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As many organizations begin planning for the 2012 year, one topic that is sure to be discussed Ad nauseam is subscriber acquisition. It’s no secret that in order to grow and sustain a successful email program, organizations need to have solid plans to acquire and retain subscribers.
I have been a part of many discussions both on the client and agency side talking about ways for companies to grow their list and the discussion always leads back to 2 questions:
I truly believe that you need to have both of these questions answered before sources are identified, budgets decided on or welcome and on-boarding are even discussed. To me, answering these questions are literally the foundation for your entire program.
There are some out there that will always default to the standard answers of “they want deals” or “stuff that is relevant to them”, but I would like to challenge that thinking for just a moment. First and foremost…how do you know those are the answers? Have you spoken with your subscribers lately? Did you survey them upfront? What sort of proof do you have in the way they are thinking? Second, what if you were wrong? Would you change the way you position your program or leave it the same? Third, if you are certain that the “defaults” are the answers, examine the growth and viability of your current subscriber base and see if those are indeed inline with this past years goals. In other words…how did you do?
I think 2012 planning should involve sitting down in a room with everyone involved in the email program, from UE, social, web, offline and even search to truly answer these questions. Be honest with yourselves in this endeavor, since it could have a lasting effect throughout the year. Once the dust settles and everyone can in full confidence agree on the answers to the questions, bake out a plan to ensure a cohesive roadmap across all channels for subscriber acquisition, experience, on-boarding and retention.
The key takeaway here is this: Challenge yourselves to start thinking differently about acquisition in 2012. The landscape for cross channel marketing has changed dramatically in the last 18 months and many companies are still trying to figure stuff out. If you are still doing/thinking email acquisition ala 2008, isn’t it time that you challenge yourselves to answer WHY and WHAT?