action that load before the user can see any content for your site. You need to think about when and where you use these as they can be annoying to the user. However, used well for some brands (B2B, Education and so on) can significantly increase sign ups.
  2. Floating Bars. This ensures that the sign up form is visible at all times wherever they are on the site. It sits neatly at the bottom of the fold and shouldn’t interfere with the overall customer experience.
  3. At checkout. This is when they are at their most engaged with you. Inviting them to your online programme at this time is an opportunity not to be missed.
  4. Blog page. Your audience are there to consume content. This is a great time to ask them if they want to join your exclusive club!
  5. Overlays. As mentioned earlier there are many types of overlays depending on where the visitor is on their journey through your website.
  6. Resources. For many B2B brands the resources section of the website gets the most traffic. This is a great opportunity to turn that audience into a subscriber.

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