Tuesday, 4 January 2011, 7:39 PM

Subscriber Hunting? Start from the Inside

We’re all looking for more subscribers. Every company that uses email marketing wants as many eyes to fall on their message as possible. There are plenty of good tactics to find more readers, but many times two important steps are missed when it comes to optimizing the chances of getting more subscribers to a newsletter.

One: You might be starting at the wrong end. Before you look for new subscribers, think about how well you’ve promoted the idea within your company. A lot of times the staff of the company doesn’t even know that there is a newsletter. If they do know, they still don’t know the positive effect it can have on their own job situation.

Two: The “layout” issue. The majority of people register themselves on a web site. Where to put the button and how to present it is usually a conundrum. When and if you find that sweet spot, it means a flood of new readers!

The two steps above – promoting the newsletter from the inside and how the registration button is designed and positioned – is something every company could improve. This is what will give you that high quality fast growing subscriber list you want.

Any other way is like building a really, really, really brilliant house…without a door.

Start in-house

Not everyone is going to jump on board with you at first, it may take time. When they are though, it’s a big step in the right direction. Here are some ideas to make your newsletter and sign up process far less terrifying and a lot more attractive.

  • Show everyone in-house what kind of information you get from sending just one newsletter. When your sales department or CEO see how many people opened the letter, what they clicked on and how many of them passed it on, then you will see the commitment to e-mail marketing.
  • Don’t be stingy. Share the reports with your departments and give them parts of the report. Then more swiftly than thought, your sales people, customer support, and everyone that handles your orders will be eager to talk to everyone about the newsletter, inside the company and out – watch the subscriber list swell.
  • Try to get more departments involved. Show them why email marketing is so important. Let them join the fun and throw some posts on the blog. Maybe even give them their own column…
  • Get the sales people involved. Show them statistics from their own contacts. Think about integrating your email tool with your sales support so they can keep up with their contacts easily. The more you develop your email marketing with transaction emails and messages, newsletters, information about education and training, the more departments you need to get involved. This makes the different departments want to hunt down new ways of finding new subscribers, and then to follow up with the interest they find.

You create a higher quality newsletter when more people inside your company are involved with it. The better the newsletter, the more it gets forwarded; and the more it gets forwarded, the more subscribers you have.

Simplicity is key

Your website is more than likely the best source of finding new subscribers. You can’t just throw up any old sign up button. Here are ten tips to help you make a simple, attractive and accessible registration button.

  1. Put the registration box in a place that’s easy to find, somewhere obvious. This point in itself may seem obvious, but I try challenge you, spend a few minutes hunting down the registration button on other websites, you’ll see. Tally up the number of sites where you have to scroll down the page to find the registration button or box. How about this…how many websites have the registration button on every page? Yes, I mean every page. You’ll find that they may be few and far between. Place a registration button at the top of your website, (some experts say that the top right is the best spot). Try different spots, change it up to see what works best at your website. Try different shapes and sizes for the registration button or box, find out which looks and feels the best. Remember, focus on the whole package, the whole experience, the big picture.
  2. Be transparent, show your policy on handling addresses to your customers. Nobody wants their email address to be out there and available for everything and everyone. As a new subscriber you want to know that your privacy will be respected, so you have to reassure your subscribers that you are more than aware of how important their email address is. Show off your ethical policy by having a very obvious link somewhere in the registration process.
  3. A subscriber shouldn’t have to wait for their first newsletter to know what the newsletter is about. It’s a good idea to make it clear to the customer what kind of newsletter you will be sending before they register, and it wouldn’t hurt to show an example of a previous newsletter. This way the recipients will know exactly what they registered for.
  4. Effective and well executed email marketing is all about meeting the expectations of the customers. Tell them how often you’re going to send the newsletter. You don’t have to put up an exact schedule, but is it a daily letter or one that comes every three months? If it’s possible, let them even choose how often they want the newsletter.
  5. Try your best to get the right address. Very few people have only one email address, you don’t want your letter to land in the neglected step child inbox that’s never checked. Ask for their primary address. You also want the address that your customer is going to use for a long time, not just the one that they use the most right now. Follow these steps and I promise, your email list will improve drastically.
  6. Avoid overly technical words, or words that are just used in the email marketing world. Your readers may not all be email marketers and web designers. Choose words that everyone can understand. Choose words that are simple yet significant.
  7. Don’t aim too high in the beginning, but look at people registering as a chance to get an email address. Maybe a name too, but nothing more. If you ask for too much information too soon, you’ll send your customer-to-be running. You can always ask for more info later with an explanation of why you want it and how you’re going to use it.
  8. Get a system that can tell if the address isn’t correct. You don’t want a pile of addresses that are misspelled or incomplete like this:

    Better yet, if your system detects a wrong or misspelled address right away and shows the customer what’s wrong, then you’re really doing good. Who wants a system full of useless addresses? Not possible to do this you say? Tell your customers to write their address twice. Solved.

  9. As always: Test it. Try these steps and keep what works for you. One good thing about email marketing is that it’s easy to measure. Even if you do see some fairly good early results, have a little patience. Some changes need some time to sprout.
  10. When you’ve come this far, it’s important to use an email tool that can handle information securely. Does your supplier handle your email lists confidentially? What happens if you cancel the contract with your supplier? If you ever decide to, can you take out information like demographic data and statistics? While you’re out there collecting subscribers, you should feel safe knowing that all of your data is being stored securely.

    Email marketing gives a lot fora relatively small amount of effort. When you think about just how much of an impact email marketing can have, it deserves a lot more time and energy to get the chance to develop. I know you want more subscribers, and I take it that you want to sell more, right?

Let’s take a trip, back to the parable about the house. When you walk into a house, entrance is everything. When someone walks into your site, entrance is everything. The first impression is a lasting one, whether it’s positive or negative.

Make sure that your new subscribers feel that signing up to your newsletter on your website is simple, clear, and positive.