The advantages of offering an email/newsletter subscription service

WHAT IS AN EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE?

In a nutshell, this is a system where people can submit their email address in order to receive updates on your products and services via email in the future.

People can submit their email in a number of ways, with typical options being via:

  • A newsletter sign up form. This is usually a simple web form, that offers the ability for users to supply their email address and submit it to a mailing list. Exactly as I use on this website, in the sidebar on my blog articles and also in the footer of all pages. The theory behind this is simple, you offer your users/readers good content that leaves them wanting more, and they sign up, and are made aware as new content becomes available. This puts the pressure on you to keep your content regular and interesting. Read more about making the most of your blog.
  • Opt in upon registration or checkout. Many websites will offer a login facility if there’s a need to have a registered account, or a shop checkout facility for purchases. Both of these almost always require the user to submit an email address during the process, which is a great opportunity for businesses to prompt users to subscribe for a newsletter. This is often in the form of a simple check box that the user can tick/untick to opt in or out of receiving email updates. This is an especially good way of obtaining email addresses. If your visitor is either registering with or purchasing from your website, they already have an invested interest in what you’re offering/selling. These users and customers are more likely to want future updates than a random visitor.
  • Competition entries and give a ways. This is pretty self explanatory – you offer a free give a way or competition entry to your users, by getting them to subscribe to your newsletter. Essentially, the process of signing up for your newsletter is their entry, their ticket if you like. Upon submitting their email address the user would receive their free give a way, whatever that may be, an electronic download, a discount code for products, or anything else that makes sense to your company, or they would be entered into the competition you are running.
  • Manual submission. You may run various marketing campaigns offline, you may have a physical store where customers visit, you may attend seminars, meetups, conferences etc, you may have booths at shows or any other number of things that put you with your current and potential clients in person. Use these opportunities to gather information and email addresses. If they’re visiting you for one reason or another, they probably have some interest in what you’re doing so use that interest to keep them updated.“Thanks for stopping by, did you know we have an exciting new product line launching next month. We will be keeping everyone up to date closer to the time, I’d be happy to send you our newsletter”

    It’s a very powerful approach, it’s useful for them if they want to know what’s happening and a simple add for you.

There are many variations of the above methods, including pop ups (overlays), sticky widgets, banners etc.

WHY USE EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION?

There a number of marketing methods online, but email subscription is one of the most effective. There a few main reasons for that:

  • The subscriber already has an interest in what you are offering. No one will subscribe for a newsletter they’re not interested in, and it stands to reason that most of your subscribers have submitted their email address because they want to know more. This allows direct marketing to work at its best, as your whole email audience is a potential customer.
  • Almost everyone online has an email address. When you first get online, its a good chance that one of the very first things you done was register an email address. Your email address is the basis of your online identity and allows interaction with all your services, suppliers, networks, colleagues, friends and more.
  • Emails are always waiting to be read. People use their emails extremely regularly, and all emails tend to be read pretty quickly. For those people who aren’t as regular at checking their emails, your email will still be waiting for them when they do check them, meaning all your subscribers/potential clients will likely get an insight into your update. This is a big advantage over social networking, where an update can go unnoticed if your followers weren’t logged on when you posted. Not that I am taking away from the importance of social media of course, but every method has it’s advantages and disadvantages over the other.
  • You can give a detailed insight. The beauty of email marketing is you can offer as much or as little detail as you like or need to. You can be very thorough in your information, supply references, links, images and any number of details to highlight and sell your expertise, products and services.
  • Email marketing is low cost, very low cost. How much is a Yellow Pages listing? What about a larger Yellow Pages advert? A newspaper advert or poster on public transit? Email marketing is extremely cheap, and in many cases it’s free (other than your time). The bigger your subscription database, and the more regular you send emails, the more facilities you need and of course your cost increases, but it’s significantly cheaper than any of the above paper forms of advertising. The cost is always relevant to your activity and audience, so it’s proportionate to its reach and effectiveness. It’s a fantastic, cheap way to reach people that have a real world interest in what you are offering, when you are offering it.

EMAIL/NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIPTION ETIQUETTE

A few pointers on what to do and what not to do when setting up and managing your subscription form and emails.

  • Be open and honest about what people are signing up for. Don’t deceive them into thinking they’re signing up for something they’re not, or should expect something they will never receive.
  • Advise as to how regular they can expect updates, and what to expect when signing up. I have a page dedicated to information surrounding my newsletter.
  • Confirm the users email upon subscription. Send the user a confirmation email that prompts them to confirm their subscription. This ensure your database of emails is correct and it also stops people signing others up for your newsletter without their permission.
  • Confirm that their subscription was successful. This is usually done with a confirmation email, usually a thank you – be nice and polite. Or they will be directed to a ‘subscription successful’ page of your website. Again, give them a thank you while they’re there.
  • Always supply subscribers a way to unsubscribe or opt out. You should supply a link on every email/newsletter that goes out, so people can unsubscribe if they wish. If you’re not actually supplying information that they were looking for, happily let them go. It’s to no ones advantage to keep sending them irrelevant emails.
  • Never add anyone to your database without their consent. There’s nothing worse than receiving junk email, which is what it essentially is if they’re not expecting it. You don’t want to be known for sending unsolicited junk email.

That covers the basics of your email/newsletter subscription service, but like anything I discuss here, you can dig deeper and should always cater your own website services and functionalities to you, your business and your own clients.