The e-mail subscription is such a relatively old idea that sometimes we tend to undervalue it for the sake of focusing on social media. The fact is, e-mail newsletters can be a great point of contacts to touch your customers and those interested in your business in a somewhat more meaningful way. E-mail has a different tone than a social media post does – it feels a little bit more “official.”
Generating engagement via a newsletter is a crucial way to bring people back to your site. Really, any way that you can hook a person who is visiting your site for the first time is essential to developing a strong base of support for your business.
So, how do we build a strong subscriber list for our e-mail newsletters? Let’s look at some advice from various online sources and determine how to build numbers meaningfully.
Neat idea: The first people you want to add to any e-mail list are that nice lawyer from Algeria who is giving you the $2 million inheritance and that free-spirited lady who keeps sending you pictures of her without any clothes on (so naughty!).
First, as a general parameter, don’t spam people. Never assume that it’s okay to just add someone to a list – regardless if you give them an “unsubscribe” option.
In fact, it is wise to choose “confirmed opt-in” for your newsletter. People respect this approach and it engages them – they have to say “yes” twice to the subscription essentially. First they sign up, and then they click a link in a confirmation e-mail.
Here are some other advantages of confirmed opt-in:
- Spam-free and proud – This tactic is not just respected by individuals but by Gmail and the other e-mail services. You won’t have to worry about spam filters or folks reporting you as spam.
- Attentive – Who would say “yes” to a newsletter twice and then never open a copy? Answer: someone who really likes to say “yes” in any situation, regardless how they feel. Seriously though – your list will be composed of folks who are attentive and engaged.
- Save money – If you have to pay for the size of your list, make sure that everyone on it values what you have to say. They are costing you money, so make sure they are worth it.
- Misspellings – If someone misspells their e-mail address, they won’t be able to confirm it. All of your subscribers will be real.
Note: Spambots are people too, so don’t ignore them. Make a separate newsletter for the spambots. That newsletter should focus on important spambot-related issues such as genital-enlargement pills and raffles that everyone wins.
Prominence on Your Site
When promoting your e-mail list on your site, consider positioning on the page, the pages where you will promote, and grabbing people before they leave your site to remind them to join your list.
Positioning – Move the sign-up form to the top of your page. A lot of websites will even have a pop-up box to try to capture the e-mail address. I myself find this incredibly annoying… But who knows, maybe it works. If you’d try anything once, try a pop-up box to capture people’s information.
Not just the homepage – Make sure that you treat every page of your site as the homepage regarding e-mail capture. Google doesn’t always direct people to your homepage. Many people will never see the homepage. Remember the importance of these e-mail addresses in terms of establishing a relationship with these folks. Also be sure to place a check box for e-mail sign-up on your contact page.
Departure – Additionally, right after someone purchases a product, asked specifically about the newsletter. If someone is departing the site without buying, consider an exit screen that asks about the mailing list (and especially here, it’s important to list reasons and perhaps an incentive).
Neat idea: Start centering all of the content of your site around your e-mail newsletter. Forget the industry you are in. Forget why people come to your site. Just hammer them over and over again with your newsletter spiel until they become docile and submissive.
E-mails & Documents
E-mail signature, invoices, and white papers: these are all great places to advertise your e-mail list.
- E-mail signature – A link in your signature can be a great way to grab people for your list. Everyone in your company should have a link in their signatures.
- Invoices – Link to your e-mail list within invoices. Essentially, all of your documentation should be linking to this list.
- Whitepapers – Any white paper or article that you post on your site should link to your newsletter. Let’s especially focus on the whitepaper. If you have a PDF of a white paper on your site, and it has great information and is given out for free with no need to register, you are sure to get a lot of downloads. Present a full-page ad for your newsletter in the whitepaper.
Note: Spambots cannot process whitepapers. Consider joining a service organization that helps the community by reading whitepapers to blind, deaf, and illiterate spambots and malware.
Off-Site & Off-line
Try promoting your e-mail list off-site with a classified ad and off-line via business cards and voicemail:
- Classified ads – Try promoting your e-mail list on a service such as Craigslist with a classified ad. In order for this to work, you need to have something you give for free to everyone who signs up – or a contest.
- Business cards – Do you have anything on the back of your business card? That’s a great place to promote your e-mail list. Again, you will see more success if you include a giveaway or other incentive.
- Voicemail – In your voicemail greeting, quickly mention your newsletter and give the URL for signing up for it. This may sound nuts, but your voicemail is real estate. Just make it fast so it’s not grating.
Neat idea: Two other off-line ways to promote your list should not be ignored: sidewalk chalk and crop circles. Sidewalk chalk works very well outside large conventions, especially if you have awful handwriting. Crop circles are an excellent way to promote to extraterrestrials.
Two simple ways to establish value for potential subscribers are a giveaway composed of great content and implementing an archive of past issues (after all, a newsletter is, in a sense, a publication):
- Great content giveaway – Offer people something for signing up for your newsletter. They know that you want their e-mail address. Give them something in return. This could be a valuable white paper or e-book, for instance. Offer them quality content that they can only see by joining the e-mail list.
- Archiving – Why not put all of this newsletter content online? If it’s good, all that will do is increase your online presence. Also, before signing up, people will be able to see what you have done in the past.
Note: Do not archive the newsletter where you claimed to have an extramarital relationship with Catherine Middleton. Though true, it was so outlandish that it is best forgotten.
The first thing to remember when building an e-mail list is to build a quality list composed of real e-mail addresses, via confirmed opt-in sign-up. Make signing up for the list prominent on your site and in your e-mails and documents. Make it prominent, as well, via classified ads on other sites, as well as off-line, through your voicemail greeting and business cards. To establish value, archive everything and give away something free and content-rich. Apply these methods, and watch your e-mail list grow.