insights | 13.06.2023

How to collect email addresses for your mailing list

Did you know that the average person receives 120 emails a day? Everything from work messages, newsletters, promotions from our favourite stores… as well as the odd spam email.

If you run an eCommerce store, setting up an email marketing list is a great way to engage with your customers and drive sales. If you haven’t got one, it’s worth getting set up!

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to explain the benefits of email marketing, how to collect email addresses, and how to do it all while complying with data privacy regulations.

Article topics
  1. Why it’s beneficial to collect customer email addresses?
  2. Collecting email and addresses and GDPR: the rules
  3. Top tips for collecting email addresses for your mailing list

Why it’s beneficial to collect customer email addresses

As it’s affordable and impactful, email marketing has one of the best returns on investments around. For every £1 you spend, you can expect to receive £36 back.

Still not convinced? Here are some other reasons why it’s so important to have a mailing list.

The data you hold is your own

While marketing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are great for engaging with customers, it’s important to remember that these are third-party platforms.

Let’s say you have 10,000 followers on your Facebook page, but your page is deleted due to circumstances beyond your control. This means you have to rebuild your page and regain all your previous followers.

Conversely, you have complete control over your email list. Even if you replatform your website or change email provider, your mailing list stays with you.

It doesn’t use third-party cookies

Third-party cookies are a hot topic in digital marketing at the moment. These cookies are small pieces of data placed on your website by other websites. For example, if you have any social sharing buttons on your website, these are third-party as they have been created by a platform that is not yours.

Some browsers have already blocked third-party cookies for security reasons, with Chrome promising to do the same in 2024. This means businesses must rethink how they collect customer data on their websites.

The benefit of email marketing is that it doesn’t use third-party cookies, meaning you can advertise to customers without worrying about data depreciation.

You can nurture customers until they’re ready to buy

Think of making a sale on your website like a funnel. People start at the top of the funnel, and gradually move down to the bottom, until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Email marketing is an effective way to keep customers in this funnel until they’re in the right place to buy. By engaging with them and sending them information about products they might be interested in, you can remind them how fantastic your brand is.

You can also use email marketing to reengage with existing customers. The success rate of selling to a current customer is between 60% and 70%, while the success rate of selling to an entirely new customer is between 55% and 20%. This makes email marketing a great way to tempt previous customers back to your store.

Collecting email and addresses and GDPR: the rules

While it’s essential to have a mailing list for your business, it’s vital that you gather your email addresses in line with national and international regulations.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was introduced across the EU in 2018. This law regulates data protection and privacy, with severe financial penalties for businesses that do not comply.

GDPR still applies to the UK, even though it is no longer an EU member state. The UK has adopted the UK GDPR, which is currently identical to the EU GDPR, and is enforced by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

Domestic email addresses, or email addresses that reveal a first name or last name are classed as ‘personal data’ under GDPR and must be handled with care. So would be considered personal data, while would not be.

So, what do you need to bear in mind when collecting email addresses, to stay compliant with GDPR?

Users need to give consent

It’s critical that everyone on your mailing list has given consent to be contacted. Here’s what you should do to ensure best practice:

  • Implement a positive opt-in. This means customers have to tick a box to opt into your mailing list, rather than ticking a box to opt out. Pre-ticked boxes aren’t GDPR-compliant
  • Double opt-in (where customers must validate their email address before being added to your mailing list) is best practice for GDPR. This helps prove consent and gives customers a chance to opt out if they choose
  • Use easy-to-understand language so customers don’t get confused
  • Don’t make consent a precondition of service. For example, if someone has to sign up to your mailing list to buy from your site, this is a breach of GDPR

Keep records of who has signed up to your mailing list, when they consented, and how they signed up. That way, if there is an issue, you can prove that a person freely consented to be contacted.

Only ask for the data you need

The more data you collect, the more data you have responsibility for. With this in mind, it’s best to only ask for the personal information you need to send emails.

The bare minimum is an active email address; however you may opt to personalise your emails by asking for a first name.

Let’s say you ask for a person’s date of birth so you can send them a treat or discount voucher on their birthday. While someone wouldn’t be personally identifiable by date of birth alone, this information could be combined with someone’s email address and name to identify an individual.

And given that some people use their date of birth in PIN codes and passwords, this information could be more revealing than you initially think.

If you do want to collect date of birth information for this purpose, explain what the data will be used for and make sure it isn’t used for unrelated reasons. And, of course, give people the option not to provide this data if they don’t want to.

Under GDPR, people have the right to receive a copy of the personal data you have on file about them – this is known as a subject access request.

