One of the most important assets for any publisher is their email list. It goes without saying that growing that list in a meaningful and relevant way can be powerful step toward monetizing audiences and selling digital products like subscriptions or event tickets.
While buying these lists may seem like a simple and quick fix, taking the slightly longer route is well worth it in the end. Not only are organic subscribers free of charge, but they also tend to be a better fit for your content—thus converting more readily on future lead generation and sales efforts.
To help you start growing your database the right way, we've compiled a few tactics to consider.
Offer a Reward for Signing Up
Newer or more casual, infrequent readers may respond to an incentive structure that builds upon their existing desire for your content. If you're making the best use of website tracking to understand user behavior already, you can use this information to determine when a less frequent or newer reader might be at the point in their site visit where a little extra nudge could be all they need to sign up for a subscription.
Consider using dynamic content to offer first-time, or unconverted, visitors to your site a free issue of your publication, or an educational webinar that you hosted the previous month. Each of these rewards compliment and excite your readers'desire for relevant information, while allowing them to opt-in to continued, consistent future communication.
An important note. This tactic is usually only effective in the long-term if your incentive is well-aligned with the content you typically produce. You don’t want to collect emails based on, for instance, a free iPad. You'll likely attract readers who only sign-up for the iPad, and then unsubscribe from your email immediately because the content wasn’t actually of interest to them.
Make Signing Up Easy
Not every reader behaves the same way on your site or responds to the same calls-to-action. When you’re setting up ways to catch readers’ emails, think broadly and numerously, and always match the amount of information you ask for with the value of what you’re providing in return. For example, someone just looking to receive your newsletter likely won't want to offer-up their job title or advertising budget. Asking for a name and email address will do for now, you can worry about learning the rest of that info later.
There are many ways you can capture reader information—newsletters, sponsored content, events, subscriptions, etc. You don’t need to choose just one of these, but avoid blasting your readers with too many CTAs to the point where they feel nagged to sign-up. There are many ways you can avoid over communicating to readers. For instance, if you’re working with dynamic website content you have the ability to show subscription requests to people who haven’t yet signed up, and then “turn off” those requests for those who have.
As long as you’re not bombarding your users and each sign-up mechanism feeds into the same database (which you manage, organize and clean regularly, of course), you should absolutely consider multiple first conversion points.
While you should consistently delight all of your subscribers, being proactive with your happiest readers can prove beneficial for subscription growth. After all, your happiest and most fulfilled readers are the ones most likely to suggest your publication to others.
Why not ask these evangelists to refer your publication to their colleagues? You could incentivize them further by offering them a special code, or perhaps a discount on their subscription or a free piece of additional content.
Anything that helps them spread their happiness helps you.
Socialize Your Content
Readers share content across social networks to increase their professional credibility and indicate they’re in-the-know. How does this help your publication? A 2014 study found that, 31.2% of overall traffic to website was driven by the top eight social media networks, with Facebook and Pinterest leading this drive. Case-in-point, social referrals can seriously boost your site traffic.
Regardless of whether they’re casual readers or loyal ones, and regardless of whether your publication is subscription-based or free, making your content easily shareable will get it in front of fresh eyes, and usher people to your site (where you can then “make signing up easy” or “offer a reward for signing up”!).
Email list growth is an important step towards monetization for most publishers, but it can be a lot of work to make that growth happen. If you can put some of these steps in place and grow your email subscriptions in the right way, you’ll get a lot closer to a more streamlined process that will work with little effort on your part.