Online Retailing 4 Ways to Drive Traffic more than 3.2 billion email accounts today, which will grow to 4.3 billion email accounts by 2016, those email inboxes are the most premium real estate your messages could ever land on.

Online Retailing 4 Ways to Drive Traffic

According to Mojn’s slide deck on ecommerce stats, email now accounts for than 7% of all ecommerce user transactions and is the second most effective acquisition channel (next only to search at 15.8%).

Customer lifetime value of customers acquired through email is 12% higher than average and at least 33% customers report that email triggers their online spending. The average return on email is $44.25 for every dollar spent.


If you’ve been online for any length of time now, you know that building a list of earnest, happy subscribers is the single best thing you can do for your business.

A lot of posts already discuss some amazing ways to build a great list. Kevan Lee’s Email List Building from thnewsubse Experts: How to Grow a Massive Email List deserves special mention. This post has curated links to many experts’ accounts of how they built their email lists, in addition to the story behind Buffer’s own growing success with theirs.

The obvious ways to build a mailing list is to collect emails of previous customers and segment them if possible. Then, start giving things away for free – free samples, free products, free services, and free informational guides (on how they could use your products better or things that they didn’t know).

As such, you shouldn’t miss out on any of the opportunities available on your website itself to collect email addresses. Start with a large feature box on the top of relevant pages (including the blog itself). Find the best space on the sidebars, under the posts, and other areas.

Now, these calls to action are almost rudimentary now, and you’d be able to do all of this even if with simple DIY website builders such as IM Creator or Wix and plugins for various CMS. In fact, many site builder tools have built-in apps that help you collect emails. On top of that, you have email marketing solutions like GetResponse which encompass everything from creating an email template, A/B testing it, building landing pages to tracking recipient behavior.

But are there any new ways to build your list? Or at least, are there are old tricks in the book that everyone missed out on? Of course, yes. Today’s “new” often involves digging up old, forgotten ways. If you are ready to get your hands dirty, here are a few ways to get subscribers for your online store or for your ecommerce venture:

Meet and greet new people

If you’ve ever done sales for a traditional company, very much like the Fuller Brush Man who roamed the streets of the States in the past, you’d be familiar with the typical drill: meet 10 people and at least one person is likely to buy.

Since most of the action (read “transaction”) happens on your ecommerce store and not “in person,” you’d still be able to hustle this way to “meet and greet” potential and present customers.

But now, since you are not selling and only meeting them to say hello, you can raise your conversion target from 10% to 20%.

When you chance to meet a potential customer, all you have to do is to ask them if they don’t mind signing up for your newsletter or get on your mailing list. Now, let’s do the math (assuming you’re a reasonably charming person):

2 people a day x 30 days a month = 60

In a year, you’ll probably be able to sign up 720 people if you stick to it.

That’s impressive growth, as far as list building is concerned. If you get to this point, growth from here on will most likely to be automatic, but let’s not get carried away.

The good old referral method

Another trick off the old, dusty sales manual is asking for referrals. At the end of a sales call, sales people would ask for one or more of these three:

    • the sale
    • a future appointment (in case prospects want time to think)
    • at least 3 references

If all you did was to set out asking people to get on your mailing list, the “sale” is just about getting on the list. There won’t be any future appointments, and you’ll still be able to ask for 3 references (if you don’t settle for just email addresses, you could try phone calls, leading to more meetings).

So, for every person you meet, there’s a likelihood of meeting three more. Let’s go back to the numbers now, during the course of the same year you went out hunting for email subscribers:

Total people you’ll be able to call (or email, or befriend on social) in a month: 10 people a day x 6 references (3 each from 2 of them, sticking to our 20% conversion rate) x 30 days a month = 180

Total subscribers you are likely to get in a year (again, assuming 20% conversion): 180 x 0.20 x 12 = 432

This is addition to the 720 people you already signed up in person. How are we doing yet?

Launch an affiliate program just for email subscriptions

Most online businesses (and offline business that went online full steam) use affiliate-marketing programs to promote their products and services.

Businesses (known as advertisers or merchants) recruit thousands of affiliates who in turn use most methods available to them (including publishing, PPC, email marketing, etc.) to promote products or services for a commission on sales.

What happens when you are willing to pay an amount upfront for every new subscriber you can get through the combined efforts of your affiliates worldwide?

Using CPA (cost per action) as your preferred mode of affiliate marketing, you can recruit thousands of affiliates to do the promotions for you and get subscribers in droves.

Think about that!

No, don’t just think – here’s some advice from Leyl Master Black on the American Express OPEN Forum on how to go about it.

Grab them when they buy

While you are at the sale transaction point, request your customers if you could sign them up for new offers, information, and more freebies to their inbox.

In fact if you have a physical store, you can have a tablet right at the checkout counter that customers can use to input their email address and name while you are processing their transaction.

At this point, customers have already made a purchase and they are more than willing to pay attention to you.

If you are ecommerce store with no offline presence, take a calculated risk on your shopping cart and add opt-in boxes to entice them with more offers, coupons for discounts on their next buy, and other campaigns that provide solid gain.

Over to you

Now, none of these ideas are brand new, so to speak. But the tweak to apply these ideas to boost your subscriber could certainly be new, given that marketers are only trying strictly online methods to build email lists.

Building your subscriber list is pure gold. It should be your first priority. How are you doing it? What methods do you follow – online or offline – to build your subscriber base?

Featured image credit: TruCorefire on deviantART

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