New Subscribers And Growing Your Opt-in E-mail List

I think it really goes without saying that a newsletter is a powerful marketing tool. Any promotions that you send to your customers and subscribers in the future will be that much more successful because with your newsletter you will have

established your credibility,
developed a reputation as an industry expert,
cultivated a relationship with your subscribers,
inspired customer loyalty,
and maintained regular contact.

Regularly give your subscribers useful or entertaining information that they will benefit from, and they will come to trust you, respect you, and buy from you.

Sounds great, right? But now you?re probably left wondering, “How do I get people to subscribe?” After all, you can write hundreds of newsletters, but if you only have a handful of subscribers, it can be a lot of work for little reward.

The big mistake I see a lot of e-business owners making is thinking that simply posting a “subscribe today” box on their web sites — and then forgetting about it — is going to attract subscribers by the thousands. Even if your web site is highly trafficked, this is going to produce disappointing results.

You need to be prepared to actively promote your newsletter, much the same way you would promote any other product or service online.

Step One
Promote Your Newsletter On Your Web Site!

Yes. Definitely promote your newsletter on your web site. But the keyword here is “promote.” How motivating is it for a visitor to give you his or her name and e-mail address when presented with a subscribe box titled, “Subscribe to my free newsletter”?

Why? Why should I subscribe? How will I benefit from subscribing? What am I going to get? Just because your
newsletter is “free,” doesn?t mean I want it. There are plenty of free newsletters out there I could subscribe to.  What makes yours different or special?

You really need to “sell” your free newsletter to potential subscribers. In one or two short, exciting sentences clearly state the benefits of subscribing to your newsletter. For example, if your web site was golf related, you might say something like,

to the Free Golf Tips Newsletter and receive monthly tips and advice from Pro Golfers.
Improve your swing, hear about world renowned golf courses, learn which clubs the experts prefer, plus much more!”

It sounds a lot more interesting than “Subscribe to my free newsletter,” do not you think? Visitors to your web site will think so, too!

The other tip I?d like to share is about where you should place your newsletter subscription box on your web site. First of all, don?t hide it. Your goal should be to make sure that everyone who visits your web site is offered the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter at least once, if not twice.

Your newsletter subscription box should appear “above the fold” (i.e., it should be immediately visible on the first screen) of your homepage. This is where you?ll get the best response — and the most subscribers!

Step Two Offer Existing Customers A Subscription

Have you offered your existing customers a subscription to your newsletter? If you haven?t, you should e-mail them an offer like this as soon as possible! This is an easy way to get a flood of new subscriptions.

And be sure to add a subscription offer to your “thank you for ordering” page or e-mail. If someone is interested enough in your product or service to purchase it, you can be sure they?ll want to subscribe to your newsletter. Don?t miss this opportunity to maintain contact with existing customers!

If you?ve offered a free subscription to your customers but received a poor response, consider making things a little more interesting by offering them a “special gift” like a free article or eBook when they subscribe. This extra incentive should dramatically boost the number of new subscriptions you receive.

Step Three Promote Your Newsletter In Your E-mail Signatures

An electronic signature also referred to as a “sig file” is a three to six line footer that you can attach to the bottom of your e-mail messages and public forum postings. And its a prime spot to advertise your newsletter!

Unlike a lot of other blatant advertisements, a sig file is universally accepted, so take advantage of this perfect opportunity to plug your newsletter! Anyone who receives an e-mail from you will also receive your invitation to subscribe to your newsletter.

Chances are, if you’re e-mailing them, they already have a direct interest in your industry or niche, so take
advantage of this and offer them a free subscription right at the bottom of any e-mail you send!

Step Four Ad Swap With Other Newsletters & E-zines

A great trick for increasing your subscriber base involves contacting other newsletters that relate to your target market and offering to swap ads with them. Tell the newsletter owners that you will promote their newsletter to your subscriber base if they will return the favor. This is a great way for both of you to increase your readership!

Subscribers will appreciate the recommendation of another source of quality information, and as long as the sites you swap with are complementary and not competitive, its not going to hurt your business at all.

Step Five Promote Your Newsletter In Newsgroups, Discussion Lists, and Forum Postings 

Another good place to promote your newsletter and locate targeted potential subscribers is in newsgroups, discussion lists, and forums that relate directly to your industry or niche. Simply post a brief description of your newsletter and a link to your subscription page.

Step Six Offer Subscribers The Opportunity To Give Gift Subscriptions

Offer or announce “gift subscriptions” in your newsletter that encourage your current subscribers to send gift subscriptions to friends. You can automate your web site to send the gift subscription with a little blurb stating whom the gift is from and what they will be receiving (and the opportunity to  unsubscribe, of course!).

A friend of mine has built most of his mailing list doing this alone. He went from 5,000 subscribers to over 16,000 subscribers in less than a year just using this one technique.

Step Seven Renting Opt-in E-mail Lists

Renting e-mail addresses from third-party list providers is a route that some new newsletter owners choose because you are given quick access to a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have “opted” to receive e-mail on topics that interest them.

You can usually expect to be charged 5 to 20 cents per deliverable message, and you should expect any e-mail addresses that are “bad” or that “bounce” to be replaced by addresses that are current.

If you decide to use a service like this, its absolutely critical that you find out how the e-mail addresses were obtained. You want e-mail addresses that have been collected ethically and responsibly, and this means that you want the e-mail addresses of people who (a) are directly interested in your product, industry, or field of
expertise, and (b) have given their permission and “opted-in” to the list.

Important Note: If you buy lists of e-mail addresses that have been “harvested” from newsgroups, classified ad sites, online services, etc., you’ll be accused of spamming! These people have NOT given you permission to contact them, and you can get into a LOT of trouble this way. Again, I can?t overstate the importance of making sure that the e-mail addresses you rent have been collected ethically and responsibly!

Buying or renting e-mail addresses this way can get very expensive, so you need to be sure that your entire sales process (i.e., your web site, your sales copy, your ordering system) has been tested and tweaked before
you roll out an e-mail campaign like this in full force. Do some tests using a few thousand addresses and you should get a fairly accurate picture of how successful you are going to be.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, your goal should be to develop a relationship with your subscribers through quality articles in your newsletter before you even consider trying to sell them anything. Give them quality information that they will benefit from to establish your credibility and develop a rapport with them.Remember that the true value lies in the relationship that you develop with the person who owns the e-mail address? not in the e-mail address itself. It will be the relationship that you develop with your subscribers that will result in big sales both now and in the future — an important point to keep in mind no matter how many new subscribers you attract.