Intelligent Email Capture: Best Practices for Increasing Subscribers

By Deniz Ibrahim

Picture this: Your paid media team spent time and money developing targeted campaigns to bring new shoppers to your ecommerce site. They launched a big push on Facebook and search, and now those efforts are paying off as new traffic pours in.

The problem? You can only identify 17% of traffic coming to your site.

Sure, those acquisition efforts are performing as intended when it comes to website traffic, but they can only stand on their own for so long. Unfortunately, if those shoppers come to your site and don’t buy, you will have limited nurturing opportunities to convert them from non-buyers to first-time purchasers to loyal customers.

The solution? Intelligent email capture.

What is email capture?

In short, email capture describes how you collect emails and grow your subscriber list from website visitors. It is a great way to obtain emails from consumers that are likely to shop at your store and is an instrumental part of a retail nurture campaign.

Once you have a shopper’s email, you can send them newsletters, special offers and other promotions designed to turn them into a valued customer. With email providing a higher return on investment than paid media channels, the importance of intelligent email capture strategy should be clear.

Why do I need intelligent email capture?

Today’s shoppers view products an average of four times before they buy. And they conduct that type of research across multiple retailers’ sites.

Quite simply, the likelihood of someone making a purchase on their first visit to your site is low — and that’s okay. But you need to be prepared to capitalize on that first visit by re-engaging with shoppers and nurturing them toward making a purchase. One of the least expensive and easiest ways to do so is by investing in intelligent email capture. Here’s why:

1) Speed to launch

You can easily implement an email capture solution without any heavy lifting from your IT team. In many cases, it simply piggybacks off your existing email solution’s pixel, which makes it easy to get up and running quickly.

2) Speed to relevance

An intelligent email capture solution also offers speed to relevance by allowing you to get very targeted, very quickly. For example, with the right end-to-end solution, you can easily segment your audience to share targeted or personalized messages and offers with distinct groups of shoppers (e.g. new versus returning visitors). And you can make these distinctions in both the email capture lightbox and your emails. Overall, this type of audience segmentation enables you to scale your program at better margins by making it possible to entice shoppers with specific offers based on their unique profile (new customer, discount shopper, etc.).

3) High-fidelity identification

Critically, email marketing offers a high fidelity form of identification. First, email addresses are persistent, unlike cookies that change based on device and get wiped after extended periods of time. Second, when shoppers share their email address, they send a very explicit signal they want to interact with your brand.

4) Robust customer profiles

Email is a gateway identifier. Once you capture a shopper’s email address, you can use it to build a more robust identity by matching it with information shared in preference centers and onsite behaviors to get a more complete understanding of each shopper’s interests. Listening to shoppers’ preferences — those explicitly noted and those implied through engagement — can open up a two-way stream of communication. Ultimately, this insight should support more relevant marketing and make it feel like you’re helping customers shop rather than pushing messages at them.

5) Impactful engagement

Email marketing remains the most impactful channel for conversions. That impact largely comes down to three reasons. 

This high quality engagement goes a long way. In our recent retail email benchmark report, we found that 33% of at-risk or lost buyers will become active, valuable customers after receiving ten or more personalized emails. Without effective email capture, you’re leaving that money on the table.

6) Long-term relationship-building

Email marketing provides a steady channel on which to establish relationships with customers and nurture them for life. Even as powerful channels like Facebook have become more prominent, email has remained critical to consumer engagement — and this innovation in email marketing isn’t slowing down. As a result, email offers the ideal channel to support both short- and long-term initiatives.

7) Higher conversion rates

Email conversion rates tend to be higher than other digital marketing techniques because the audience you are trying to reach is already targeted and interested in your business. Figuring out what kind of emails convert is key and A/B testing can be extremely beneficial in understanding what your audience responds to. Measuring and analyzing data such as open click rates and conversions will become your company’s most profitable strategy.

These benefits are simply too great for retailers to ignore and have the potential to grant a significant competitive advantage so long as you use the right email capture methods.

How to collect emails on your ecommerce website

It’s clear that email marketing is a revenue-driving activity, and effective email capture is the first step to creating a great email marketing campaign. But what does email capture look like in practice?

There are five main types of email capture tactics that retailers should start using today:

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these email capture techniques works in practice.


Pop-ups might have a bad reputation in the digital world, but their positive impact on conversion rate is undeniable. Contrary to popular belief, these modals don’t have to be flashy or disruptive – they can be a polite nudge. You can set them up to trigger when someone’s mouse cursor hovers outside the page, for example. 

