Some of these strategies are good, others you should avoid outright as in the end, they’re not worth it. Now lets clarify, having someone sign up for an account on your site is different to someone opting in and out of receiving your marketing messages. Here we’re talking about direct marketing subscriptions. Text, e-mails or other direct message from brand to subscriber. When you have a user marketing database, where you send out messages, you should ensure you make it easy for subscribes to opt-out.
Good idea: Good content
This one’s a wild thought isn’t it? By far, the best way to attract subscribers is through providing access to content they value. It doesn’t matter if your subscription is paid or free, if you’re providing entertainment, a redirect (like if Disney sent you an e-mail telling you the stream date of Alladin 10), or out right marketing (a sale or promotion on an item) if your content is high quality, you’ll attract new subscribers and keep existing ones.
Bad idea: Click bait
It’s called click bait ‘cuz it drives traffic. You’ll get hits, but people are always sharpening up to the tag lines and you’ll have to constantly work on ways to trick them into following your links. Incomplete titles, irrelevant content, poorly written articles, sales with added conditions, misrepresented products and hyped up nonsense. Enough of this and your brand will suffer, people will quickly opt-out of your database.
Good idea: Relevance
When you’re a small company, chances are your market is more localized, or your product is niche and specific. Your customers wont’ be so different from each-other, at least in terms of needs and what attracts them to your brand and offering in the first place. As you grow, consider splitting up your database, cutting the pie in as many ways as you can. Australians are not Austrians, ice hockey and field hockey are different sports, while the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons have rival fans (that all love basketball). The bigger your brand gets, the more pieces of pie you should have. These segments should be sent messages more relevant to them.
Bad idea: Content gating
Forcing people to sign-up in order to see content is an easy way to convert casuals and lurkers into subscribers. This practice has become really popular with old time news papers that have had to shift focus to an online model, also adding a pay wall to part of the content provided. You worked hard to create the content, you should get something in return. For blogs, entertainment providers and news outlets, gating can work out well. If you’re a business like a sporting good supplier, and you use gating for access to some of your products or services, it’s going to be a tough sell. The major down side of gating is that people may become actively motivated to go elsewhere. With Google around, it’s not hard to find alternative sources and content.
Good idea: Thoughtful Timing
Timing is critical, and so is the message sent in that time. You might not have the resources to have smart database capability, but you can have tact in your timing. Get to know your users, it will help you figure out good timing practices.
The smarter you get, the more it costs, but this can really help push sales and keep customers happy. It’s a well worth investment as your company grows. Jim buys a TV, do you e-mail Jim the next day showing him half priced TVs? Or do you e-mail Jim thanking him for his kick ass TV purchase and offer him 20% off on all sound-bars that would go well with his new TV? What about e-mailing him in 3 months, do you e-mail him with TV sales? Or does your e-mail tell Jim know about an important software update for his TV, giving him some screen cleaning tips, and asking him if he would consider providing a review of the TV, all the while reminding him the new X-Box would look really great next to his TV enticing him with 10% off any accessory.
Bad idea: Careless Timing
Are you overwhelming the subscriber? Are you the notification on their phone that wakes up their partner at 4am? If you have a database with subscribers from different time zones, consider splitting them, sending messages at different times. If you have a subscriber in Australia, and you’re including them in your thought out articles on keeping warm in December, you can see why they may opt out.
Bad timing comes in a lot of different shades. If your quality drops or you have nothing interesting to say, you’re better off not saying anything at all. Don’t be afraid to drop the timing. Hell don’t even worry about a strict time frame, just send out messages when you have something cool to share. A costume shop will have a lot going on in the lead-up to Valentines, Halloween, ST Patrick’s and Christmas, not so much on National Nothing Day. For a small costume shop, rather than a weekly letter, they may be better off timing their messages with prominent holidays known for dress-up.
Good idea: VIP
Everyone likes feeling special, and customer loyalty is super lucrative. Give a little and you can gain a lot. Keep an eye on your data and reward customers that are engaging with your brand, whether they’re spending big, praising you on social media, or even standing outside your door, consider having a VIP program, where you offer special products or services. It can even be as simple as giving these people a heads up on new stock, the option to pre-purcahse hot items, or an outright VIP discount. A local clothing store had a really neat idea where they would have secret sales for their VIP’s. The sale wasn’t available online, but the e-mail message would tell the customer a secret word. When they would mention this word at the in-store checkout, they would get a massive discount. Did the members share it with non-members, you bet! That was the plan. If you do a VIP membership, you don’t have to offer much, just the notion of being assigned as a VIP makes people feel good. Kind of like Twitter’s blue check mark. I’m a VIP, are you? Different tiers of VIP are also a good way to boost the reward system. It’s better to have a hen that lays eggs, than it is to cut it. Look after your VIP’s.
Bad idea: Forced membership
It’s better to charm people into signing up. When Facebook was still fresh, it was really common for musicians to put free music behind forced sign ups. Yes, it helped boost up the fan page numbers with real users, but they’re not genuinely passionate fans. This is especially relevant to stores that have products or services where repeat customers are unlikely. By having a forced membership, the purchase process is made slower and more complex. Enough people just want to pay for their product and leave. Be very careful when applying forced memberships.