How to get more subscribers to your newsletter

and why content blocking popups are pure evil.

If I had a penny for every negative thought each time things pop up in my face I would be a rich person.

I know popups are effective in growing your mailing list, but do you really want to build your brand perception based on negative experience?

If you think about using popups at least read this post to get the opposite point of view. Maybe it won’t change your mind, but at least you will be making an informed decision.

If you don’t like it yourself don’t do it to someone else

Your customers are not cattle that you can lead mindlessly. They are people. And if you will make their experience on your website unpleasant, they will not come back, unless they don’t have any other choice.

Imagine that you are shopping, you go through the dairy alley. This is the place where really nice hostess is usually serving you delicious samples of new yogurt. But today your path is obstructed by a big bully who says: Either you taste this sample that I’m giving you for FREE or you go back the way you came from. That’s not friendly at all. Will you ever come back to this store? I would rather go an extra mile to another store.

Do you like reading an interesting article and be disrupted in the middle of it by a newsletter signup popup? Or you even don’t get the chance to start reading when the popup is asking you if you like what you are reading? Do you enjoy browsing the site on you smartphone when the popup is blocking the whole view and you try to close it but the close button is nowhere to be found, so you finally give up and leave?

I bet the answer is: You do not! So why on earth would you do this to your users?

Blame it on the numbers

It’s easy. Studies have shown that popups relate to a dramatic increase of new newsletter subscribers. Uncle google suggests that increase can be as high as 600%. Let me spell this out for you SIX HUNDRED PERCENT! It’s basically 600% bigger revenue. Well in that case who cares about usability and positive brand perception. Let’s make those popups even bigger. Numbers don’t lie.

The problem is that the newsletter signups are not everything. Having a huge mailing list – except times when you want to sell it to someone else for a lot of dough – makes sense if your audience not only opens and read your emails, but also actively participate in what you have to offer. It all makes sense if they click, react and ultimately convert into paying customers. Otherwise it’s just numbers. Oh wait, the numbers that you are paying for. Where’s the sense in that?

Forced vs voluntary subscription

Someone who is forced to signup to a newsletter will probably:

  • give false or ment for spam e-mail address
  • give a valid email address but will not confirm the subscription, or will unsubscribe as soon as possible (this is actually ideal scenario)
  • give the correct address, but will not bother to unsubscribe but define your email as spam instead

In oppose to that. Someone who subscribed to your list voluntarily. Will want to hear what you have to say or to offer. That person will open your emails and engage the conversation. This person is your future customer.

Big list, more money

Artificially inflated mailing list means not only low engagement but also cost more to maintain. Many newsletter services like Mailchimp offer payment plans based on the subscribers list volume. Is it smart to pay for a dead weight? Or is it better to keep your list smaller but healthier.

So if popups are evil, how am I supposed to grow my mailing list?

I generally don’t like to deny something and not provide an alternative solution. If you really feel the need to make your signup form visible. Stick it to the right bottom corner of the browser window. Animate it a little bit and it will be just as visible. Just keep in mind to make it hidden or under a sticky tab for a mobile users.

Think of the way to make it visible but not obstructing the content. But first of all – create a great content. Something that will be interesting and useful to your customers. If you give people a great value they will look for the way to signup to get more of it, and you will not even have to ask for it.

Now, go create something awesome :)