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Get Email Subscribers

Get Email Subscribers—Without Annoying Your Readers or Playing the Guilt Card

8 years ago, I came across a site offering surely the best freebie I’ve ever encountered. It was a PDF called A Brief Guide to World Domination, and all it cost was my email address. But, even better than that PDF—if you can believe it—was the email that came after it. Chris Guillebeau, the site’s author, laid it out very clearly right off the bat:

Here’s the deal: I’m going to send important information to you, and I have one, maybe two chances to get it right. If I disappoint you, you’ll click the "unsubscribe" link and I’ll be gone from your life forever.

Have you ever read a welcome letter like that?

It’s the only one I’ve ever gotten (and why I’m still a subscriber). These days I have a whole separate email account for subscriptions I’ve gotten just for the lead magnet. I read very few of them. They’re annoying to me as a subscriber, and they’re time-intensive and costly for the companies to produce. So, let’s talk newsletters, subscribers, and opt-ins.

Getting a bunch of subscribers is the easy part. You do a great lead magnet. You host a giveaway. The better the lure, the more people will sign up.

But then what? A good open rate is about 25%. Why aren’t more opening their email? DIdn’t they sign up for it?

Maybe. more likely they signed up for the “freebie”—which actually isn’t free at all because it cost them their email address. And because they hate the email but want the freebie, they entered the address of the account they never check, which means that no matter how good your content, they will never open it. They’re not even going to see it.

Stop Wasting Your Time on Getting Subscribers

Instead of thinking about getting them, think about what they get from it. Why should they be on your list? What are you giving them? Instead of focusing on the number of subscribers, focus on the quality of your content and letting your readers know that if they like your blog, there’s even more (better!) content by signing up. You want them to want to sign up.

Delete all of those annoying pop up windows that ask for your email address the second you enter the site. I haven’t even gotten to see your damn website! Why the hell am I going to give you my email address?? I don’t know why anyone even responds to those forms, but I can tell you: you’re the only one who loses. Exit-intent pop=ups, or one that comes up at the end of posts are the only acceptable forms.

Then, always give your subscribers value. You can make money off your list, but just like with your business, you cannot let this drive your decision-making. Customers first and the rest will follow.

My favorite newsletters are consistent, brief, and high-quality. They’re enjoyable and easy-to-read, and they benefit my life. They include: This American Life. ReplyAll. Tim Ferriss. Ramit Sethi.

The reason you’re reading this right now is because you know how valuable a good email list is. Why is an email list valuable? Because of the quality people.

Never ever forget that, and you’ll have readers for years.

Anna Ray