Has a website ever required you to give your email address so you can download a document or register for an event?
I actually saw this on an IPO site days ago. The website required people to provide their email address before getting through to download the prospectus. And my immediate reaction was, "Yeah, great idea. Get lots of email addresses. Why didn't we think of that?"
But second thoughts second, it's actually a very bad idea. And I’m speaking from a recent experience.
- Compulsory subscription - not quite ideal
It's easy for IR people to get really enthusiastic about collecting email addresses and thinking, “Any email address is gold, and we need to go for volume.” But those very same people would get irritated, just as I do and I'm sure you do, when a website "demands" an email address from me when I have hardly even gotten to know them.
It's a really big turn off for many people. Not just about the idea of subscribing, but the idea of doing business with these people at all.
Based on a current experience, we collected a lot of junk email addresses from a website registration where we did exactly this. We created a compulsory email address provision, with validation, before people could register for an online event.
About 20% of the email addresses we received did not get validated. When you glance through the subscribers list, you’ll see how people have deliberately changed their email address just a little bit to make it invalid.
Compulsory email subscription is not quite ideal.
In these registrants’ minds, their correct email address will only lead to annoying emails that will later be sent because they signed up. So, these people subscribed with faulty email addresses thinking they could avoid getting spammed.
And this doesn't include the ones who provided their right email addresses but were reluctant (or even annoyed) and will later just unsubscribe or ignore the resulting emails from their registration. Plus, those who made "special" email addresses for such compulsory subscriptions without the intention of reading subsequent emails.
So, if you do "force" people to subscribe, it will just mean a lower quality email list, with lower opens and clicks (lower engagement) and more bouncebacks and unsubscribes. Not worth the pain!
- Optional subscription - a better way to go
Instead, your website should promote the idea of subscribing, as an option, not a requirement. Keep reminding people, encouraging them to sign up. But never annoy them or make it compulsory. It will turn off a percentage of people who may - a bit later - become interested enough to subscribe.
Promote email alerts subscription strongly - on your home page, investor welcome page and in the footer of all pages. But all optional.
Then you can do the proper email address validation process and subscribers will accept it. Then engage with them by emailing them - just the important news, and immediately it's released by ASX. In our experience, this way you will gradually collect a few hundred interested people's email addresses in a few months, and over a longer term, you'll have a very large and engaged investor list.
Go for quality, not quantity. But still go hard for it, with active promotion of the optional subscribes for people who can be tempted.
Optional email subscription is a better way way to go.
Email subscription for an IPO prospectus
If you’re heading for an IPO, I think the main business objective is to get investors to read your prospectus. When you require email addresses to access your prospectus, your main goal will too strongly be compromised as you try to achieve the secondary business objective of gathering email addresses.
Why not just give them what they want (and what you want them to have) as easily as possible? Grant access to your prospectus without requiring an email address.
Some people, of course, will want to be kept in touch by email, whether they download the prospectus or not. You should capture this interest by offering an email alerts subscription process on your website. If you like, also provide a link on the prospectus download page. But again, as an option, not a requirement.
Grant access to your prospectus without requiring an email address.
Do it right
Building an email subscribers list is key to communicating with investors. But a compulsory subscription is not quite ideal as it would turn off people and result in a lower quality email list.
The better way to go is to provide optional subscription. With active promotion on your website, this would generate a quality email database that targets the right investor audience for your business.
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