Three Ways to Increase Email Subscription Conversions

marketing writing success Sep 28, 2023
email conversion for writers

Today I’m discussing how to increase Email subscription conversions, because building a large, healthy list of subscribers is critical to your success.

While I’ve read documented cases of independent authors building huge fanbases and selling tons of books without mailing lists, a strong subscriber base improves the odds that you’ll achieve success.

I recently conducted a real-time experiment on my website, utilizing a pop-up subscription box to attract visitors into joining my list. What worked? 

Keep the Graphics Simple

I learned this the hard way. You’re welcome to design a fancy popup graphic in Photoshop or your favorite image editing software.

But bare bones often wins the day.

I thought this graphic was pretty cool. Creepy, misty background. Four of my books in Kindle and paperback form, prominently displayed. And a simple message overlaid, inviting people to join.

The results? 

A 0.39% conversion rate. That’s right. I converted one email subscriber for every 250-plus people who viewed my popup. And I thought that was decent. 

Then I tested a simpler popup.

I created this popup in a few minutes using MailerLite’s form creator. My results were pretty much identical to the fancy graphic, and this form was so much easier to build. 

But the results remained poor.

Offer a Free Story

Wait? I poured my soul into my story, and now you want me to give it away? That sounds like poor business practice.

Bear with me. I price my Kindle novels at $4.99 these days. Paperbacks are usually around $15. I don’t want to be known as “the free thriller guy”, and I suspect readers equate cheap prices with low quality. Pricing is part of branding, and I sell my novels at full price.

However, a freebie isn’t a giveaway if I receive value in return. And a qualified reader joining my subscriber list brings long-term value.

Some authors give away full novels, or even box sets in exchange for a reader’s email address. Others donate short stories, novellas, and even fan art.

In my experience, novellas convert as well as full novels, and that’s what I give away on my website. 

A/B Test Pop-Ups 

I can’t believe the difference this made. My previous pop-ups appeared in the center of the screen a few seconds after the visitor landed on my homepage. 

Then a created a new pop-up form that slid in from the bottom right of the screen. 

I like the green button better than the red. But basically it’s the same pop-up as before, except it slides onto the screen and sits in the lower right corner. Less obtrusive.

The results amazed me. My conversion rate jumped to 2.18% – one subscriber for every 46 visitors! (By the way, check out my advice for increasing AMS conversion rates)

Then I switched my giveaway from a free screen background to a novella.

Boom. Conversion rate popped up to 3.04%. One subscriber for every 33 page visitors.

From start to finish, these three testing methods improved my conversion rate by almost 8x. 

Remember to test everything – your graphics, text, colors, and even your pop-up style.

Leverage Social Proof

Human beings are social creatures; we tend to trust the judgment of others, especially when they appear to be like us. That’s why testimonials, reviews, and any kind of ‘social proof’ can be powerful tools in getting more people to sign up for your mailing list.

Here’s what I did: I added a couple of quotes from satisfied subscribers right below the subscription box, and also included the number of current subscribers (“Join 5,000+ other thriller fans!”). You can also incorporate stars or other rating symbols to make it more visually engaging.

The psychology behind this is simple: when people see that others have subscribed and are happy about it, they’re more likely to think, “Hey, this must be good! Let me sign up too.”

What were the results? Well, would you believe it—my conversion rate saw another bump, rising to 3.6%. That means one subscriber for every 28 page visitors.

Using social proof as part of your subscription strategy can boost your credibility and give that extra nudge to those who are on the fence about joining your mailing list. It’s a small tweak, but it can make a world of difference.

Timing is Everything

You know how they say comedy is all about timing? Turns out, so is capturing email addresses. While running my experiment, I dabbled in something called ‘exit-intent pop-ups’. These are the pop-ups that appear just when the visitor is about to leave your site. In my case, it simply asked, “Leaving so soon? How about a free novella to take with you?”

Surprisingly, this strategy was a game-changer. The conversion rate for the exit-intent pop-up alone was 4.5%! One subscriber for every 22 page visitors. Now, that’s what I call an effective pop-up! Not to mention, visitors found it less annoying than an immediate pop-up hitting them square in the face as soon as they arrived on my website.

Customize the Journey

Most email subscription services like MailerLite or Mailchimp offer the ability to segment your subscribers. Why does this matter? Because not every subscriber is in the same boat. Some may be die-hard fans, while others are newcomers just dipping their toes in the waters of your literary world.

So, I created separate funnels. New subscribers got a “welcome series” of emails, introducing them to my works, my world, and me. On the other hand, I sent my regular subscribers exclusive sneak peeks or special offers.

Guess what? The more personalized the subscriber’s journey, the more engaged they became, leading to higher open rates and more meaningful interactions.

Track the Right Metrics

Lastly, don’t just obsess over the conversion rates. Pay attention to metrics like the email open rates, click-through rates, and the number of people who actually took action after opening your email (like buying a book or sharing your newsletter).

During my experiment, I found that my emails offering exclusive sneak peeks had a higher open rate than those offering discounts. This was a golden nugget of info. It told me that my subscribers were more interested in content rather than price cuts, helping me to tailor my future emails accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Building a strong subscriber list is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, patience, and a lot of testing to find out what really resonates with your audience. But if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dive into the nitty-gritty of A/B testing, offer valuable giveaways, and personalize the subscriber journey, you’ll find that the rewards—both in subscriber numbers and reader engagement—are well worth the effort.

I hope my journey and findings help you enhance your own subscription strategy. And remember, the key is to keep testing and tweaking until you hit that sweet spot of engagement and conversion. Happy emailing! 📧📚

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