Why Do They Want Your Email Address?

Pop-up ads were all over the place in the early days of the internet. If you go searching, I’m sure you can still find a few lingering on some shady websites.

Do you remember those pesky windows with fake ‘x’ close buttons? How about those that were made to look like a default Windows update? Thankfully our browsers get rid of most of these annoyances.

Pop-up ads on computer screen are the worst

If only we could get rid of every website asking for my email.

As you can tell, there is a high demand for your email address and many websites are bringing back the pop-up ad.

Why are good, reputable companies bringing this evil back to the web?

They want that email address.

Why is an Email Address Important?

Companies are looking for any way to cut through the noise and get your attention. In the modern-day of instant gratification, we can’t expect users to go looking for us. We need to get them where they are. And they are in front of their phone. Capturing their email address means we can send them a direct message and try and lure them away from YouTube or Facebook. If we are lucky, we even get them to our website or product page.

Not only can we use emails to get their attention, we can use that data to gain additional insight for our business and our customer base. A/B testing can help us determine if more users liked one headline over another. Maybe this helps determine the next brand slogan. If we get slick, we can break our lists up and better understand different segments - but more on that later.

Lady having a great time looking over emails
Don't be fooled. This lady is having a blast looking at her emails. I promise you she isn't being paid to sit at a computer for a stock photo.

Email is just another medium where you can easily get in front of your customer. You saw the same tenacity and aggressive push when social media first came on the scene. It’s an affordable marketing avenue with an easy learning curve.

How Do You Get the Email Address?

The common method is to put a colorful call to action section on your website. You can make it a button that takes you to a landing page or maybe even a short form asking for the email. You might attract a few friends to do you a favor and sign up.

Unless you are attracting users from other marketing (podcasts, blogs, videos, etc...), you will probably have a hard time getting people to just sign up because you asked nicely. You need to give them a better reason.

Ebooks and Whitepapers

Simply put, people will give away their email if you give them something in return. Most people don’t want your monthly newsletter (I know this stings - but they can read your latest blogs by just going to your website). By creating an ebook or white paper (how to’s or instructional content), users will give you their email and you can send them your content. Having this content behind a paywall, (in this case email registration) you might lose some organic traffic but make good with the added email addresses.

Coupons and Exclusive Content

Coupons and special deals are a big way to get users to sign up and enter your database. Maybe you give new users a percentage off their first order or promise additional discounts for signing up. I remember getting tons of free tokens for Chuck E. Cheese for my initial sign-up. This made it easy for us to take the kids for a Saturday afternoon filled with skeeball and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Of course, we spent a lot more once we got there. Those foam finger prizes were well worth the $100 in tickets!

The Hersey Family at Chuck E. Cheese in 2011 after getting email coupons

Be aware, you might get some users signing up, getting the goods, and unsubscribing. This is all part of the process. I’ve signed up for many ‘free Excel templates’ and quickly changed my email preference. I am not the norm - you will get customers that stick.

Keeping the Customer

Once you get the email, you want to keep it. As part of the CAN-SPAM Act, you have to make it easy for users to unsubscribe. Many email marketing formats have this built into their templates. Since it’s rather easy, you have to be compelling with the content to keep them.

On the initial signup, it’s nice to ask for how frequently they want emails. This can help you maintain a relationship even if it’s not daily or weekly. Segment your group and deliver based on their preference.


When you start gathering emails, you can ask questions to help determine if your users fit into a specific group. Frequency is a good question. You can also ask what kind of content they would like to see more of. In my case, I could segment based on tips about web design, SEO, or web analytics. Your email marketing platform can let you create campaigns only going to select segments.

My non-business owners might not care about SEO tricks, but they might just want to see my personal opinion blogs.

Ask enough questions to help create good segments - but don’t ask too many or you will never get the email. Maybe you don’t need their middle initial or phone number.

Email Marketing Sounds Like A lot of Work

I would suggest planning out your email strategy. You might want to start slow and do one email a month. Maybe you are pretty savvy and can do one a week. Better yet, maybe you created a flowchart deciding exactly what and when an email should be sent out.

Marketing Automation and Drip Campaigns

The beauty of many email marketing platforms is the ability to automate the process. Amazon sends you a receipt after each purchase. This is not coming from a guy sitting there watching you buy a product and sending you receipt. Instead, Amazon has a pretty sophisticated email marketing plan where they send you specific emails based on your actions.

If you are familiar with If, Then, Else - you understand how this could be very successful.

For instance, I signed up for a Travel Agency Mailing List.

  • They send me a welcome email and ask me to watch some of their vlogs.
  • If I click on a vlog about Walt Disney World, then they send me an email tomorrow with their most popular Walt Disney World Blog topics. If I do anything else, they might send me a generic blog recommending more topics.

This is a very (very) basic example but explains how you can automate and slowly 'drip' emails to your customers. After I read several Walt Disney World articles, they might ask for a sale. The goal is to convert the lead to a customer. The customer into a repeat customer. The repeat customer to a brand advocate.

Tools and Platforms

It still surprises me when I see someone sending out bulk emails with a Gmail or Yahoo account. Email marketing should not act like the AOL Surveys your friends used to send out in High School. If you see anyone else in the CC - you might want to contact that business and send them my information.

There are tons of Email Marketing platforms available. Constant Contact was one of the first I remember advertising. MailChimp is another reputable company that I find myself using for many clients. HubSpot and Act are great options for marketing automation.

Email Marketing Platforms Screenshot of Homepage - HubSpot, Constant Contact, MailChimp, Act!

These tools allow you to create templates, schedule campaigns, review the metrics, and in most cases (sometimes you have to pay) setup automatic drip campaigns.

Business Owner or Customer: What's Next?


If you are a customer (we all are customers), be aware that you will be asked to give out your email ALL OF THE TIME. There isn't a nifty 'do not call' list like they used to have for annoying telemarketers. Even if you sign-up for an email list, you will likely still be asked on that same website.

If the company makes a compelling case, give them your email address. You can always unsubscribe (Learn how I manage my inbox). If the content becomes spammy or the business isn't living up to what they advertised, flag them as spam. You can even get creative by using a dummy email address or create multiple versions in Gmail.

Business Owners

If you are a business and don't understand email marketing or utilizing this marketing channel to its fullest, you can always sign-up for my e-mail list to get tips and tricks...or better yet - contact me directly.

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