11 Essential Ways to Quickly Build Your Subscriber Lists before BFCM


This is a guest post by Tivan Amour, CEO of Tone. Tone is the done-for-you SMS Sales Engine that unlocks 20% more revenue for your e-commerce store through lightning-fast text message conversations. Are you a PushOwl customer with a Shopify store doing $1M or more in annual revenue? Book a demo with Tone before November 13th, 2020, and get a FREE Apple Watch. Schedule a demo here.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are just around the corner.

But the question is — is your e-commerce store ready?

Time is not on your side. While it’s vital to prepare your deals and messaging, you also need to be focusing on building your lists as quickly as possible now so that you can tap into it during BFCM. 

You’ve got a few weeks left to get that list count as high as possible. Don’t let the time go to waste. 

The more subscribers you have, the more revenue you can generate. There are three core channels you can use to build your subscriber lists so that you can focus on  giving yourself the best chance of breaking through the noise during BFCM:

  1. Email
  2. SMS
  3. Web push notifications

In this blog post, we’re going to dive into 11 ways to build subscribers across each of these list types. Some of the strategies can be used for multiple types, and others are specific to one certain type of list. 

After reading this post, you should come away with some actionable steps to successfully build up your subscriber lists for the last few weeks you have ahead of BFCM 2020. 

Let’s get into it:

Use for Email & SMS

The most proven way to generate subscribers before BFCM is through popups on your website.

The key is to include a no-brainer offer. For example, you could use a 10% discount on the customer’s first purchase in exchange for an email and phone number.

Or use copy that asks for an email in exchange for first access to the best Black Friday offer. 

A great email-capture tool is Privy, which makes it easy to target pop-ups based on UTM’s. Privy also allows you to A/B test different messages. 

2. Run Facebook ads to an email or SMS capture oriented page on your website.  

Use for Email, SMS, and Push Notifications (desktop)*

You need traffic to generate new subscribers. The easiest way to immediately generate new traffic for your e-commerce store is with Facebook ads. 

Here’s an excellent example of how it looks like from Warby Parker, that gets the attention of their audience with quizzes on Facebook:

Warby Parker drives this ad to a page on their website that’s optimized for email capture. You complete the quiz and enter your email to see the results. This is a reliable and scalable way to generate new subscribers ahead of BFCM.

Whatever list you want to build, more traffic is the best way to increase the number of subscribers you’re getting each day before BFCM.

Note: When running Facebook ads to turn your traffic into subscribers, ensure that you’re driving them to an action that gets them to subscribe, like a quiz or a landing page that unlocks an offer.

* For mobile devices, social media apps like Facebook or Instagram use their own browser-solution instead of the smartphone’s default browser. However, these “in-app browsers” lack some critical JavaScript – including the ability to subscribe to web push notifications. 

3. Host Contests and Giveaways

Use for Email & SMS

Contests and giveaways are another fool-proof way to generate new subscribers ahead of BFCM. 

It’s easy to set this up:

  • Partner with a few other brands with a similar audience to offer a compelling prize
  • Require email signup for entry and offer an extra entry for the customer providing their phone number
  • Have all the brands promote the giveaway 2x times to their existing email lists
  • Promote on social media
  • Add the emails collected from the giveaway to your subscriber list

While giveaways may bring in a less qualified subscriber, they make it easy to generate large amounts of new subscribers fast. So worth testing and seeing how things convert. 

You can use a tool like DojoMojo to find brands to partner with and manage the giveaway. 

4. Capture subscribers through push notification opt-ins on your homepage

Use for Push Notifications

Push notifications are a good way to rapidly build a subscriber list from your existing traffic. The best part is that the barrier to entry for the customer is very low. They don’t need to give an email to sign up. They just need to confirm that they want to receive notifications through their browser

If you’re a Shopify Store, you can set up push notifications and start collecting subscribers in just a few minutes with PushOwl.

Once the shopper subscribes, you can start sending push notifications like this:

5. Use Overlay in Your Push Notification Offers

Use for Push Notifications

You can capture even more subscribers by using an overlay next to your browser prompt. This adds more context about what your notifications will be about, enticing shoppers to subscribe.  

6. Run Customer Quizzes and Surveys

Use for Email & SMS

Quizzes are a creative way to drive engagement and grow your list at the same time. Quizzes are so effective that they can get shared 1,900 times according to Buzzsumo.

Beardbrand is an eCommerce store that sells grooming products for men.  In this quiz that was completed more than 100k+ times, their customers were able to answer questions to find what type of beardsman they are:

Beardbrand requires the user to enter an email address to see their result. You could also ask for a phone number as well as long as the quiz is providing enough value. 

This is a more creative way to build your email and SMS list than just offering a 10% discount. You may see a lower conversion rate, but you’ll build a more engaged list of subscribers with this method. 

7. Set a Custom Prompt for Push Notifications

Use for Push Notifications

With traditional browse prompts, there’s little room to explain the clear benefit that comes with signing up for your push notifications.

If you offer a discount for subscribing, you can explain the benefit of subscribing using the custom prompt to increase opt-ins for your push notifications. It helps you provide context and highlight what’s in it for the customer, like in the example below:

For BFCM, you can let them know that they’ll miss out on the deals of the century if they don’t sign up in advance.

Also read: Complete Guide to Building Subscriber Lists With Web Push Notifications for Black Friday

8. Keep your signup forms short and easy to fill

Use for Email & SMS

Too many form fields can drive away visitors from signing up for your offer. Only ask for what you need. 

If you need to use the first name in texts and emails, then ask for it in your form. But if you don’t need it, just set up a form collecting emails or phone numbers. 

The general rule is that the more information you ask for in sign-up forms, the lower the conversion rate will be. 

9. Collect Customer Information During Checkout

Use for SMS

One passive way to grow your SMS list is to collect phone numbers at checkout. 

It all goes down to permission. On the checkout page, you must give the customer the possibility to opt-in for your text messages, email newsletters, or push notifications.

Here’s how Peak Design collects phone numbers using Tone during checkout:

All the customer has to do to opt-in is click on the box right above “continue to shipping”. Right after getting the customer’s information, Peak Design can then reach back to promote their upcoming BFCM sales.

10. Add a Number on Your Website That Customers Can Text

Use for SMS

70% of shoppers agree that SMS is the fastest way to reach them.

In the months leading up to BFCM, consider adding a number on your homepage that customers can use to text you live. 

As long as you properly collect permissions via text, you can then re-engage these people for your BFCM sale. 

ThirdLove uses Tone to give their site visitors a number they can text.

BFCM subscribers

This is a super low-effort way to engage a site visitor, turn them into a subscriber, and then drive a sale during BFCM.

11. Set Up a Referral Program

Use for Email & Push Notifications

One way to implement a low-barrier referral program is through your welcome push notification. Once a visitor signs up for your push notifications, you can share a referral link so they win even more special discounts for Black Friday.

On web push, you can easily set up a referral web push notification within your welcome notification like this:

Wrapping Things Up

There you have it! These 11 tactics should give you a solid roadmap for growing your list for BFCM. 

The key to breaking through the noise during BFCM is thinking outside of the box. If you’re only trying to build an email list, you’re not going to beat the competition. 

Focus the next few weeks on building up your email, MS, and push notification list so that you give your BFCM offer the best chance of being seen.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go out there and build those lists 👊!

Special thanks to our friends at PushOwl for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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