10 List Building Strategies to Skyrocket Your Newsletter Sign-Ups

E-mail is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads. But how do you make visitors leave their contact information?

E-mail is, for many B2B companies, still of crucial importance to their online activities. According to the e-mail Benchmark 2017 of e-Village, 73% of respondents said e-mail marketing will become even more important. 33% of the surveyed companies indicated they will enhance the budget of email marketing.

List building strategies - intro statistics

E-mail marketing is still considered one of the best ways to generate new leads. Research of McKinsey shows e-mail is more than 40 times as effective to attract new clients than Facebook and Twitter combined.

The success of a campaign is mostly measured based on conversion. But the opt-in and opt-outs are important as well, because they are the foundation of the success of all other statistics.

That’s why I’d like to give you 10 list building strategies and tips to improve the conversion rate of your newsletter.

1 Provide exclusive content

The best list building strategy is offering exclusive content. Think of it as a present you offer to your new subscribers.

This exclusive content can come in many shapes and forms. An ebook, whitepaper, videoseries or other types of tips about your field. Which you give in return for your visitors’ email address. This way you build a list of potential leads who can be interested in your products or services in the long run.

Chris Spooner decided to give away a few design files for Photoshop to his new newsletter subscribers on his design blog. The graph shows a peak in his newsletter subscribers the moment Chris added the free present: from 10 to 100 subscribers a day!

List building strategies - growing list

2. Make sure there are as much sign-up forms as possible

It’s important that your form immediately captures the attention of the website visitor. This makes that the more forms you have, the higher the response you get.
The best places to add a form are:

  • The ‘skyscraper’ to the side of your website
  • Below your articles
  • The ‘about us’ page

Below is an example of how this is applied at Pointerpro:

List building strategies - blog form

The signup form is placed next to the content in a visible place which attracts the attention.

Below is an example of an embedded iFrame made with our tool to gather email addresses. This is commonly used in the body of the content

3 Reduce the number of form fields

First of all, try to keep the number of form fields people have to fill out to subscribe to your newsletter to a minimum. Each field is an extra step someone has to take and thus a potential moment to drop out.

To test the water, MarketingSherpa added another field to describe the respondent’s function. This resulted in a decrease in conversions of 11%. This isn’t necessarily bad. By asking additional information, you know more about the specific subscriber which helps you in your sales process.

Research of Ascend2 shows B2B marketers use an average of 2 to 4 form fields for newsletter subscriptions. Besides an email address, often the name is asked to use as the subject line and/or the introductory wording of your newsletter. This way your newsletter is more personal and opening rates will increase.

list building strategies - reduce form fields

4 Write good copy

The text of your list building form is very important to increase the number of sign-ups. Try to emphasize the benefits of subscribing. For example: instead of ‘subscribe now’ or ‘subscribe’ try ‘discover weekly how to get more leads’. This way you give people an incentive to sign up.

Try to evade all negative words concerning your call to action (CTA) and try to exercise a positive vibe. For example by reducing possible fears.

You have to think thoroughly about the text of your CTA. Research of Unbounce shows using the word ‘free’ may have a negative impact on your conversion. People know you can contact them, and using the word ‘free’ can come off as misleading.

5 Use social proof

People want proof your newsletter offers additional value. That’s why you should add how many subscribers you already have. Content Marketing Institute does this very well by immediately showing a large number of peers who have already signed up to the newsletter.

LIst building strategies - content marketing example

6. Social updates

Research by marketing agency Ascend2 consisting of 255 B2B and B2C marketers shows social media is one of the best performing marketing strategies for 45% of the respondents to gather sign-ups for their newsletter.

Social media offers marketers the possibility to gather client data and bring their proposition to the attention of the right people. This is why you should write to your audience in a way suitable within each separate social media channel. For example; on Facebook and Instagram pictures work better, so make sure you use an image with little to no surrounding text.

