I got my daily dose of inbound.org yesterday with the subject line “I’m killing most of my email capture. Here’s why.” I confess I don’t always make time to read the newsletters I’ve signed up to (oh, come on. Who does?) and this, coupled with my recent exchange with a client who was complaining about low quality leads from their quote tool meant my interest was piqued.

There are about 3 million blog posts published every day, and so webmasters have convinced themselves that in order to get their content read, they must build an email list. That way, they can get their content right in front of the eyeballs of people who’ve already shown an interest in what they’re writing. Data capture on whitepapers, guides and eBooks will help build that list, but is this a list of people that really want to hear from you on the reg?

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Nat Eliason’s article offers a compelling argument for removing your aggressive data capture and “lead magnets”. He’s recently stripped all of that out of his site and is running the risk of lowering the site’s opt-in rate… It’s almost the exact conversation I had with my client:

Client: Since adding that quote tool, enquiries have gone through the roof.
Me: Excellent!
Client: Well, not really because our sales team are miffed that those enquiries aren’t converting into people booking a meeting with us.
Me: Huh. So these enquiries, are they all from the quote tool?
Client: They are. There’s a message field, but people hardly use it.
Me: So people are using the quote tool, providing an email address in order to receive the quote but then they aren’t booking a meeting?
Client: Yes. Why is the quote tool discouraging quality leads?
Me: It’s not. It’s encouraging unqualified leads. These people aren’t interested in your brand, they’re interested in the quote you can offer them.
Client: How do we get rid of unqualified leads?
Me: Lose the email element.

By getting rid of the “enter email to receive quote” step in the quote tool, my client’s leads list isn’t clogged up with people that are pretty-much-cold leads. Their sales team can concentrate on helping the people that have properly made an enquiry, safe in the knowledge that the people using the quote tool have at least been exposed to their brand.

There’s still a place for opting-in to email marketing

So I’m not talking about removing any method for having your readers sign up to your mailing list. In the case of my client, they have a normal contact form that, before the email capture element on the quote tool existed, visitors to their site would use to ask questions and book meetings. Eliason’s still got a sign up feature (with an adorable call to action, btw) on his homepage and at the foot of his articles:

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… so people are still notified when he posts something.

Browser Media recently added a pop up feature to the site to invite good readers such as yourself to be added to our mailing list.

Browser Media Opt In - Email Marketing - browser media

Now, I understand that pop ups work, but I took some convincing. For the record, it was the honesty in the copy that got me onboard. We really do only send out newsletters once every three months-or-so, and it’s not like the content’s gated, so that if readers don’t opt in they can still read our stuff. Even the Outreach Cheat Sheet we created was a simple “click to download” job, rather than a “give me your email address (*aside* so we can sell to you)” job.

The message here is the same as the one I shared with my client: When you offer something genuinely useful, you don’t need to force people into the sales funnel, they’ll enter willingly.