From Amazon Prime Day to the festive season, ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers alike are seeing record-breaking sales during key shopping events. Email is consistently ranked as the most effective marketing channel to drive revenue.

So how should marketers approach their email database in the run up to Cyber Week and Christmas, especially with subscriber lists thinned as a result of GDPR?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most effective strategies for retailers to grow your email lists before the busy shopping season.

Transparency is always the best approach

First, the bad news. If you have an old email list you typically dusted off and put to work before Cyber Week, and you didn’t re-permission subscribers before the GDPR took effect in May, you need to carefully review how those email addresses were captured. If you don’t have clear permission, then you’ll need to do a Legitimate Interest Assessment to see if you can still use the list.

You should strive to be transparent when gaining new subscribers. You can accomplish this by being clear about your email offerings and the benefits of shoppers sharing their email addresses. Rather than simply saying “Do you want to sign up for our newsletter?”, think of it from the consumer’s point of view and include language like, “Would you like to receive news about new products, special offers and member-only events?”.

The non-technical language is more enticing for customers, and also meets the GDPR requirement that “any information addressed to the public or the data subject be concise, easily accessible and easy to understand, and that clear and plain language” be used.

Data Capture is more than a pop-up

Data capture seems like a straightforward proposition. Place a pop-up or a banner on your website inviting shoppers to enter email information, grow the subscriber list, move on to a more exciting project. But it isn’t that simple – and the “set and forget” mentality is hurting ecommerce companies.

If you are looking to entice shoppers to subscribe to your emails via a pop-up, it’s time to abandon ones that cover the entire web page as soon as a shopper visits the site. This approach has become more and more ineffective as the shopper hasn’t had a chance to learn anything about the products before the merchant wants their email address. It causes many customers to simply close the pop-up without taking any action. You’ve then lost the valuable opportunity to get their attention. It can also be damaging to your search engine rankings.

It is much more effective to allow visitors an ample amount of time to browse the site and get a feel for the product offering before displaying a pop-up so they can sign up to stay connected. And don’t display the pop-up to visitors who have already made their decision by opting in – or out.

Another option that is under-utilised: A popover to banner approach. When the customer closes the pop-up, the information stays on the page in a banner or footer position and travels, discreetly, with the customer as they shop.

Once you have effectively captured the attention of a shopper, consider providing a subtle push to help your audience hit “subscribe.” One way to increase this likelihood is by offering them an incentive – but avoid thinking an incentive can only come in the form of a coupon or discount. Incentives can be exclusive access to new products or invitations to in-store events as well.

Every touchpoint is an opportunity

Capitalise on every touchpoint, i.e. any point of contact with your customers, such as transactional emails, point of sale, or social media. Order confirmations, e-receipts and shipping confirmations get two to three times the open rates of your regular emails. Transactional information should remain the main focus of these messages, so you can’t turn them into marketing banners, but you can add a sign-up link for marketing emails.

Strategically placing a call-to-action, or offering the option to sign up for emails on social media or when checking out in physical stores, are other beneficial avenues to get your subscription form in front of your customers and followers.

Though Cyber Week and the Christmas season may be the most important time of the year for many retailers, it’s important to keep a robust email list year-round. To accomplish this, especially keeping in mind new GDPR regulations for shoppers in the EU and its residual impact globally, retail marketers need to keep three crucial tips in mind.

  1. Retailers and customers alike will benefit from transparency about how the collected email addresses will be used and the type of marketing content the subscribers will receive.
  2. Data capture devices can be powerful tools to grow your email list but need to be deployed in a smart way.
  3. You should capitalise on as many touch points as possible to collect new sign-ups, whether on their site or on other channels. With these tips in tow, you will be able to fill up email lists ahead of the year’s busiest shopping season.

Econsultancy offers email marketing training and a Best Practice Guide.