You probably aren’t a fan of people who visit your website, take a look, and leave. You want some way to keep in touch with visitors and email is still the best option.
Smart business owners and bloggers have been enticing visitors to subscribe to emails for years – usually by offering a newsletter with tips and tricks. But as attention spans get shorter and people get busier, it’s harder than ever to win over email subscribers.
One of the most important ways to attract new subscribers is to come up with a subscription gift. I’m sure you’re picturing yourself plugging away for months to come up with the perfect incentive, but don’t give up yet.
Coming up with a subscription gift is not as hard as you may think.
I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite ways to create incentive for an email subscription. Every business is different, so I’m including ideas ranging from simple to complex. It’s up to you to create the perfect incentive for your audience.
Let’s dive right in…
Incentive #1: Create an eBook on an in-demand topic.
Have you considered writing an ebook?
Ebooks are extremely popular email subscription gifts. Why? If you choose the right topic for your audience and add unforgettable value, you can build a list of engaged subscribers who trust you and care about what you have to say next.
Take a look at the ebook KissMetrics offers in exchange for an email address:
Notice that Kissmetrics covers an important topic in the analytics industry – measuring data that matters for making “the right decisions”.
This ebook targets valuable subscribers for Kissmetrics – people who are interested in analytics and might eventually purchase its analytics software subscription.
Ideally, you want to create an ebook that attracts new subscribers, showcases your expertise, and introduces subscribers to your products or services.
So how can you write an ebook for your audience?
- Choose the right topic. This is not a guessing game. One of the best ways to choose an in-demand topic is to find your most viewed blog posts and expand on your favorite. Make sure you pick a topic you know and care about because you can expect follow-up conversation.
- Write your ebook. Draft an outline, set deadlines, and begin writing. Use existing blog posts and competitor ebooks for inspiration. An ebook should be conversational like blog posts, but more comprehensive. Reach out to a respected friend or connection to edit and make final edits yourself.
- Design & upload your ebook. The cheapest and easiest way to present your ebook is to create a dedicated webpage. If you want to step it up – create a custom PDF version of your ebook. You can outsource on Dribble or Behance but don’t forget to get a beautiful cover design and a cover thumbnail for your opt-in forms.
- Update your welcome email. Use ExpressPigeon to add a button to your ebook URL in your welcome email. You don’t want to promise an ebook and not deliver!
- Update opt-in forms. Update your opt-in forms to tell visitors about your amazing ebook. Check out these opt-in tricks to help you with the process.
Is an ebook the perfect incentive for your audience? Or would you rather…
Incentive #2: Create an email course.
An email course is an incredibly powerful way to encourage people to sign up for emails. With an email course, you can deliver information to subscribers broken into a series of emails that they can digest over a period of time.
For example, Copyblogger offers Internet Marketing for Smart People:
As you can see, the Copyblogger course introduces subscribers to Copyblogger’s high-performing content through a 20-part email series and welcomes them into its current email subscription.
So how can you create an email course for your business?
1. Identify overall course subject.
What will you teach subscribers in your email course?
You need to have a clear direction and understand the overall goal of your email course. Looking at Copyblogger’s Internet Marketing for Smart People, it’s clear that the goal is to help subscribers “understand & implement effective online marketing”:
One of the best ways to come up with a clear direction is to review some of your most popular blog posts or ebooks and identify a common greater goal they are building towards. This will help you come up with a valuable subject to cover in your email course.
2. Identify & develop lessons to support overall goal.
What specific lessons can you teach in your emails to support your overall goal?
You should break down your email course into a series of individual lessons. For example, Copyblogger offers content marketing, SEO, effective headlines, keyword research, and more – which all support the greater subject of online marketing.
Identify lessons you want to teach in your course. Make a list of content that supports each lesson – blog posts, ebooks, videos, presentations, podcasts. You can link to this content within emails that support each lesson.
3. Create emails & landing pages.
Once you have an overall subject and specific lessons to cover, you’re ready to create your emails. With ExpressPigeon, you can design beautiful emails with no technical knowledge.
