Article | 3 min read

Build your email list business using chatbots

Improve ROI through email marketing by building email list business using Zendesk chatbots to capture customer email addresses.

By Mark Goldfinch

Last updated May 15, 2023

How many emails will you send today? At a guess, we’d say close to a hundred. After all, there are 4 billion daily email users sending a staggering 370 billion emails each day.

Email marketing accounts for a large number of those emails, which is no surprise given that email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of talking to customers. McKinsey research highlights the fact that email marketing consistently outperforms other forms of promotion with a ROI of $40 for every $1 spent. Compare that to, say, keyword marketing, which generates $17 for every dollar spent.

What’s more, email marketing will help build your community, brand, and long-term growth. And while segmentation and personalisation play an important part in that growth, the basis of success is far more fundamental—you must have an email list.

Building email list business has come a long way since the days of a sheet of paper at an event or handing out business cards. Today, you can automate the process.

What are chatbots and why are they important?

Chatbots are software applications that use artificial intelligence (AI) to have a conversation with visitors to your website, social media, and other applications. Chatbots interpret the words given to them by a person and provide a pre-set answer.

Chatbots are widely used to complement a business’ customer support team. They can be designed to manage the first interaction with a customer and carry out many manual tasks. This allows a customer team to focus on valuable strategic operations such as customer relationships.

AI enabled smart chatbots, which have the capacity to warmly greet customers, qualify their needs, and hand-off to an agent when appropriate, are vital to maintaining positive customer experiences.

Because they’re automated, chatbots can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to collecting data to help build your email list business.

Chatbots can help open up conversations by asking relevant questions and at the same time gather an email address, thus delivering a more qualified lead to a sales rep who can then use this information to personalise future customer interactions.

How to build your email list business using chatbots

Ask nicely

People build relationships with brands. Not marketing initiatives. And while you cannot build an email list without asking for a person’s email address, how you ask is all-important.

People are marketing savvy. They know you’re asking for their email address for promotional purposes. But they are prepared to share their details if they believe there is something in it for them.

A chatbot can help build relationships by solving customer enquiries and maintaining a conversation in your brand’s tone of voice, making interactions effortless and even entertaining. This will enhance a customer’s experience but also win their trust. And if a customer trusts you, they are more likely to share their email.

Pick when you ask

How you ask someone for their email address is vital, but so is when you ask. Ask too soon, and you’re likely to be rebuffed. Wait too long and you can miss the boat as your potential customer sails off.

The key is to decide who you want to ask and then employ triggers to attract them. A trigger is a specific set of circumstances that get your chatbot to work.

For example, let’s say you want to create an email list of all website visitors. Then you can set triggers for when someone first lands on your home page. Equally, you may want to attract warm prospects—people who have engaged with your brand already. In this instance, you can set triggers for people who return to your website, or who visit a certain number of pages.

Offer something in return

Incentives have always been part of the marketing mix, and shouldn’t be ignored when using chatbots to build your email list. People are more likely to share their email address when you offer them something of value in return.

A tried and trusted incentive would be to offer a website customer a discount at checkout in return for sharing their email address.

Chatbots allow you to personalise the incentive to the customer. For example, say you own an e-commerce website selling trainers. And let’s say a visitor asks about a particular brand or a certain style of trainer. You can get a chatbot to offer more information or ask if the visitor would like notifications and updates in exchange for providing their email address.

You can also set your chatbots to trigger around popular subjects that, say, an Instagram follower shows an interest in.

At Zendesk, we design software to improve your customer service, which includes the use of chatbots to build your email list business.

You can employ our chatbots across a multitude of media, including your website, social platforms, and mobile apps. You can personalise the conversation to align to your brand’s tone of voice, and hand-off at any point to a member of your customer support team. What’s more, with Flow Builder you can orchestrate the conversation between your chatbot and a customer and guide them to relevant, additional content.

Providing customers with content that is highly personalised will help you improve engagement levels. In other words, relevant offers help make a purchasing decision.

CX Trends 2023

Learn more about the five trends shaping customer experience today and how they impact your business.

CX Trends 2023

Learn more about the five trends shaping customer experience today and how they impact your business.

Read the free report