Sounds simple and it is. You will be surprised how your customers, partners and friends will happily agree. Make it a part of your normal business interaction. A sales call, a first meeting, a network event, before you say goodbye tell then you have information you believe would be useful to them in your newsletter and can you add their email. Now you have promised to deliver good, useful content so make sure you deliver or your customers won’t be long unsubscribing.
2. Blog / Site
I heard recently that up to 80% of a website’s visitors do not return. People simply forget or think they have found the information they need and move on. Email is a great way to hook them in and remind them to come back when you have new news and updates. Your customers have done the hard work and found you among the millions of sites on the web. So grab them and don’t let then go too easily. VERY prominently on your blog or site put up an email subscribe box with a GREAT reason to sign up.
3. Offer a free course
Seth Godin has a great story of a wine merchant, who used free information provided to him, to create a wine appreciation course by email. By putting a single ad in his local paper users subscribed to his course. Newsletter by newsletter he explained the virtues and characteristics of the wines in his shop and along with it, gained the trust and confidence of would be purchasers. The information he gave out was free provided by the wine makers. The upshot: He became known in his locality as an authority on wine; he converted readers to purchasers and ultimately grew his business. Like our wine merchant think of the expertise you have in your field and see how you can repackage it to your subscribers. Keep it simple and relevant to the needs of your clients.
Very similar to the free course above. For readers who prefer books to courses package up your information into a downloadable eBook. As part of the download process ask them to subscribe to additional information and advice from your newsletter.
I noticed in a local restaurant a big fish bowl by the cash register offering a years free membership to a local gym as a prize. All you had to do was drop in your business card and agree to get a healthy living newsletter monthly.
What a great idea. The restaurant gets a free prize for their customers and the gym gets a list of people who have indicated they want to get more active and healthy. You can offer a competition via your website, local newspaper or try and find out who else is sending newsletters to your target market and team up with them.
6. Free stuff
Incentivise people to sign up. Offer something free. An eBook, as above, a free 30 minute consulting session or a special offer only for subscribers. I noticed a tourist office recently offering USB drives for the first 100 people who signed up. An expensive promotion but it worked with me! Whatever it is make sure you have calculated that you will get the returns. Something else to consider, is your incentive is believable? At this years Marketing Sherpa conference in Boston, a great case study highlighted how a GUARENTEED incentive of $250 received only 12 responses. That is, a guaranteed payment of $250 dollars if a subscriber responded. However, when the same company offered the same subscriber list $7 per sign up they got over 500 responses. People simply did not believe the $250 offer.
7. Ask for referrals
Similar to point 1. Just ask. Most of us are more then happy to refer other people to services, sites or information that they will find useful. If your customers and subscribers are happy with you, then they will only be too happy to refer your newsletter to someone else. Make sure you have a nice big “Forward to a friend” link in your newsletter.
8. Give a talk / network
Events and seminars are great places to meet new people. When you are exchanging business cards ask if you can send your newsletter to them and mark their cards for adding their details later. If you are standing up in front of these people then you are already perceived as an expert in the field and someone worth listening to. So at the end of the talk, tell the audience you can send them more information on a particular point or topic, they just need to drop up their business card.
9. Make your subscribe box pop
You are going to need to test this. Play around with the location, colour and wording of your email subscribe box on your site. You will be surprised but some very minor changes can increase sign ups by up to 400%.
10. Email Signatures
You are sending out hundreds / thousands of emails every year. How many of your emails promote your email newsletter in your email signature. Look at doing the same on discussion forums and social networks.
For every point above there are a few things to keep in mind to make the process more effective:
A. Tell people how often they should expect the newsletter (people are afraid they might get overloaded with mails daily)
B. Where possible show them an example / link to the type of mail they will get
C. Send them a welcome mail as soon as they sign up. A month down the line they might not remember you and unsubscribe or mark you as spam.
Got any more tips? What works for you? Let us know.
Image thanks to atomicShed