Throughout any era, two things have always been true about marketing.
One, brands want to keep their customers informed about new product offerings and deals.
Two, they want a direct line to the customer or prospect in order to do so. That’s what increasing email signups is about.
As it turns out, email marketing newsletters have remained surprisingly effective at serving both these needs. As long as your newsletter has something of value to offer, people are generally happy to invite your brand to their inbox.
But first things first: You’ve got to get them to sign up. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to do so. Here are 10 of our favorite strategies to increase email signups in 2015.
1. Give Something Away
If you want more email signups, you’ve got to be willing to give visitors something in return. It doesn’t have to be much, but it does have to be something your prospective customers would want — and ideally lead them toward a purchase decision.
Your giveaway could include discounts on your web store, free or exclusive content (e.g., a white paper, a how-to, a song) a month of free service, etc. Just make sure it aligns with your goals for building your mailing list in the first place.
Here is an example from HP’s Vertica platform:
2. Highlight the Benefits
Does your mailing list offer content or discounts that customers can’t get anywhere else? If so, do your customers know about it?
Be sure to present a clear call to action to your prospect. Tell them exactly what you’re offering with email signup. Do you give advanced tutorials on activities relevant to your product? Do you offer daily deals that customers can’t get anywhere else? Say so.
Take this Salesforce opt-in landing page, for example. The purpose is clear, and most of the text is geared toward how either their content (free demos) or service at large can benefit the user. The cost of this free, helpful content? Opting in to their email list.
3. Pass it On
Believe it or not, your customers are more than willing to help you with your email recruitment drive by getting their friends to sign up. Just make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Here’s how the referral option works: offer a discount or other benefit to both the initial customer and the friend. The friend will then follow the link to claim the reward. You can either offer an email opt-in at this point, or make the reward contingent upon the new customer opting in. When in doubt, A/B test the two options.
Here is an example from Ink Garden, who even advertises its referral program on Facebook (see #5):
4. Strategically Place Your Signup Form
Many people are willing to join your email list, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go out of their way to do it. Therefore, it’s your job to make signing up as easy as possible.
Here are some places to consider adding an email opt-in:
• Bars: This one might seem obvious, but a clean, visually appealing opt-in prominent on your site — either as a sidebar or top/menu bar — wherever the customer may be navigating can go a long way (and be sure to highlight the benefits!).
• Comments Section: Blogs and other web pages that have commenting functionality often require a valid email address for a person to post. Since you’re having them input this information anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone by adding a “subscribe to newsletter “checkbox too?
• After a Blog Post: There’s nothing wrong with a direct call to action right after a blog post. After all, you just gave your customer some valuable content. No harm in asking for something in return.
• At Purchase: This one is pretty common. As the prospect proceeds toward a purchase and is entering payment info, offer to sign them up for your email list too.
Aside from your basic site design considerations (i.e., you don’t want a visual layout that’s too crowded), don’t worry about putting opt-in forms in too many places. People are accustomed to filtering out the content that doesn’t interest them anyway; so at worst, your email signup form will be ignored, and at best, you’ll earn yourself a new subscriber.
Here is an example of TechCrunch‘s ever-present opt-in form (bottom right):
And here, Hershey’s brings attention to their newsletter at the bottom of every post – a great recipe for email signups
5. Use Social Media Accounts
Sites like Facebook have plenty of third-party apps that will allow you to insert an email opt-in form directly in your page — and don’t forget the value of adding an email opt-in link in your “About” section too.
Your social media pages should also be a high source of travel for your brand. This makes them a perfect place to promote opt-in giveaways and discounts — and to get your subscribers to help spread the word too.
Here is an example from Canon’s Facebook page, offering visitors many different email signups options specific to their photography needs.
And here is an example of Forbes making sure the newsletter is easily reached on the “About” page:
6. Offer Webinars & Tutorials
Again, the more you promote exclusive content through your email list, the more likely people are going to want to email signup. As mentioned above, sometimes giveaways and discounts are enough to do the trick, but especially if you’re marketing to B2B audiences, another commodity is often much more powerful: good content.
Webinars, tutorials, and other in-depth pieces of content position your brand as an informed leader in its field. This is content marketing at it’s finest; not only are you offering something of real value, but you’re dramatically increasing the likelihood of converting your prospect.
In this example from AWeber Communications, registration for a webinar subscribes the user to their newsletter. This form is also a good example of keeping things simple (#8), requesting only a name and email address:
To sweeten the deal, AWeber even offers a consolation if people can’t watch the webinar live:
That’s how to use an email list effectively — promising users that you will give them something valuable in return.
7. Give Your Visitor a Nudge
Remember that a fundamental philosophy of web marketing is to make things conversions and opt-ins as easy for the prospect as possible. Sometimes that means sending your visitor a little pop-up message, encouraging them to sign up for your email list in order to receive additional, similarly useful content.
Think carefully about how you phrase your offer. In fact, it may be useful to craft different kinds of offers based on the type of content your visitor is viewing.
Here is an example for activism site Daily Kos. Here, the organization uses a petition as its opt-in, giving users the chance to join a regular mailing list at the time of signing.
8. Keep it Simple
Prospects are willing to indulge a business’s offers to convert or opt-in to a mailing list. Everyone more or less knows the drill when they’re shopping online, so as long as your offers are reasonable and add value to their experience, they will be willing to indulge you.
Within reason, that is. Just make sure you keep things simple for them. On your email signup opt-in form, don’t ask for a whole litany of demographic information (unless you absolutely need it).
Instead, just ask for the essentials — name and email address — and let them continue on their way.
9. Allow for Social Opt-In
What’s even simpler than asking for a name and email address in an opt-in form? Social signup links!
Letting customers sign up for your email list through their social credentials on Facebook, Twitter or even Google not only makes the entire process about as easy as it can get, it can also add a sense of legitimacy to the sign-in process. After all, many people still feel uneasy about giving their name and email address to so many different parties, and so they will feel comforted knowing that information is being mediated by a trusted social media site.
The extra benefit to your organization? Better data collection without having to ask. Generally speaking, when a prospect provides sign-in credentials through their social profile, they are also sharing other basic (and usually public) demographic information such as age, location, gender, business, etc.
Here is an example from MarketingProfs, who give their users plenty of options for how they would like to opt in:
10. Run a Contest or Competition
This combines many of the best elements of the giveaway (#1) and pass it on (#3) strategies. A good competition gives everyone something for participating — again, whether a free download, a discount or something along those lines — and it also encourages people to share.
Aside from growing your email list, this also gives you a chance to build brand awareness. Make sure that the contest prize will have clear value to participants, something likely to either encourage repeat business or convert the winner into an unofficial brand ambassador.
Here, the PGA, in a partnership with Quicken Loans, shows how to collect email subscribers in a heartbeat:
Ready to get started building your email lists? Find out how Wisepops can help you build an effective, visually stunning campaign!