Using Mobile Experiences to Increase Newsletter Opt-Ins

Email is a Mobile Channel

Let’s just get this out of the way: email is a mobile channel. Across virtually every industry, the majority of email activity (opens & clicks) happens on the consumer’s mobile device. Yet, because marketing emails tend to be written on desktop devices, many email marketers tend to subconsciously tailor their thinking around the desktop user — despite the fact that desktop devices account for a minority of the total audience (eMarketer).


But mobile isn’t just about engaging your list after the fact. Growing your email database; collecting new opt-ins and subscribers into your list, is also highly-effective on mobile devices.


Your Two Mobile Audiences

Think of it like this: you’ve really got two core audiences when it comes to mobile: your “rented audience” and your “owned audience.” A key cost-saving strategy is to leverage digital experiences that allow you to convert your rented audience into your owned audience.


A rented audience, as you might guess, belongs to somebody else, e.g.:

  • Time Magazine’s mobile website
  • A popular YouTube channel
  • Pandora

The people seeing those ads aren’t really your audience, you’re just paying someone else for their attention.


Your rented audience has:

  • Higher cost to reach
  • Harder to convert

Compare that to your owned audience, which includes things like earned and organic traffic to your web and social content, SMS lists, app users, and your email database.


Your owned audience has:

  • Lower cost to reach
  • Higher chance to convert

It’s an easier sell, plain and simple. So a key consideration when budgeting and planning your mobile strategy has to be:


“Am I effectively converting my rented audience to an owned audience?”


The Magic Word is: “Incentive”

This may be stating the obvious, but time and again I find myself baffled by the number of massive, enterprise brands that offer consumers no incentive for signing up for a newsletter. There are no shortage of options:

  • Money saved
  • Entertainment
  • Sweepstakes
  • Helpful/educational content
  • Social value

But there needs to be something, and ideally, that something should offer instant gratification.


Digital marketing programs need three pieces to be effective: Your audience (who are you reaching?), the experience (what do you want them to do?), and the incentive (what’s in it for them?). If you don’t offer an incentive, it’s not realistic to expect a successful campaign.


Let’s take a look at two real-world mobile campaigns that drove exponential database growth very quickly:


Case Study: Growing an Email Database

Produce giant Chiquita leveraged its partnership with Universal’s Minions film to launch an engaging digital experience to engage the community — and doubled the size of the brand’s email database in just 3 months.


Using Mobile Experiences to Grow Your List Blog 1.jpg


Visitors to were prompted to engage with a number of activities: games, cardmakers, interactive recipes, etc. Every activity completed rewarded users with both an entree into a sweepstakes and an instant, digital prize.


These digital prizes included things like digital coloring books, videos of the characters from the film, etc. — and Chiquita reward its audience with millions of prizes at virtually no added cost to the brand.


This two-step incentives structure (sweepstakes and instant digital prizes) is what led to the explosive rate of newsletter opt-ins. Users were happy to provide a verified email address in return for entering the sweepstakes, and then the instant rewards/fun & engaging activities gave them such a positive experience to the brand that they also agreed to opt-in to receive the monthly newsletter.


Here’s what the conversion funnel looked like:


  • 20% of unique traffic provided email address to enter sweepstakes
  • 50% of entrants opted-into the brand’s email newsletter because of engaging content & instant prizes
  • Chiquita’s newsletter database doubled in size after  just 3 months

Case Study: Growing an SMS Database

A leading apparel retail chain managed to grow its opted-in SMS database by more than 80,000 new users — a 25% increase — in just one week.


The brand promoted a mobile-first gamified experience across a wide variety of digital channels. Users went through a double opt-in process to subscribe to the SMS program, and in return they were able to spin a wheel and instantly collect a single-use, high-value coupon.


Here is a mockup of the user experience using a fictional demo brand:


mobile experiences to grow your list blog 2.jpg


These coupons ranged from 10% off (most common) to a $100 gift card (extremely rare), with custom prize logic determining when and how often the different prizes were awarded to users. Each valid phone number could only access a single coupon.


This three-tiered approach to security protected the brand against the possibility of unwanted dissemination of “grand prize” coupons:


Three levels of security:

  • Controlled rewarding of prizes
  • Single-use redemption codes
  • Limit one offer per valid phone number

Learn more about how you can deliver engaging digital experiences to help grow your database:


DXP: Digital Experience Platform for Your Marketing Cloud



Follow this blog

Get a daily email of all new posts.

Email address