Three secret steps to boost your newsletter subscriptions

– and they drive social media wild.

Many web projects include ‘increased newsletter signup rate’ as a goal, yet getting your customers to sign-up is not as easy as just putting your sign-up field above the fold.

There are three key changes you can make to your newsletter sign-up process that will not only increase subscriptions, but also translate to social media as well. This article focuses on the sign-up process, not the newsletter itself – your newsletter should be optimised before undertaking the following three steps.

Step 1:

There is one deadly mistake you must never make: No matter what industry you are in, no matter what product or service you sell, do not commit the following sin:

 Never, under any circumstances call your newsletter a ‘Newsletter’.

A ‘newsletter’ is boring; every one of us has signed up to countless newsletters and received what for our efforts? A newsletter, just another email newsletter.

They clutter up our inboxes and rarely get read. Why categorise your newsletter in with all the spammy emails we web users have grown to loathe?

There is absolutely nothing special whatsoever about a ‘newsletter’.

Instead, think outside-the-box. You must distinguish your newsletter, make it stand out. Calling your newsletter an ‘Exclusive VIP update’ is an improvement, bringing it closer to your brand is even better. Consider terms that imply exclusivity or preferential treatment.

Speak to your customers’ perception of your product, have fun, the important thing is, you must stand out from the crowd.

Step 2.

Now you have spent time renaming your newsletter you are ready to not promote it. That’s right – do not promote your newsletter.

This sounds ridiculous – You want more sign-ups so you just went to the trouble of creating a new ‘Exclusive VIP club’ and now you don’t promote it?


Do not go out of your way to promote your newsletter. Instead, promote an incentive. Every website has a newsletter; many have exclusive VIP clubs as well. Yours is the only website that can offer your unique incentive.

This is key. Your incentive is the reason they will sign-up – not a newsletter. Your tangible offer that makes sense, is unique to your website and adds value – that is the star of the show.

Generic promises like ‘stay up-to-date’, ‘exclusive offers’ and ‘be the first to know’ are simply not good enough to justify signing up to a mailing list. These promises can be used as bullet points later but right now – during that all important first impression, that reason to click – It’s your offer that will make the difference.

Step 3.

Location, location, location. Make your offer absolutely unmissable. In-your-face is the order of the day. If more newsletter sign-ups is a goal, it is time to dedicate some real estate in order to ensure your goal is achieved.

Your offer needs to be promoted above the fold, below the fold and during any re-engagement point throughout the user journey.

Tip: A valuable piece of real estate is your order confirmation/thank you page. This is the page where the user has purchased your product/converted. After your thank you, a simple line promoting the offer and featuring an email field gives the user an action to perform at the end of their purchase process.

Here is where social media comes in; your offer is a value-add that is perfectly suited for promotion through social media. Do not promote your newsletter, promote your offer. If you think it is strong enough, you can write a press release as well. The key is to promote your offer through every channel available.

But wait! How will email subscriptions increase if I only promote my offer?

Here is where you make an important decision, the word is out, the offer is being promoted all over your website and through social media. Web users intrigued by your offer are now on your sign-up page, you now have two choices:


Choice one:

Require an email before the offer is granted (e.g. Just enter your email address to download our amazing ebook/receive your discount. As a bonus, we will add you to our VIP club)

By requiring their email address, the rules of engagement are evident: the user understands that in exchange for their email address, you will offer them something of value.

If you choose this route, your confirmation copy needs to be precise, you have entered into an agreement with the user (the quid pro quo) and all communication from this point must be well written in order to continue the relationship.

Choice two:

Present the newsletter as an extra, (e.g. Enter your email address here to join our VIP club and receive more great offers just like this one).

By promoting the mailing list after the offer, the offer contextualises the otherwise vague ‘more great offers’ line and helps the user in their decision making process.

By allowing the user to opt-in to the newsletter, you are illustrating trust; the user knows that they can get the valuable offer without signing up so the benefits of signing up need to be made clear at this stage.


  • Is my newsletter called a newsletter?
  • Does my newsletter stand out from the crowd or is it boring?
  • Is there an incentive to sign-up to my newsletter?
  • Is my incentive absolutely unmissable?
  • Do my users opt-in or opt-out of the sign-up process?

These three steps will help boost your newsletter subscriptions and drive social media wild. It is up to you to give your customers a reason for signing-up to your newsletter, to make sure they can’t miss it and to distinguish your newsletter from the myriad of others that clutter our inboxes.

This article was inspired by Aartjan Van Erkel’s blog post. Aartjan is one of Europe’s leading experts on writing for the web and usability. His blog is in Dutch but his insights transcend language. I had the pleasure of working with Aartjan in Amsterdam and we continue to share knowledge and tips.


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