Only use data for the purpose it was specified

Customers should only be emailed information they have explicitly signed up to receive.

For example, let’s say that you’re working in partnership with another business, and they ask for your mailing list so they can send a message to your customers. This would be a breach of GDPR.

If you wanted the option to do this in the future, you would need to add this information to your privacy policy (more on that later). You’d also need to add an opt in button to your signup form so customers could consent to their data being shared by third parties.

If someone wants to unsubscribe, you need to honour their wish

All emails you send must state how a customer can unsubscribe from your mailing list. The easiest way is to provide a link that they can click on to unsubscribe. Make the unsubscribe process as friction-free as possible; for example, people shouldn’t have to log into their online account or call a number to unsubscribe.

Remember that someone may consent to be contacted but can change their mind in the future.

Under GDPR, people can also request ‘the right to be forgotten’, meaning that unless there is a legal requirement to retain data, companies must delete all personal information held about that person.

Have a privacy policy in place

Having a privacy policy or notice on your website is best practice when it comes to GDPR. This shows web visitors:

  • The type of personal data you collect
  • What you do with this data
  • Who you share information with
  • How long you retain data before getting rid of it.

You don’t have to hire a legal firm or a data privacy specialist to write a privacy notice. The ICO has a privacy policy template that you can adapt to your needs.

Link to your privacy policy anywhere that web visitors can sign up for your mailing list.

Other things to bear in mind

It’s important to remember that GDPR affects citizens rather than countries. So, for example, if your company is based in the US and you handle the data of EU and UK citizens, GDPR applies.

Other countries and regions may have their own data collection and storage laws. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which protects California residents. If you operate internationally, you will need to take these regulations into account.

Top tips for collecting email addresses for your mailing list

So, now we’ve looked at how to collect email addresses in a compliant way; how do you encourage people to sign up for your mailing list?

Provide something of value

Web visitors value their personal data, and will only offer it to you if they get something good in return. This means that if you want to encourage them to sign up for your mailing list, you’ve got to give them something valuable.

What you provide depends on your target audience, and what you sell. For example, if you run an eCommerce store, you might offer a discount code or free shipping in return for a signup. If you operate in the B2B domain, you might offer an eBook or a whitepaper.

Will some people unsubscribe once they have received what you have to offer? Yes. But most people will stick around to hear what else you have to say.

Use popups

We’ve all sighed and shook our heads when we’ve been bombarded with popups on certain websites. However, when they’re done right, popups can be a great way to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list.

The average popup conversion rate is about 3%, but some popups can achieve a conversion rate of 40% or higher. This means lots of potential new email mailing list signups.

Here are some of our top tips to make the most of popups on your website.

  • Avoid popups that take over the entire screen. These popups can annoy customers and even have a negative effect on your search engine rankings
  • Use images to make your popup stand out
  • Keep your signup form short. As we mentioned earlier, only collect the information you need
  • Add a delay to your popup rather than making it appear straight away. This gives visitors time to take in your website. After all, you wouldn’t buy from a sales assistant who pounced soon as you entered the store!
  • Make it easy to exit the popup – either with a prominent close button or by allowing visitors to click out of the popup
  • Regularly test your popups and tweak them for optimal performance. It’s especially important to test how they look and function on mobile, as this can be significantly different than on desktop

Create high-quality content

It’s important to create engaging website content that resonates with the needs and wants of your target audience. You should take the same approach to your emails too.

Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful thing. When you create email content that customers love, they’ll recommend your emails to their friends, and they’ll sign up too.

Give your readers a gentle nudge by asking them to share your content with their friends. Speaking of which…

Just ask!

One of the easiest ways to get email signups? Just ask your customers.

There are many different ways you can ask your customers for their email address. You can include a link to your signup form in your email signature, your invoices, and even at the end of any videos you create for your YouTube channel.

Don’t be afraid to be creative!

Xigen: your email marketing partner

Collecting email addresses may seem like a challenging task. However, get it right, and you’ve found an easy, hard-hitting, and cost-effective way to promote your business to customers.

If you need a little extra help getting your email marketing off the ground, we’re here to help. We specialise in email marketing, meaning we can develop and implement a strategy that delivers results.

Take the email marketing campaign we delivered for McCarthy Stone, a retirement home development company. Our team designed a campaign that led to a 46.7% email open rate, an 83.3% increase in web visits, and over 1,300 new leads.

Want the same results for your eCommerce store? Contact our team today, and let’s get started!

Need help with your next big eCommerce project? Find out how we can support.

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