5 strategies to convert your readers into email subscribers

How do you convince readers to sign up for your email list? Columnist Daniel Faggella outlines some key tactics to improve your email marketing and generate more leads.

ss-email-manIn the age of information marketing, email is widely considered the most effective medium to generate revenue, converting better than social media, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.

Your email list is arguably the biggest asset in your online business. Unlike other popular platforms, email gives you the opportunity to own the relationship with your prospects and customers. Your subscribers aren’t contingent on the recent algorithm changes of traditional social media and SEO.

Email marketing allows you to communicate with your subscribers at an intimate level. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to resort to aggressive tactics to build your email list.

Today, I’m going to share five strategies that you can use to improve your email marketing and convert your readers into prospects.

1. Tactfully place opt-in forms on your blog

Opt-in forms are an effective way to generate leads directly from your blog; however, using too many forms can potentially come across as “spammy” to readers.

Good marketers don’t position their opt-in forms in arbitrary places. Instead, they make them visible for their readers when they arrive at their website.

One of the best places to put your opt-in form is on the sidebar of your website. In general, the sidebar should take up approximately one-third of the page. This makes your opt-in form visible to your readers without distracting them from the article content. Offering a lead offer or basic newsletter on the sidebar will maximize lead conversions.

Other places where you can tactfully position your opt-in forms on your website include:

  • Header of your page: Typically, this would be an opt-in form for a standard newsletter.
  • Footer of your article: In this case, always make sure that your opt-in form offers something congruent to the topic of the article. (I’ll discuss this more later.)
  • Within the body copy of your article: If your readers enjoy your content, then why not present them with an opportunity to learn more? Create explicit calls to action that are relevant to the content in your article. An example of this would be, “To learn more about [insert topic], then download my free [report, video, guide and so on] here.”

2. Use pop-ups on your blog

Pop-ups tend to be more aggressive than traditional opt-in forms. They typically “pop up” on your screen whenever you visit a website. Good marketers understand that the topic of the pop-up will ultimately determine the conversion rates of their readers.

When leveraging pop-ups, you should always offer something that appeals to the majority of your audience. A common mistake in internet marketing is to use pop-ups to force visitors to sign up for a standard newsletter. There is no tangible benefit to receiving weekly email updates to your inbox.

If you want someone to sign up to your list, then you need to offer a free piece of content that appeals to their core interests. Fortunately, you can test the conversion rates of all your pop-ups with A/B testing software tools like Visual Website Optimizer, which will allow you to rotate different offers to your audience each month.

There are several different types of pop-ups that you can use to generate leads from your blog. Similar to a standard pop-up, an “exit pop-up” occurs when one of your readers decides to leave your website.

A third option is to leverage the behaviors of your audience. For instance, you can position your first pop-up when your visitor has read at least three articles; such a move will typically increase your lead conversions because you’re appealing to readers with a higher level of interest.

Take the time to test all three pop-up variations to see what works best for your business.

3. Give “validation” in your social media content

There’s a plethora of popular social media channels on the web. Each of them presents a unique environment to users, but the underlying motivations behind social media platforms tend to be the same.

People want to be entertained and educated on the things they care about. If you want to build an engaged following on social media, then you need to find creative, subtle ways to provide the benefits that your audience is looking to experience.

In most cases, your social media fans aren’t looking to be persuaded or sold. Therefore, you need to provide them with a distinct reason to take the next step in your marketing sequence.

Let’s use Facebook as an example. If you post an opt-in form directly on your fan page, it probably won’t garner a high conversion rate. This is not a common practice, and “forcing” your Facebook audience to take a specific action could cause friction between you and your fans.

Now, let’s assume that you are hosting a free webinar. Instead of posting a standard landing page, you entice them to join you “live” on the webinar. Using body copy with clear benefits such as, “Join me on my webinar this Thursday and learn how to build your email list to 10,000 people” will almost guarantee much higher conversion rates.

If you give a valid reason to provide registration information in an engaging format, then people won’t be as apprehensive to sign up, even via social media.

4. Banners

Using banners on your blog is also a viable option for lead generation. The reality is that most readers are not going to consume all of your content. Some people will leave your website immediately, while others will become loyal visitors, and still others will frequent your site occasionally.

If someone happens to read an entire article, it’s important to capitalize on that individual’s level of interest. Positioning a banner at the footer of the article is a best practice for capturing readers’ interest.

But if you want to convert your readers into leads, then you have to offer additional value that aligns with their needs. Providing this type of content is referred to as a “content upgrade” (which I’ll address in #5 of this list).

Let’s use the finance niche as an example. Imagine that one of your blog visitors has read an entire article titled, “5 Quick And Easy Stock Tips For Beginners.” It’s safe to assume that your reader is probably a novice who is looking to learn more about purchasing stock options. Therefore, you want to offer them a lead offer that expands on the topic in this article.

In general, banner ads should include a headline, body text and a visual representation of the free content that you’re offering. In this particular scenario, a banner that reads, “Download My Full Beginner’s Guide To Stock Course For Free Here,” would most likely resonate with your readers’ interests.

When someone clicks the banner, it should direct them to an opt-in form or a separate landing page. Always make sure that the headline and body copy of your landing page are consistent with the language of your banners. Consistency in content and style across your marketing campaigns is key to conveying a professional brand and building loyalty trust with readers.

5. Use content upgrades in your articles

Content upgrades are a simple, yet efficient way to generate leads directly from your articles. If you are providing useful content to readers, then they’ll often appreciate opportunities to learn more about a particular topic or your products.

One of the best ways to provide this benefit is by tactfully placing a box within your article content. This is where you will use explicit calls to action to entice your readers to upgrade their content.

For example, if you’re writing an article about tips for writing an e-book, then you shouldn’t offer a content upgrade about your general newsletter. Instead, a headline that reads “Free Guide: Click here to access 5 best practices for self-publishing” would be a more appealing offer to the reader.

Remember that your lead offer or opt-in should correlate to the specific needs of your readers, align with the topic of your article and be easy to implement or access by readers.


The most successful marketers in any niche understand the overwhelming importance of growing an email list. Email marketing allows you to cultivate a trustworthy relationship with your prospects and eventually convert them into loyal customers. The above five strategies will help optimize your blog and social media content for more and better-quality lead generation.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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