What’s the 411? Part 2 – RETURN OF THE MACK

Last week, we took a look at some of the information you should try to learn about your subscribers, and offered a few tips about how to ask for it. This week, we’re presenting a quick road map for when and how to begin collecting that information.


The means by which you collect email addresses will strongly influence how much information you have from subscribers available upfront. For example, if you have a paper-and-pen list circulating, then you’re likely to have far less data than if sign-ups are happening via an online form.

Let’s add a Choose Your Own Adventure element to this blog. If you have paper sign-ups (or any other sign-up where all you receive is an email address), head straight to “Call Me Back.” You may also want to head that way if your sign-ups are coming as a checked box at an online purchase site, although this certainly comes with more data to work with.

If you’re still here, that probably means you have a sign-up form online that is driving most of your subscriptions. Great news – you are primed to collect valuable information from the outset. Ok, so you have a name and email address, what next? Good news – it’s up to you. Bad news – we can’t tell you what to do. Well, we can, but it might not help. Your marketing segmentation will be unique to your industry and goals.

Ask for information that will help you target market people based on the criteria important to you. As with all self-selecting audiences, you’ll get a variety of levels of participation. Some subscribers will gleefully fill out every section, while others the bare minimum. It’s alright if you start with more of the latter; you can always work on them later.

Call Me Back

If what you are starting with is the merest of pieces – an email address and perhaps a first name, then it’s worth the effort to see if you can learn a little more. An easy way to do this is to fold an invitation to select subscriber preferences or fill in more subscriber information in the welcome newsletter that you send out to all new subscribers. (Hint hint, send a welcome newsletter.)

This opportunity is not to be underestimated; in one go you can demonstrate your interest in the subscriber and encourage them to be an active participant. Focus on what you have to offer and how you can be of service to your new subscribers.

Give ‘em What They Want

Now that you’ve got their attention, seal the deal with something enticing. The best way to justify your interest in collecting this information is to offer rewards. Encourage both existing and new subscribers to pony up that extra info by incentivizing the transaction. Pique their interest with random giveaways, exclusive discounts or special bonuses for those who participate (although, be sure to read up on local enrollment laws for contests if you’re following that route).

Incentivizing not only yields better returns, it keeps your subscribers more interested in future communications as well. They’ll recognize your willingness to reward their patronage, so they’ll be much more likely to remain active down the line.

One-off promotions are most effective for existing subscribers as they can be limited to a short period of time, and communicated through a single email newsletter (or just a few). However, monthly incentives can capture the interest of new subscribers and even attract a few more. It’s a win-win.

Want to Get to Know You

Finally, you may also find yourself with existing contacts with whom you already have a relationship. If they are amongst an engaged readership, opening your emails and responding to you, then you clearly already have a good relationship with them. In this case, you might turn to surveys as a means of further engaging your readers. Reach out to these readers to learn more about what makes them tick. Be honest about what you’re doing and most importantly: make it about them.