Over 70% of business owners say growing their email list is critical to their businesses, according to a recent survey conducted by Privy. And that’s no surprise considering 73% of millennials and 75% of boomers prefer email as their primary touchpoint with brands, according to Adestra.

While many like to claim that email marketing is “dead,” so far, there’s no evidence that’s the case. In fact, email remains one of the most powerful channels in a brand’s arsenal to drive sales.

Here are five easy ways merchants can successfully turn their website traffic into email subscribers that you can try right away.

  1. Welcome Your Visitors With an Special Offer

When someone arrives on your site, you want to give your visitors an immediate and positive first impression of who you are and what you have to offer. Whether you choose to offer first time visitors a discount or not, your goal is to encourage people to take some positive action like subscribing or even making a purchase today.

The most effective way to do that is with a welcoming pop up display that uses a time-based trigger set to 1-3 seconds. In addition, top performing campaigns tend to take a few things into consideration.

  • Make it clear that it’s your site and your brand. Include your logo, colors, and make sure to mention your brand name in your message. Remember, these are visitors who have just landed on your site for the first time. They’re probably not overly familiar with who you are and what you do.
  • Provide an incentive for signing up. This could be a discount, but it doesn’t have to be. Include information about your emails and why they’re awesome, how great your products are, or the types of offers they’ll receive.
  • Ask only for what you need. Keep your form simple—just asking for email address and maybe one other piece of information like a birthday—is the way to go to keep conversion rates high. You can always gather more information from people later once you have their email.
  • Keep it streamlined. On that same note, keep your design simple and easy to read, with only a few elements, like a headline and a subheader before the form. This is especially important if you have a lot of mobile traffic.
draper James


Old Navy


  1. Speak Directly to Visitors From Your Top Referral Sources

Another great way to drive conversion I have seen be successful is targeting your visitors from your top referral sources. This is especially powerful for people landing on your site via paid ads or your social media followers and fans. For example, because your social followers are people who know your brand, like what you’re doing, and are now coming to your website, you can speak to them differently than someone who is brand new.

target visitors


To make the most of this approach, I recommend:

  • Connecting your headlines. Use the exact same words in both headlines so that a visitor knows that they have come to the right place. This is easily done with Facebook and Google Ads. For Instagram, you’ll want to make sure your headline is directly related to whatever the text in the caption or overlaid on the image was. For example, if my Instagram ad read, “Get 20% off your first order” then I’d want my pop up to say the exact same thing.
  • Connecting your imagery. Use the same or very similar images if possible, especially if you’re using Instagram or display ads to connect the two. That way, your visitors can quickly and easily make the connection between one channel and another.
  • Connecting your calls-to-action. Whatever offer was in your ad—whether that is a discount, a chance to learn more, or some piece of content—it should be the primary offer that someone sees when they click through to your site.
  • Calling out the referral source. Let each segment of your audience know they’re special. In your pop up or with your coupon code, make a reference to where they came from. For example, use a coupon code like YOUTUBE15 for people coming from your YouTube channel.
  1. Capture Browsers with an Offer Just for Them

Not everyone coming to your site is ready to buy, and that’s okay. Tell them that you realize they’ve been poking around your site but havent found what they are looking for. Take the opportunity to get their email address with a targeted flyout or banner display so you can let them know about new products you launch or special offers that will bring them back to your site.

capture browser


For example:

  • On a product category page you could offer a discount on that particular product or product category.
  • On a blog page you could offer an exclusive ebook, email-based course, or your weekly roundup of everything that’s gone up on the blog.
  • On a gift guide, try offering a specific discount or flash sale for a holiday or season.
klean kanteen


  1. Use Exit Intent for a Last-Ditch Offer

In addition to your welcome campaign, you should always use an exit intent-based pop up. An exit intent trigger shows the campaign as the visitor goes to exit the tab or browser, giving you the chance to talk to them one more time and ask them to join your list.

Here are a few proven techniques to make your exit pop ups more effective:

  • Speak directly to the situation. Use your company and design to acknowledge that they are probably not going to buy today.
  • Make a great offer. Give your visitors a chance to get something special that will bring them back in the future and that they value enough to provide their email address.
  • Keep your message streamlined. Your visitor has likely already decided to start something else and any complicated message is going to be easily dismissed. Make your pop up easy to read and act on.
exit intent


Bonus Tip: Speak Differently to Visitors Based on the Value of What is in their Cart

The notion of a VIP offer is nothing new as a way to get your most valuable customers to also become your most loyal. That holds true when trying to build your list as well. Using cart value targeting you can easily create special offers for people who are on their way to spending more than your average order but may need a final push to hit the buy button today.

For example, you can run “Cart Savers,” pop up campaigns that are triggered on your checkout pages with a special offer if they attempt to go back or leave your site altogether. And you can vary your offer based on whether a shopper has more or less than your average order value already in their cart.

In Summary

Building your email list is a critical task for anyone looking to grow their business in 2018. But it doesn’t have to be a challenging one. With a few handy targeting rules and some creativity with your campaigns based on what other merchants have successfully implemented, you can create low effort, high impact campaigns in just a few minutes. 

Josh Mendelsohn is the VP of Marketing at Privy where spends his days thinking about making marketing easy for everyone, what to have for lunch, and why not everyone in the world owns a pug. Learn more about on-site conversion and list growth by following Privy on Twitter at @privy.

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