The most valuable customers to have on your email marketing list are previous and existing customers. What are the best ways and techniques to encourage previous or existing customers to join your email marketing list? In building your email database, previous and existing customers often present the lowest hanging fruit and the easiest opportunity. In this section, we'll cover the best practices for recruiting previous and existing customers to your email list.

Use an Opt In Form When Users Check Out or Register

The easiest and most streamlined place to capture your previous and existing customers' email addresses and consent to opt-in to your email list is when those users purchase on your site or when they register as a site member. In both instances, users or customers will need to provide email addresses in order to receive login information, purchase receipts, or other necessary customer communications. Since they're already providing you with information and interacting with your site, it's a perfect opportunity to request that they allow you to email them with additional information and offers. This is typically done by putting a consent check box below the spot where users enter their email address. Depending on your email system, that consent check box can either automatically update your in-house database and include those users on email lists, or you can query your user database periodically and upload all contacts with a positively checked consent box to your email marketing platform. If you are doing the latter process, be sure that you don't overwrite anybody who has unsubscribed from your email list. Also, if you are manually uploading opt-in emails, be sure to do it fairly regularly. The longer that you wait, the more likely it is that a subscriber will forget about you and subsequently mark you as spam when you do eventually email them.

Use a Negative Consent Opt-In Form

There are two types of ways to construct an opt-in check box where your customers enter their email addresses. The first is called a "positive consent form." This means that users must actively check the box in order to be on your email list, and your text next to the box should say something similar to, "Check this box in order to receive special offers and deals from us." A "negative consent form" means that the box is already checked and users must proactively uncheck it if they do not want to receive email from you. In this case, your text next to the email consent box should read, "Please uncheck this box if you do not wish to receive future emails from us." While a negative consent form does mean that you may experience some heightened spam complaints, almost every case study ever done has shown improved results with a negative consent form. While users are unlikely to actively check a consent box, they are equally unlikely to remember to uncheck it. To optimize your email collection of existing customers, choose to use a negative consent form.

Offer a Clear Value Proposition

In the case of your current or existing customers, giving them a compelling reason to join your email list is no different than the same need with raw leads. Even though existing customers may already have a relationship with your company, brand, or product, that doesn't mean that they necessarily want to allow you to email them. After all, our inboxes are all very crowded these days and many people simply don't want extra "junk email." Be sure to give your customers a clear value proposition for why they should allow you to include them on your email list. This may be exclusive offers and discounts, useful information, early access to new products, monthly contests, or a host of other features that can encourage users to join an email list. The best value proposition for you may require some research and some testing. However, once you determine what it is, you'll see an increase in customers opting into your contact list.

Assure Privacy

This best practice applies virtually any time you solicit uses to join your email list, regardless of their previous relationship with you. Be sure to ensure users of your commitment to your privacy policy and that you will not share, sell, or rent their email. If possible, become accredited by an online trust and privacy monitoring organization such as Truste (Comm100 is Truste accredited). Information has become the currency of the internet, and users are increasingly aware that they want their private contact information to remain private. Be sure to give them that assurance whenever you are asking for an email address of any kind.

Solicit Existing Customers in Operational Email Communications

When a customer registers at your site or makes a purchase, you have a golden opportunity to request that they allow you to add them to your marketing email list even if they don't opt-in to your email list at the time of registration or purchase. Almost all registrations or purchases require follow-up confirmation or receipt emails. Those emails often experience a high open rate as they are highly relevant to customers. Utilize this communications opportunity to request again that customers allow you to add them to your email marketing list and provide them with a link to a confirmation page to add them to the list. You can also include this invitation in any and all of your customer service email templates.

Solicit Existing Customers via Social Media

Many of your existing customers will have a relationship with you via one of your social media channels. Be sure to periodically solicit customers via these channels to join your email list. You'll need to emphasize the benefits and exclusive offers or content available via email when you do this since many of your social email followers may already feel as though they've given you a valid communications channel by following you on a social media network. However, it's important to you to encourage them to transition to an email list for long-term revenue and valuation goals.

Solicit Existing Customers in Print Mailers

If you communicate with your existing customers via print mailings, it's a perfect time to encourage them to join your email list. Remind them that by allowing you to communicate with you via email, they save a tree and resources when you no longer need to send them print mailings!

Existing customers are not only the most likely to join your email list, they are also the most likely to respond to offers and information in your email products. By following the best practices above, you can optimize the number of existing customers who allow you to contact them via an email marketing or newsletter channel.

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