Some suggest that the only things harder to come by than subscribers are good ideas. Yet there is an easily accessible way to find a ready source of ideas; subscribe to the email marketing lists of successful companies. Fair enough, you cannot copy verbatim, but what you should do is ask yourself why they do things differently to you.
An international software company, which seems to be expanding steadily, has a landing page that appears to commit one of the fundamental sins of email marketing. It uses trickery to gain subscribers. Most people, including me, would say this is a recipe for disaster.
I bought a product and on the automated reply acknowledging the order I found a hotlink. Who wouldn’t click though to ‘further information about the product, including manual download.’ There was a straightforward menu at the top of the landing page but underneath was a traditional looking sign-up form. The basic questions were all present but there was a surprising addition.
There were four tick-boxes, giving a choice of what to sign up for. There were three e-newsletters, each one promising to ‘mainly’ concentrate on one particular line of product. This is classic way of discovering what interests the subscriber. The ‘mainly’ means, in essence, the company was not limiting itself, so there were chances to mention other products.
At the bottom was the fourth tick box, but this one asked the reader to tick it receive ‘periodic offers of products’ with no further explanation. As it came directly after the e-newsletter boxes, with the text in identical style, the risk was that many of those who ticked the box would be expecting something similar. A significant proportion might be surprised to discover later that they had been placed on an email marketing list.
Here we have a successful company committing the error of not being clear. It seemed to be a trick, so a betrayal of the essential trust between subscriber and company.
I obviously clicked on the e-newsletter that was specific to the product I’d bought and also the offer, or rather email marketing list, and waited to see what would happen. Within the hour I received what was obviously an automated welcoming email. It was generic, and had little to distinguish it from any other. There was the first e-newsletter, on the subject I specified, attached together with a link to previous publications.
The penultimate paragraph stated that I had clicked the box to subscribe to their email marketing list. There was a little bit about how security of personal data was important to the company and a request to tick another box to confirm the subscription. The final paragraph included unsubscribe buttons for both newsletter and email marketing list.
I still felt cheated, but then one might conclude that many would not. The company had balanced the risk of people clicking the unsubscribe button against the larger number they hoped to catch.
It you are caught cheating, you’ve lost potential customers forever. However, this example shows that even the firmest of received wisdom can be ignored with clever systems.