In addition to my own sites and the work I do here at BlogWorld, I also help other clients with their blogs. Recently, I was tasked with helping a client with his mailing list, and although my main job was to write some auto-responders, I also made a few simple suggestions regarding the mailing list sign-up box on his site.
It took my client less than ten minutes to make the changes, and he saw an immediate increase in daily sign-up, even though his traffic stayed about the same. In fact, his daily sign-up rate actually tripled.
So what do you think? Is ten minutes of your time worth triple the sign-ups to your mailing list?
Sign Up Box Location
The first and most obvious suggestion I made was to move the sign-up box and add it to different places to his site. He already had the box on his sidebar, but it wasn’t above the fold. He moved it to be at the very top of his sidebar, so anyone landing on his site, even if they were only there for a few seconds, would see it.
The bigger different, however, came when he also placed a sign-up box at the end of his posts. It’s pretty easy to add this to your code so you don’t have to actually manually add it at the bottom of every post. At the end of your post, you need a call to action, and unless you actually write, “Hey, sign up for my mailing list,” people are probably not going to remember to scroll back up to the top of your sidebar to do that. Put it at the bottom, and bam! Sign ups out the wazoo.
Wazoo is an official term.
Sign-Up Box Language
Next, my client took my advice to change the language on the sign-up box itself. He had something pretty generic there, like “Sign up on for my mailing list and get a FREE ebook!” Okay, awesome, he’s giving away something for free. But let’s face it – there are a lot of free ebook offers out there, especially in his niche (search engine optimization). If you’re in what I call a non-internet niche (like cooking or dating or collecting miniature ponies or something), a free ebook might still be a good idea. But to an SEO professional, that language really just reads, “In order to get this free crap that you probably don’t want, you have to agree to let me send you a bunch of emails that you also probably don’t want.”
So, he changed his language to make the offer sound more exclusive. People don’t just want free stuff. They want free stuff that no one else has. They want to be a part of something, even if it is just a mailing list, because it makes them feel like a special member. So, he changed the language to (I’m paraphrasing), “Become a member of my SEO email club and get a free ebook EXCLUSIVELY for members.”
Not only did he start to get more sign-ups, but those people also stuck around longer. Previously, a pretty high percentage would grab the ebook and immediately unsubscribe, but those numbers are now way down.
Sign-Up Box Information
Lastly, take a look at what information you’re requiring of potential sign-up-ees. Most sign-up boxes I see ask for a name and email address, but some ask for more, like checking a box or including other information. Every single little thing that your readers have to do is another setback for you. People don’t like giving away information, nor do they like anything that looks like work.
Think about your audience. Do you need to have them include a name, for example? If you work in a niche where people value their anonymity, taking away that requirement could help you gather more sign-ups. My client, in his SEO field, wanted to keep the “name” box for signing up, but he took away the little check box that said “check here to receive emails.” Hitting the “submit” button made this check box pretty redundant.
Also take a look at the emails you send someone after they subscribe. I don’t consider someone officially subscribed until they verify, since they won’t get any emails until that point. On one of my own highly-targeted mailing lists, I stopped requiring them to confirm by clicking the verify link in the auto-email that subscription services send. Instead, in my first follow-up welcome message, I make a very clear note that if they don’t remember signing up, they can simply hit the unsubscribe button.
The result? More actual list members. I have a higher number of unsubscribes within the first three messages, but the overall total is a lower percentage than before when you combined the number of unsubscribes and unverified subscribers. In other words, for me, it worked.
Don’t Forget to Test
Before closing out this post, I wanted to make a special note to remind you to test test test! For my client, the above changes made sense. They might for you as well. But there’s so much dynamic content on a blog, that it’s hard to tell. Did your subscriber count go up because you added a sign-up box at the end of your posts? Or did if go up because you wrote especially compelling content one day this week? Or are people responding to different wording? Or did an a-lister tweet about you, and you saw an influx of readers and subscribers?
The only way to know for sure is to do split testing. I personally use Aweber as my email list management system, and they make it really easy to do split testing. I’m told that others do as well. So change things slowly can see what really is working for you before making any permanent changes.