Have you ever signed up for a brand or retailer’s email list in the hopes of getting a coupon, and then… nothing?

It’s a disappointment, to be sure. But according to a new report, it’s also bad business.

The marketing technology company RevTrax says offering coupons is the surest way to entice shoppers to subscribe, and stay subscribed, to brand or retailer emails – but far too few companies are actually doing it.

RevTrax is out with a new report, entitled “The Opt-In Value Exchange.” Marketers would love for you to sign up for their emails, so you get news about their latest products and promotions right in your inbox. But the report found that most marketers are not adequately incentivizing shoppers to sign up. “Brands across all categories are missing a massive opportunity to grow their email lists” by not offering coupons in exchange for email addresses, RevTrax concluded.

The company visited the websites and email signup pages for 100 of the country’s top retailers, another 100 of the top brands, and 60 of the most popular quick-serve restaurants. And “despite email marketing being one of the most effective” ways to drive sales and build brand loyalty, only 36% of retailers, 18% of brands and a mere 8% of quick-serve restaurants offer promotions in exchange for your email address.


“It’s always been the case that consumers value discounts,” the report notes. “But with more price- sensitive and discount-dependent shoppers, brands should see this opportunity as a cornerstone to creating a value exchange with consumers.”

In other words, don’t ask for my email address if you have nothing of value to offer in return.

“During the pandemic, a larger share of consumers became more price sensitive and less brand loyal,” RevTrax noted. And shoppers were more inclined to rely on email to help them save money. “The concept that customers don’t like brand emails remains a myth. Email marketing is on the rise,” RevTrax said in an earlier report over the summer. That report found that redemption rates from emailed promotions surged from 21% in 2018, to 37% last year.

In its new report, RevTrax found that percent-off offers are the most common types of discounts offered when signing up for retail or brand emails, with cash discounts close behind. Quick-service restaurants were more likely to make “alternative offers” like buy-one-get-one-free deals.

But saving money via email is only possible if you actually get promotions in your email. Too many brands don’t offer any discounts at all in exchange for your email address, while even some that do can leave you hanging – RevTrax found many examples of “several hours of lag time between sign up and delivery,” which can mean the difference between making a sale, and sending a potential customer shopping somewhere else.

“Brands have to face the music and ask themselves a hard question: what value am I offering the consumer in exchange for their information?” the report advises.

So the next time a company asks you to join their email list, make sure you know what you’re getting in return for your email address. Otherwise, you may end up with nothing more than extra emails in your inbox – instead of extra savings in your pocket.

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