Why is no one signing up to my mailing list?

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You’re well aware that email marketing is a great way to connect directly with potential leads and existing customers, right to their email inbox. When done right, it’s a tried and tested method of building relationships, but it relies on the willingness of your visitors to volunteer their contact information. But, despite providing that functionality on your website, people just aren’t using it! Let’s fix that.

Why do you sign up for mailing lists?

When was the last time you signed up to a mailing list? Likely it was because there was a perception of value. Perhaps there was a free mini-course you fancied squeezing into a quiet week, or you were offered a discount on your next purchase. Maybe you downloaded a guide or some free resources – you wanted the value that came with it, as it seemed like a fair exchange for the chance that you’d be marketed to.

Make no mistake – people are aware that it’s a marketing tool, and they know that at some point, you’re going to want to sell to them (or in the case of a charity, ask for a donation). No one likes being sold to, so you have to make it worth their while to put themselves on your radar.

You haven’t provided clarity

I see “Sign up for our newsletter” everywhere, and it’s shameful, because it doesn’t tell me what I’ll actually receive. As a visitor, I ask “what’s in it for me?” Am I signing up for daily, irrelevant tidbits of information that are going to flood my inbox? Am I getting a documentary on your life, pictures of your dog? Company news that I really care nothing about? Is the subject you’ll be talking about going to benefit me if I invest my time, or are you going to send me garbage?

It seems harsh, I know. But people are busy. I regularly go through my inbox removing myself from mailing lists that haven’t met my expectations or have morphed into something other than what I signed up for and haven’t kept my interest. I have to. I have to guard my time because it’s my most valuable resource. That’s what you’re competing with.

When you create a call to action for a mailing list, make your value and relevance clear. For example:

“Get weekly nutrition tips and quick, easy recipes for busy parents”

“Download our guide to optimising your evening routine for better sleep”

“Join our free, 5-day challenge – each day we’ll help curb your anxiety with practical exercises and help you grow your confidence”

“Sign up for 10% off your first purchase today”

All of these set an expectation on what someone will receive, and when (either immediate, delivered over a set amount of time, or periodically), and more importantly, the problem it will help to solve. (In the case of the 10% off, price is almost always a solid problem to solve for someone on the edge of committing to a purchase.)

They haven’t even noticed it

Is the signup form on the bottom half of your home page (“below the fold”), or buried somewhere else on your website? Then the chances are they haven’t even noticed there’s a mailing list. This mistake is everywhere, and it’s not easy to spot unless you’re looking for it. Why? Because you don’t notice these sign-up forms, either!

If you consider email marketing a major tool in your marketing strategy (it should be), then for goodness sake, make it important. Email marketing is a chance to build a relationship with potential customers, and every opportunity to do that should be taken seriously.

If it’s not at the top of your home page, then it should follow immediately after, with a dedicated Call to Action which is strategically repeated throughout your site. If you’re advertising and linking to your email signup form from an outside source (from social media, for example), give it its own landing page to minimise distractions during the sign-up process. Draw the focus.

Never stick a humble ‘join our mailing list’ in the footer. People don’t go to the footer of your website for the chance to receive a mysterious email several weeks from now (if ever). They get to the footer because they’ve run out of other content (and haven’t been drawn in by anything enough to stop and click), they’re trying to verify credibility (who are these people, where are they based?) or they want a sitemap to get to somewhere else and can’t be bothered to scroll back up to the main menu. How you hope they’ll navigate your website doesn’t matter so much as how they actually do.

No one is going to stop and volunteer their email address with zero context and no perceived value to wait and see what happens. No one!

This is the first of two posts on the topic. Later this week, we’ll look at how you can prevent your subscribers from leaving your hard-earned email list, along with some resources and tips to make the most of your email marketing campaigns.

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Lexi Black

Lexi Black

Lexi’s goal is to empower freelancers and SME owners to make the most of their digital channels, unleash their inner creativity, and utilise the right tools for them to organise their digital marketing and business practices.

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