When choosing email capture software, make sure the solution provides plenty of customization options for email capture pop-ups. This includes personalized targeting, flexible form fills, and attractive design options.

Slide-in banners

Slide-in banners are similar to pop-ups. Usually, they gradually appear as you scroll down a page, and slide in from the right or left. These are less visually intrusive than pop-up ads – which means while they’re not as likely to net you a conversion, even the flashiest slide-in window is unlikely to annoy customers.

When designing a slide-in banner, keep it simple – the capture form should not be too large, or else it will dominate the page like a pop-up would. Additionally, look for a solution that offers “stick to side” positioning, animation effects, and the ability to delay when the slide-in window appears.

Info bars

Info bars, also called top-of-the-fold forms, are a small bar that lives at the top of your webpages. Usually, it has a very brief message to the shopper written on it and asks them to sign-in or enter an email address. These are not disruptive, and may go unnoticed by some, but provide another touchpoint to get a customer’s email.

Embedded forms

Embedded forms are static forms that usually appear near the bottom of your homepage, in the midst of landing pages, or within a blog post. These forms are great for mobile shoppers since they integrate seamlessly with your store’s pages. However, they are susceptible to being skimmed over – to win the attention of shoppers, make your embedded forms a bold color and use bold, attention-grabbing messaging.

Account and loyalty sign-ups

A great way to encourage shoppers to sign up for accounts or loyalty programs is through sign-up flows on your website. Specifically, when a shopper views their cart or proceeds to checkout, offer them the option to sign-in or sign-up for an account on your website.

Since customers are already giving you their email to receive shipping information, many are okay with opting into your newsletter and even taking the extra step of signing up for an account or loyalty program. This is especially true if you sweeten the deal a little by offering them sneak-peeks into upcoming items or promise to give them helpful information for the products they love. 

However, keep in mind not every email capture tool will offer all these options – look carefully for a vendor that can offer the capture options you need. Then, make sure they can adhere to accepted best practices, as outlined in the next section.

Best practices for increasing email captures and subscribers

Of course, realizing the benefits of intelligent email capture requires more than simply implementing a solution. As with any technology, you need to take a thoughtful approach in creating your email capture program.

As you get started, some best practices to keep in mind include:

1) Give shoppers time to interact

If you display a pop up form to a customer as soon as they view your page, they will likely close it without even reading it. Instead, try waiting at least seven seconds or until visitors have scrolled 30% of the page before triggering an email capture lightbox. Alternatively, you could wait until their second page view to begin showing pop ups. This way, you give shoppers time to interact and the user experience doesn’t feel intrusive.

2) Provide motivation and value

The average shopper won’t hand over their contact information for free, so it is imperative to demonstrate the value of joining your mailing list. Clearly outline what visitors are signing up for and what they can expect to happen once they do sign up. Will they immediately receive 20% off after joining your email subscription list? Will they know about your newest products the moment they launch? This transparency is an essential first step to building trust with customers.

Using relevant messaging will ultimately boost shopper retention. Additional content that provides motivation and adds value includes: 

3) Set specific capture triggers

Identify opportunities to get targeted with what you promote and where you promote it. If you’re interested in converting certain types of shoppers, think through where those shoppers typically engage and what entices them most — then place your email capture lightboxes accordingly. For example, if you want to convert more shoppers to a newly launched category, like activewear, you might place an email capture lightbox on that category page and promote an offer for first-time activewear purchases.

4) Integrate offline data

If shoppers sign up for emails in stores at the point of purchase, you don’t want to ask them for their email address again when they visit your site. Integrating offline data can help avoid this duplicate ask and create a seamless cross-channel experience.

5) Optimize emails for mobile

It’s okay to use pop ups on desktop, but you should opt for bottom banners or slide-ins on mobile for your home page (or the first page on which users will land). Beyond creating a better user experience, which should always be important, Google penalizes sites that use pop ups on mobile for the first page visitors see.

6) Use targeted audience segments

The most effective way of creating targeted audience segments for your campaigns is by segmenting your audience into groups. After all, each person is on their own personal buying journey and interaction with your product. 

Here are a couple of ways you can start segmenting your target audience: 

Newly arrived users: Due to their lack of familiarity with your company, these visitors can be more open to an email capture campaign. To entice people to join your email list, you can present them with a unique perk, like a coupon code.

