How to collect and use email sign ups

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Capturing data isn’t easy, especially if your data collection techniques only go as far as a newsletter sign up button or a obligatory ‘tick this box to sign up to our newsletter’ on your website’s registration or contact form. We all know the importance of data, and without it email campaigns would be a little tricky to say the least. So here are a few useful pointers to help you collect more email data…


If you are passive and expect customers to find your newsletter form, you will be disappointed. It’s highly unlikely that the sole objective of the customer visiting your website is to sign up to your newsletter, therefore you need to be proactive and ask for it. One way to do this is to deliver targeted lightboxes to new visitors to your site. However, ensuring that the benefits to subscribers are clearly highlighted is a essential element behind success – e.g ‘sign up to receive the latest products and promotions from our store’.

Don’t ask too much

The more questions you ask when collecting email addresses, the lower the chances are that customers will complete the process.

Providing you capture the essential details at the initial sign up (email address and first name), you can obtain more data at a later date. Preference centres are a perfect way for customers to provide you with more data so that you can tailor your communications to them. Take opportunities such as welcome emails to give the customer a chance to manage their subscription, stating what they are interested in receiving and how often they’d like to be contacted. This helps minimise the number of emails being left unopened and unsubscribed from.

Often, the most valuable data isn’t provided from the customer directly, but instead, their browsing and purchasing history from your website. This data can highlight behavioural patterns and product interest, allowing you to target your customers with relevant products, discounts and communications.


A new email address is a valuable piece of data, despite the fact that it’s extremely difficult to put an exact figure on one. Therefore there is real value in incentivising customers to provide you with an email address, but make sure the incentive is tied to your business, for example, in the form of a discount or special promotion. Try avoiding free prize draws as they tend to attract the wrong types of customers who have no interest in your business but just want to enter a competition.

What’s in it for them? have probably the most popular weekly newsletter around – and they really tell you why you should receive it every week. Visit their site and you won’t miss it. It’s a great, yet extreme example of how you should push the value of your emails to encourage people to sign-up. Yet many of us are still simply asking ‘Sign up for our newsletter’ – who wants to receive that?

Not just your website

For those with multiple customer touch points such as stores or a call centre, these are a great opportunity to gather large volumes of customers email addresses. However, often the key challenge here is to get frontline staff to buy into asking customers for an email address, and then making sure these addresses are entered correctly. Start by setting simple KPI’s and measure based upon accurate addresses collected.

How do you ask?

We often think the opt-in tick box needs to be a simple ‘tick here to opt-in to our emails’. However there are other ways of achieving this. One example is an Emailcenter client who had the following radio button options:
HTML (Pre-selected) | Text | None

This got an 80% opt-in rate, and they only really noticed when someone decided to change to a conventional way of asking when opt-in rates fell through the floor.

Pre-ticked or un-ticked?

Always have a positive, pre-ticked box where the customer can unselect if they don’t wish to receive emails. This will maximise opt-in rate, and as long as you are not hiding it, or making the text confusing or minuscule keep you on the right side of privacy law and your customers.

About Rupert Adam

Marketing Manager at Emailcenter, the UK's largest independent ESP.