Tuesday, December 13, 2016

EMAIL SIGN UP - Anatomy of an Email Inbox Dec 13

EMAIL SIGN UP - Anatomy of an Email Inbox Dec 13

I have talked in this blog about email strategy and why businesses send emails and how they make them timely and relevant.  There's plenty of evidence about the value of email marketing and the ROI.  I often wonder however, if we did it really well, how much better could it be. eMarketer's 2016 survey found that on average email delivers 122% ROI - in the top 5 revenue driving channels.  That's good and well above the others in the study.  I think we can do lots better.

So today, I'm picking three companies I am currently not subscribed to and signing up for their emails using two different email addresses.  The goal will be to see how well they get to know me and what they use to build the relationship with the two different mes.  This will be a series of blog posts over the coming weeks and months so that we can watch what transpires and what we can learn.

I am purposely picking marketers who I think will be a mix of more or less sophisticated in this area to show the contrasts and oppoortunities.

Pulte Homes - Tampa - I am establishing my winter home in the Tampa area, so will be looking at what area I want to live in and what the properties are that might meet my needs.

WFLA - Tampa - Our local NBC TV affiliate.  I will want to know more about what is going in my local comunity and things I can do for the winter, so these emails from WFLA to these personas will help me stay in tuned with my new community.  I am hoping that they will be watching my behaviors as I visit the site and consume content and use this to send me relevant emails.

Bealls Department Store - New location and home mean I need more stuff.

Today we will begin with just the initial sign up.


I started with a search for "new homes Tampa."  Didn't find them in paid listings on the first page, but they did make it to the last organic listing on page one.  So I clicked on their listing. This led me to the home page which had a nice lifestyle photo, description of what they deliver and map of where their communities are.  Other than a small "envelope" icon for "contact us," there was no call to action for signing up or getting information, so I clicked the envelope.  That did lead me to a page with options for signing up:  financing, information, homeowner questions and repairs.  I'm clicking on "information."  This led me to a form that is clearly a national form.  I'm going to sign up with two slightly different addresses and emails in Tampa area.  I left a brief message of the price range of homes I am looking for and that I only want emails at this point.  So after I hit enter, which I thought meant I was signing up, I now went to a second screen that told me to create an account and why I should:

- save design ideas and inspiration to your favorite
- create a design board with favorite items
- save home models you love
- follow Pulte communities and get notified about opening

Upon creating my account, there was another page of benefits.  My initial impression is that this all sounds good, so why are you hiding it behind a tiny icon at the top of the page and taking several steps to tell me why I should engage with you. And, by the way, the benefits were redundant between the pages.  Did you think I didn't get it the first time? SOUR?

My second sign up (Gmail) used a more specific search for Pulte specifically and a different first and last name and email address (so I can distinguish future personalizations).  I'm also asking for slightly higher priced homes (in the $300's).

Slightly better presence with a paid and organic listing when I searched for "Pulte homes Tampa."


Searching on Tampa TV station, I quickly found the local NBC affiliate - WFLA.  The organic listing took me to a very busy home page.  This is typical of most media sites, but I guess they think they have to serve everyone, so lots to consume.

There were a few engagement calls to action within the content including a sign up for weather newsletter and a free download to stay connected on the go.  I presume that was for their app.  The contact us link in the footer was more for a specific department or question.

I signed up for the weather newsletter with my two personas.  This was a double opt-in, so I have to go verify my sign up in my email address.  Good news, my gmail verification showed up quickly.  Still waiting to see something in my yahoo mail account and it isn't in the spam folder either.  SOUR when you lose someone before you even have them!  Once I confirmed my email through my gmail account, there was a second step to "confirm humanity" and insure I wasn't a robot.  Now there are two funnel steps to stop me from getting subscribed.  While I get that companies want valid email addresses and real people, can we find a better way? At least combine the steps to reduce friction.

Another interesting thing happened with WFLA.  Under the sign up was a "manage subscriptions" option, so I clicked on that.  This led me to a page to tell them more about me and sign up for a whole host of other emails (8 in total), none of which they had yet to merchandise or tell me about (at least from the home page).  They also asked me to pick my delivery method (html or txt).  I'm going to sign up for breaking news from this account and 8 pm news update from the other (that is if my email validation ever shows up - no sign of it yet).  Interesting too is they have a "breaking weather" and "daily weather" list - who thought of that?  Could these be combined?  They will definitely be keeping their content team busy!


Started here with my standard generic search and did find Bealls in the organic listings mid-page.  The listing took me to a Tampa store locator page given I searched in a particular area, so that was anticipating I was looking for a specific location.

They did have an email sign up about mid-way down the page with a quick sentence telling me why I should sign up and minimizing the initial ask to just my email address.  I'm signing up with both emails.  Upon sign up, they told me what to expect and how to add them to my safe senders list so I don't miss out on the deals.  Generally pretty good.  The question will be how will they try to get to know me better and communicate differently.  Again, I will visit their site under the different personas to see how well they get to know me and build that relationship.

None of the three email marketers in our experiment specifically included opt-in permissions in compliance with standard CAN-SPAM email opt-in requirements.  WFLA did offer a privacy link which seems not to work as it doesn't go anywhere when I click on it - so definitely SOUR.

More news next week when we see what kind of communications I am receiving and how specific these are as I begin to interact with the sites in different ways.

Still no WFLA validation in my Yahoo account now either, so I guess I'm just not going to see any news from them.  Wonder if anyone at WFLA even realizes this is happening!  SOUR!

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