Build your list, they said. Build a list of emails and launch your email marketing campaign. Easy-peasy.

The statistics leave no room for doubt, either – the average ROI of email marketing is 3800%, or $38 per each $1 you invest.

If you are looking for ways to collect emails, I can tell you there are two basic ways to do it. 

You can buy a list. There are surely enough offers on the market, but… don’t. Just don’t. The damage to the reputation is going to be higher than any revenue you might expect to get.

The other way – which is the only right way – is to build your email list from the ground up. The key point here is to make your users, visitors or readers give their emails to you. Moreover, they should WANT to give them.

In fact, it is a complex multi-layered task. The main thing is to explore different opportunities, monitor their performance and always be ready to change and adapt. Let’s see how you can collect emails on your website.

Ways To Collect Emails On A Website

Depending on your industry and the kind of business you do, you can choose the email collection strategy that works best for you.

Lead Magnet

Remember that I said that you should make visitors want to give their emails to you? Well, a lead magnet is a perfect example of this technique. Simply put, a lead magnet is an offer of something in exchange for a subscription.

Needless to say, your offer should be of value to your customers. The most straightforward way is to propose a discount against subscription. Alternatively, look for other magnets that can catch your visitors’ attention and stop them from browsing away from you:

  • Free shipping of the first order
  • Free trial of your product
  • A promo code to share with someone else

You can place this offer in several strategic places – on the landing page where it pops up after a visitor spends some time there, on a product page, on any page as an exit-intent popup. Try different options and see which works best.

Kensie, a clothing retailer, greets you with a 20% discount off the first offer if you subscribe. If you do subscribe on these terms, the store gets double benefits – they make a sale and add an email to their marketing list.

Skillshare, an online course platform, enrolls new members – and builds its email database, of course – by offering a free two-month Premium subscription. The only thing the platform wants is your email address or your Facebook or Google profile.

Extra Content 

If your business is related to any content production, you can offer some exclusive items upon subscription only. In other words, if you are in education, analytics, knowledge sharing, mentoring, your most interesting tutorials, courses, books, checklists can be made available to your subscribed users only. 

A good practice is to provide some useful content free for everyone without any subscription. This way, your visitors will be able to estimate whether they need your product at all and whether it meets their expectations. Otherwise, they’d rather not subscribe.

Look how the Backlinko does it. When you visit this SEO training website, you will find lots of great posts on the blog even without subscribing. However, that message on the landing page says there may be more. You only need to provide your email address.

Subscribe Form In An Exit-Intent Popup

Do you use exit-intent popups? If not, you should really consider using them. An exit-intent popup is your last-ditch effort to retain the customer who is about to leave your website. Most marketing tools have this option – they monitor the customer’s mouse cursor movements and display the popup when it nears that cross in the browser window.

You can use the exit-intent popup to achieve various goals – remind the customer of items in their cart, offer a first-time discount and, of course, collect their emails. Include a subscription form in the popup together with an attractive incentive – and you may still get them before they click that cross.

Roadside Vapes do exactly that – before you leave, they stop you with a catchy image, a nice message and, of course, a discount offer. Note the “Save now!” call-to-action. No, they are not asking you to subscribe, they are offering you a savings opportunity.

Sign-Op Forms For Returning Visitors

Your analytical tools can tell you that you have visitors who come repeatedly, browse your website but somehow are not on your email list yet. Time to do something about it!

Prompt your returning visitors to subscribe at the same time offering them something of value that is not available otherwise.

See how Medium does it. If you visit this blog platform often enough, you are sure to come across this “Pardon the interruption” message suggesting that you subscribe. True, Medium does not make any explicit offer but only subscribed users can post.

Email Collection In A Live Chat

Having a live chat on your website is always a plus. In addition to being one of the tactics of user engagement, live chat can become one of the channels of email collection, too.

There are several ways you can ask users for emails through a live chat:

  • A pre-chat form. Most live chat software tools have the option of setting up a little form for users to fill-in while they are waiting for the available agent to answer. Usually, there are just a couple of fields: name, request reason and – you guessed it! – email. A pre-chat form, on the one hand, makes it easier for the agent to start the conversation calling the customer by name and having an idea why they came there in the first place. On the other hand, the form fills up your email database, too.

  • An offline form. If you are not maintaining a 24/7 chat support, use the chat window to ask users for their details to get back to them when the team is online. Naturally, the email address will be one of the things you will ask for.
  • Live chat conversation. It is a good practice to ask customers for their emails directly during the chat. There may be more than one reason for that – to follow up on their issue or to send a chat transcript. Of course, you can use this opportunity to increase the email database, too.

Best Practices Of Collecting Emails On A Website

I have outlined some of the most popular ways that you can use to gather emails. Let’s now talk about what you should do and what you should not do while setting up your email collection strategy.

Make It Easy To Find The Subscription Form

It may sound strange but sometimes customers who want to sign up need to take some effort to find the actual form. Make you form visible and easily discoverable. Moreover, you can have it in more than one place for customers to find it when they scroll down your page.

Make A Clear Offer

If you offer something in exchange for the user’s email, say it clearly. The user should see immediately what they are going to get if they subscribe.

Do it like Tommy Hilfiger. The company is prepared to give 20% off your first purchase if you subscribe – and it says so in big bright brand-colored letters. This is the first thing you see in this popup. Of course, if you look closer you will see the smaller print promising updates and newsletters but the main thing is the discount.

Do Not Ask For Too Much

What do you need from a subscription form? Basically, it is just one thing – the email address. So ask for it. Set up your subscription form with the minimum fields – the most optimal number is two – name and email. Before you add a field for the phone number and postal address, think if you really need them.

Use Compelling Calls-To-Action

What do you see on the CTA most often? “Subscribe,” “Join,” “Sign up” or “Download.” True, in many cases it works but what if you get a bit more creative and use your CTA to both state the offer value and boost the user’s curiosity?

Surfing the net, I come across such CTA gems as “Join the pride,” “Grab your freebies,” “Yes, I’m in,” and many more. For example, iDalko creating JIRA and Atlassian tools offers its JIRA guide in exchange for your email address with a CTA saying “YES, tell me more about the guide.” You can skip subscription by confirming that you are “already a complete Jira expert.”

Do Not Overuse Full-screen Lightboxes

Surely, a sign-up form that fills up the entire screen is going to attract attention. However, use it with care. Sometimes, a full-screen form may result in annoyance rather than engagement.

If you do decide to use a full-screen lightbox, do not spring it on the user the second they land on your page. They have not come to you to subscribe. They have come to browse your products, read your blog, look up your services – so let them do it before subscribing.

Create A Sense Of Urgency

Your subscription form may state that the incentive is a limited-time offer. If the offer is truly relevant and valuable, the urgency and the sensation of time running out (you can include a countdown timer for that effect) may be an additional argument for the user to click that button.

Alternatively, a good practice is to offer a subscription at the end of a quiz. After the user has taken the trouble to answer all questions they will be intrigued to see the result. Make subscription the final step of the quiz, as Face Yoga Method does. This subscription form has everything – a personalized promise, a progress bar and even an arrow pointing to where you should type in your email address.

Wrapping Up

I think I managed to sum up the best practices of email collection that work for most businesses. What do you think? Have I missed anything? I would be really thrilled if you reached out to me with your suggestions as to how to make email marketing work even better. Let’s talk!