25 Ways to Increase Your Mailing List Subscriber Rate

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Email marketing is awesome! You get a list of people interested in you, your content and your promotions.

Creating a list is easy, stick an optin box on your site and you’re away!

Growing that list is much harder. Here is my top 25 ways to increase your subscriber rate.

1. Optin box

This might be obvious, but you will need an optin box for people to sign up to! Most email services like Aweber and Mailchimp provide these. Plus there are plenty of other options if you run a WordPress site, such as a plugin like OptinMonster.

Give your visitors options

One optin box will rarely cut it, so it is a good idea to make sure you have several strategically placed on the page. Good choices are: the sidebar, below the post content, the header area and pop ups.

2. Sell the list!

No, not selling the list for money, but rather promoting the fact that you have a list. In order to help remove the reliance on Google and the other search engines, you need to get your list built. As such you need to be aggressive in your promotion of the list.

There’s a balance to be had here, shoving it down people’s throats will work about as well as hiding the optin from everyone. The take away from this is that you have to have the confidence and willingness to advertise that your list exists.

3. Guest blogging

This method of promoting your list has fallen out of favor recently, but if done correctly and within reason it is still a valid option. If you have the option to add a link in your author box, add one to an optin landing page. Otherwise at least mention that you have an awesome email tutorial course, free e-book, etc.

4. Hello Bar

This is a specialist tool from QuickSprout that shows a permanent but subtle bar at the top that follows the user as they scroll. I’ve Tried That.com has a similar custom system, but for a call to action. ProBlogger.com uses the Hello Bar effectively.

These are one of my personal favourites as a visitor, as they are obvious but at the same time they are not in your face.

They are also effective at generating sign ups or click through’s.

4. Freebies

Everyone loves a freebie and ethically bribing your visitors to signing up to your mailing list is an effective way to grow it. There are plenty of different things you can offer:

  • A tutorial series, either in written or video format
  • A time saver such as a how to cheatsheet
  • A toolkit of resources such as a bundle of e-books or various excel spreadsheets
  • An e-book or report
  • A case study regarding your particular niche
  • An interview with someone experienced in your field of interest
  • Webinar access (live and/or recorded)
  • A product such as images, a WordPress plugin, etc.

5. Contest

Offering a larger prize is risky (especially if you don’t keep track of local laws) but can prove to give a serious injection of subscribers.

6. Tools

If you have the expertise and the time, or the cash, you could build a service or tool that requires a sign up such as Marketing Grader.

7. PPC and Landing pages

If done right, the combination of using paid adverts and a landing page can be extremely effective, providing you with targeted subscribers.

8. Social Networks

You can use your existing social networks to gain more subscribers by linking to your optin landing page as well as your normal quality content. In fact, if you have a good enough bribe in place it could easily reach a wider audience due to social shares

9. Webinar

Offering a free webinar via your site and social media could garner you plenty of new leads if you collect the email addresses of the interested party.

There are plenty of options available to create webinars, from Google Hangouts on Air and GoToMeeting.

10. Subscribe by comments

If you allow comments on your site, you should consider adding a system that allows people to sign up to your mailing list when they comment. The easier, the better and several WordPress plugins can do this for you including Aweber’s own optin plugin

Sign Up By Comments

11. Redirect commenters

If you dislike the idea of the sign up when commenting, how about redirecting commenters to a thank you page after they have submitted their response? This allows you to not only generate a rapport with your visitor but the page can host a nice big, shiny optin box.

12. Do you sell your own products?

Your e-commerce site can be leveraged to help build your mailing list by having an optin tickbox during the checkout process. This is often pre-checked and placed near the terms and conditions checkbox.

13. Discounts

Further to e-commerce sites, if you offer discounts or special offers you can place them behind the “paywall” of providing their email address to access the discount code.

Add an easy to use share or forward button to your emails (make sure to include a subscribe link too!)

14. Social Proof

People are sheep, and we love to follow the herd, so if you see that something is popular you at least check it out. And that’s the theory behind providing a visual number to the amount of subscribers on your list; if people see others are there already they are more willing to join in as they have a social assurance that it is worthwhile.

This is why you should NOT use this method if your list is relatively small (below a few thousand for most niches).

ProBlogger - Social Proof and the Hello Bar ProBlogger uses both Social Proof and the Hello Bar

15. Testimonials

Another form of social proof, testimonials help increase signup rates by improving the perception of your authority and trust in your site and mailing list, lowering the mental barrier for a visitor to sign up.

16. Take advantage of your friends

We all know other online marketers and bloggers, so why not ask them for help? Getting a shout out to their (related) mailing list can do wonders to not only expand your own mailing list but to help generally spread the word about you and your site.

You could even create free content or a free bonus specifically for that audience.

17. User your existing followers

Why not ask you followers to help share your content? You don’t event need to do it directly. Adding in a line or two into every email telling your followers how they can share your content, along with links to social networks and a forward email link.

If you do this, remember to add in a subscribe link too! This can go to an optin landing page.

It’s also a good idea to focus on only the subscribers that have the highest open rate and/or have been following you the longest. That way you are more likely that loyal readers will help you out.

18. K.I.S.S.

I mention Keep It Simple Stupid a lot, because it is so easy to forget. In regards to increasing email subscribers, what you need to keep simple is the optin process.

Make the process as easy to do as possible. Do you need to ask them for both their first and last name? Do you even need their name?

Just remember, you do need their email address!

19. Words matter

It is common to see optin boxes using phrases like “sign up to the mailing list” for button text. Did you know that changing the general copy and the button copy can drastically increase subscriptions?

There are plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence out there that confirms this, so make sure that you test your wording.

20. Split test

On the subject of testing, make sure you test everything! If your optin plugin or software offers split testing make use of it. If not, there are services out there that can be used such as Visual Web Optimizer or Convert.com.

Testing the text, placement (within the optin box and where the optin box is) and also the colours and shapes can lead to higher and higher subscription rates. It will take time, and there will be plenty of stats to consider, but it is well worth the time, effort and money.

21. Be bold

An uncommon but very effective way to show off your optin box is to make it the focal point of your site above the fold. NerdFitness and SocialTriggers  achieve this well.

It isn’t for every site or every niche, so consider your audience well before using this method.

22. Turn abandoning visitors to subscribers

Some plugins such as OptinMonster have a feature where if the user goes to or closes the window, they show a pop up offering the mailing list. Surprisingly this is more effective than you think. Only thing I would say to this though is that you need to make sure it doesn’t annoy the hell out of your regular readers. As such I would only use this feature on a few select pages or landing pages.

23. Be responsive

Make sure that your optin forms work on mobile devices, they are the future. This is especially true in respect to pop up windows, which have the habit of not being dismissible and ruin your visitor’s experience.

24. Have good content

I almost didn’t include this as it goes without saying, but I felt it needed the reminder. Good quality content both in your site and in your emails will help to prove to non-subscribers that your content is worth it and entice existing subscribers to share the content.

25. Bonus: Be yourself

Finally, you need to be yourself. I know this may sound weird, but if you are honest and upfront about your views and the fact that you are a marketer people will respect you more.

You don’t need to be liked by everyone. As you mother will no doubt have told you many times, just be yourself!

How do you increase optins?

Do you have any other methods of increasing subscriber rates on your site? If you do I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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