Email marketing is as effective now as it’s always been. But just setting up a company newsletter and expecting people to sign up to it is not going to generate results. In fact, the very term “newsletter” doesn’t do it any favors. You need to start thinking about your email content differently or you may end up getting stuck in that awful time-wasting practice of creating content that no one cares about. First, what can you provide your website visitors with to make sure they actually want to receive your newsletter?
Make the Newsletter’s Value Abundantly Clear
The worst thing you can do is slap up a form on your website and ask visitors to sign up to your newsletter. This may come as a shock to you, but no one wants your newsletter. Why should they? They know nothing about it. You may know that it’s packed full of valuable information, but they don’t. To them, it’s just another newsletter. So at the very least, you want to clarify exactly what subscribers will be getting that makes it so worth their time to sign up (e.g. exclusive special offers).
This means creating a landing page, making the benefits of signing up very clear, ensuring there is no mistake about the value you provide in your newsletters (we’ll get onto that later), stating how many other people have signed up (if the number is high), adding a few testimonials from existing subscribers who love your newsletter, and all the other tactics that make landing pages boost conversions.[success]PRO TIP: Don’t just say “Sign Up” or “Click Here” on your CTA. That is not descriptive copy. Tell your subscribers exactly what they will get. “Send Me My Weekly Newsletter” works much better. And notice how this is in the first person—it’s not essential, but it can boost conversions, and that means its well worth testing.[/success]
But this is just the very basic setup for any newsletter sign-up. What you really need is some way to tempt people to sign up. What you need is a bribe.
5 Lead Magnets that Get Sign-Ups
Offering your newsletter is not usually enough on its own. It may be, and sometimes we’ve seen it work well for our clients, but this is usually only true if you provide outstanding value and you already have a large number of subscribers. Whatever you do, don’t make this mistaken assumption: “It doesn’t cost them anything to sign up, so there’s nothing to stop them.”
It may not cost them money, but it costs them time. It costs them the risk that more non-relevant content will start flooding into their already busy inboxes. People are more sensitive than ever about handing over their email addresses, so don’t expect them to do so for nothing. That’s why you need lead magnets. You can offer new subscribers just about anything you want to sign up to your company’s email newsletter. If you are finding that subscriptions to your company’s newsletter are not going so well right now, it’s likely that you need to add some persuasion. So here are some ideas for link magnets that we’ve found can be effective.
Ebooks are the classic lead magnet, but there is a worry that they have been overdone. Despite this, many companies still use ebooks, and as a lead magnet they can still be highly effective—as long as they provide significant value. If you’re going to go down the ebook route, make sure you differentiate your product. Spend time researching it and putting it together. Get a professional designer to make it look good. Provide genuine value and not “just another free ebook.” One simple way to make your incentive stand out more is to offer an ebook bundle rather than a single ebook. Like this four-ebook bundle at I Love Fashion Retail:
Webinars can be an effective tool to encourage people to sign-up to your email list. If you can find a way to create useful webinars in your industry that provide value to your customers, offer free access to them in return for an email address. You could even create a whole series of webinars that future subscribers can view after they have joined your list. Then every time you add a new one, send out a blog and social media updates to your community to encourage more people to sign up for access.
A Free Email Course
A course is not a simple one-off like an ebook. Instead, it provides consistent value over a period of time. Readers usually see a course as providing more value. After all, they will be receiving useful information direct to their inboxes for five, 10, or 20 emails, however many lessons you choose to add to your autoresponder.
Jeff Goins uses the free course lead magnet to good effect, as you can see here:
Content upgrades are becoming more popular because they are effective. Some of our clients have started putting these to excellent effect, and this can be an easy way to boost sign-ups. All you have to do is create a product (which could be an ebook, a list, a valuable resource, etc) related to a specific blog post. You then highlight the free offering within that blog post, tempting readers to sign up while they are actively engaged in your content. The reader is already involved in the post. They find it interesting. They want to know more. And at the key moment, you provide them with a way to get exactly that—and all it takes is their email address.
If there is a topic that you write on regularly, you can use your content upgrades in multiple blogs. Why not try creating three content upgrades on your most popular topics and get more out of them? A content upgrade could even be something as simple as a PDF download of the list in your blog. This is a great example from XO Sara:
This has another important benefit: It gets subscribers into the habit of opening your emails, and that is exactly what you want.
