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How to get more people to sign up, and keep them subscribed to your list long term

you've got mailDo you want more email subscribers and readers?

What is stopping your list from growing?

How do you keep people from leaving?

I will tell you there is always something you can improve when it comes to growing your subscriber base, and the answers are not always difficult or complex … once you see what the problem is …

The quick answer to getting more people to subscribe and fewer to leave is to answer on behalf of your subscriber WIIFM …

“What’s In It For Me?”

There are two places you need to work and rework, with that always at the back of your mind, and it might seem like common sense, but it is seldom common practice 🙂

  1. Acquisition – What is in it for them to join? Can you credibly make a promise that appeals to them?
  2. Retention – What is in it for them to stick around? Don’t be a broadcaster, become a leader.

That’s it! But people fall down in the execution. Heck, so do I. My last email broadcast lost me a bunch of subscribers because of one of the points we will get to in a moment.

Let’s start with the retention first, because there is no point in adding people only to lose as many as you gain …

Why they leave

There are as many reasons as they are subscribers, but most reasons fall under the following categories:

  1. They don’t know who you are – We are increasingly cynical about email. We believe email senders are spammers until proven innocent. Consider “know, like and trust” … if they forget you then you are sunk before you begin, right? Emailing infrequently, changing your brand, not giving them opportunity to get to know you, and what you can offer. This is, sad to say, my number one reason for unsubscribes, and it is my fault. Fact is, I have never bought lists for this blog, I have never added anyone who didn’t want to subscribe, but people forgot me so think I did get their email address some dodgy way. I went through such a long period of not writing on this site that people forget they even signed up. They forget who I am. Don’t make my mistake! Nurture your subscribers, remind them of what you can offer them if they stick around. Have an auto responder sequence, and include personal anecdotes that tell a valuable story while letting people get to know you. Use a personable, friendly writing style. Connect!
  2. They don’t anticipate future value – My second big mistake with this site is my sign up incentive only offers immediate gratification, really. Yes, there is more value there, but the big promise is all about the free ebooks that you can get right now. I need to rework it so people know what to expect in future. This means a lot of people subscribe and then say “thanks!” then unsubscribe after getting the ebooks. Going into 2017 I will be bolstering the exclusive value people get for being subscribers. You ought to think about that too. What can people get not just now but long into the future? Ensure your subscriber anticipates their next email.
  3. You don’t fit into their world any longer – Some people are just not a good fit for you or what you do, and that is perfectly okay. It’s actually a good thing that they realize that before trying to work with you! At some point a percentage of your subscribers might want to move on. That’s natural. For example, if you are tailoring your content to beginners, or if you cater to a temporary situation, like new parents. At other times though you might say something that makes your subscriber not feel as connected with you, or you might lose trust. I lost a lot of subscribers one day by using “kick ass” in a subject line. What can you do about that? Not much, just focus on your most wanted target audience, the people you can most help and can reach.

Okay, so we figured out that subscribers leave for good reasons, so how do you get more people to sign up?

How to get more subscribers

Getting more subscribers is a function of the promises you make and who knows about them …

  1. Be where your prospects are – Increasing your subscriptions starts outside of your site, it’s about how you bring people in. You need to be visible where your prospects hang out, either with your content, with ads, or in person. Work on evergreen content and getting links to it. Get interviewed on podcasts or by the media, hang out in forums and discussions, share your content in social media, whatever you can do. When you are in front of your audience, give them a call to action. Tell them what they can get in return for their email address, then tell them what to do.
  2. Make a promise, and deliver on it – Next you need to use that fresh attention to bring people to your email sign up form. Make a promise. Tell them what you can do for them. Tell them the good things to expect. Then start delivering on your promise the minute they sign up. As mentioned above, you need to give instant gratification (not their whole dream goal but a tangible step toward it), and tell them what to expect later.
  3. Ask people to share – Once people take the action, get them to bring friends. Tell them how you can help their friends too.
  4. All roads lead to the opt-in – Every piece of content, every page, everything you produce, should lead back to opting in. Every page becomes a landing page!
  5. Build your sequence – Once you have opt-ins you need to work on retention, and making it pay off for them and for you. The more people you help, the more money you make, the more you can invest in accelerating the system with ads and with tools. So make your sequence get people excited not just about your free content (which should be awesome, obviously) but about how you help people with products and services.

Bottom Line

Once you have your opt-in and your sequence built, your job becomes getting more people to see it. That’s how you grow, that is how you expand the number of people you reach and help. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get started improving. You will notice just in this article how many mistakes I have been making, but even despite those mistakes my audience has continued to add more than I have lost in the months between articles.

The most important aspect is to treat people right, to help people the best way you can, which is why I am back blogging.

I will leave you with one question to keep asking yourself … “What more can I do to reward my subscribers?”

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  1. Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This was really good and appreciate your honesty. Nice to see you back and what plug in are you using at the bottom that attaches the check box to sign up. I’m new to wordpress and some of these plugins are difficult to find and figure out.

  3. I found that frequency is key to maintaining a relationship with subscribers. In the past I found myself almost afraid of mailing too much, so I would do so only very occasionally. When I did there were replies wondering who I was.

    By emailing more frequently, it actually helped improve the responsiveness of my list because I was familiar to my subscribers. Will some people unsubscribe if you email more? Yes. But chances are they would unsubscribe anyway. I’d much rather have a smaller engaged list, instead of a large list of people that don’t open my emails.

    • Yeah and unsubscribes are not a bad thing (well, when they are not mean about it!), because there is no point in emailing people who will never connect with you