Gaining and retaining subscribers

10 minute read

Essential to good Permission Marketing is a quality database of interested subscribers.  Contacting people who do not want to hear from you is spamming, and as well as being a waste of time and money it can also seriously damage the reputation of your brand. It’s much better to spend some time thinking about how to grow a list of subscribers organically.  First you must get people interested in what you have to say, and second, you need to keep them interested.  Here are some ideas that will help you.

1. Use web capture forms

One of, if not the best place to obtain new subscribers from is your existing website.  People visiting your site obviously have an interest in the products or services you offer, so there is a good chance they will be interested to receive relevant news and promotions in the future.  An attractive, visible capture form offering the chance to subscribe and telling the person what they would receive will help you attract new subscribers.  In addition, you can ask key questions that will help you keep future campaigns even more relevant and interesting.

If you don’t have existing capture forms you can build them very quickly using your Sign-Up.to account, likewise if you already have capture forms on your site these can be integrated using our API.

2. Competitions

Another good way is to run a competition and require that people leave their details in order to enter it.  When taking registrations give people the option to choose not to receive promotions, rather than simply adding everyone to your mailing list.  A common mistake is to require that people subscribe in order to be entered, but this can  pollute your subscriber list with people that are not genuinely interested in what you have to say, distorting your metrics and wasting money and effort.

3. Send-to-a-Friend

It is very easy to include a ‘Send-to-a-Friend’ link in your email campaigns, helping to reach people outside of your subscriber base and gain further exposure for your campaigns.  People trust their friends so are likely to pay attention to things their friends send them.

Whilst this is great for gaining exposure, you are at the mercy of the subscribers doing the forwarding.  A lesser known practice is to include a short piece of text within your email along the lines of, “Received this email from a friend? Why not subscribe directly?”  The text would link to a capture form to allow these people to become subscribers themselves.

4. Customer reviews

Another great way of capturing new subscribers is through the use of comment or review requests from customers.  As well as letting you know what your customers think of you this is also a great opportunity to get them to become subscribers.  Provided you keep the campaigns and promotions relevant, this will increase the likelihood of you retaining them as a customer in the future.

5. SMS Text-In

Text in, for many businesses can be a great way to capture new subscribers.  The use of an SMS shortcode and keyword allows people to text in from their mobile phone and instantly become a subscriber.  As well as capturing the subscriber’s email address, you are also, by default capturing their mobile number: ideal for instant, last minute promotions.

As with the methods of capturing new subscribers mentioned above, you will need to give them a reason to want to subscribe, but using SMS Text-In can be one of the most effective ways of doing so.

6. Email signatures

In all probability each employee in your company has an email signature attached to all of their day-to-day emails. These signatures will be achieving much exposure as everyone emailed on a daily basis will be viewing them. Why not include a link to one of your capture forms? If you are dealing with these people it makes sense that they have an interest in your business, so there is a good chance that if they are not already subscribed, they could be persuaded to.

7. Keep it relevant

To encourage people to become subscribers you need to offer them something in return.  This could be the latest deals on holidays; gardening tips; great recipes; or even just a funny story from time to time.  When people subscribe you need to tell them what they will receive, and how often.  Sticking to these promises is extremely important in managing long-term subscriber relationships effectively.  If you suddenly start sending your subscribers irrelevant news or offers, or miss out on what you promised, there is a good chance they will lose interest and opt-out.

8. Stay regular

We have already covered the importance of keeping your content relevant to what the subscribers have signed up to receive. Another key thing is to ensure that you maintain frequency with your campaigns – almost as important as not contacting the subscribers too often is to ensure you contact them often enough.  Sending irregular promotions can work, but generally you would achieve better results by maintaining regular contact with your subscribers.

If you send too regularly there is a good chance the relevancy will decline, and even if the content is relevant people may still get fed up and feel they are being bombarded. This will result in falling open and click-through rates, as well as rising unsubscriptions – in both cases bad for your return on investment.

Sending irregularly or not regularly enough will again often result in falling open and click-through rates. It’s much better to send an email to your subscribers monthly with something relevant – even if it is a very short email – rather than just contacting them randomly.

9. Offer valuable content for free

It is commonly said that, “Everyone is an expert in something”. You are bound to possess knowledge that others do not, so publish this knowledge on a blog and as part of your email campaigns. Sharing the knowledge will reinforce your position as an expert and keep your subscribers and blog readers coming back for more, as well as putting you in a position of trust so they are more likely to want to do business with you. You can also publish this content on your site and ask people to submit their details in order to be able to view the content – when doing so give them the option to become a subscriber.

With our WordPress email subscription plugin you can encourage blog readers to become subscribers to further boost your subscriber list.

10. Value the relationships!

Subscriber relationships are like most other relationships in life: the more you put in, the more you get out. In a nutshell, the more time and effort you put into planning and executing your campaigns the better results you will achieve.  It’s no coincidence that the best ROI’s are achieved by marketers that maintain regular contact and plan each campaign to ensure relevancy and a strong call-to-action.

You need to pay attention to what made people subscribe to you in the first place and, just as importantly, what they have been responding to since they subscribed. If you keep supplying the right offers and the right content then your subscribers will be very grateful and your relationship with them will be profitable!

And finally….

Permission Marketing is all about permission, so it is vital that the opt-in is transparent and the benefits of doing so are clear to the subscriber. Whether it be using Capture Forms, Text-In, Competitions or Reviews, make it clear that you want to contact people and emphasise the key benefits of becoming a subscriber.