I had an interesting experience this past weekend that had me thinking about the nuts and bolts process of email acquisition. My wife and I were in a store that specialized in home furnishings. She loves this store, and I can’t stand it. I was playing the role of good husband though, and bit the bullet. While we were checking out — once I got over the shock of the bill (why is stuff you don’t need always so expensive?) — I saw something that tweaked my interest. There on the counter was a piece of paper with hand-written email addresses on it. Wow, I thought. Is this really the way these guys are gathering lists?
The more I started to think about it, the crazier it seemed. The handwriting on the paper was awful. In fairness, all I attempt to write anymore is my last name; since I started typing, my brain and motor skills have forgotten all I knew about legible handwriting. Based on the “submissions,” I could tell this had happened to others as well. Do you really want to write your name and email address on a piece of paper that is visible to everyone? Clearly, we have some logistical issue with this type of list collection. I asked the ladies at the counter about their email collection. “Nobody wanted to give us an email address to type in on our register,” I was told. I asked what you received when you registered, and they weren’t sure if you received anything. So, basically, I put my email address and name down on a piece of paper for everyone to see, to sign up for who knows what. That’s not exactly enticing.
Let’s put this in context of Deliverability. A critical piece of Deliverability success is list quality. Sending a list of addresses out that are riddled with errors will quickly begin causing you issues. There’s no quicker way to look like a spammer than sending out a dirty list. It looks like you bought a CD full of addresses. In our example, we have people with bad handwriting scribbling down an email address, that is then keyed in by a clerk, then passed on to the corporate team for mailing. Not much chance for error there, right?
There are so many better ways to handle an acquisition process. For example, the cashier passes out a business card with a registration URL for my email marketing program. The card includes a guarantee that I will receive a 10% discount coupon with registration. The great thing about this kind of offer is it allows me to basically do a confirmed opt-in without the formality of confirmed opt-in. Give me your email address, and I will send you a link to print your special coupon. You can ask for preferences and start to build some real segmentation from the start. This is valuable information for building a successful email program. Or, what about having a terminal in the store where customers could participate in the example scenario? Endless possibilities exist to make this a better/more user-friendly process.