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The Pros and Cons of Offering Incentives in Email Marketing

Oct 21, 2013   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

email marketing incentivesEmail marketers are always on the lookout for fresh ways to grow their email lists. To grow lists quickly, many marketers rely on customer incentives, to the tune of $5 billion each year. There’s no doubt that incentives can be powerful email marketing tools – when used correctly.

How Incentives Boost Email Marketing

First and foremost, incentives encourage clients to opt into your list. Like tasting samples at the grocery store, incentives give clients a taste of what you offer and encourage them to come back for more. They also make customers feel good about buying from you. This not only builds customer loyalty, it can increase customer referrals, as well. “Incentives let your customers know ‘what’s in it for me’ – reminding them doing business with your company was the right decision,” explains Mark James, Vice President of Strategic Business Development at incentives consulting firm Meridian Enterprises.

How Incentives Can Backfire

The challenge with incentives, however, is they must be something your customers truly want-or your efforts may produce the wrong results.

David Meerman Scott cautions businesses away from focusing too much on product-related incentives. Encouraging customers to buy from you-even though well intentioned-may come across as heavy-handed and intrusive. Instead, Scott advocates building your incentives around information. What they’re looking for, Scott says, is “interesting and valuable information that helps them solve problems, makes their lives better, educates them, informs them, entertains them or even makes them laugh.”

For example, if customers visit your online video channel or download an eBook or webinar, why not create an email signup to inform them every time you post new content? Your email newsletter can then link to this new information instead of linking to products themselves.

In addition to choosing the right incentive, it’s equally important to ask for the signup at the right time. Jacob Smith, development and marketing director at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, used trial and error to uncover the best place for email signups for his organization.

The society’s website generated only a handful of signups per month. And not surprisingly, asking for email addresses over the phone didn’t work either. However, as Smith found out, what does seem to work is transactional signups. “When people buy a ticket online, they seem pretty willing to sign up,” he says. The organization now uses discount offers during online purchasing to obtain new email opt-ins and further drive sales.

The Takeaway on Email Marketing Incentives

If you think incentives are right for your email marketing strategy, consider every angle first. Be creative, focus on building excitement and curiosity and always draw attention to value rather than the hard sell. Above all, make sure your incentive makes your customer feel good about signing up, and the results will follow.

For additional tips for getting more email subscribers, download the free guide, “20 Great Ways to Grow Your Email List.”

Photo Credit: World of Good

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