Let’s face it, getting people—a lot of people—to actually subscribe to a mailing list isn’t easy. With an overwhelming amount of email already flooding our inboxes, enticing people to sign up for even more email is a growing challenge. In fact, according to Sumo, the average email opt-in rate across all verticals is only about 1.95%.
But for most of us, email is still an important part of our marketing strategy and increasing the number of opt-ins is a critical success factor when it comes to the effectiveness of our email marketing programs. Most people (91%) check their email every day, and the majority of business leaders and marketers still tout email to be among the top marketing channels with respect to ROI.
Given this information, it's important that you or your marketing team maximize your conversion opportunities. So here are several quick tips and tricks you can use to increase the number of subscriptions to your eNewsletter and other email updates.
1. Don’t keep your email subscription a secret.
A typical problem with most websites is that the option to join a mailing list isn't easily visible. After all, you can’t increase your opt-ins if no one knows where or how to subscribe to your content. The first thing you should do is include a sign-up form on your website, blog and/or resources pages. To further increase your odds, add a link to the form in your email signature, on your social media channel company descriptions, and other relevant locations.
2. Leverage pop-ups and Lead Flows.
Piggybacking on tip #1, Lead Flows are an easy and effective way to boost the visibility and conversion power of your eNewsletter subscriptions. Lead Flows, a tool available to HubSpot Marketing Free customers, enables users to create pop-up forms that market an offer of their choice on specific website pages. There are multiple types of Lead Flows–drop-downs, exit pop-ups, and slide-ins (like you might see on this site)–available for creation, so you have a number of options to attract subscribers. But regardless of the method you choose, AWeber found that using a pop-up form for obtaining subscribers converted 1,375% better than a traditional form. So why not give this tool a try?
Not a HubSpot user? Here's an article that discusses 20 more pop-up creation tools to achieve similar results.
3. Demonstrate immediate value.
As part of your sign-up form, don’t just say something like “Subscribe to our Newsletter” or “Join our Email List.” Borrrriiinngg. Instead, include messaging that describes the value of your content. Tell visitors that by signing up, they’ll receive great tips and how-to's, deals, savings or other subscribe-worthy incentives. In order for your visitors to willingly fork over their email address, you need to make those benefits crystal clear – and answer the question “what’s in it for me?”
4. Offer a special “subscribers only” incentive.
Another great way to generate more opt-ins is to give subscribers exclusive access to some kind of offering, whether it's free content, coupons, resources, etc. For example, if you offer industry-specific white papers on your website, include a spot on that page that states “Get access to exclusive guides not available anywhere else on this website! Sign up below.” Or, give first-time subscribers a special gift. Just make sure you keep your promise!
5. Give ‘em a sneak peek.
One of the best marketing offers I’ve seen was from a guy who promoted an educational “5 step” email series. To encourage people to subscribe to the series, he included a short video teaser of the first step. Next to the video was a form and call-to-action: “Want to see the rest? Sign up and receive tips 2 through 5.” Needless to say, I signed up for his mailing list.
Try including a teaser of your own and see what works. It could be a video, a link to a document, a coupon, or an article from your newsletter. When done effectively, sneak-peeks can be used to appeal to new subscribers.
6. Show authority.
Numbers are powerful. Once your list starts to gain some traction, it's persuasive to publicly show how many subscribers you have. This demonstrates authority and social proof to your visitors that your email subscription is worth providing their precious contact info.
7. Add an opt-in field to resource landing page forms.
In today's world, where consumer data protection is receiving more attention than ever before, having website visitors—even those who voluntarily download content from your website—opt into receiving your newsletter is a wise (and increasingly necessary) idea. Particularly when regulations like GDPR are globally impacting marketing strategies on a legal basis, getting informed consent to send contacts emails beyond the one containing whatever they downloaded is something you should be incorporating into your email marketing anyway.
8. Make your email shareable.
Let your subscribers do some of the work for you! When appropriate, include a “Forward to a Friend” link in your email campaigns. Many email marketing applications even have these features built-in, or they enable you to use tools like AddThis, which recipients can use to share your email via social media. And don't forget to include social sharing functionality on the landing page where your email sign-up is located.
9. Test what works and what doesn’t.
The only way to really know what works best is to test your subscription options. Try testing different offers, headlines, form placements or incentives. Use tools like Google Content Experiments (free) or Visual Website Optimizer to perform A/B split testing. Comparing your sign-up form to another variation will provide insight into the types of offers that work best for your audience. Once you start trying different strategies and examining the results, you’ll likely end up with a powerful offer that drastically increases your opt-ins.
Looking for more? Check out: 5 (More) Tips on Hot to Get People to Subscribe to Your Email – a follow-up post to this one!
Do you have any great stories or ideas for increasing the number of email subscribers in your database? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you're hunting for additional email marketing advice, you can also read our curated post – Not Your Grandma's Email Marketing Tips – for a compiled list of insightful, instructive email marketing articles that'll help your campaigns kick butt!
Note: This post has been updated from the original version published in 2011 to reflect current industry data and marketing best practices.