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September 24, 2008
How I Increased My Email Signup Rate by Nearly 6,000%...and How You Can, Too

Despite all the junk mail filters and over-zealous ISP firewalls, email marketing still offers great ROI. But how can you benefit from this low-cost marketing effort if you can't get more than a couple of new subscribers a month?

To overcome subscriber inertia, you must give first before you can receive. By providing an incentive for site visitors to sign up for flyte log--our email newsletter on Web marketing--we now average over 120 signups per month...approximately a 6,000% increase from our "Join Our Mailing List" days.

What should you give? It depends on what your prospects are interested in. It might be an article or a coupon for your online store. It could be a drawing to win an iPhone, or tickets to the Superbowl.

Two caveats to this rule: first, make sure that the giveaway isn't so great that it attracts non-prospects. There's no point in giving a brand new iPhone to someone who will never buy from you. Second, make sure you capture their "real" email address before giving them the goods.

Here's the step-by-step process:

Landing Page Call-to-Action:

Make your offer on your home page and other important pages on your site. You don't need to include the email signup box here...in fact, I'd recommend you don't yet associate the incentive with your mailing list.

Instead, offer your incentive and make it "just a click away," to get them to take an action. Adding attractive graphics (especially a "cover" on a digital download to make it more "real") can increase your conversion rate.

The Funnel Narrows:

On the next page, reiterate the offer, even enhancing it if you like. Explain that, "not only will you get the '10 Costliest Remodeling Mistakes Every Home Owner Makes', you'll also receive our free monthly email newsletter with great tips on cutting costs while beautifying your home. You can unsubscribe at any time!"

Because they've already clicked through to this page--in other words, they've given you a small "yes"--they're more inclined to take this next step to receive your offer.

Your Email Service Provider at Work:

I'm a big proponent of Email Service Providers, or ESPs. They manage your lists, automate subscribes and unsubscribes, generate detailed reports on list activity, and allow you to deliver colorful HTML emails without you having to learn HTML and CSS.

Make sure your ESP allows you to customize the Confirmation and Welcome messages if you plan on offering a digital download. You'll want to add a link to the digital download into the Welcome message. This ensures that the site visitor has given you their real email address.

Ask for as little information as possible to increase your conversions. I recommend requiring the first name because even though people know that their name at the top of an email newsletter is brought to them by a computerized mail merge, they still respond to the message at a much higher rate.

Once your site visitor clicks on the subscribe button on this page, a message is sent to your ESP. It, in turn, sends a confirmation email to the subscriber's email. If you are running a confirmed opt-in campaign--something we do and recommend to our clients--they will be required to click on a link within that email.

Clicking on that link sends another message to the ESP that this person does, in fact, want to receive emails from you. The ESP, filled with joy, sends a Welcome message that includes a link to the digital download you created.

In Conclusion

By building your subscriber base you increase the number of people who are receptive to your marketing message. This list can be used to announce new products or services, and is the perfect channel to promote an upcoming Webinar or sell your new ebook. You also have a regular opportunity to establish your credibility to this group of prospects...essential to businesses selling complex products and services.

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Rich Brooks is president of flyte new media a Web design and Internet marketing company. Flyte designs professional Web sites and promotes them with strategic Web marketing campaigns that include search engine optimization, email marketing, business blogs and more.

He blogs on Web marketing topics regularly at flyte blog: web marketing strategies for small business and publishes a monthly email newsletter called flyte log.
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