Your subscriber list is one of the most valuable components of your content marketing plan.

When looking for a way to increase your reach as a brand, the best place to start is with a solid group of loyal followers that want to hear the information you have to share.

Subscribers should be the starting point for all e-mail campaigns, sales, special alerts and any other content that you have to share. When compiled correctly, without shady underlying tactics or techniques, a subscriber list can go a long way to take your outreach campaign to the point of success. You need them; because of this, you should do whatever you can to appease your subscriber list while growing the count — the right way.

Far too many companies add to their subscriber lists the wrong way: buying email addresses, adding customers without permission, using lists from other companies, gathering addresses from social media profiles and so on. Not only are these methods questionable, they’re not beneficial.

A large list means very little if the contacts on that list have no interest in the company. In fact, if you have hundreds of people who don’t want your emails flagging them as spam, these methods are actually hurting your business! A solid subscriber list is filled with customers and potential customers who have demonstrated interest in your offerings in one way or another.

You need to increase your subscriber count the right way.

The Basics

Like any online campaign, it’s best to start with the basics and lay a good foundation for what comes next.

1. Be Clear

When looking to build a subscriber list, clarity is critical for long-term engagement and customer (including potential customer) satisfaction. In business there are far too many gray areas that stem from misunderstandings. To prevent your subscriber list from becoming one of them, be clear from the start.

Clearly state what your subscription offering is, including the frequency of articles or mailings, the benefits to being on the list and why you’re asking for subscribers. If you spell it out, it can be a pretty effective call to action. This step alone could increase engagement and open/click-through rates because customers know what to expect.

Keep it simple; keep it clear.

2. Be Obvious

Your customers and potential customers have every reason to enthusiastically sign up for your subscription list. Despite that, if they have trouble finding it, they will never sign up.

email signup

It’s important that your signup form be obvious on the page; the Florida-based rehab center 12 Keys, for example, has positioned their signup at the top right of their blog. Encapsulated in purple, it stands out from the rest of the site without looking in-your-face. Remember, I said obvious, not obnoxious.

3. Talk About It

Adding a subscription form isn’t enough to increase signups. While it may go a long way, there’s room for improvement.

By taking the time to mention your newsletter in your blog posts, you’ll bring more attention to it; it’s entirely possible that your readers are so focused on actually reading that they will miss the signup box (even if it’s bright purple!). Don’t mention it in every one of your posts – that might get a little annoying for people who actually are signed up – but talking about the great stuff that’s coming up never hurts.

Ethical Bribing

While it may be questionable to directly bribe customers or to mislead them about what they’re signing up for, that doesn’t mean that there can be no incentives offered for signing up for an email list. The following are a few of the more ethical, commonly-accepted methods.

4. Start A Series

Take a break from your normal posting activities to announce that you’ll be creating a series of posts on your blog around a specific topic or trend that you know will be of interest to your target market.

By doing something out of the ordinary and indicating that it will go on for a specific period of time, your followers will want to learn more — and, just as importantly — won’t want to miss out! By using anticipation to your advantage, ask readers to sign up to be notified when the posts become available, or to have them delivered directly to their inboxes. Series are an excellent way to draw attention without raising eyebrows.

5. Provide Real Rewards

There’s no reason subscribers cannot be rewarded for signing up, as long as that reward is tangible, useful and legitimate.

Think about what your brand has to offer that could be useful for potential subscribers: An eBook? Access to exclusive content? A video series? Whatever it is, offer that as a benefit for newsletter subscribers and make it clear enough to draw interest.

6. Host A Contest

Facebook and other social media sites are filled with contests for interested users to increase likes and shares. Why not use this tactic on your site?

By encouraging users to sign up for your email list and explaining that each signup will count toward an entry into a contest, you may find interest like never before. A few things to note: be honest, provide timelines and be clear. Make sure users know exactly what they’re signing up for and that there is no hidden agenda. Otherwise this tactic could quickly fall into the unethical category of doing business.

Convert Your Current Fan Base

7. Allow For Opt-Ins

In many cases, customers may be looking to get in touch with you already.

Chances are, you have a “contact us” form somewhere on your site or blog. While it’s not acceptable to add those who contact you to your email subscription list without asking, as long as you have their permission, there’s no problem.

opt in email subscriber

Consider adding an “opt-in” option to your contact forms or materials that you make available for download on your site like WebpageFX, a Pennsylvania-based internet marketing agency, does on their free website evaluation tool, CrawlerFX. Chances are, someone running this tool on their own site is very interested in learning more about the industry, plus it’s only one email per month. What’s to lose?

8. Get Social

Social media matters. As a business owner or professional, you know this. These sites and online communities are where the majority of online users spend most of their time. As such, it’s time to use these to your advantage when building an online subscription base.

facebook rewards

Take the time to promote your online newsletter as part of your social strategy; it certainly shouldn’t be the only thing you post about, but you can find ways to creatively encourage newsletter signups a few times a month.

The humane animal trapping brand Havahart does this with great success on their Facebook – offering discounts, free gifts, and contest entries at various times in exchange for signups. Because of their savvy marketing, they’ve built up a great community of animal lovers who engage with their posts and talk about their products.

When used in combination with useful information, you’ll attract positive attention and new subscribers.

9. Refer-A-Friend Campaigns

Don’t underestimate the power of suggestion.

Have you ever received a newsletter that encouraged you to pass it on to your friends? You might have then started thinking about who might find it useful – but if they hadn’t asked, you probably would not have even gotten to that step.

Encourage current subscribers to share your emails with their own communities, friends, fans and followers. By creating a ripple effect, you’ll draw in potential customers that you may have never been able to access on your own, for free. Take the time to ask for referrals; you won’t be disappointed in the results.

Be Honest

10. The Importance Of The Opt Out

When working to grow an email subscription list, the opt-out option is something no one wants to have to think about, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Honesty and transparency are important for all areas of business; an email subscription list is no different.

Be sure to include information on all pieces of communication relating to how a customer came to be on the email list for the information they’re receiving and make the opt-out process simple. When customers feel trapped on a list, they’re more likely to experience negative emotions toward the sender of the information: your brand.

Make it easy to opt out, and send a follow up to those who do chose that route, thanking them for their patronage and letting them know they’ve been removed. No business relationship should end on a negative note. Just because someone doesn’t want to be on a list does not mean they’re harboring ill-will toward your brand; the newsletter just might not be what they need at the time.

If your business puts even just a handful of these tips into action, you’re sure to see a bump in your subscriber count. What successes have you seen trying these methods? Do you have another trick up your sleeve? Share your experiences in the comments below!