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How to get more email subscribers

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Written by: Doug Taylor

Since the launch of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection with iOS15, there have been a lot of questions raised about the future of email marketing. If we can’t be sure who is even opening emails anymore, is it worth investing in this channel? Very quick answer for this one: Yes. 

Nice and easy. But how do you go about growing a list of subscribers to maximise this channel? Let’s start at the beginning...

Where does email fit?

With the average conversion rate of email marketing sitting at 1.22% (according the the ecommerce personalisation platform, Barilliance) and the average ROI for every £1 spent coming in at £42 (according to the DMA) it’s fairly easy to spot that email remains a cost effective channel for driving conversions. 

Even with open rates becoming a murky, less trustworthy metric with which to judge your campaign performance, email should absolutely be a key consideration in your route to market, and in your plans to retain customers and reduce churn. Especially so when you consider how much more profitable it is to cross and upsell to existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. 

Despite this, time and again we see email marketing relegated to a perfunctory, ‘bash something together and make do’ approach, rather than being given the attention and resources it requires in order to make it successful. Many businesses content themselves with a monthly newsletter, or a weekly sales email and miss many of the basic elements that can support and nurture their customers.

But by using simple workflows and automations to deliver the right message to your customers as they reach key stages in the customer journey you can drive up your engagement and achieve a greater ROI and retention rate (all without caring too much about those murky open rates…).

Take a step back and look at your customer journey. Do you currently encourage people to subscribe to your mailing list before they become a customer? When they subscribe or convert, do you send them a welcome email? Both of these are often quick and easy wins to drive engagement with your list, but both are often overlooked. By taking the time to reassess your customer journey and consider both what the customer does at each stage of the journey, and what success looks like for your business at each stage, you can map a successful email marketing programme to that journey and drive results.

So let’s have a look at how we grow those subscriber lists.


Getting the opt-in

First things first, where do new subscribers join your lists? Is there an easy option to subscribe to hear more from you? Is it above the fold, prominently displayed? Or hidden away in your site’s footer? Have a think about whether you can make the process of joining your mailing lists simpler and more encouraging for your customers. 

Aligning the content

Having said that, banging a flashing, neon, subscribe button at the top of every page of your site probably isn’t the right approach for a lot of companies (although if that’s your style, more power to you), so the real route to increasing sign-ups is via aligning your content to your customers requirements. By understanding what motivates visitors to your site, you can create content that emphasises your brand’s proposition, and promote the benefits of subscribing, rather than the features. Your visitors have to understand the value behind subscribing to your mailing lists - with value in this case ideally meaning more than 10% off their first purchase. The value should be understood over a longer period of time in order to encourage retention.

What was the name of your third pet’s vet?

The title here is a little extreme, but the point is just how much information should you ask for on any sign-up form? Ultimately, the more you ask for, the lower the conversion rate is likely to be. And with GDPR in place we need to be sure we’re only retaining relevant information (which we really all ought to have been doing anyway). So how much info do you demand from the get go?

It varies! (sorry).

The best way to approach this is to test it. Work out the information you would like to gather during the sign-up process and then test how the form converts with the minimum requirements, and test again repeatedly adding a new field each time until you see a marked drop-off in conversions. This way, you’ll get an understanding of just what information your audience feels is a valuable trade for the chance to join your mailing list.

That said, (sorry) if you want to grow a list quickly, your best bet is often to take the simplest approach and simply ask for an email address and maybe a first name (but it’s debatable. Again, sorry). You need to have an idea in mind of what you are trying to achieve by growing your subscriber base, and how much information you require in order to make it work for your business.


Single or Double?

When someone subscribes to your content for the first time, are you asking for a single or double opt-in? Double opt-in refers to the process of asking new subscribers to verify their email address before they are added to your mailing list. Traditionally, best practice has always been to follow this process in order to cut down on the number of mistyped email addresses, or spam bots making their way into your database. But the process does cut down on the number of people who successfully subscribe. By adding friction to the signup process, you inevitably get a higher quality of engagement, but a lower conversion rate. 

We’d suggest a mixed approach here. Requiring double opt-in on prominent “Subscribe!” CTAs, but a single opt-in approach when a user is converting on another form that also offers the chance to subscribe. 

Relinquish Control

A large factor in growing an email marketing list is reducing the rate of unsubscribing. People unsubscribing from your lists isn’t always a bad thing, and it arguably should be encouraged in some instances to help preserve the quality and engagement of your lists. But sometimes people just unsubscribe because they are overwhelmed by the volume of content or the lack of targeting to their needs, rather than a loss of interest in your brand. 

To work around this, consider giving your subscribers the ability to choose which information they will receive from you, and how often they will receive it. You can then filter people into different segments or lists in order to message them with the right information at the right time. 

One word of caution here. Make sure that the options you provide to your audience are easily manageable by your team. Too much choice can create a lot of extra admin and management to maintain effectively.

Get social with it

Don’t treat your marketing channels as isolated silos. If you’re on social media, make use of it to encourage your followers to subscribe to your email lists, either through dedicated forms on the various platforms, or by creating landing pages tailored specifically to those followers. Then post the link to your signup page. Email is still an easier tool for delivering your message with confidence that it will reach your audience than social has become in many cases, so drawing from your existing social audiences to grow your email lists is an effective way to build engaged subscribers.

That’s that. A bunch of suggestions to help you on your way. Now get out there and get that subscriber base growing!

Of course, if you need any help with growing your audience, or any other aspect of email marketing or CRM for your business, get in touch with our team today.