Just because your newsletter is free, doesn’t mean people will automatically subscribe to it. We guard our inbox space carefully, and giving away our email isn’t something we take easy on.
Getting people to the sign-up page for your mailing list or newsletter can be very costly and time-consuming. You want to make sure that as many people as possible opt-in.
You need to prove that the value (what’s inside your newsletters) they’ll get, is greater than the investment and risk (giving you their email address and risking spam).
And you need to do this within seconds.
Why writing for fewer people is better
The seller sets a product’s price.
The buyer sets its value.
The more defined your target audience is, the easier it is to understand what they perceive as valuable.
If you want to get me to subscribe to your mailing list, you must prove it’ll add value to my life. What’s valuable to me is worth nothing to someone else.
While a newsletter with weekly curated news from the startup scene is pure gold to a tech entrepreneur, it’s utterly uninteresting to the self-sustainable farmer, living off-grid with his two dogs.
Picking a specific niche market will make it possible to give a lot of value to the people in that market.
It will also give you a competitive edge. Writing about tech news specifically for stay-at-home moms, will instantly set you aside from the other business newsletters.
Picking a smaller niche makes it easier to dominate a small segment and become the newsletter for everyone in that niche.
How to build the perfect newsletter Sign-up page
People will come to your sign-up page from different places, paid ads, links on social media, being referred by a friend.
Not all of them will be the right audience, that is ok. You want your opt-in page to tell them within seconds if they should care.
Your newsletter sign-up page should show:
- Who it is for
- What they will get
- That other people are already enjoying it.
Step 1: Capture them with the title
Clicking a link is easy. We don’t risk a lot by doing it. This means people often aren’t very focused when they land on your opt-in page. They don’t care.
The job of the title is to make them care.
Putting the name of the newsletter as the main title is a waste of space. No-one cares about what you named your newsletter.
The title should be the equivalent of finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. You will stop walking.
If you know your audience, you know:
- What interests them the most
- Their most annoying problems
- Their needs
A newsletter is something being served on a silver platter to me. I get it without having to think it up or search for it myself. What does your audience value the most?
Step 2: Explain the Who and What
Next, tell them who it is for and what they will get. You should be able to do this in one, short, paragraph.
It shouldn’t be for everyone. If it is, you’ll have to compete with “everyone,” and you don’t have the muscle for that.
Define your niche market. The easiest way is to describe it with a title or position.
Niche Market Examples:
👩🏻💻 Product people
🧑🏼💼 Startup founders
👩🏽🔧 Female makers
The more narrow, the easier it will be to attract the people in that specific audience.
Next, give a very clear description of what they will get. No mumbo-jumbo fluff – tell them what it is about!
“Industry news” or “inspiration” is extremely vague – it’s hard to imagine how it will be anything more than what I can find by scrolling my favorite Reddits or Facebook groups.
- 5 ideas about…
- One case-study…
- An interview with…
The more concrete it is, the easier it is for a potential subscriber to see the value.
Step 3: Prove the Value
It is easy to say that you will get them value, but how can they be sure that it is truly valuable?
Explain how you will be able to deliver on your promise. Show what lies behind the content that you’ll send.
Do you put a lot of time into research for each email?
Are you keeping track of a massive amount of news sources to curate the best content?
Do you have years of experience in the field you are writing about?
Let the prospects know!
Step 4: Add social proof
No-one wants to be the first. We are inherently afraid of doing what the rest of the groups aren’t.
Seeing other people already doing something makes it a lot easier to take the leap ourselves.
Adding social proof to your opt-in page can seriously improve the sign-up rates.
Even if you only have a few hundred subscribers, add that to the page.
Did someone write about your mailing list on Twitter? Screenshot it and add.
Just asking your current subscribers for feedback can give a lot of useful quotes.
Step 5: Use a 2-step Opt-in
Seeing that email box makes us ask ourselves, “is it worth giving up my email address?”
We know there’s a chance that we won’t like it, or even worse, will receive spam.
There is a way around this – by using a two-step opt-in form.
Instead of directly showing the email form, you hide it behind a first step; a single button saying, “Yes, I want the newsletter!”
When they click the button, they are shown the actual opt-in form.
This changes the question from “Is this newsletter worth giving up my email address for?” to simply “Do I want this for free?”
See? Suddenly they don’t have to weigh the pros and cons – they only need to decide if they want it.
When the email box pops up, they’ve already made up their mind and invested a click.
It seems too good to be true, but when I changed to a 2-step opt-in form, my sign-up rate went up another 10%
Step 6: Offer to Read Before Subscribing
The golden rule for all marketing is; have as few call-to-actions as possible. The optimal customer journey only offers one CTA at any given moment.
You want to lead people through the journey without making them think.
If we were to follow this rule, your newsletter landing page should only have one CTA: subscribe to the newsletter.
I do believe, though, that a second CTA could be useful in this case: read a previous issue of the newsletter. This gives people the option to try before they “buy.”
I suggest you put it under the sign-up box. That way, it will catch the people that don’t immediately sign-up but need a bit more convincing.
Even if your newsletter is free to join, you need to show potential subscribers that it is worth it.
Choose a defined niche – a target audience and/or a problem – and do everything you can to maximize the value for that niche.
Show the value in as few words as possible – and don’t make them think.