I still remember the days when social media was the new buzz word. In those days, people seriously thought that with increasing adaptation of social media platforms, email marketing will soon breathe its last.
We are in 2016 now, and I can confidently say that email marketing is one of those mediums that can provide greater number of sales compared to other channels including SEO, PPC and others.
The more powerful and targeted your email list, the higher the sales and conversion rate can be.
If you ask me, email marketing is both an art and a science. Art because you have to come up with something creative and powerful that your audience finds interesting and can easily relate to, and science because there is a complex formula for success in email marketing. Groping in the dark without strategy will not get us far.
There are literally hundreds of articles that provide great insight into important subjects; like when to send an email, how to design an email strategy and how to make your emails aesthetically appealing to your target market.
Email Marketing is sure to work and produce better results when you have a bigger list of subscribers. But the more important question is; how do we get more people to subscribe to our mailing list.
In this article, I’m going to shed light on some techniques that are sure to help increase your subscribers by 2X and more.
Note: Not all of these will work for all businesses. So before you decide to apply any one of these on your business, make sure you are picking the right one, or get some professional’s help.
Content upgrade to encourage subscription
Most businesses and bloggers mistakenly believe that in order to bring people to subscribe to their mailing list, all they have to do is provide an eye-catching form at the end of the page/post where readers will happily type away their emails.
But the truth is, it does not even make theoretical sense. What many businesses are doing here is trying to wean readers’ personal information without giving their subscribers an understanding of what they will get in return for it. In this day and age, this strategy simply does not work.
Instead, if we covet those email addresses for our email list, we must also offer something valuable to our subscribers in return. This is where content upgrade comes in.
How does it work?
You write that blog post as you normally would, but instead of adding a subscribe button at the end of the post, the idea is to provide worthwhile and impactful content that can only be accessed via subscription.
Content upgrade can be anything that your readership is interested in. Let’s suppose you are writing a post about On-page optimization checklist. A pdf of that complete checklist is definitely a great idea that would be valuable for your subscribers.
A costly mistake: Irrelevant content upgrade
Many brands provide white papers or infographics as content upgrade. This isn’t really a smart idea. Imagine that your blog post talks about social media mistakes and your content upgrade is about SEO Audit checklist.
Even if the upgraded content is informative or even useful, but if it’s irrelevant to the subject the reader is currently interested in, they will most likely switch to another portal which means you could lose a potential subscriber.
Content upgrade should not work like this:
Instead, it should work like this:
The above graphical representation highlights that content upgrade has to be unique and relevant to each blog post so that readers find it interesting as well as relevant.
Therefore, if your blog post is talking about the cost of SEO services, the upgraded content could be a pdf on the subject, or royalty-free images; anything pertinent that would add value to your readers’ online experience.
Once your readers find the content engaging, they will happily give away their email addresses to get access to more of your work.
Location of your Opt-in form is very important
It’s very important to know the right placement for your opt-in forms, or you could lose your customers. I have tried adding the subscription form in the footer as well as the sidebar, and the latter has worked great for me.
I believe there is more than a single ‘right place’ for the opt-in form. Its placement should depend on your audience behavior. Here, I will discuss a few places where you can install your opt-in forms but you can always try more areas, keeping in mind your audience.
I personally love the sidebar position. This is mainly because when the reader reads the blog; his eyes are moving from side to side. So if your sidebar is on the right side, it will naturally catch the users’ attention.
There’s one little problem with the sidebar. The readers of many blogs that use their mobile phones to log in sometimes cannot subscribe even when they want to.
When the user opens a blog on their cell phones, the sidebar slips all the way down to the end of the page, which makes it impossible for a user to subscribe.
However, if most of your traffic uses desktops, the sidebar option should work perfectly for you.
Top of the page:
This one is new, and many big names such as Brian Dean and Matthew Woodward are using it at the moment on their own blogs. The reason why I think it works wonderfully well is because it shows at the very top, even on mobile devices.
This form can potentially convert in huge numbers if it answers a few basic questions of your readership; For instance why should I subscribe, what am I getting out of this subscription etc. Additionally, a strong CTA that encourages them to subscribe can be a big help.
If your blog has an opt-in form on the top and answers all of the questions that a human mind can conceive, your blog will definitely be a big winner!
Anyone who makes it till the end of the page is your true fan and already loves your work. Converting them to become subscribers should not come as a challenge. Adding an opt-in form at the bottom of the post will grab their attention.
There are a few other pages like a Thank You page and similar others where adding an opt-in form can do wonders, allowing large numbers of people to subscribe to your blog.
Highlight the benefits of subscribing to your portal
Adding an opt-in form is not enough on its own. You have to (sometimes literally) convince readers to subscribe to your mailing list. Here is a list of some tricks that blogs and websites are using these days to increase subscription.
Why should he/she subscribe?
If you want your audience to subscribe to your email list, just simply tell them why. This one is very simple and to the point. Make a page that gives some valid reasons (that can’t be ignored!) why they should subscribe to your mailing list and how they will benefit from it.
Aweber.com does it really well and nails it.
The number game
The number game always works. When you see that a huge number of people have subscribed to a certain list, it encourages you to do the same.
This image is by content marketing institute, but there are many other quality blogs that are using the same technique.
When a new reader sees this number he immediately believes that the website contains something valuable. Why else would 70,000 people subscribe? They can’t all be wrong! And so he also subscribes.
You know why testimonials always work? Because it tells potential customers that a certain company worked for someone who left satisfied. Chances are the company is more likely a good fit for them too. Testimonials create a feeling of trust.
If you use relevant testimonials on the subscribe opt-in form, it could work magic. When a potential prospect looks at these testimonials, what he sees are convinced customers encouraging them to subscribe.
Contests and Giveaways
When I say giveaways, I don’t mean distributing iPads and iPods to get more subscriptions. Many people think that giveaways and contests are a bad idea as it’s too mainstreams, and bring an audience that is not very targeted towards your brand.
It may be right, but if you create contests and giveaways smartly, it could do wonders for your business.
Here is a case study of a hike in subscribers to 200k in just 11 days.
The major problem why giveaways and contests fail is because of their lack of virility. You can never achieve big number like 200k if your contest or giveaway is not being shared by your readership organically. This also means organic sharing needs to be integrated into your system.
This is how you should design your contest or giveaway in order to attract maximum interest.
- Offer a reward or a giveaway
- Get people to sign up for that
- Ask people to share with others within their circle. Every share will increase their chances of winning.
- Pick a winner accordingly.
This is organic sharing. People, in order to win a contest or giveaway, will share the event with others in their circle, thereby increasing traffic with chances of more and more people subscribing to your blog.
Using some or all of these techniques smartly on your website will drastically increase the number of your subscribers. Robust mailing lists of targeted audience means chances of bigger and better sales in the future. Best of luck!