Some lessons may require multiple emails whereas others can be explained in just one. Your emails can link to supporting content or if you need to further elaborate, you can create a custom landing page for each email in the course.
Use ExpressPigeon’s widgets to add beautiful buttons or videos to your email designs. You can easily duplicate emails to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the series. Once you’re done designing your emails, you’re ready to…
4. Set up your email sequence.
You will need to take advantage of the ExpressPigeon autoresponder feature to deliver your emails. Read this to learn how to use autoresponders to set up your email sequence.
Using autoresponders, you can set up your emails to deliver at specific intervals from the time that each new subscriber registers. Once your course is created, it automatically delivers to new subscribers.
5. Update your opt-in forms.
Don’t forget to promote your new email course. Neil Patel swears by email courses and even uses one himself to promote his email subscription. Check out his subscription form for inspiration:
Is an email course right for your business? Give it a shot!
Incentive #3: Run recurring webinars.
Webinars come highly recommended for converting website visitors into loyal subscribers and customers. Running weekly or monthly webinars can help you stay ahead of the competition by showcasing your expertise on the latest industry topic.
In case you’re wondering… A webinar is a live video conference where you can share a presentation or screencast with your audience. Attendees can ask questions and interact via voice or messaging – one of the most engaging forms of content marketing there is.
Here’s an example of one of Moz’s recurring webinars:
Moz uses webinars to educate their audience on online marketing in an effort to build their email list and ultimately upsell attendees on Moz online marketing tools. I’m sure you’re wondering how you can use webinars to build your list.
Let’s get into it…
- Choose the right topic. Similar to selecting a topic for your ebook or audiobook, a great way to find a topic for your webinar is to look at your most popular blog posts. Select a topic from one of your best posts – how-to’s, list posts, and case studies usually make for great webinars. Make sure you pick a topic you know and care about or you might get crushed in a Q&A.
- Choose your software. Hosting a webinar comes with a small price tag. There are free services, but you’re better offer paying for quality and capturing leads than messing around with software that might crash. Most marketers use GoToWebinar.
- Promote your webinar. Creating a blog post to promote your webinar is essential to getting the word out. You might want to launch the post a month in advance – especially if you are just getting started. Use social media and your email lists to let people know. Everyone who signs up for your webinar will need to register with an email address – good news for you!
- Create your webinar presentation. Your presentation should be a simple slideshow that leaves room for conversation. Remember that the focus of a webinar is to educate – if you get too salesy people will run away and never come back. Don’t forget to prepare a Q&A. This is where you really establish yourself as an expert and build a deeper connection with your audience.
- Send a follow-up email. After the webinar finishes, email your audience with a special offer and invite them to join your email subscription. This is a great way to convert your webinar attendees into ongoing subscribers.
While this incentive is not as direct as the others, it certainly is effective at converting visitors into subscribers and customers. Give it a shot!
Incentive #4: Run a recurring contest or giveaway.
Let’s say you have a great product but cannot afford to give samples to every new subscriber. What about running a recurring contest or giveaway?
Giving away something valuable regularly is strong incentive for people to subscribe. Why wouldn’t people want a chance to win something free on a regular basis?
For example, I helped launch Tiesta Tea in the social media space a few years ago. We gave away free bags of tea on Twitter every Friday and earned thousands of paying customers in the process.
Looking back – I could have improved the giveaway by making it exclusive to email subscribers. Here’s what I would do today…
- Choose a giveaway and a time frame. What product can you give away? How often can you afford to give it away? Is this giveaway enticing enough to get people excited about your emails? With the Tiesta Tea example, we would give away 5-10 free tins of tea every Friday.
- Create entry points on your website. Entry points for the contest are your opt-in forms. Update the forms to let people know about your contest. With the Tiesta Tea example, your messaging might be: “Sign up for the Tiesta Tea Club for a chance to win free tea every Friday.”
- Announce winners via email. You can send an email to all of your subscribers on select dates to announce the winners. In the email, you can include a special discount for “losers” to encourage them to make a purchase.