Exclusive Forum Access
While an ebook gets read and forgotten, providing access to your forum provides continuous value. This won’t work for every type of company, but if your product or service could benefit from a forum, it’s worth trying. A specialist forum where subscribers won’t find spam, and where they will find people who can help get their questions answered, could be highly valuable. The benefit of this is that you are only likely to get sign-ups who are genuine prospects (otherwise why would they want access to your forum?)
Mac Forums provides access to an exclusive forum for $24.95 a year. But why charge for it? Provide access to your forum for free (well, for an email address), and see if this boosts your sign-ups.
Whatever You Choose, Don’t Make It Vague
These are just ideas, and you could use any or all of them. The key takeaway from these, whichever you use, is that they have got to be specific to a problem your potential subscriber is facing. Vagueness has no place in copy. Being vague instantly makes your lead magnet just like all the others. Being vague provides prospects with no answer to a specific problem, no motive to get involved, no reason to sign up. All your content should be relevant to the solutions your targets seek, but your lead magnet must be even more relevant.
To do this, find out what your readers really want. Ask them in a survey. Look at the topics covered in your most popular blog posts. Research the topics covered in your competitors’ most popular blog posts. After you’ve done the research, you’ll be in a much better position to create a lead magnet that your visitors really want to sign up for.
7 Ideas to Take Your Newsletter Content to Another Level
Whole books have been written on the topic of successful email marketing, and even if you read them all there will still be room to learn. One thing that comes up every time is the subject line. And yes, subject lines are very important. But I’m not going to talk about these here. Nor am I going to talk about the other essential elements of emails like preheaders, timing, “From” lines, etc. They are all important, but the thing you really want to be focusing on right now is making your content amazing.
Because here’s the thing: If you provide consistent value and engagement, your subject lines won’t even matter that much. Whereas if you provide low-quality content, no clever subject line is going to get more people to open it. So with that in mind, here are seven ideas to make sure your newsletter is doing its job and getting opened and read.[success]PRO TIP: Make your welcome email count. The first email you send will get opened more than any other, so don’t waste it. Introduce yourself, use a photo, and establish the subscriber’s expectations. You could encourage them to reply with any questions they have, take a tour of your site, or even take advantage of a limited-time offer. People are more engaged right after they sign up, so use the opportunity to send a survey and get some useful info about your website, sign-up form, ebook, etc. Whatever you do, don’t waste the opportunity.[/success]
- Use your best content—copy in your best blog posts or provide links to them, and add in some extra information about why this post is relevant to subscribers. In your early emails, you could even include a list to all your most popular blogs, or create a mini course from a series of blog posts.
- Send content unique to your list— let subscribers know that they cannot get this content anywhere else. Make them feel special and that they have made a good decision to sign up.
- Segment your lists to make content super relevant—segmentation is a big topic and deserves its own blog post, but it’s certainly something you can play with. Start by sending targeted content and targeted offers to your subscribers based on their demographics, where they signed up, their browsing history on your site (behavioral emails), or anything else that makes sense.
- Create a course—we’ve already touched on the subjects of courses, but you don’t have to make your course a lead magnet. Ask subscribers to click on a link to start receiving a free or paid course, then start sending those emails to the people who respond.
- Use special offers—everyone loves an offer, and your subscribers will feel really special if they know you are only providing it to them. Don’t make every email an attempt to sell, but do throw in the odd offer and it will be appreciated.
- Use cliffhangers—make subscribers desperate to open your next email by leaving them on edge. Promise them the answer to a question in the next email, say they may be surprised by the next topic, anything to get them to remember.
- Write about what they need—the biggest sin a company can make in its newsletter is only talking about itself and how great it is. As mentioned at the start, the name “newsletter” is misleading. It makes you think that you need to actually write about your company news. But unless this is relevant to your subscribers and genuinely useful to them, don’t bother and keep the focus on your subscribers and what they need and want.
Get Your Email Newsletter into Shape
Follow these tips to get your newsletter into shape. Come up with content ideas for the next three months that you know your subscribers will get heaps of value from, then come up with lead magnet ideas to tempt people to sign up to your email. It takes time, but it’s not hard when you start coming up with ideas. Then give your newsletter strategy a complete overhaul and start to see the results as the number of subscribers rockets.
Do you have any other tips for getting more from your email newsletters? Things that you have done that have worked wonders? Let us know in the comments!