Newsletters are purely organic marketing tools. You can’t force people to subscribe, and you definitely can’t use underhand methods of winning subscribers (that always backfires, potentially in the courts). An email newsletter should always be opted into, and it should be easy for recipients to voluntarily unsubscribe too.
So how can you keep your newsletter growing in terms of subscribers? Here are our top five ways to ensure your subscribers always outnumber the quitters.
Part of growing a newsletter comes down to simple maths, i.e. the number of new subscribers is greater than the number of unsubscribers.
That means that the more readers you can retain, the fewer you need to win to replace them, and the newsletter grows. It’s always tempting to use your newsletter to advertise your services and remind customers how great you are – and there’s a place for that – but really, nobody is particularly interested in your latest industry award or office dog.
They just want to pick up new, useful knowledge from your position at the front line. Always put yourself in the place of the reader and ask yourself: “Is this story actually interesting?”
Content aside, there’s another factor in the unsubscribe equation – how easy the email is to access. Having a newsletter that is on-brand and looks great is one thing, but each time you add some graphical or interactive wizardry, you’ll be preventing a certain number of people from reading it on the device they’re currently using, be it a phone, a tablet, a smart device or a Windows/Mac computer, using a dedicated email client or a web browser.
Keeping it widely readable and also looking great requires skilful HTML email newsletter coding and testing, and that’s a professional job. The good news is that you only need to have it done once – you can use the same template over and over again.
We’ve written extensively about the metrics you should measure on your newsletter, and all the popular email solutions can embed codes that make it easy to see whether you’re tripping up at the inbox stage or powering customers through to make purchases on your website.
It’s vital to analyse this information after you’ve had a few months’ operation, as it can steer you in the right direction and help you avoid mistakes.
Now you’ve minimised unsubscribers, you are looking at growing the list. The trick here is to reduce friction. Don’t make your website visitors or social followers have to search around for your subscribe button.
Make it easy to find, at minimum on your contact page, but preferably on your social profile page and in the footer of every web page (again, a one-step process once you’ve set it up on WordPress or Magento). And never pass up on an opportunity to link to the sign-up form in blogs or social posts.
The best thing you can do to grow a mailing list is to give people a reason to sign up. While the promise of an excellent newsletter might win some subscribers in certain fields, sometimes appealing to people’s more immediate instinct works well.
For example, you could offer exclusive content to subscribers that won’t appear on your blog, or will appear a few days earlier. That’s really helpful in B2B, especially if you’re in a sector where you’re considered an authority, and timely information is useful to readers.
Alternatively, you can promise special offers to subscribers, whether that’s discount vouchers, exclusive events, entry to competitions or partner deals. That works better in B2C businesses, but there are some B2B applications too.
The key thing is to acknowledge that growing a newsletter is a steady, organic process, and you should view any growth as a success. Attempts to speed up growth by cajoling users to subscribe rarely work. Unsatisfied customers will take themselves off the list straight away.
The best way to grow the list is through honesty and hard work, and that results in picking interesting subjects and giving your readers something they can’t find elsewhere.