Running a consistent contest or giveaway is a great way to encourage people to sign up for emails, stay engaged with your emails, and visit your blog or store consistently.
Is a recurring contest the right incentive for your audience? Or should you…
Incentive #5: Create a special club for email subscribers.
What if you could turn your email list into an exclusive club? Wouldn’t people rather be a part of something special than something they see everyday?
The concept is simple – transform your email list into a “club” or “membership” and offer subscribers multiple incentives for joining. This is more of a branding tactic than anything but it can be very effective for building a list.
For example, Pillsbury calls its email subscribers “Members” and promotes the club heavily on its website:
Notice that Pillsbury offers members free coupons, samples, and a newsletter subscription. When you dive deeper, you’ll find they also give members a free calendar and entries to recurring sweepstakes.
Here’s how you can create a club for your business…
- Come up with a catchy name. What will the name of your club be? It’s ideal to make people feel like they are a part of something important. What name is cohesive with your brand? Is it a club? A membership? A community? It’s up to you to decide.
- Choose incentive for subscribers. What is the value in joining the club? People need to know what’s in it for them. You can choose multiple incentives from this post to generate ideas. Consider offering ongoing benefits such as recurring contests or giveaways.
- Update opt-in forms & process. Be sure to update your opt-in forms and process. One of the most fitting opt-in tricks to consider is creating a page dedicated to your club and adding it to your main menu.
Is creating a club the right way to go for your audience? Or should you…
Incentive #6: Record an audio gift.
Your audience is busy and sometimes they need an option to learn on the go. That’s where an audiobook or podcast becomes such a valuable subscription gift.
Developing audio for subscribers gives them an opportunity to listen and learn – on the way to work, relaxing at home, or driving their kids to school.
See how Audible offers a free audiobook to encourage people to sign up for its service:
Why couldn’t you offer the same deal to your email subscribers? Would your audience value a free podcast or audiobook?
Here’s how to create an audio subscription gift…
- Choose your topic & write the script. One of the best ways to create an in-demand audiobook or podcast is to select a popular blog post or ebook and expand on it. If you write conversationally, this could be a very simple process.
- Record your audio. Once your script is ready, you can outsource the voiceover on Craigslist or do it yourself at a local studio. If you’re considering developing a podcast series, you might want to look into a USB microphone.
- Upload audio file & create landing page. Upload your audio file to an audio platform like Soundcloud. Make sure you enable free downloads for the file. Once uploaded, you can create a custom page on your website and embed the audio, with script, for easy downloading & streaming.
- Update your welcome email. You need to add a button or text link to direct subscribers to the page with your audio gift.
- Update opt-in forms. Update your opt-in forms with these tricks in mind. You might want to design a custom cover for your audiobook or podcast to make it more visually appealing.
Is an audiobook the ideal subscription gift for your audience? Or should you…
Incentive #7: Offer a discount on a product or service.
Everyone loves a good deal. Offering a special discount on products or services is a great way to build your list and encourage subscribers to make an immediate purchase.
Look at how NFL SHOP offers 10% off for new subscribers only:
Notice that NFL SHOP uses a custom opt-in form to collect information about new subscribers. Don’t worry… you don’t need a major budget to pull this off.
Let’s see how you can offer a discount to subscribers…
- Choose your discount. Will you offer a discount on all products or services? Or a specific product or service? Or just a specific brand? Are there any products or services you want to exclude from the offer? Make sure to choose a deal that is financially responsible for you and extremely attractive to your audience.
- Generate a promo code. Create a custom promo code for your email subscription offer. Make sure subscribers can only use it once but avoid an expiration date. Why? If subscribers haven’t redeemed the coupon in a certain time period, you may want to send them a reminder email.
- Update your welcome email. Use ExpressPigeon to easily insert a button or text link that directs subscribers to a page where your discount applies. Make sure the page only houses products or services that are eligible for the offer – you don’t want to mislead new subscribers.
