As we said in the previous email marketing case study introduction there are certain things that we have done well in the Ballina Info newsletter, and some things that really need improvement. Unfortunately, as much as we would like things to run by themselves, there is no substitute for time and effort when it comes to running a business online.

I am personally looking forward to this case study, as it means that I will be spending more time on the Ballina Info newsletter, as well as showing you just what we do and what can be done to improve an email marketing campaign.

Setting the Scene – Determining our Goals

Because Ballina Info is mainly an informational site targeting the local area, the main goals of the whole operation is to generate good traffic numbers to sell online advertising. The newsletter has two main goals:

  • to generate traffic to the site – especially repeat traffic to help build our online community
  • to attract enough newsletter subscribers to become an attractive¬† form of advertising for local businesses.

We know already that the site generates good traffic numbers, so we are a little disappointed in the subscriber numbers. We see this goal as being the most important, so we will mostly try and focus on the goal of increasing the number of subscribers.

Subscriber details

Breakdown of subscriber list (from Email Marketer)

Breakdown of subscriber list (from Email Marketer)

We currently have 644 subscribers, with 580 confirmed contacts. Email Marketer automatically keeps track of the subscribers who have confirmed or who have unsubscribed. The list is attracting on average about 10-20 new subscribers a month. Considering that the site has between 10,000 – 20,000 visitors per month, this is a very low conversion.

Our aim is to have at least 1,000 subscribers before we can consider it a viable entity, so as you can see, we have a fair bit of work to do. On the positive side, we do have the traffic already coming to our site, we just want to send them to the places we want them to go.

How we collect email addresses

Screenshot of Ballina Info displaying the subscribe button

Screenshot of Ballina Info displaying the subscribe button

Currently we collect email addresses solely through a form on the website. If you click on the screenshot you will see the button that is placed on the side navigation throughout the site. This links through to the subscribe page.

This could possibly be a key factor in the low subscriber count. On most screens and on most key pages, this is down low (below the fold) and not really eye catching. Even with the red arrow next to it (which is just for the screenshot in case you are wondering) it doesn’t jump out.

This will be one of the elements we will test. Getting potential subscribers get to the subscriber page will be a very important part of the process.

The next step – the subscription page

The form on the subscription page of the site.

The form on the subscription page of the site.

The Ballina Info Newsletter subscription page uses one of the forms straight out of Email Marketer, placed into one of our pages. Email Marketer allows you to create a customised form to place in your site to extract as much detail as you need from your subscriber. The forms also handle all the stages of the double opt-in process to make sure you have a fully legitimate list.

One of the problems that you face is the more detail you extract, the more flexible and targeted your campaign is, but the downside is that people hate filling out long forms. Ballina Info currently asks for First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Preferred format and the security code.

We will also test the effects that this has on the subscriptions, as well as work out how to extract as much detail as possible.

I guess at this stage, that gives a pretty good idea of the actual sign up process that we use to get our subscribers. In the coming weeks we will document our efforts in refining the process of signing up, then we will move on to the actual content of the newsletter. If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment below and I will be happy to answer them.

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