These days list building is pretty tough: there is a lot of noise online demanding attention, and it’s hard to stand out. The best source of new subscribers I’ve ever found is my current subscribers: their friends, family, and colleagues. A recommendation from someone they know carries a lot more weight than an ad or other promotion, so make it quick and easy for them to do it.
To that end, I came up with a nifty little idea the other night (while sleeping/not sleeping) and implemented it the next day. It could well lead to a surge — and maybe a sustained surge — in my free newsletter subscriptions. I did it first in my 22-year-old This is True newsletter, last Friday:
— it’s the “Was This Issue Forwarded to You?” line — there used to only be one blue line between the header and the body, and this is newly sandwiched in as a part of the template. (I do use templates, and the template for True and Emailified are quite similar.)
Of course, just about every free newsletter has a “Please share this” and “You can get a free subscription at the web site [link].” That’s nothing new, but it’s usually buried at the bottom among copyright notices and such (as mine has been for forever). What came to me, though, was a clean way to put it up at the top, yet thanks to the template design, it doesn’t get in the way of the meat of the newsletter.
A Two-Pronged Approach
The idea is both to remind regular readers that they can forward issues and, of course, to encourage new subscriptions among those they forward it to.
The landing page is at least as important as that prominent link. By clicking the link, the reader has indicated they want to subscribe, so let’s make it really easy for them! Here’s what it looks like when they arrive (click the photo to see full size):
Just about the only thing they see after getting to the landing page is a subscribe form. It’s got a photo of me (the message: “This is from a real person.”), I set their expectations (“Issues come out each Friday.”), and say something about policies and privacy (“NEVER any ads-only mailings.” and “Your Privacy is Randy’s Firm Policy.” — mention, again, of a real person), all in a visually appealing way.
* Including here: sorry to not include a link, but I don’t want bots and such to follow it. Do feel free to click it from your newsletter. Oh, did you notice it in the Emailified newsletter? I started using the new format there this week too.
The point here isn’t that you should copy this exact idea. Heck, it may not even work: I’ll test it for a few weeks, and maybe refine it or drop it. Rather, the idea is this: are you making it easy for readers to recommend you to their friends and colleagues, and trying different things? Because that’s the best ongoing, sustained way I know to increase your subscriber base.
(If you are just starting out, and don’t have subscribers to ask to recommend you? I’ll cover that in a separate article later.)
What tips or techniques do you use to build your list? Use the comments to post your ideas.