2042 words|8 min read|

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.

  1. Ebooks

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:


  1. Webinars

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.

  1. 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:


  1. Content Upgrades

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: