conversastional AI for list building man with open email in envelope.

It might just be us, but we’re betting your blood pressure ticks up just slightly when a pop-up appears on the screen, blocking your view and distracting you from what you came to read in the first place. It might seem like you can’t visit any site these days without, consciously or subconsciously, saying a silent prayer to the Gods of the Internet: Oh please, just let this be the site, the blog, the landing page that doesn’t throw up a pop-up email request right away––or maybe even at all.

So why still do so? Pop-ups, we’re told, work. In fact, in one test, a business garnered over 1,300% higher opt-in with a pop-up compared to a sidebar. Squeaky wheels, it would seem, get the oil. This isn’t news. Yet, no one likes pop-ups. They’re like the pair of glasses you keep around because they work, but they’re not comfortable, or cool, anymore.

But You Need to Build Your Subscription List, Right?


Email marketing isn’t going anywhere today. It’s still one of the most viable ways to garner leads (albeit tediously so). Your list is one of the most valuable marketing assets in your kit. A good list is a database of targeted visitors you can contact with offerings and communications. It should not be a numbers game, but a build on visitors who are soft leads and ultimately customers and clients.

Typically, your list is an email-marketing list of visitors who have given you permission to contact them by email. Note, this is contact, not bombard. Do it the wrong way, and you’ll likely scare off subscribers.

This is where using a chatbot to help build and grow your list works well. Conversational AI offers a real-time interactive experience that supersedes a simple contact form in personalization and experience.  

Whether it’s your email subscriber list, your blog subscriber list or any list you’re building, conversational AI is the less obnoxious way to ask for an email address successfully.

There’s plenty of tactics for getting email addresses to grow your list. But using a format that doesn’t annoy your readers is always a better bet. 

Conversational AI is that shortcut.  

Here’s how conversational AI or even a basic chatbot can grow your list without annoying your customers and visitors:

First, the Five Commandments of List Building:

  • Do not buy a list! What’s the outcome? You may find some leads but by and large, the leads are left wondering who gave you permission to subscribe, i.e. spam, them. 
  • Do keep your list targeted. Start where you’re already engaging on social media for opt-ins. 
  • Do offer value. If a visitor has come for one piece of content or offer, you can offer more information on the subject, to help them through their “consideration stage,” (why your product and not someone else’s?).
  • Heed the customers “freedom cry”- They’ll opt-in, when, how and if they’re ready. Give them those meaty parameters in a snackable way and they’ll bite.
  • Do focus on design in your request.

List Building for Both e-Commerce and Brick and Mortar Business

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, whether it’s fully online or if you have a brick and mortar business, list building for online content, email newsletters or simple SMS notifications keeps you at the top of mind for customers. You can do what you want with the list after, whether that’s a holiday mail promo or an email offer, but your focus should be grabbing all the opportunity offered, for free, in techniques and strategy for better list building.

pop-up with live chat example
This company placed their pop up in the bottom right with a conversational format

Placement Matters, Interaction Context Matters More

But on-page pop-ups obstruct the reason a visitor has landed on your site in the first place.

Instead, offer a chatbot interaction. A user can engage anytime they want, and place it as a non-obtrusive pop-up so the content they’re reading is still accessible. 

Pump-up Placement Conversion with Interactivity

There’s much research and much written on pop-up timing and placement. With a chatbot for list building, you can harness both the best design practices and marketing personalization practices within this format.

With a chatbot for list building, you can harness both the best design practices and marketing personalization practices within this format.

Rather than a simple pop-up request for an email, this pop-up interacts with you, personally, and gets to know you, just a little, and just enough, so that you feel like saying more. (Because, hey, everyone’s being cool.)

The best practices for an opt-in experience: Wait until a user has had time to take in the information they’ve come to view to offer a pop-up, place the pop-up either at the end of a page (like a blog piece or landing page) to target visitors who were interested enough to keep reading, or trigger a pop-up when a visitor signals they’re leaving the page. You can just as easily keep it simple, and place a pop-up in a non-invasive spot on-page, just as you would for a live chat window.

However, on-site or by email aren’t the only places you can fish for leads and subscribers organically. Use conversational AI in messaging to garner an address and then send the information instantly through the conversation, or however the user prefers. That’s less steps than emailing the asset or downloading it. The content or promo is right there in the chatbot experience, or it can be sent to a mobile number, email, or however your visitor wants to interact with the content. 

Facebook Messenger conversational nativeMSg
The nativeMsg chatbot asks the Facebook Messenger user for an email address after the user has interacted for more than five lines of conversation

List Build with Conversational AI

You’re on-board!  So how do you start?

The best way to start is to create a simple chatbot with a few signals. That’s where artificial intelligence and machine learning come in. Machine learning is designed so that responses are generated based on both inputs and context.

Increase list building opportunities by increasing the channels you deploy intelligent messaging for list building. A chatbot can deploy on social media messaging, messaging apps, mobile apps and on-site.  List building with a focus on email marketing creates one opportunity to nurture and communicate. But an omni-channel opt-in creates much more opportunity. 

  1. Focus on your first conversion step: converting anonymous visitors to warm prospects. You can offer a trial, a piece of gated content, a quick pricing sheet based on user feedback and follow this with a request for an opt-in to your newsletter or notifications for upcoming offers.
  2. For e-commerce customers who have already made a purchase, place a chatbot at the end of a purchase to opt-in for similar deals or your newsletter. 
  3. Request a “soft” opt-in within a chatbot conversational experience. Perhaps the user landed on your site for a quick question, you can place a request to receive updates or your newsletter, within that conversation.

If you’re just starting out building a business blog following, or newsletter subscriber list, start with a rule-based chatbot on-site. You’ll not only offer more convenience in responsiveness, but you’ll also be able to ask for contact information and even track returning visitors.

Find out how conversational AI paired with RSC messaging will allow you to reach more mobile users with a better branded experience.

Published on Oct 9, 2018