5 Alternatives to Offering a Discount as your Email Signup Incentive

These days, discounts and free shipping offers are considered par-for-the-course in e-commerce marketing. In order to entice customers and keep them coming back, you have to rely on frequent dollars or percentage-off offers in your marketing.

The same is true for your email list growth tools. In order to maximize conversion rates on email pop-ups, e-commerce businesses need to include a discount offer in the call to action. Or do they?

While discount offers are an extremely popular and effective way of encouraging email signup, they aren’t the only way of attracting potential customers to an email list. In this post, we’ll examine some alternative incentives that can drive email signups so you don’t always have to rely on discount offers to grow your email list.

Monthly Giveaways

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Instead of giving away a discount to everyone who signs up for your email list, advertise a monthly contest that website visitors enter by giving up their email address. 

Of course, you have to make good on the giveaway and manage it each month, but you might find that giving away a single product costs you less than discounting orders across the board.

Free Download
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Some e-commerce businesses have decided to forgo product giveaways altogether by offering a free piece of digital content to entice email signup. A word of warning here: your free piece of content, which would be delivered immediately to the list joiner in PDF format, needs to be really enticing in order to come close to the conversion rates of a discount offer, so get creative and think outside the box here. Some ideas: 

    • Recipe collections
    • Calendars
    • Worksheets and checklists
    • Instructional content and DIY guides

For example, if you sell gardening tools online, you might offer a free seed calendar that illustrates what to plant when. If you sell organic cleaning products, you could offer a spring cleaning checklist.

Exclusive Sales

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Sometimes the promise of future offers or sales is enough to entice signups. Consider running sales that you advertise only to your email list and use that exclusivity to promote signup.

Early Bird Access

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While slightly more nebulous than the “exclusive sale” offer, alluding to early access to special events and sales can be an effective way of communicating the value of joining an email list, especially if you run flash sales or in-person events (such as annual warehouse sales) that your customers want to get in early on.

Free Gift with Purchase

Offering a free gift to people who join your email list can be a great incentive for people to sign up. The key is to give away something with a high perceived value to the customer, but that doesn’t cost you much to give away and isn’t expensive to ship. Some good ideas for giveaway products: candles, tote bags, makeup items, lotion, healing masks, one-size-fits-all jewelry, socks, coffee or tea samples, temporary tattoos, greeting cards — you name it! You can really get creative.

Find What Works for your Business

Every business is different, so what works for one business might not work in yours. Always be testing! Use A/B testing tools to test your calls to action against one another to determine their effectiveness. You might find that discounts are still the highest converting call to action to use on an email pop-up tool, and that’s great information to have. (You also want to keep a close eye on your list sign up discount redemption rates.)

Trying different approaches allows you to make informed business decisions about how many email addresses you’re willing to not capture in exchange for not offering a discount to everyone on the list.

Katherine Raz is the founder of Small Craft Advisory, where she provides marketing guidance to e-commerce businesses trying to grow their online traffic and sales.

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