- Update your opt-in forms. Now that the offer is in place, you need to update your opt-in forms. This might require custom development but at the very least, make sure your opt-in copy communicates your new offer. Consider testing new opt-in tricks to better transform website visitors into email subscribers.
Offering a discount is a great way to attract attention to your email subscription, encourage an immediate purchase of your products or services, and set yourself up for an enticing reengagement campaign for inactive subscribers.
Is a discount the perfect subscription gift for your business? Or should you…
Incentive #8: Offer a free trial membership.
Do you sell a product or service that requires recurring payments?
Consider giving away a free trial membership. This attracts people who are interested in your products or services – exactly the type of audience you want on your email list.
A free trial gives people a taste of your expertise and a very direct path to becoming paying customers. Even if they don’t covert into customers after the trial period, you can continue the conversation via email.
Check out how BJ’s Wholesale Club offers a free 60-day membership:
Notice in the bottom-right corner of BJ’s subscription form, visitors have an option to “Subscribe to BJ’s Emails”. This is one way to do it. Another option is to simply require email subscription to have access to a free trial.
Offering a free trial to your website visitors is a great way to learn more about your prospects. Once you have their emails, you can easily let them know more about your business and their benefits.
Is a trial membership right for your business? Or should you…
Incentive #9: Offer free product samples.
Sometimes the best way to entice people to sign up for emails is to give away exactly what you’re selling… Everybody loves free samples.
This is especially powerful if you sell products that people can buy over and over again. For example, MOO offers free business card samples for website visitors:
In order to receive the cards, you have to create a MOO account. Once you’re a member, MOO emails you special offers and reminders to finish your project.
Giving free samples can be a great way to entice people to sign up for emails and become paying customers. If you have a great product, can afford to give away samples, and are confident people will come back for more – this could be the perfect subscription gift for your business.
Will you give away free samples to every new subscriber? Or should you…
Incentive #10: Create a quick video for your audience.
Use a webcam to record yourself sharing expertise on your industry with your audience. Offer a few tricks and ideas and share some stories to help your audience relate. Upload the video on YouTube and when someone subscribes, share the link with them.
Don’t worry that the video is available publicly on your YouTube channel. If the content of your talk is valuable, subscribers will appreciate it. Your video should deliver what you promise in your opt-in forms.
Create a tutorial video…
Show people how to do something the right way and they’ll love you for it.
Give people a tutorial video as an email subscription gift, but make it something important. What can you show your audience how to do that nobody else is doing better than you?
The topic you choose should be something that is broad enough to engage anyone in your audience but different enough to entice them to sign up for emails. Once you know what to record, you can create your video.
Programs like Camtasia or Screenflow make it easy to record a screencast – a video of what’s happening on your computer screen. A screencast gives people the visuals they need to follow your how-to’s and they’ll be grateful for subscribing.
If you’re doing something more hands-on, you can always create a how-to video that shows the actual process. Don’t be afraid to fly different.
Coming up with the perfect opt-in incentive for your business can be as simple or as complex as you decide is right for your audience. No matter what incentive you choose to create, it’s essential to give people a reason to sign up for your emails. You can use all the opt-in tricks in the world but if you don’t offer any incentive, why would anyone subscribe?
Remember, your subscription gift should be…
- Attention grabbing. The gift should be unique enough to get people excited. You can have the most educational gift in the world but nobody will ever know unless they subscribe. How can you communicate your gift to make it grab visitors?
- Valuable. Subscribers want to get something out of the gift. If it gets their attention but lacks originality or substance, be prepared for unsubscribes.
- Brand consistent. A gift that is valuable but has nothing to do with your business can attract subscribers who are only in it for the gift. New subscribers who don’t care what you have to say aren’t likely to stick around for the long haul.
Coming up with the perfect subscription gift is ultimately up to you. Only you will devise the perfect email subscription gift to attract new subscribers and excite them for what’s to come next. So how are you attracting new subscribers?
Have any ideas to add to the list? Leave a comment below and keep the ideas on flow!
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