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Increasing Newsletter Registrations

by Randall Craig on August 29, 2014

Filed in: Blog, Growth, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Web

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Are you really satisfied with the response rate of your newsletter registration form on your website?  Do you think that, just maybe, your list could be bigger?

Instead of thinking of the sign-up form as a sign-up form, think of it as a transaction.  The user – a prospective client – is paying for your newsletter with their data.  They weigh the value that they may receive from you against the value of their first name, last name, and email address.  If the transaction seems “pricey” – there is not enough value – then you have not earned the right to have them on your list.  They don’t register.

To grow your list, and improve your registration rate, you need to build trust.  Here are seven ways to do this:

  1. Provide the entire archive of past issues. This is more powerful than one old “sample” issue; it shows continuity, and lets potential subscribers try before they commit.
    • Example:  Before signing up for the Make It Happen Tipsheet, a potential subscriber can read 450+ past articles.
  2. Clearly state what they get when they sign up: frequency of communication, content, and benefits of subscribing are the basics. Potential subscribers need to understand what is in it for them: why should they care about your newsletter?  When you deliver on your promise – when they begin receiving your content – their trust in you will also increase.
    • Example:  Here’s the promise I make on the sign-up page:  “Our Tipsheets are chock full of ideas. They are all aimed at translating knowledge into action… in a quick, action-oriented 60-second nugget each week.”  While this Tipsheet might clock in at 110 seconds, consider the overall structure: a specific issue (increasing sign-ups), seven specific ideas, and This Week’s Action Plan.  Then in today’s Tipsheet, even more value through the Marketing Insight and Marketing Caveat area that follows.
  3. Provide an added incentive: Consider a more nuanced approach than a simple “sign-up and we’ll send you a free e-book”.  Part one might be free and available without sign-up. It would be designed to wow the user with value, build your brand by example, and encourage sign-up. Part two would only be available to new subscribers.
  4. Make it very easy to unsubscribe, and easy to share with friends, both via e-mail and social media.  (Look for Social sharing links, and the unsubscribe links at the bottom of the email.)
  5. Check back with them. After three months, ask them what they think of the subscription, and if they have any comments or suggestions. Not only does this begin the engagement process, but it allows you to pivot the content to better meet their needs.
  6. Move the form above the fold. The easier it is to see the sign-up form, the more likely it will be used. Having the form clearly visible as the key call-to-action on the page seems like common sense, but is so often forgotten.
  7. Match the form with relevant content: Beyond the home page, where else might a sign-up form be relevant? Look at landing pages first, and then anywhere else a call-to-action may make sense. Then use an added incentive that is relevant to the content of the page.
    • Example:  This internal page is about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services; if a user’s key interest is SEO, then using an SEO infographic will more strongly resonate as an incentive to subscribe.

This week’s action plan: What do your web subscription forms look like? This week, build more trust by implementing at least one of these ideas.

Marketing Insights: (1) More than anything else, the quality of what is actually in your newsletter will determine your success. It drives your brand, and increases the newsletter’s pass-along factor. Skip the gimmicks, and focus on being relevant: write what people will read, and the number of your sign-ups will take care of themselves. (2) These same ideas for increasing newsletter subscriptions can also be applied to sales pages and  customer support pages.

Marketing Caveat: Just because someone has signed up, doesn’t mean you have the right to send them whatever you want. Ensure that your sign-up forms are compliant with relevant legislation (CASL as an example), or your mistake may cost you – and your brand – dearly.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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