10 ways to turn this holiday season into your most effective data collection exercise of the year

‘Tis the season of giving. For marketers, the holidays are also the season of collecting.

Because the weeks leading up to and after the holidays are your best opportunity of the year to grow, build and enrich your customer and prospects database.

Throughout December and the first week of January shoppers are driving the highest email engagement and online shopping website traffic of the year.

Now is the time to ensure you have a data acquisition strategy in place, focussed on harnessing this elevated traffic and engagement for:

  • List building
  • Permission building
  • Data enrichment
  • Collecting customer feedback

Follow these 10 steps to successful data acquisition this year

1. Get them early

Make your email signup box stand out on your homepage.

Your homepage is your key data collection point. It’s your best opportunity for converting visitors into captured leads. So make it as easy and compelling as you can for visitors to sign up to your email list.

  • Make the signup box bold and prominent – preferably above the fold.
  • Make the advantages of signing up clear.

Barneys of New York spell out the benefits of signing up clearly and powerfully on their homepage.


New Look get it right, by placing their email signup box in prime real estate at the top of the page, with a clear and compelling incentive for visitors to sign up: in this case, the chance to win free clothes for a year.

2. Give them something in return

Re-state the benefits of signing up, on your signup form.


Following the signup journey on Newlook.com takes the visitor to a hefty form that’s collecting a lot of data. But in return, New Look seems to be offering a lot of benefits:

  • Exclusive offers
  • Trend updates
  • New arrivals
  • Style tips
  • A chance to win free clothes for a year

Data acquisition is a trade-off. The customer will give you their time and the information you want, if there’s enough in it for them.

3. Say ‘Thank You’

Always send an automated ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome’ email to customers who’ve joined your email list. After all, it’s the polite thing to do!


Your welcome email is your opportunity to thank the customer for sharing their details with you.

It’s also your chance to:

  • Reiterate the benefits of being on your mailing list
  • Re-state the credentials and values of your brand

Here, Avon do just that, in a compelling email that clearly delivers their key subscriber benefits and brand proposition.

4. Avoid surprises

Set out what your contacts can expect to receive once they’ve joined your email list.

Setting expectations helps build trust. If your recipients know in advance that you’ll be emailing them each week with updates then they’ll be more likely to engage with the emails when they’re delivered, and less likely to unsubscribe.


By clearly re-stating the frequency and type of email alters that the subscriber has signed up to, Boots is setting the expectations from day 1.

5. Go back and ask for more

Too many fields in your signup form will affect your conversion rate. Our research in 2013 into marketers’ use of webforms shows that 4-6 questions in a form is the most popular number. Download our whitepaper to learn how to optimize your webforms.


But remember, you don’t have to collect all the customer data you want in one go. Test keeping your signup form as short and unimposing as you can. Then use your welcome email to request and incentivize the collection of more data.


The Gap’s welcome email invites users to visit the preference center and specify their shopping category interests, to tailor the emails they receive.

6. Give something away

Our earlier example from New Look showed how competitions can help to incentivize email signup. The same can also work with existing subscribers. Use a holiday sweepstake as an incentive to help enrich your existing database.

Data enrichment means collecting demographics and preferences that will help you send more highly targeted, personalized and relevant email content in 2015.


Hallmark Cards’ holiday sweepstake email features a large call to action to encourage recipients to share the email with their friends.

This can be a highly effective list building tactic, but always check on local privacy and data protection regulations first.

7. Use popovers

Using a popover signup form can dramatically increase your signup conversion rates. In fact, our clients who have implemented popovers typically see a 200% increase in email registration.

45% of ecommerce sites are using popovers now, making this the fastest growing email acquisition trend, doubled from 2012 (source: Experian.com).

Pre-filling forms with details you already hold on the user and limiting the number of times the popover appears will all help maximize form completion rates.

The key to success in the use of popovers lies in ensuring the interruption they cause to a user’s browsing experience, offers relevant added value.


River Island uses popovers to encourage email signup, and allows the user to specify the email type they prefer to receive.


Here, Gap uses an email signup popover, incentivized with a discount to soften the interruption. It’s important to understand the value an email address is worth to your business so you can gauge and justify the right level of incentive to help capture that email address.

8. Be more social

If your brand has an active Facebook presence then don’t neglect this medium as an opportunity for collecting email signups and customer data.

dotdigital Engagement Cloud, for example, enables users to easily create and embed an email signup form on their Facebook page that integrates directly with their dotdigital email database.

9. Get feedback

Post-delivery customer surveys are a key opportunity to collect valuable customer data, engender customer loyalty and identify opportunities for optimizing your service.

Feedback needn’t only take the form of a survey submission. Your follow-up should encourage purchasers to post reviews of the product and the shopping experience at this stage, to help drive valuable social media engagement and referrals for your brand.


This example from very.co.uk was sent following product delivery as part of a post-purchase program.

The email does 2 jobs in one, incentivizing the customer to give feedback by posting a review, and to feedback on the delivery experience via an online survey.


Here, Gant use a third party to collect feedback on the shopping experience. The email is written so that the use of a third party adds credibility to the process while avoiding brand confusion.

10. Take a multi-channel approach 

Don’t forget to use your offline presence and channels to collect new email subscribers and collect data. All the incentivized approaches we’ve covered in this section can be used in-store, through direct mail, advertising and at face-to-face events, etc.

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