Always Be Converting: Growing Your Email Subscriber List


Guest post by Karl Murray, an email and online marketing expert, his experiences include:

  • Working in the email marketing space for over 12 years helping 1,000+ different organisations with various email marketing campaigns
  • Founder of, a full service email marketing agency in Ireland providing design, training and support services to over 400 managed customers
  • As a part-time lecturer with the Digital Marketing Institute, Karl has taught over 4,000 students how to implement email into a successful digital marketing strategy

Most articles suggest your e-mail subscriber conversion should be about 4%. So why is it that yours is probably closer to 0.4%?!

Don’t fret, you’re not alone – this is similar to our analysis. We looked across 70 client websites, and found an average email conversion of 0.4%. I’m sure we’re not the only people seeing this low conversion rate. And, more importantly, I can teach you how to fix it.

The opportunity to grow your list quickly is in applying offline email capture into your daily business routines. We may not talk to as many people as the number of people who visit our website – but we can control the email opt-in by asking for it directly instead of hoping they convert on the website. This will provide you with more subscribers and also the ability to capitalize on the most engaged subscribers.

What’s the Value of an Email Subscriber

By looking at the value of an email subscriber it should be enough to give you a focal point to measure the value of growing your list and a starting point.

There are better, more complex ways to calculate the value, but for the sake of ease we’ll do it this way. Take the revenue generated from your email campaigns over the the last 12 months and divide it by the number of subscribers:

$100,000 / 2,000 subscribers = $50 (value per subscriber)

Okay. Where this calculation falls over is as follows: The most recent subscribers are the most engaged – keeping open rates up. Depending on your business the more recent subscribers might be the most likely to purchase (online, impulse) or the longer term ones are future customers (nurtured into and through the funnel).

Either way – it’s vital to the success of your email marketing that you’re adding fresh, engaged email addresses to your lists – ALL THE TIME. Capturing email subscribers face to face and over the phone will add big numbers to your list every month.

Fastest Way to Extending your Email Opt-in Offline

Your email lists will grow quickest when you apply the Email Opt-in to the off-line part of your business. Think of the number of all the people who “touch” on your business every day. Well what does that audience looks like? Think of someone who:

  • sat in your restaurant
  • said no at the start of a pitch (low cost, low involvement)
  • said no at the end of a sales process (higher cost, lots of involvement)
  • walk into your store, look around and walk straight back out
  • called in with a sales question
  • called in with a support problem
  • was cold called by the sales team

Now think of how much would your list would grow if you simply asked all these people “before you go, I’d love to add you to our email marketing list. It’ll keep you in the loop of what we’re up to”. How many will say, “Sure thing”? We know… and you might be surprised. It’s actually about 70%.

At the high volume end, a telemarketer might be tasked with 70 phone lifts per day, 25 conversations, 11 good pitches to get one or two results. If, for the 25 conversations, regardless of a positive or negative outcome, she asked for an opt-in your business would have an extra 17 email subscribers every day. Apply that across your team and you’ll see how your email list will grow and grow.

Apply the same to your sales people out on the road and support staff dealing with customer problems. Every customer touch point offers the opportunity of capturing a new email subscriber.

Getting Subscribers to Become Customers

Think about it. The typical job of a sales person ends with the Yes at the end of the process – or any number of No’s throughout the process.

Getting the opt-in from someone for whom you’re not a fit right now gives you the opportunity to engage them later. A good email strategy will extend the sales pitch for a long time after the call is over. Show off a bit, compound the fact that you’re worth doing business with and show them what they’ve missed. And when that subscriber is in the market for your products or services you’ve an excellent chance of getting their business.

Restaurants and retail outlets have been letting people walk out the door for years with the faint hope that they’ll return. Why not invite them to sign up while their credit card clears? And then use the auto-reponder to email a coupon to ensure they return. Almost every email marketing system provides auto-responders which are emails triggered and sent automatically when someone signs up to your list. If your point of sale system doesn’t support email capture applications such “Counter Culture” on the iPad allow an easy and attractive way to sign up at the register.

Capitalizing on Engagement from Offline Opt-Ins

Follow up campaigns (typically within 7 days) to people that opted in over phone or face-to-face have much higher open rates and click-throughs. Our own clients have generated open rates of over 50% to these subscribers – where the average open rate for bulk sending is just 21%. It’s a curiosity factor.

Even though these offline opt-ins offer more engaged subscribers what I’d advocate is building on the relationship to optimize beyond open rates. I can go on about it, but Joey Coleman covers the first 100 days of retaining a client in a talk and how to really create value for the client that I’d suggest.

And Provide More Information for Targeting

A bonus is that an opt-in, following a conversation, will help you profile your subscriber for better targeting later. Using our email marketing business as an example: knowing that a subscriber “Currently uses Mailchimp”, “Doesn’t do email marketing”, or “Farms it out to their design agency” means we can target with suitable messages to pull them into and through the funnel.

A Bit of Housekeeping

Offline email subscriber capture requires the same proof of opt-in if challenged for spam complaints. It’s simple:

  1. Check if you asked over the phone
  2. Make a note of opt-in or not
  3. Entered them on your CRM system, checking the opt-in box for those that agreed

It’s worth mentioning that people who are asked offline tend not to be the ones that forget opting in and marking you as spam. Your email marketing reports will show them being some of the most engaged subscribers you have.

Always Be Closing Converting….

With selling the famous coined phrase – ABC meant Always Be Closing. Today, let’s think of it as “Always Be Converting”. If the close isn’t going your way then get the opt-in to the email list and you’ll get the opportunity to close them later.

Talk with Karl Murray about your email maketing campaign and growing your email list on Clarity.

Sign Up for Free

Tags: , , ,
Free Guide: Straight-up Startup Advice

Learn From The Best
Top Entrepreneurial Advice
150 Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets

Free Guide: Straight-up Startup Advice