Best practices for running email acquisition campaigns

Email has long been an integral part of how the world conducts business and communicates with each other. Our reliance on and engagement with email has increased in recent years, embedding email in our lives even further. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, email newsletters offered publishers a way to engage their audiences and regularly provide critical information and updates on COVID-19 news, findings, and restrictions. As the pandemic impacted supply chains and business operations, email newsletters enabled brands to stay in touch with their customers and allowed consumers to explore new brands that could provide them with the goods and services they needed during a time of uncertainty. 

And, more recently, with Google’s move to deprecate third-party cookies, email newsletters present another opportunity for businesses across industries and verticals: access to more first-party data. As third-party cookies phase out, first-party data like email addresses, behavioral, engagement, interest, and intent-based data will be critical to navigating the cookiepocalypse, achieving addressability, and delivering relevance and personalization to audiences everywhere.

So, if you’re interested in launching an email program or need a refresher or inspiration on how to drive subscriptions for your newsletters, we’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll explore and share best practices for running email acquisition campaigns to grow your email list.

Rue Gilt Groupe driving to an email sign up form to access 70% off

Tactics for driving email acquisitions

1. Provide value

Enticing customers with an offer in exchange for their email is a great way to incentivize audiences and email acquisitions. An incentive can be a discount code for a purchase or a free trial for a service. Depending on your business and resources, you might ask for a person’s email in exchange for access to exclusive or premium content. Whatever route you choose, ensuring that your subscribers receive value in exchange for their email is tantamount. 

Furthermore, consistently delivering value to those subscribers is also essential to driving subscriber retention — a critical component of running a healthy newsletter or email program.

2 . Deliver relevance

Before launching an email or newsletter program consider what content might be relevant to your audience’s interests and needs. 

Using data to uncover what is valuable to your audiences is an essential part of any email acquisition campaigns — and it’s also crucial for retention and engagement. By analyzing first-party audience data, you can discover what interests your audiences and what they might want to learn more about. With these insights, businesses can launch new alerts or newsletters, curate content, and provide more enticing offers to their audiences, which can help drive retention and email subscriptions. Let’s look at an example.

Imagine a pet-food brand, let’s call it Luka’s, learns that many of its customers have expressed an interest in organic products for their furry friends. Given this insight, Luka’s pet-food brand may want to create a “green” newsletter focused entirely on organic products, sustainability efforts, and eco-friendly manufacturing practices to not only engage their existing customers but also entice new audiences with similar interests and needs to drive email acquisition. Furthermore, Luka’s could also provide a discount for its products to first-time purchasers if they sign up for its “green” newsletter. 

3. Enable word-of-mouth marketing

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers worldwide say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. With this in mind, organizations should make sharing alerts, newsletters, product pages, and offerings as easy as pie. Incentivizing customers to share your newsletters or information on products and services with referral codes, for instance, is always a great way to help grow your subscriber base.

4. Promote within your newsletter network

If your organization has several newsletters or is considering producing several newsletters, remember to cross-promote them within your own newsletter network. 

Suppose a large media company called DigiPub owns several smaller publications called Threads (covering fashion and beauty), Canvas (focused on arts and culture), and Vida (centered on home and lifestyle). Of the three, Threads is DigiPub’s longest-running publication and, by virtue, has the biggest audience. Vida is its newest publication and is slowly — but steadily — growing its audience base. To strengthen the DigiPub business and that of its subsidiaries, Threads can advertise the Vida newsletter within its own newsletter to drive awareness and increase Vida newsletter subscriptions. Furthermore, with solutions like LiveIntent’s, Threads can ensure that only those audiences who are not subscribed to Vida’s newsletter receive those ads. 

A single publication with several newsletters can take a similar approach. Businesses can strengthen their customer relationships by advertising their various newsletters within their newsletter network and driving subscriptions across several of them. Of course, this approach might not dramatically improve net-new email acquisition rates, but it can be a helpful tactic in increasing engagement and loyalty.

5. Advertise in other newsletters

Businesses can also advertise their newsletters in other third-party newsletters. Remember Luka’s, the pet-food brand? Let’s imagine that Luka’s runs a digital advertising campaign promoting 15% off first-time orders for those who sign up for its newsletter. By partnering with a company like LiveIntent, Luka’s can:

  • Suppress existing subscribers from its advertising campaign, and reach net-new audiences across a network of premium newsletters.
  • Use its existing subscriber list to build Lookalike Audiences and target audiences with similar interests, needs, and preferences as those of its current subscribers.

Tips for effective ads and landing pages

Now that you’re better acquainted with best practices for running email acquisition campaigns, let’s look at how you can create compelling ads and landing pages that help drive email acquisition. 

The Farmer's Dog driving to a landing page with a prominent email sign up form.

1. Keep it simple

This goes for everything: the copy on the creative, the design layout, and the lead capture form. Remember, the majority of impressions you’re going to serve are going to be on mobile devices. With smaller screens and an interface that relies on “tapping” instead of “typing,” you must quickly and concisely communicate your offer in a format that resizes well, making it as easy as possible to convert.

If you need help choosing which elements to use and which to cut, try running multiple creatives and optimizing them against each other to see which options drive the most engagement and conversions.

2. Make things clear

Aside from the ad creative, the destination is the most important element of any acquisition campaign. You can’t just send someone to your homepage and hope they find their way to your email sign-up form. You need a dedicated landing page directly connected to the ad creative you’re pushing out. In other words, whatever you promise in the ad, should be what the ad drives to. 

For instance, if your ad says, “Subscribe to our recipes newsletter,” the landing page should feature sign up for the recipes newsletter rather than any other newsletters that may sit in your newsletter portfolio. 

This approach provides a seamless, intuitive experience that keeps audiences engaged and minimizes friction and frustration. Otherwise, you risk missing out on conversions and losing money on those ads.