Email subscriber acquisition using a Customer Service Team

Finding scalable and consistent ways to grow your email subscriber base is central to the digital marketing strategy of most organisations. We already know that email provides one of the best returns on investment per dollar spent.

If you work for a larger organisation you will have a customer service team that receives a large volume of customer calls per day. These callers will be customers, prospects, people with issues and returns. This is an acquisition resource that is often overlooked. Outlined below is a step-by-step (ooh baby) way to grow your subscriber list using your customer service team.


How to use your customer service team for EDM acquisition.

Step one. Run a trial to see how your customers convert when asked if they would like to join your list. This means trialling a few different scripts, finding the winner, determining conversion rates, the cost of asking the question and finally the cost per lead. Once the trial is completed you will be able to determine if this strategy represents a positive ROI to the business.


Trial a few scripts.

Have your customer services manager select several team members to run your trial and run the trial for at least two weeks. You understand your customer better than anyone so you will really need to take the time coming up with a script that works for your business. A good place to start is:

  1. If no email given during call, at end of phone call ask customer if they have an email address.
  2. If no email exists end call.
  3. If email exists ask if they would like to receive future discounts and promotions via email.

Find a way to incentivize step three if you can, a promotion or cash draw is a good idea. With everything digital run at least one other well thought out variant to your script and test.

During this stage you will also need to calculate the average increase in call duration when this question is asked.


Determine conversion rates.

During your trial the customer service team members you have selected for the trial need to be keeping score of how well these scripts convert. Each member should be assigned one script only. They will be measuring the total volume of calls, the total time the question was asked (it can be easy to forget to ask something new), the total volume of customers that confirmed they had an email address and the total number of times they opted someone in.

What we are trying to determine the conversion rate when we run this process. We will use this conversion rate when we calculate the cost of rolling out this process. A conversion rate of 15%-20% should be easily achieved.


Calculate the cost of asking this question.

After the initial trial you should have an idea as to how much additional time asking this question adds to a call’s duration. Any increase to call duration represents an additional cost to business. We want to determine if the value of the leads we generate represent a positive NET cost to business.

Your customer service manager should have an idea as to the cost each additional second represents. Work with them to determine the annual cost to the business for asking this question.

For this example lets use $100,000 as a figure.


Calculate cost per lead.

Now that we have an indication of conversion rates and cost to business we want to calculate our cost per lead. We do this by.

  1. Average weekly call volume x Conversion rate = Leads generated per week
  2. Cost to business / (Leads generated per week x 52) = Cost per lead

Using the above formula if we receive an average of 7,000 calls per week and our conversion rate was 18% our cost per lead is $1.53.

Compare this cost against your other acquisition campaigns and remember that many of these leads will already be singles/multis. If you know your EDM revenue per contact compare that figure against this cost per lead. This lead source still needs to be measured over time as no two sources are the same.



It can be difficult to receive buy in from customer service managers (resistance to change). If you aren’t fortunate enough to work with a forward thinking CSM seek buy-in and support from high up in the business, at the very minimum to run the initial trial.


Personally I have found this an essential strategy for helping to turn singles in multis. At the very minimum you should be asking this question at the end of every order received over the phone.

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