How to get email signups without annoying your readers

File_000 (13)Gathering email signups can be tricky because of the Internet’s competitive nature. Many bloggers, publishers and marketers need to use (and increase) email signups in order to grow. And while there’s no one right way to collect signups, beating readers over the head with your signup form doesn’t help anyone.

Can we start by nixing the popups?

I get it. You want to grab readers’ attention while they’re engaged. But fending off an aggressive invitation to subscribe to an email list while you’re in the middle of reading can be off-putting. It’s a little like having someone walk up to you and start yelling in your face while you’re in the middle of a conversation.

Popups succeed at encouraging people who want to hear from you to sign up for your emails.

But here are four ways to expand your list without sacrificing user experience–

Everything in its place

My friend over at A Modern Commonplace Book included invitations to join her list throughout the blog, but she also designated a section labeled “start here” for her sign up form. This strong invitation lets readers choose to navigate to the signup form.

Include incentives

We offer a one-minute free analysis when visitors sign up for our updates over at The Design Consortium.

An incentive is a great way to nudge a reader over the edge. They might like your content, but hesitate to sign up for more email until they see all that you can offer them.

Make your invitation prominent

The Kissmetrics blog is good at this. You may notice that a signup invitation exists just about wherever your line of sight falls. This strategy makes it impossible for readers to overlook your invitation, while preserving their interaction with your content.

Save popups for the end

If you must have popups, delay them. Organize your richest content near the top of your posts, giving readers time to digest your message before popping an invitation up in front of them. MailChimp gives you detailed instructions on how to set up a popup form, including instructions on delaying a popup.

Bonus: Avoid insulting your followers

I’ve noticed a trend among quippy marketers to carry their sense of humor into their calls to action. Injecting personality into your signup form is great if you can do it without insulting readers or without backing them into a corner.

Consider avoiding phrases like “I reject ‘X’,” which I ran across on an otherwise pretty amazing marketing blog. People don’t want to reject you any more than you want to be rejected.

While you’re at it, leave off yes-or-no options that include the phrase, “I don’t want ideas.” I ran across this one on a home and garden site recently and found it pretty grating. I clicked it because I didn’t need more email at the time–and because they deserved it for making me choose between ideas from them and no ideas.

Your audience is made up of nice people. Rather than forcing them to choose between subscribing to yet another newsletter and rejecting your wisdom, consider a third option–the “maybe later.”

Check out Campaign Monitor’s six list-growing alternatives to popups.

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