Ask any science marketing professional: “How easy is it to increase the number of email sign-ups and newsletter subscriber lists?” and the most common answer will be: “Not at all!” Unless, of course, you have a large budget.
GDPR has shrunk email lists and databases but there are ways of building those lists back up, albeit slowly. Building an email list takes time but there are minor tweaks that can be made, as well as relatively easy tactics, to gain more email subscribers.
Here's 20 ways to increase subscriber sign-ups.
1. First, make sure your content is high quality
Ensuring high-quality content is important for two reasons: Poor quality content will not attract new subscribers and will lose existing subscribers. Your content must provide value to the visitors of your website; your target audience and persona – there is no way around this. Ensure your content is targeted, insightful, educational and entertaining. If it is not worth reading, it is not worth signing up for more. Look at your engagement metrics, such as time on page and bounce rate.
2. Remove the barriers – only ask for an Email address
To grow a list, and to send a subscriber an email, all that’s required is an email address. Additional details are nice to have, such as a name or organisation, but asking for too many contact details decreases the likelihood of a successful sign-up. Data quantity/quality is a common discussion in marketing circles, but by removing barriers, and taking less from the subscriber, you will gain more sign-ups. An email address also often allows you to identify name and organisation without having to compromise on conversion.
3. Incentivise the sign-up
What do your website visitors and prospects want that you can offer? Apart from sending regular content, include an incentive for subscribers that is emailed to them upon sign-up such as partner discounts or competition entries or exclusive content. Everyone likes freebies, and this is a perfect opportunity to offer something free in return for the email subscription.
4. Use conversion triggers, such as social proof
To convert more subscribers, remind visitors of the gravitas of your email subscription. Make it clear that you already have a number of subscribers that benefit from your content, as well as your data handling policy. The goal is to build trust in the email subscription that you offer – so use trust content, such as social proof, to ensure you are converting as high as you possibly can.
5. Remove distractions
If the key conversion goal of the web page where you feature a blog subscription form is a subscription sign-up, then do not promote any other unnecessary elements. Avoid multiple call outs and offers that may confuse the website visitor. One web page; one desired action; one CTA/form means that the visitor can focus and realise the benefits of your subscription offering.
6. Use positive statements, present tense and An active voice
Every bit of copy within the subscription CTA and form should be written in a positive manner to motivate the visitor to take action. Always make your CTA positive by focusing on what the user will gain (fear tactics don’t work in B2B pharma). Also, use the present tense to convey the CTA as happening in the moment (right now) and present the benefits in an active voice (subject + verb + object).
7. Give users choices of subscription types
If your organisation produces a range of content and topics, allow your users to choose specifically what content they would like to receive. By doing this, you may limit the number of future sent emails, but the number of people signing up will increase because the subscriber is able to pick a topic that is relevant for their particular needs and avoid unnecessary ones. If you can, also give them an option on email frequency.
8. Make the CTA button stand out
The CTA button is just as important as the copy on the form or the placement of the sign-up form. CTA buttons should be unmissable as it is the conversion trigger. Create urgency in your CTA copy and use a colour that stands out, keeping in-line with your brand guidelines. Explore the psychology of colours - red is usually a good choice as it stands out and is also exciting and warm that evokes strong emotions.
9. Make it a risk-free transaction
The subscriber will also see risk in a transaction that requires handing over personal data, even if it is just an email address. The risk is that the email address will be sold to a third-party provider or forwarded to another department where the likelihood is that the subscriber will eventually be sold to at some point. Never sell data or misuse a subscription; make it clear that signing up is risk-free and all they are signing up for is blog subscriptions. Keep to this promise.
Stay informed on key topics.
10. Create gated content to create demand
Blog posts are a great way to get visitors to the website. And if those blog posts are high quality, there will always be visitors who will subscribe to receive those blog posts in their inbox. But gated content, which sits behind a form, can generate many more subscribers. Create content that your audiences will want access to, such as helpful cheat-sheets, templates, toolkits and checklists.
11. Create a sign-up landing page
Newsletter specific sign-up pages are a great way to build subscribers as the traffic hitting the page will likely convert since they have found their way to this sort of page in the first place. Set up the landing page like any other landing page – with a headline, engagement/conversion triggers and CTA – and send traffic to the page via your distribution channels, such as your social media platforms.
12. Social sign-ups – generate subscribers from Facebook
Facebook allows a number of ways to generate sign-ups and integrates with mailing providers via their range of apps. You can also create landing pages via Facebook that, apart from building your subscriber list, can also build your Facebook page likes. With a large pool of potential contacts, Facebook is an effective platform to consider and assess whether you can start building your email lists.
13. Promote the newsletter Creatively on Other pages
Every page on your website has the ability to generate subscribers. Consider using the “About” or “Team” or “Contact Us” page to discreetly promote your blog subscription. Look at your analytics and find the pages that are performing better than others and provide the option to sign up to your email newsletters. On the team page, for example, allow visitors to subscribe to updates for specific team members.
14. Use pop-ups - but only at the appropriate moments
Intrusive pop-ups hinder the user experience and can turn website visitors away. But used appropriately, and discreetly, they are very effective. Publish a pop-up form, for blog content subscription, on all pages of your blog and/or news section and ensure that the pop-up appears after an elapsed time of 30-60 seconds after users have shown a level of engagement that suggests that visitor is interested in your content. For more, see this post on B2B email marketing best practices.
15. Consider content locking (but do not force it upon your website)
Content locking is where most of a piece of content is locked and visitors are required to subscribe to access and read the whole article. This is common with large publishing companies with lots of authority in the industry. Which is why you should use this tactic sparingly, and maybe use it on breakthrough and highly researched content that visitors are likely to want access. This is a tactic with a similar principle to gated content.
16. Encourage subscribers to forward your email to friends
Most email marketing providers will have a built-in feature that allows subscribers to forward emails on to their network of friends and colleagues. (You do not want subscribers to simply forward the email via their email client as it gives the recipient of the forwarded email the ability to unsubscribe the original subscriber.) Word of mouth marketing as such is built around trust and is, therefore, an effective method of generating subscribers.
17. Use announcement bars and sidebars
The last thing we want to do is disrupt our own website visitors when they are reading the content on our web pages. But there are sections of the website that can be used to promote a newsletter subscription without disruption a browsing experience. Announcement bars (at the top of the page) is a good start, as well as the footer and sidebar. If it doesn’t disrupt a user experience, it’s fine to adopt.
18. The email signature still generates traffic
Possibly one of the simplest and often unused subscriber-building opportunity is within our personal email signatures. Just dropping a CTA and a link to a sign-up form in the email signature will generate a steady flow of clicks to the sign-up landing page. You will be emailing contacts every day in your role, and the signature will be seen by everyone. You can even go a step further and drop the CTA at the end of your email (within the body); a personal request goes a long way.
19. Don’t be afraid to ask when face-to-face
We operate within an industry that favours a face-to-face approach which means that opportunities for effective face-to-face conversations are at large. When in discussions with prospects, partners or friends, casually ask if that person would like to subscribe to the insightful content you are creating. If the time is wrong to pitch your product or service, pitch your email subscription. When you’re at events and trade shows, offer something to get that consent.
20. Prompt feedback
We’ll conclude as we opened, with content. If a customer is about to leave your website without converting or signing up, why not ask for feedback? You can do this in a non-intrusive way on exit intent and all you could ask the visitor to do is click on an emoji that represents the appropriate emotion. Then, you will be able to gauge if your content is worthy of subscribing to. Many website builders provide feedback features out of the box and plugins are also available.