If you want me to help you grow your email list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org but read this first.
For longer than I care to admit I’ve been trying to get my site visitors to sign up for my WordPress Big 3 Newsletter. It’s an email I push out just about every Sunday. I serve up tasty morsels about WordPress that I hope most site owners will want to eat up as they grow their businesses.
It also gives me the platform to promote my site development and training services.
Only until recently did I begin to unlock some insights that have dramatically increased my subscription rate. Some of what I’m about to share may be really obvious but some were not so obvious to me. Or, if they were, I fought implementations that ultimately turned out to be good for capturing emails.
Let’s Start At The Beginning
One of the most common purposes for a small business web site is lead generation. In most cases having site visitors sign up for a newsletter – or subscribe to anything in which an email address is surrendered – is very difficult to accomplish.
Most people don’t need another email.
But those email addresses are your list of prospects or customers which represent potential income for your business. Show me a business with a small list and I’ll show you a small business. Show me a business with a big list and — well, you get the point.
Why Wasn’t I Getting People To Sign Up?
That was the question I asked myself for too long. Over time I realized it was because of the following:
- Not enough traffic to the site.
- Not enough quality traffic to the site.
- Not an attractive enough offer (reason to sign up).
- The sign up form was flawed.
- The sign up form needed better positioning.
I’m not going to tackle the first two here. That’s a big subject with many factors that will impact not just how many but, as I like to think, “how good” (quality vs quantity) your subscribers are.
Case in point: I offer over 50 free WordPress videos. I get visitors everyday from all over the world. I know visitors from certain locations will never purchase any of my personal online WordPress training or site development services.
That is ok. I take some satisfaction in that I have taught a lot of people the world over how to use WordPress – even if I did not get a penny to do it. I look at this as a “price” of doing business in a new economy. As I said, the goal is to get “high quality traffic” (translation: paying customers). You’re not always going to be in control of that nor the people who only want what you have for free.
The Big Question. What Is Your Proposition?
What do you have to give away that is really valuable which will increase the odds that a site visitor will subscribe to your list?
It better be something really good.
Long gone are the days where people signed up for a newsletter without getting something of real value in return. Figuring out what that something will be in your case is mission critical. Your decision will not only impact how many and how fast people will sign up, but may well define what your business is about.
Just the promise of a PDF, an eBook, special tips or ANYTHING that anyone can get without giving up their email address WILL NOT WORK!
Certainly the offer to give a potential subscriber nothing is the perfect formula for what you will get – nothing.
In my case the offer – the trade off – is the opportunity to access all of my WP videos for free. My videos are organized into 2 courses. Some of the videos do not require an enrollment, but at certain strategic points you must enroll and you must sign up for the newsletter. (The latter was not always the case which was a terrible flaw in my thinking. More on that later.)
What does this mean? People sign up because they get real value and know that they’d have to pay elsewhere for the WordPress training I am giving away at no cost.
So, Here’s The Deal
In order to get sign ups you need to give away something of REAL value. A simple white paper or the promise of a few tips will NOT get the job done. Anything that you give away which is easily obtained elsewhere without giving up an email address is no good.
This is where most people get it wrong. They think that because they have the greatest tips, the hottest news or the best advice, they’ll get people to subscribe.
Only the promise of giving something of high quality and/or a future discount of a product or service will motivate the user to give it up. Which is exactly what you want.
(For me, it’s providing all my videos which I know are high quality when compared to videos people watch for a fee.)
That’s right. You are going to have to do something for free that others may be getting paid for. This is especially true if you are trying to get your foot in the door in a crowded space where your competitors have been for years.
But Even That Is Not Enough
To coin a phrase – “It’s the form, stupid.”
No matter which form builder plugin you use (I love Gravity Forms), you will want to keep your fields down to the barest minimum. If it is information you do not need, do not ask for it.
Until recently, I was making a big mistake which I subsequently fixed. I asked users to opt in for my newsletter to get unrestricted access to all of my videos. There was a YES or NO button with the YES button pre-selected.
About 35% of all users chose not to take my newsletter (get added to my list) but just get the free videos.
Then I realized, “Hey Bud, your site is a lead generator. If people want to see the videos, they will have no choice but to sign up for your WordPress Big 3 newsletter.”
I made a big change. Now the user sees the YES option preselected but there is no NO choice.
Since I was very concerned that people would not know that they were opting in to my newsletter, I put this wording in below the YES option:
And what do you know? My subscription rate is 100%!
Two questions remain as of the moment:
- Will the list I’m building prove to be a great lead generator for my business?
- Will there be a larger than average number of unsubscribers going forward?
What About The UI?
My sign up form is embedded on every page in my courses. But I needed to get my rate of conversions up.
I made a radical – for me – decision.
I allowed myself to create one popup on one page.
I noticed many people were going to a page which lists all of the videos but there was no sign up form on it.
I decided to use the Popup Maker plugin. Now my form triggers after anyone has been on the Courses Index page for about 8 seconds. Long enough for the user to know, “Hey, this is a good idea.”
When something is not working on your site you must not let laziness or fear of change get in your way to reach a better outcome. Always look for ways to make things better. The web is a wonderful medium to make changes, large or small.
How do you think Amazon got to be Amazon?