How Co-Registration Can Build Your Fan Club Fast

Building Your Fan Club

What if you could have other websites out recruiting subscribers for you, 24/7?

That’s basically how co-registration works. You make arrangements with partners to offer your email newsletter (or blog posts via email) for potential readers to subscribe to. If your offer is compelling enough, the subscriber will be automatically added to your email subscription list after they opt-in.

There are various ways to go about this, some better than others, but each with unique considerations to keep in mind. There are paid arrangements, barter arrangements, and sometimes hybrids. Keep in mind that this is in no way buying or trading email addresses — it’s simply a form of off-site advertising that offers an opt-in subscription to your content, plus any relevant bonus reports or tutorials that you may offer as an enticement.

Here’s a quick primer on how co-registration campaigns can work.

Paid Co-Registration: Quick and Easy But Potentially Messy

We’ve seen that the most effective advertising tries to sell and create a relationship with the prospect at the same time. So it makes sense that only paying a fee if you actually get the subscription should be a much better avenue than any form of traditional advertising.

With paid co-registration, you write a sharp two-sentence description of your content, basically selling the reader on the benefits of subscribing. It’s a good idea to have a relevant free resource to offer as well, because unlike on your own site, the prospective subscriber has no way to sample your content first.

Your pitch is then placed on a newsletter directory site (but not always), and/or on the thank you pages of partner / affiliate subscription pages, as an offer to also sign up for additional newsletters. You only pay (in a range between as low as 25 cents to a US Dollar or more per subscriber) when someone opts in to your publication.

Beyond expense, paid co-registration can result in quality-of-subscriber issues though. Here are a few things to consider and watch for:

  • Some of the largest and most expensive co-registration brokers offer incentives for people to view and sign up for offers. While it’s OK for you to offer a free resource that is directly tied into your content, you don’t want people who are motivated by offers of cash or free iPods, etc. Check out what you’re getting into very carefully before committing.
  • On the other end of the price scale are the brokers who drive lower-cost subscriptions through affiliate relationships, with very little if any quality control regarding who these affiliates are. One problem you might encounter is subscribers ending up on your list that inexplicably don’t speak your language. What’s happened is that some enterprising affiliate has translated your offer into another language in order to tap new markets, without revealing to the subscriber that the content is published in only, for example, English.
  • You never want anything other than confirmed opt-in subscribers (also known as double opt-in). While this will naturally decrease your ultimate numbers, you’re still only paying for subscribers that actually make it on the list. Confirmed opt-in is not only a best practice in email marketing, it’s also a bit of reassurance that there is a real human behind the email address.
  • Even with confirmed opt-in, there are apparently scripts that can create tons of free email accounts, sign up for offers, and log in and confirm the subscription as well. Make sure to inquire about the safeguards the co-registration provider has in place for countering that garbage.

Paid co-registration can be a great tool for building a list fast, but you will definitely have a less-responsive list, and fewer true fans. If that bugs you (like it does me), you may want to consider barter as an alternative to paid co-registration.

Barter Co-Registration: More Work, But Better Results

Another approach to co-registration involves no money at all, just cooperation between like-minded publishers with similar audiences. You might even see direct competitors promoting one another with this tactic.

Sounds crazy, but “coopetition” not only works, it’s the way of the future. Think of the blogosphere and linking — everyone shares traffic with others that have relevant value to offer, and then everyone just works that much harder to make a unique offer. Of course, you’re free to only partner with publishers that do not compete with you, yet still have a relevant, complementary audience.

Here’s how barter co-registration works:

  • Two publishers agree to become co-reg partners, usually after one approaches the other and proposes (and explains) the arrangement.
  • Each partner then presents the other’s subscription offer (essentially written as described above in the “Paid” section) on the “thank you” page that is served after someone subscribes to the first partner’s content (such as “Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. You may also want to check out these other quality publications.”)
  • When the prospect decides to sign up for the co-registration offer, the subscription is handled pursuant to instructions coded into the email sign-up form.
  • In an ideal situation, both partners send roughly equal amounts of subscribers to each other. That’s not usually the case though, and the number of offers served by the more popular publisher can be limited, or the smaller publisher can compensate by promoting the larger publisher in other ways, such as directly to readers on a regular basis rather than just at the sign-up.
  • Each partner tracks the results of the relationship, and makes adjustments or discontinues the arrangement if things are not working out to be a win-win.
  • You can replicate this over and over, perhaps promoting a dozen other publishers on your subscription “thank you” page, with each of them promoting you in turn.

Wait a minute, you might be saying. How in the world do I set all that up? And how do I find co-registration partners that aren’t clueless about co-registration?

The answers to those two questions are co-registration software, and co-registration directories, respectively. Since those topics deserve a complete examination of there own (and this article is quite long enough already), I’ll be delving deeper into co-registration tools and strategies in the near future.

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Reader Comments (15)

  1. says

    Hmm. very interesting . But Brian has anyone done any research on what is the best number to co opters to keep on the thank you screen?

  2. says

    This technique has been used by web masters since the time immemorial and you could view them on sort of websites. I’m not sure if they still do it.

    It’s basically like this: now that you have subscribed to our newsletter, why not try these great newsletters too? It primarily appears on the thank you page of the subscription event.

  3. says

    A lot of the bigger email newsletters still do it, and in fact, that’s how they got so big. The reason for the article is that many bloggers don’t know about co-registration, and certainly aren’t using it.

  4. says

    Great post. This is certainly an effective way to increase subscriber numbers. I’ve been using a coreg service for a few months and I’m very pleased with results.

  5. says

    10-12! Are you sure Brian. If a guy had 10-12 on his list, I would be very, very suspiocious about spam. And not susbscribe to a single one.

  6. says

    You asked me what I’ve heard research-wise, Shabda… so yes, I’m sure that’s what I’ve heard. :)

    I personally wouldn’t go with that many, and it sounds like you wouldn’t either. Business decisions are made by the people running the business, so, as always, do what works for you.

  7. says

    It’s not necessarily a majority, either. *Some* people have found that they could make 10-12 offers without conversions suffering. I’ll see if I can find out more about this for a follow-up post.

  8. says

    I am looking to sign up for a barter co-registration system, but the most renowned one, co-reg complete, recently got bought ad no longer offers barter services. Does anyone here have any suggestions for another good co-reg barter software?

  9. says

    I’m bringing my Co-Op Co-Reg service back and is in beta right now.

    You can get on the announcement list after you read the testimonials from version 1 users on the site.

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