When growing a web-based business, an extensive list of email subscribers is a vital tool in your arsenal. The idea of an email subscription used to be tarnished by its association with spam.
This is no longer the case, although your efforts to court potential subscribers should carry an assurance that you won’t be spamming anyone who signs up. A huge number of potential sales can be achieved via email marketing, although this is rather logical.
Those who have subscribed already have an interest in your product or service, and that interest will often result in sales.
But how do you grow your list of email subscribers?
It’s really not that complicated, but there are certainly a few methods that are the most effective…
1. A Targeted Giveaway
While a lavish prize such as a new car or a European vacation will certainly add a multitude of subscribers, it does not make fiscal sense for you. A generic prize, however desirable, will attract a general crowd, the vast majority of whom will unsubscribe the moment the prize has gone (statistically likely, gone to someone else).
Even something such as an Amazon voucher will have the same effect.
Offer a targeted giveaway of something that is of value to the type of subscribers you wish to attract. It could be a long-term premium subscription to your service, or a subscription to a well-known service that complements your own.
Being selective about just what you want to offer as a prize will help to ensure that you will attract subscribers who are likely to have an ongoing interest in your product.
You can also stipulate that there is to be one entry per person, with multiple entries only granted with referrals.
2. I’m Popular!
It’s a numbers game, but demonstrating your own popularity is a fantastic way to appeal to new subscribers. That many people can’t be wrong!
Rather than break up your followers/existing subscribers/fans/friends into groups depending on how you’ve reached them, simply list a total figure. You might have a certain number of Facebook fans, a certain number of twitter followers, and a certain number of pre-existing subscriptions. Tallied together, these figures are infinitely more impressive when presented as a total number of subscribers or followers.
3. The Need for Speed
If your website does not load quickly, your audience will lose interest quicker than parents at a One Direction concert. You can forget about presenting an opportunity to court a potential subscriber whether via a pop-up or otherwise, since a slow loading website means that the user won’t wait.
The rest of the internet (and competitors who are offering a comparable service to yours) is just a click away. In a worst case scenario, a total redesign might be necessary to ensure that load-time is consistently quick.
On one hand, you need to respect your audience’s intelligence, and yet on the other hand, you need to treat them as though they have the attention span of a goldfish.
If your product is good and your message is well-crafted, your audience will be able to see the benefits for them. If your website does not load promptly, you will be losing potential subscribers. Obtain regular speed reports, and if there are delays that can be overcome with some minor tweaks, then you certainly need to address this.
4. A Non-Celebrity Endorsement
Birds of a feather flock together. If your product or service is of interest to someone who has become a subscriber, chances are that they will know someone else who might also be interested.
You are essentially receiving an endorsement from someone the potential customer knows. It’s not like George Clooney spruiking Nespresso or Jennifer Aniston extolling the virtues of flying with Emirates, but it’s a far more personable endorsement.
So why would an existing subscriber endorse you?
No matter how positive their experience with you has been, it’s far easier to get an endorsement if you offer something in exchange (and it’s not like George and Jennifer are doing it for free). Depending on the nature of your product or service, you can offer an alluring discount or a voucher to the both, the referrer and the person who they have referred. Perhaps 20% off for their next purchase, and 20% off their friend’s first purchase?
5. Name Drop Like It’s Hot
As the renowned contemporary poet Snoop Dogg once suggested, you should “Drop it like it’s hot.” Whilst Mr Dogg was talking about pimps in the crib, his lessons about dropping can be loosely followed in order to increase your subscriptions. Name dropping is a legitimate way to piggyback the brand recognition of another organization with greater brand awareness.
Did you create content for Coca Cola or News Corp?
Did you work on a campaign for Disney or Apple?
This might even have happened while you were an employee of a known company, before you began your own endeavours. It’s still an appropriate claim, and the association with a big fish adds credibility to your own efforts. It’s all about making yourself more attractive to your audience, and this association with a name brand can compel them to join your subscription list.
Of course, it doesn’t need to be 20%, but it needs to be significant enough to be of interest.
6. To Pop Or Not to Pop? Definitely to Pop… Definitely
The ubiquitous internet pop-up can be an annoyance, but it’s a valuable tool when it comes to courting potential subscribers. It’s a simple enough idea, which is why it’s perplexing that so many pop-ups are so poorly constructed.
Some websites have pop-ups that consume the screen with a message along the lines of “Like what you’re reading? Why not sign up for our newsletter?”
OK, but now I can’t see what I was actually enjoying reading, and I am more likely to close the pop-up in order to continue. There are also websites whose pop-ups are blunt to the point of being ridiculous. A health website might have a pop-up with two options: “Yes, I want to live a longer and healthier life!” and “No, I want to continue suffering.”
This is a slight exaggeration, but it’s not too far off the mark. As a call to action, such an assertive approach can be a turn off. Yes, there needs to be a call to action and it needs to be a concise invitation to receive additional benefits by subscribing.
A bit of trial and error is necessary, and you may need to experiment with the wording, timing, and size of the pop-up.
7. Who Wants Some Free Stuff?
It’s a gift with no purchase necessary. All you are doing is offering something of value in exchange for an email address. This is commonly a free ebook, webinar, or tool that is offered as a gift for your new subscribers.
It doesn’t really cost you anything of significance to provide this gift, and once you’ve created the content or program to be gifted, there is no ongoing effort on your part.
This can be offered via a pop-up, sidebar, or footer, and it’s relatively straightforward. “Want to know the secret for living as long as Betty White? Sign up to our newsletter and receive our free ebook!” It’s simple logic, and a potential subscriber who might be hesitant to provide their email address can easily be persuaded with a small gift.
Call it a bribe if you like, but it works.
8. Unlocking Content in Exchange for Subscription
There’s a silly and yet vaguely amusing Facebook prank doing the rounds. As a status update, you simply type the words “This post is only viewable to Facebook Premium users.”
Your Facebook friends will respond with predictable confusion, and then you reply to their comments with the words, “This comment is only viewable to Facebook Premium users.”
Oh, the hilarity.
A number of people have been duped into thinking that there is in fact a Facebook Premium, although this is of course not the case (yet). No doubt a number of those fooled began to look into ways to unlock the supposedly hidden content – how they too could sign up for the fictional Facebook Premium.
To add value to your free content, you should have expanded the content available with subscription. They give you their email address and join your subscription list, and you then greatly increase the quality of their experience.
It’s really as easy as offering a well-crafted piece of content on your blog, with an expanded version available with subscription. It’s generally easier to provide this as part of content sent to the subscriber, rather than requiring a sign-in (which complicates your page). Striking the balance can be difficult, so be careful.
You don’t want the “free” content available without subscription to seem too basic, which can decrease your credibility.
Now here’s what I want you to do next…
Go to your blog and see which strategy can be useful for you.
In the mean time, I want you to leave a comment below telling me what you think about these simple list building strategies.