Six Ways to Grow eCommerce Email Lists

June 16, 2016 | Admin

Last updated on June 22nd, 2016

The average eCommerce site conversion rate is somewhere between 1.4 percent and 5 percent, depending on which study or report you’re referencing. Most seem to sit somewhere around 1.5 percent to 3 percent. Even at the high end, that still means ~95 percent of eCommerce traffic leaves without a trace.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they provided their email address first?

The word “giveaway” isn’t going to be used in this post. This is to highlight that an exchange is happening. The merchant is providing something to the potential customer in exchange for their email address, and permission to send them an email at some point in the future.

Six Ways to Earn a Visitor’s Email Address Before Their First Checkout

1. Exchange Free Stuff


The consumer typically only pays for shipping. Sometimes the products being given away are sample packs the eCommerce brand gets for free from manufacturers, such as a pet food store giving away free sample packs of different cat food.

The Feed gives away tons of real products during the “season” of Tour De France. Come July, those who subscribe to The Feed, and those being incentivized to do so, will start to see even more compelling offers than the one below, such as a free $20 water bottle from CamelBak.


The visitor pays only for shipping unless they have other items in their cart (currently orders over $49).


MomAgenda has been providing free printable versions of their day planners for years, so it’s obviously a tactic that works for them.

2. Exchange Useful Content

Content offers include webinars, courses, buying guides, white papers, eBooks, etc.

The smart marketing team at momAgenda also collects emails from free eBook downloads and other premium content.


Notice the eBook is not directly related to a product. The title isn’t, “The Home Organizer’s Buying Guide,” but, “Seven Secrets to Finding More Time for You.

Squad Locker shows this in-line content offer CTA on blog posts to acquire email addresses from people in charge of buying gear for youth basketball teams. It goes to this landing page.

3. Exchange Discounts

Probably the most common form of email acquisition before adding something to the cart is an offer to discount their first purchase. Here’s an example from Mountain House of an exit pop-up with a percentage discount offer on your next order.


AHAVA sells cosmetic products made with active Dead Sea minerals. They appear to be testing several discount offers, including the one in the exit pop-up below.


4. Exchange Perks and Status

Loyalty programs can be very successful in raising customer lifetime value, as well as attracting new customers.


Flash Tattoos uses a tool called Sweet Tooth to run their Gold Rewards loyalty program. Learn more here.

5. Exchange the Opportunity to Be Heard

The general idea here is to offer a short survey (incentivized if the economics work out for you), at the end of which participants are given the opportunity to provide their email address if they wish to receive a response, see the results or receive their incentive.


In the example above, visitors will only see this option if they have been to five or more pages but have not added anything to their cart.

6. Exchange the Opportunity to Be Part of Something

Care2 allows visitors to take action, earn credits and redeem them to help nonprofit organizations.

Being a part of something doesn’t have to mean something altruistic. It could be an online community, which means participating shoppers will be logged in while browsing the site. If this is the case, personalization options are greatly enhanced.

Polyvore makes it easy to sign up using a Facebook account.


What Not to Do

Kevymarketing-ecommerce-emailDon’t buy a list

The contacts are crap and sending to them could end up lowering your overall deliverability rates.

Don’t overdo it

Ensure all the settings are in place to avoid showing a pop-up to the same person multiple times in one session. Ensure they don’t see multiple offers at the same time. In general, spend a lot of time on the site logged out in Chrome Incognito mode to make sure things are working the way they’re supposed to and not annoying your shoppers.

Don’t forget to test on mobile

The experience, and conversion rates, could be vastly different. Should that pop-up become a footer bar on mobile? Should the offer show at all? Test it.

What has and has not worked for you?

Have you tried content-based offers like buying guides and eBooks to grow your eCommerce email list? Have you tried exchanging answers to their problems and pain points for their email address? If so, how did those efforts perform against transaction-based offers like $-Off, %-Off or Free Shipping? Do content offers work better in certain situations than others? Let us know in the comments below!

Guest Post By:

Everett Sizemore_inflowEverett Sizemore is the Marketing Director at Inflow, an eCommerce marketing agency specializing in SEO, CRO and PPC. Everett has been involved in online marketing since 2001, and has helped dozens eCommerce brands solve their toughest marketing challenges.