Be an opt-in falcon: What 4 million email opt-ins taught us about collecting quality email adresses

We love the art of collecting email adresses, but also in numbers and we find beauty in data and statistics. So when we hit the mark of collecting 4 million email opt-ins (yes there is a live counter on our site), it was time to open the books and share more of the secrets behind our stats & data of Padiact.

After gathering that many opt-ins you begin to see patterns and see what proved to be successful, what works and what doesn’t, so you can have a more pragmatic – falcon-like – approach to collecting emails.

We dived into our stats, crunched the numbers, checked out hundreds of campaigns, and as a result got interesting insights that can make you an email opt-in falcon too.

1. Adjust opt-in requests timing to the mood of the visitor

Imagine this: you’ve just entered a website and after a few seconds you get a pop-up that urges you to subscribe to get the latest offers. If you are a totally new visitor, that can be a very distracting and annoying, and in some case, it can drive you away.

People aren’t bothered by pop-ups and fly-out subscription forms because of the copy or the offer, but because of the timing. The right time is when they are in the mood to “hear you out”. Not before that, and of course not after they decided to leave your website.

I wrote about this before here: the best email pop-ups don’t make these mistakes, they even convince with both timing and show the value of signing up.

This approach doesn’t mean less leads, but for sure it means better, more interested leads.

A good lead generation tool invests in their behavioural targeting engine, at least that is how we think about it. Adding more targeting rules and analysing visitor patterns. All to make sure you as a marketer can show your forms with the ideal timing, when the visitor is actually considering subscribing. Not before, not after.

2. These are the most popular email opt-in targeting rules

After we hit the 4 million mark, we wanted to learn what are the most used targeting rules by our users, and this is what we learned:

Here are the top email opt-in targeting rules in a list, from most popular to least popular:

28% Target People a # of Times (Once, On Each Visit, On Every Pageview)
23% Target People After They Visited a # of Pages
20% Target Returning/New Visitors
7.5% Target People That Spend # Seconds on Your Website
4.5% Exclude People Interacting With Certain Pages on Your Website
3.5% Target People Interacting With Certain Pages on Your Website
2.5% Exclude People Coming from Marketing Campaigns (CPC, Email etc)
1.5% Exclude People that already converted
1.5% Target People coming from certain websites
1% Target People only when they scroll down
7% Other rules combined

With only the 4 most popular rules, email marketers can already create radically different setups, and target different segments based on how visitors interact with their websites. Yes, the first step to that t falcon-style precise targeting.

3. Don’t ask all you site visitors to opt-in to your email list

Most of the lightbox email capturing tools out there are promoting a very bad habit: “target all website visitors”. While “target everybody” can get you a fair amount of email subscribers, we think this is counter-productive on the long term.

While in the case of blogs it might be useful, that doesn’t mean it should be the industry standard, especially not for big websites or ecommerce websites.

Members and non members only? Make sure you ask the right visitor to sign up

It means treating all visitors the same. (Un)Fortunately, not all visitors are equally as important and especially not in targeting them to sign up for your emails, for instance why ask if they are already signed up?

What people we don’t want on our email list? Here’s a sample of people we wouldn’t want to target:

  • already subscribed (we already have them, why bother them with forms?)
  • people that already converted
  • people coming from different sources of traffic
  • people who are in the process of buying from you

In a good email pop-up tool you can use exclusions rules. These are extremely helpful and give your visitors a sense that you know the relation are they with your website and brand.

4. Engaged visitors are much more likely to sign up and make better subscribers

Some visitors need some time “alone” with your website. So, they would disregard a pop-up right there in their faces, 1 second after they landed on your website. These visitors might leave your site immediately. Why scare them away?

We always advise targeting people after they’ve spent some time on the website, and maybe after they browse through a few pages. There’s no big rush, we know everyone is in a hurry, but that’s no reason to push the visitor to do certain actions before they get to trust your website.

This is one of the reasons we put a behavioural targeting system at the core of Padiact, which allows users to target specific segments of traffic. There are over 30 rules (inclusion and exclusion rules), and frequently we add even more based on customer requests and lead experiments.

Because of these rules our users have the flexibility to target visitors exactly how they want to, when they want to, on what pages they want to.

5. Rushing might lead to lower quality subscribers

If you don’t rush the visitor, you can ask more engaged visitors to subscribe, not just anyone who landed on your website. If you calculate the average value of an email subscriber for your business, driving the right type of email subscribers (more engaged) might make the difference for you. Driving better leads will increase the average value of one’s email subscribers and might even increase the ROI of your email campaigns.

The harsh truth: Not all people are interested in your brand and/or your offer, so why engage with all visitors, when you can target and convince your most valuable visitors: the ones that actively engage with your content and website.

After analysing our users’ campaigns, we noticed something awesome. We noticed that most of our users applied this advice, and worked to bring better leads, not just to collect any email address.

You see, for some people it might look like a number’s game, collect more email address – this will improve revenue (eventually), but for people that get it, it can make a huge difference in their marketing. Instead of having thousands of people on their list after a few contests and giveaways, you will have people that “deep dive” your product catalog and website.

6. Email marketers use multiple email opt-in rules together

Email marketers can go and have a more broad approach by targeting based on time spent on the website, and a minimum of pages visited, or they can go very granular with their targeting, and target people coming from specific websites/traffic sources and target only visitors who get passed certain website elements or are triggering different events.

An interesting insight we got after looking into our users’ campaigns was that the most popular targeting rules are usually used together, that’s why they are more prevalent.

Testing different campaign set-ups

Our advice, no matter what email capturing tool you are using, always A/B test different campaign setups, this way you can find the middle ground between the subscription rate you want, and the way your visitors behave.

Image by reway2007 (cc)

Claudiu Murariu

Claudiu Murariu is the co-founder of PadiCode, the company behind PadiAct, a behavioral targeting tool for increasing email leads. Claudiu can be found on Twitter (as @padicode) and on his blog.