Email Signup Failures at Crisis Levels

Opt-in failures are costing brands high-quality subscribers and dampening their list growth. More than 15% of homepage and site registration email signup processes resulted in failures, according to ExactTarget research involving more than 160 B2C brands, including retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, travel and hospitality, and nonprofits. This is a worsening from several years ago when signup failures hovered around an already-too-high 12%.

Email signups via your website are the most valuableThese failures are particularly costly because people who signup via your website are your most valuable subscribers. So losing these has an outsized effect on your email program’s ROI.

While it’s not clear why many of the signups failed, some program characteristics coincided with higher and lower failure rates:

Using confirmed opt-in (COI): Brands that use COI, where a subscriber has to click on a link in a signup confirmation email to complete the signup process, were more likely to have their subscriptions fail. Nearly 27% of the brands using COI suffered signup failures.

For example, GoDaddy’s COI failed because every time you confirmed the signup by clicking on the link in the signup confirmation request email, it sent you another signup confirmation request email and bounced you back to the page notifying you that you have to confirm your subscription by clicking on the link in the email they just sent you. Simply put, it created an infinite loop that you could never break out of.

Sending a welcome email: Signups were less likely to fail if a brand was able to successfully deliver a welcome email. Only 9% of brands saw their signups fail after delivering a welcome email. (See More Brands Sending Welcome Emails, But Opportunities Remain.)

Sending a welcome email series: Not a single brand that delivered a welcome email series saw their signup fail subsequently. (See Quarter of B2C Marketers Send a Welcome Email Series.) This is likely an indication of greater sophistication and therefore better controls.

The high level of signup failures speaks to a need to do more subscription process audits, which have become more complex in recent years.

Platform proliferation means there are now more devices, more operating systems and more browsers to check since they all don’t work the same together. For instance, Discovery Store’s signup form encountered a fatal error when using Firefox on Windows 7, but worked fine when using Internet Explorer.

Acquisition source proliferation means there are now more channels to check. For instance, is your text-to-subscribe working properly? Does the email signup form on your Facebook page work? Does the email signup during checkout on your mobile app work? Tracking your subscribers by acquisition source can help you uncover signup issues, in addition to helping you make decisions about subscriber value by acquisition source.

If you haven’t done an acquisition source audit recently, it’s probably time to do one as you could be unknowingly losing valuable subscribers.

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