Returning guests: Since they already know your brand, you may focus your marketing on their preferences or past actions. You may provide them with a tailored recommendation or a time-limited discount, for instance, if they’ve previously expressed interest in a certain product.

Visitors who viewed particular pages: You can display an email capture campaign to visitors who have viewed those pages if you want to promote a particular product or category. This is a powerful technique to grab their interest and persuade them to join your email list.

Consumers who bought something within the previous 30 days: By making a purchase, these shoppers have already shown that they are interested in your brand. To entice them to subscribe to your email list, show them an email capture campaign that offers a particular thank you or follow-up offer.

7. Incorporate personalization

Incorporating personalization tactics in your email capture strategy will help you reach your goals more quickly. 

Scaling email personalization can only be achievable with the right tools. Having access to data-driven workflows will provide feedback on individual customers while continuously maintaining data and making adjustments according to behavior. If your business is not incorporating some form of personalization you are more than likely missing out on lots of opportunities. 

8. Provide valuable content

Providing valuable content to your shoppers will also help increase email subscribers exponentially.

Content like fit guides and lookbooks can help increase subscribers on an email list by building trust and credibility with potential subscribers. It demonstrates that you are an expert in your field and willing to share your knowledge. This can lead to increased traffic to your website, higher engagement on social media, and ultimately more conversions and sales. 

Overall, providing valuable content is a great way to attract and engage with potential subscribers and can help you build a strong and loyal email list.

9. Keep branding consistent across channels

Any cross-channel marketing strategy should incorporate consistent branding and a consistent experience. This is essential for increasing email subscribers as it creates a recognizable and memorable image of your brand in the minds of your audience. It also helps build trust and credibility, which is essential for building a loyal following and increasing subscribers. 

A unique and consistent brand identity can help differentiate your brand from other retailers. Therefore, maintaining consistent branding across all marketing channels, including email, website and mobile, is essential for building a strong brand identity, establishing trust and credibility, and ultimately increasing your email subscriber base.

10. Provide incentives for signing up with email (teasers)

Providing incentives and teasers when customers sign up for email is helpful as it increases the perceived value of your email list, making it more enticing for people to sign up. 

Incentives like discounts, freebies, or exclusive content can motivate subscribers to sign up, while teasers like sneak peeks or early access to sales can create a sense of exclusivity and urgency. 

You can also consider incorporating gamification within your email capture strategy. Examples of this kind of strategy include “spin the wheel” for prizes, promo codes and promotions. This entices your consumer to provide their contact information.

This approach can create a positive first impression and set expectations for the type of content or offers subscribers can expect to receive in the future. Overall, it can increase sign-ups, provide an immediate benefit to subscribers, and help build a stronger relationship with your audience.

11. Optimize pages for conversion

Landing pages act as valuable information to your visitors while becoming valuable lead-capturing magnets. The best conversion-optimized web page has specific elements that are geared toward providing the most value to your company. 

Here are a few tips for creating landing pages that stand out and are optimized for capturing emails: 

12. Craft strong CTAs

A strong CTA strategy will boost your capture rate exponentially. Your CTAs should be clear and specific, should not be overused, and should attract the visitor to take action. 

Remember that just like A/B email testing, CTA banners can also be tested and changed over time. The key is to draw your consumers’ attention without overwhelming them too much. 

13. Invest in the best email capture software

Investing in a great email capture platform is important as it helps to build and grow your email list, a valuable asset for marketing. 

A good platform provides tools and features to capture email addresses from various channels and manage and segment your email list effectively. With visually appealing and user-friendly opt-in forms, a great email capture platform encourages website visitors and social media users to subscribe. It also automates and personalizes email campaigns, enabling you to send targeted and relevant content to subscribers. Analytics and reporting tools allow you to track and optimize your email marketing strategy, making data-driven decisions for better ROI. 

Bluecore’s high-quality email capture platform is essential for building and growing your email list, automating and personalizing campaigns, and optimizing for better results.

From email capture to long term engagement

Once you get started with email capture, how do you turn those early successes into long-term engagement? Learn how Pendleton turns intelligent email capture into ongoing marketing success.

Deniz Ibrahim

Deniz is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Bluecore, where he is focused on introducing the world’s best new products to Bluecore’s fastest growing retailers. Deniz has over a decade of experience in product and marketing, including prior roles at BigCommerce, American Express and Seamless.