The State of Email List Growth in 2016

 

Contents

 

"Not all popups were created equally" -->


 

The Value of Email Continues to Climb

 

Despite the influx of social networks, messaging apps and mobile,  owning a customer's email address remains a top priority for marketers. Claims of email dying as a channel have been overblown.  With the advancement of lead nurturing, CRM based retargeting, and custom audience targeting, the value of customer emails continues to climb. According to research from GigaOm, "Marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention".

So it's no surprise that we're seeing more and more popups across publishers, retailers and anyone else operating a website.  At Privy, we power email list growth campaigns for over 20,000 marketers around the world. In this report, we looked at six months worth of data across 5,000 of our most active users to understand the trends, data, and best practices around email capture. In most cases, these findings are based off 100 Million data points.

Our hope is that by publishing insights from this data, you can become a more effective marketer yourself. 

 

 

Campaign Content - the Most Impactful Factor on Conversion Rate

 

Our data shows that above all else, the content carries the most significant impact on the conversion rate of your campaign. We pulled the three most frequently used content types to understand how well each converts.

  1. Sign-up campaigns: This is a simple “join our email list popup” that may mention the subscriber can expect specials, offers and announcements, but refrains from using a specific offer to incentivize conversion.

  2. Offer campaigns: Just like it sounds, an offer backed-campaign uses the promise of a specific promo code ,coupon, or piece of content in exchange for conversion.

  3. Enter to win campaigns: This is more of a “sweepstakes” type giveaway, where at the end of the campaign schedule, a winner, or group of winners will randomly be selected.

 "Enter to win" forms offer the most incentive to join and convert at 15%, followed by offers which convert 5%, and lastly, sign up campaigns which convert at 1%. Clearly, the higher the incentive, the higher the conversion rate.

Of course, depending on your brand, margins and campaign mission, not all of these campaigns make sense for your business, yet these are good benchmarks to use when comparing your own campaign success.

 

 

Popup, Banner, or Bar?  The Impact of Display Type on Email List Growth

 

Marketers love to A/B test campaign creative, yet for the most part the tests are restricted to a single display type. We looked across the three most popular form display types to examine which performs best. First let's understand each display type:

  1. Popup: Likely does not need explanation. Popups, also known as lightboxes, typically display in the center of the website, or sometimes as "fly outs" in the corner.
  2. Bar: A full width bar that typically sits either on top of your site, or at the bottom.
  3. Banner: A more subtle interaction that sits at the top or bottom of a site, but starts in a "hidden" state until triggered, then rolls in to sight.
                                                         Popup

                                                         Popup

                                                           Bar

                                                           Bar

                                                        Banner

                                                        Banner

 

 

The banner style outperforms both the popup and email bar. It's easy for site visitors to get frustrated by a popup, and immediately close it down. We've also noticed that email bars are perhaps a bit too subtle, and it's easy for visitors to glance over them entirely, similarly to a traditional embedded form.

 

 

Display Triggers: Timers, Exit Intent, and Tabs

 

These days, you can use a spattering of different triggers to determine when a visitors sees your list growth campaign. We looked at the three most popular campaign triggers, to understand how each trigger impacts conversions. Let's first understand how each trigger works:

  1. Timer: The time trigger simply enables you to determine when to display your campaign, based on how long a visitor has been on your site. It could show immediately when a visitor lands, 10 seconds later, etc.
  2. Exit intent: This trigger is growing in popularity. Exit intent tracks your visitors mouse movement, and if the visitor appears to be leaving or "exiting" your site, you can use that as a trigger for your campaign.
  3. Tabs: Tabs, or other visual calls to action can be customized to fit in with your site layout, and when clicked, trigger your campaign to display.

 

 

 

Though time based, and exit-intent campaigns are most frequently used, the conversion rate of tab triggered campaigns is orders of magnitude higher than the other, "automatic" triggers. We certainly expected that the intent behind a site visitor proactively clicking on a visual cue would lead to higher conversion rates, but we never realized how much more impactful that could be. In an ideal scenario, you're using several of these triggers in conjunction with one another to maximize your opt-in rate.

Note that this conversion rate is measured based on campaign views resulting in signups by initial trigger, not total site traffic resulting in signups. 

 

 

Breakdown of Opt-ins by Time on Site

 

Many marketers ask, "Should I display my popup immediately, or after a delay"? Certainly, data around conversion rate by time delay are impacted by other factors like campaign content, but we did take a horizontal view across campaigns to examine if there was any measurable difference in the effectiveness of various time delays: 

  • Displaying your campaign immediately (within 3 seconds of page load), or displaying at 15-30 seconds is optimal for conversions.
  • Displaying the campaign at 5-10 seconds is interrupting a user flow, and does not convert as well.
  • And triggering campaigns after 30 seconds performs worst.

The key takeaway is that as a marketer you either want to capture visitor attention immediately, likely using a compelling first time offer, or waiting until the user digs deeper into your site between 15-30 seconds.

 

 

Cater List Growth Efforts to Device Type

 

It's 2016. By now you're irrelevant if you did not evolve fast enough to cater to the mobile consumer. So, why wouldn't you take the same approach with popups and email capture? For most brands, the customer journey may begin on one device, and transition fluidly to the next. Weaving device targeted popups into those same user journeys is crucial for optimizing your opt-ins, but it's not easy.

We found that traffic from tablets converted at higher rates than mobile and desktop. And, as you might expect, desktop converts better than mobile devices. Mobile users are typically landing on your site to browse and get specific information. 

The right strategy includes unique campaign designs for each device category, not simply a "mobile responsive popup". As an example, you might have a gorgeous, image heavy popup for desktop, with the ultimate goal of driving both the email registration, and sale, in the same session. For mobile, perhaps you have a image free popup with the goal of simply capturing the email, and using email nurturing or retargeting campaigns to drive a purchase on desktop at a later time.

 

 

New Visitors vs Repeat Visitors

 

Sifting through the data set, we also found that the number of times a visitor has been to your site impacts opt-ins as well. New visitors converted at 2.81%, compared to repeat visitors converting at 1.23%. When crafting or tweaking you list growth campaigns, consider using audience attributes as additional targeting techniques for who should, or should not, see each of your campaigns. Most campaigns you come across are typically first time welcome offers for joining the list. Sequencing your campaigns to focus additional campaigns purely available to repeat visitors is another strategy that can boost your conversions.

 

 

Methodology

 

The data used in this report was collected over a 6 month period ending on Feb 29, 2016. Distinct samples were obtained for each breakdown to accommodate different scenarios, i.e.  exit-intent and tab events were excluded from the "Conversion rate by timing" analysis. The data included in this report reflects the past performance of 5,000 businesses using Privy and should not be used as an indicator for future results.