What incentives do your email subscribers respond positively to? If they ignore your emails about product discounts and free shipping, it is time to try something different.

“I don’t think that is really what people are really looking for,” says David Meerman Scott about product incentives in email marketing. In this episode of the Weekly Marketing Cast we discuss the number one incentive that drives email subscriptions: content.

What Are People Looking For?

If people won’t subscribe to your email list because of product incentives, what are they looking for? People are eager to hear what you have to say, says David. “What they are looking for is interesting and valuable information that helps them,” he adds. People will sign up to receive your emails (or stay on your email list) because you offer them information that prepares them to make better decisions, educates them or entertains them.  

What Should You Focus On?  

What companies should focus on is creating helpful content and allowing people to receive updates about this content. For instance, if you launch a video channel and post interesting videos once a week, you should email people when there is a new episode up. That is the sort of information they will anticipate and spread around. The email newsletter, David notes, should link to other sources of information, not to product incentives. While there might be room for the latter, it should be used carefully.  

Next Steps for Your Business  

The major takeaway here is to design your email around valuable content and make it easy to share. For instance, start by building your blog email subscribers and nurture these relationships with helpful information such as industry reports, interesting pieces of data and how-to videos.  

What types of incentives have you experimented with in your email marketing?

Originally published Apr 11, 2011 8:30:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


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