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Email Marketing Tips: How I Increased My Email Signup Rate By 5,000%... And How You Can, Too

Feb 23, 2008
Despite all the junk mail filters and over-zealous ISP firewalls, email marketing still offers some of the best return on investment. But how can you benefit from this low-cost marketing effort if you can't get more than a couple of new subscribers a month?

Friends, I used to suffer as you do now. (Say it isn't so!) Ah, I wish I could. But there was a time when we would only get two or three new subscribers a month! (Audible gasp followed by concerned mumbling.)

Fortunately, friends, I discovered the secret to increased email subscription rates...you must give first before you can receive.

You must provide immediate benefits to your prospects in order to get them to sign up for yet-another-email-mailing-list. By providing an incentive for site visitors to sign up for our email newsletter on Web marketing we now average over 120 signups per month...approximately a 5,000% increase from our "Join Our Mailing List" days.

What should you give? It depends on what your prospects are interested in. It might be an article or calculator only available to subscribers. It might be discounts in your online store. It could be a drawing to win an iPhone, or tickets to the Superbowl.

Two suggestions to keep in mind: first, make sure that the giveaway isn't so great that it attracts non-prospects. There's nothing more pointless than giving away a brand new iPhone to someone who will never buy from you. Second, make sure you capture their "real" email address before giving them the goods.

Now let's review the signup process.

Landing Page Call-to-Action:

You make your offer on your home page and other highly-trafficked entry points to your Web site. You don't need to include the email signup box here...instead, keep the focus on the offer.

Promote your incentive and make it "just a click away" to get your visitor to take an action. Adding attractive graphics (especially a "cover" on a digital download to make it more "real") can increase your conversion rate.

The Funnel Narrows:

Reiterate the offer on the next page, even enhancing it if you like. Explain that "not only will you get the '10 Costliest Remodeling Mistakes Every Home Owner Makes,' you'll also receive our free monthly email newsletter with great tips on cutting costs while beautifying your home. You can unsubscribe at any time!"

I believe that because your visitor already clicked through to this page--in other words, she's given you a small "yes"--that she's more inclined to take this next step to receive your offer. She's already made an investment in the outcome, and the cost--an agreement to receive emails from you--seems small.

With junk email being a big concern, it's important that you state your privacy policy on this page. Whether you plan on never sharing their information or you plan on selling email addresses to 3rd party companies, you need to be upfront with your intent.

Your Email Service Provider at Work:

I'm a big proponent of Email Service Providers, or ESPs. They manage your lists, automate subscribes and unsubscribes, generate detailed reports on list activity, and allow you to deliver colorful HTML emails without you having to learn HTML and CSS.

Here at flyte we use Constant Contact; however, there are plenty of ESPs to choose from. The steps below are based on the Constant Contact model; other ESPs may vary slightly.

Make sure your ESP allows you to customize the Confirmation and Welcome messages if you plan on offering a digital download. You'll want to add a link to the digital download, i.e., your article or an mp3 file, into the Welcome message. This ensures that the site visitor has given you their real email address.

Once your site visitor puts her email address into the signup box she'll be taken to a new page where you can pose additional questions, such as name, company, address, or anything else you can think of. However, since the goal is to increase your email subscriber base, I strongly recommend you request as few items as possible, and require only their first name. With every item you request and require you throw up another hurdle, making it less likely she'll complete this task.

I recommend requiring the first name because I've discovered that even though people know that their name at the top of an email newsletter is due to a mail merge, they still respond to the message at a much higher rate.

Once your site visitor clicks on the subscribe button on this page, a message is sent to your ESP. It, in turn, sends a confirmation email to the subscriber's email. If you are running a confirmed opt-in campaign--something we recommend--she will be required to click on a link within that email.

Clicking on that link sends another message to the ESP that this person does, in fact, want to receive emails from you. The ESP, filled with joy, sends a Welcome message that should include a link to the digital download you created. (You must create the link in the Welcome message yourself.) Make sure that there are no other links to this download on your site, otherwise there's no real incentive to join your list.

If your incentive is a raffle entry, you can review the subscriber list at your ESP and export the results into a spreadsheet where you can randomly choose one lucky winner. Because you can sort a subscriber list by date joined, you can also run a raffle based on a specific campaign that ran during a certain period.

In Conclusion:

By building your subscriber base you increase the number of people who are receptive to your marketing message. This list can be used to announce new products or services and is the perfect channel to promote an upcoming Webinar or sell your new ebook. You also have a regular opportunity to establish your credibility to this group of prospects...essential to businesses selling complex products and services.
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