7. Content upgrades

Content upgrades focus on one specific blog to which you add more depth.
For example the possibility for visitors to download the article as a pdf, a nifty checklist or an additional video in which the topic is explained more thoroughly all make great content upgrades.

Because they are relevant they will contribute to the list building of your newsletter. Brian Dean of Backlinko’s conversion rate increase from 0.54% to 4.82% when he started to use content upgrades in his articles.

Of course, you can always add your e-book to the article if it endorses the subject in a natural way. This can be done in both the middle of the body or at the end of your text. Because people are already interested by the subject, they’re more inclined to subscribe.

This is an example of a content upgrade on the blog of Pointerpro:

list building strategies - content upgrade example

8. Pop-ups and exit-overlays

Pop-ups are a widely used way to get new sign-ups for your newsletter. From research of Copy Blogger it appears popups increase conversion.

Often a pop-up appears after the visitor has been looking at the page for a few seconds. The pop-up includes the signup form and in addition, you also have space to write good copy to persuade your visitors to fill out their information.

list building strategies - exit-overlay

Pop-ups, however, are often experienced as irritating, to reduce this you can only show them when people tend to leave your site. These are also known as ‘exit overlays’.

Unbounce researched the impact of 2,345,864 exit overlays. One of the first experiments they did was offering an e-book instead of a simple signup form for the newsletter. The newsletter-overlay generated 558,488 unique visitors in 170 days with a conversion of 1.27%. The offer of a free ebook generated 260,000 unique visitors in 96 days with a conversion rate of 2.65%.

9. Make a notification bar

A notification bar is situated at the top of your website and attracts the attention of the visitor, for example, to subscribe for the newsletter. This notification bar is shown on every page and when visitors scroll, it remains visible.

There are different tools to create a simple notification bar, Hello Bar for example. After filling out your website URL you can immediately generate a notification bar. When you’re done, you’ll receive a code which you can paste in the source code of your website. Too much of a hassle? You can use this free WordPress plugin.

10. Use your email signature

Despite the massive use of social media, many people still use email for personal communication. This is why you should use your email signature to raise awareness concerning your e-book or whitepaper.

Two tips:

  • WiseStamp is an easy solution for your email signature. Through the help of the online tool, you easily create your own signature. The free version is rather limited, but with only 6 dollars a month you get many more possibilities.
  • Sigstr offers a similar solution but is suitable especially for larger companies with 50 employees or more. You can use the tool for free the first 30 days, subsequently the cost of 150 up to 350 dollars a month start.
  • Newoldstamp is an email signature management and marketing platform perfect for small teams and enterprises. Quick and simple signature set up for all company employees that doesn’t require involving Tech or Design Teams. Seamless integration with major email clients and devices including smartphones. Streamline brand consistent signatures in all company emails.

Strengthen your proposition and increase your conversion

As you can see, there are multiple ways to drastically increase your newsletter subscriptions. The most important thing is to always use an A/B test to see what works. For example by changing a word in your CTA, the position of your list building form or to better showcase your content upgrade. This way you can reinforce your proposition and increase your conversion.

Do you have different list building strategies and tips for your newsletter? Don’t hesitate to share them below!

About the writer: Frank Husmann is the co-founder of Online Success – Software to quickly and easily generate B2B leads to accelerating your sales. Frank has a lot of knowledge and experience with web development, online marketing, content marketing, and lead generation. He loves to share his knowledge in training and presentations.

About the author:
Frank Husmann

Frank Husmann

Frank is an internet entrepreneur focused on SaaS and online publishing. He is also also the co-founder of Online Succes, a SaaS platform for B2B lead generation.

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2 Responses

  1. HI Frank,
    I think use many signup boxes has nothing much to do with the subscribers until you catch the attention with a lucrative headline and description.

    Thanks a ton for sharing this amazing piece of content.
    Will be keep visiting you to find more interesting stuff at your website.


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