How to Increase Mailing List Subscriptions with a Sign-up Incentive

Now that you’ve set up an email mailing list for your website, let’s take a look at how you can increase signups to your list. Some people will sign up simply because they want to join your mailing list, but people also like free stuff: you can really grow your list with a signup incentive.

Options for Creating a Mailing List Signup Incentive

A signup incentive usually consists of a free item, or a discount on your products or services. This can break down quite a few ways:

Offer Freebies

You can also offer free incentives such as videos, email courses, or participation in a webinar. In addition to functioning as a subscription incentive, these options also allow you to further convey your positive attributes to your visitors, moving them closer to becoming customers.

An email course that is delivered sequentially using a service like MailChimp can be created once and then automatically activated for each new subscriber, delivering them each module a set intervals. While the webinar approach doesn’t involve a onetime creation effort, you can present to multiple participants at once making them more efficient than one to one communication.

Another option that might be a good fit for your business is to offer free samples of your work, such as a pack of images if you are a graphic designer, website templates from a web designer, or spreadsheet templates for a finance website. Again, as these items can be created once and then downloaded many times, they are an efficient way of creating a giveaway that offers value to your readers, while also showcasing some of your skills.

Finally, if you have a lot of content built up in your area of expertise, a great move can be to bundle it into a free eBook, available for download with a subscription. In fact, that’s such a good idea that we’ve written up detailed instructions for it in next week’s post—stay tuned!

Offer Exclusive Content

While the easiest way to run an email newsletter is to send out summaries of recent articles that have been posted on your blog, you can go a step further by offering content that is only available to subscribers. This could be in the form of a weekly post delivered via the mailing list that doesn’t get published on your site or elsewhere.

If readers like your content and find value in it, then there is a good chance they will sign up for more of it. However, this approach does mean you will have to produce extra content just for your email subscribers on an ongoing basis.

Give Away a Discount

If you are using your blog to promote a service that you provide, or products that are for sale through your website, it may be appropriate to offer a discount as an incentive to visitors for signing up to your mailing list. If you are offering digital products which are downloadable via your site, then offering a discount code in exchange for a subscription could be worth considering. As this type of product is usually created once and then sold an unlimited amount of times, they can be better suited to discounts than physical products which can only be sold a set number of times.

Furthermore if you are offering a service such as web design, coaching, or anything that takes up your time, you should think carefully about using the discount incentive approach, due to the constraints on your time.

Before making use of this type of incentive it is essential to determine the financial value of each email subscriber and then set the level of discount accordingly. This can be difficult to do in the early stages of your mailing list and is probably a tactic that is better deployed further down the line, when you have some data on how your subscribers interact with your products and services.

When it comes to managing access to the discount, you can use the autoresponder feature of a service like MailChimp to include the details in the welcome email that is sent out after a new subscriber confirms their email address. Access to the discount could be provided in the form of a discount code that can be used when placing an order, or via a link to a discounted version of your product.

Run a Contest

Another incentive you can offer to your readers is the chance to participate in a contest and win a prize. The prize could be access to one of your products or services, or it could equally be something available elsewhere such a gift voucher or product from an online store.

As the contest will need to have a closing date, the incentive will only work for a set period, unless you decide to offer contests on a regular basis. Managing the contest can also be time consuming and could prove costly overtime. This is an approach that would be best used on a one off basis to either kick start your mailing list or get a spike in subscribers prior to a product launch or important occasion.


Whichever form of incentive you choose it’s important to ensure that its content is focused on and aligned with the needs of your audience and ideal client or customer. Trying to please everybody with a general offer is going to be easier to resist than a specific offer such as an eBook on ‘how to increase your mailing list subscribers in five steps’ which solves a specific problem or shares a teaches a new skill.

Once you do decide upon an incentive, make sure you promote it on your site and highlight the benefits it will provide to your audience. The more specific the benefits of the incentive are, the easier it will be to promote and the more successful it will be.

Image Credits: asenat29

3 thoughts on “How to Increase Mailing List Subscriptions with a Sign-up Incentive

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