Five tips for maximizing your mailing list subscriptions

A mailing list can easily become one of a business’s most valuable assets, but many businesses fail to maximize their mailing list subscriptions.

Here are five ways businesses can make sure they generate as many mailing list signups as possible.

Include a registration form on each page

One of the most effective ways to generate mailing list subscriptions is to invite users to subscribe as often as possible. A very easy way to do this is to include a signup form on every page of your website.

Location may vary; some sites offer signup forms in headers, sidebars, or in the middle of page content, while others place them less prominently in footers. Obviously, the more prominent the placement, the more likely it is that users will see the form, so generally footer signup forms don’t work as well.

The New York Times includes subscription forms for its email newsletters in the content of its articles.

Make sure the call to action is descriptive if not convincing

The value of signing up to your mailing list may be obvious to you, but is it obvious to your users? A compelling call-to-action is an extremely important factor in driving mailing list signups, but far too many businesses still use weak call-to-action like “subscribe to our mailing list.”

Calls to action should always describe the value provided. For example, “subscribe to our mailing list to receive exclusive offers” or “subscribe to our mailing list and gain early access to special events” is a reasonably strong call to action.

Upscale retailer Barneys New York may have a well-known brand, but its call to action on the email signup form below leaves a lot to be desired.

In some cases, it may be worth using calls to action that encourage users to subscribe with a direct prompt. For example, some retailers offer the promise of a coupon in exchange for a subscription (“subscribe to our mailing list and receive 25% off your next order”).

Incentive-based calls to action can be incredibly effective, but it’s worth monitoring the retention of the subscriber segment who signed up for an incentive to make sure the incentive generates quality signups.

Bloomingdale’s explains why shoppers should pass on their email addresses and offers them an incentive.

Avoid the dreaded popup

Most people agree: popups are boring. So don’t be lazy: if you can avoid using them, do it. Enough said.

No, no: the Boston Globe doesn’t waste time displaying pop-ups.

If you are using the dreaded popup, do it right

To be fair, popups, annoying as they are, can be effective, which is why they’re still used despite being widely distributed. But if you are going to use them, be smart about how you use them. Both the timing and the associated value proposition must be correct.

Many publishers, for example, send a pop-up to users as soon as they land on an article page after clicking on a link shared on social media or found through a Google search. This is bad form and generally not very effective largely because it disrupts the user experience before it even starts. Additionally, in cases where the user is unfamiliar with the publisher or is not a loyal reader, the publisher asks the user to forgo something of value (their email address) before the publisher provided any value to the user.

A better approach is to use behavior-based pop-ups. For example, an editor might display a pop-up window to a user who has read multiple articles in one or more sessions. Or, a publisher who limits users to a set number of free articles each month could give users who have reached the limit access to an additional article if they subscribe to their mailing list.

Use transactional emails

Transactional emails offer great opportunities to convince people to sign up for your mailing list, but they are often underused. For example, retailers frequently invite customers to subscribe to their mailing lists as part of the checkout process. There are a number of reasons why customers don’t, but that doesn’t mean they should give up. Instead, transactional emails, such as order confirmations and shipping notifications, are the perfect place to include additional invitations to sign up.

The benefit of transactional email calls to action is that you will likely have more customer information that can be used to encourage a signup more effectively. For example, a retailer might incentivize signing up with a coupon that offers a higher than normal discount if a customer placed an order well above their average order value.

For more tips on email best practices:

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