Email subscribers are the lifeblood of the online business.
We all know we need them, and we all have specific ideas about how to capture them.
Ethical bribes, free eBooks, special reports, pop-up forms, Internet radio shows.
But if you want to have a truly fantastic conversion rate, you need to look deeper at the mind of the email subscriber.
You need to find out what causes them to hand over their email address to complete strangers.
Today I’m going to show you three simple ways to get into the heads of your potential email subscribers.
Becoming obsessed with email subscribers
When I first sold a blog for $20,000, I was obsessed with traffic and Adsense clicks. All I cared about was getting more people to click on those little blue ads.
Looking back, I wish I had focused on email subscribers instead of sending valuable visitors away every time they clicked on a Google link.
Make no mistake, it’s those who have an ongoing relationship with you (and email subscribers in particular) who are the most likely to allow you to build significant income.
It’s your subscribers who have the strongest foundation of trust with your content. It’s your subscribers who let you carry on when you run into snags (like getting de-indexed from Google). And it’s your subscribers who will become the bulk of your buyers.
Now I focus on getting sign-ups. I don’t care about traffic unless I am certain I can convert it. And while I don’t necessarily want you to become obsessed with capturing emails, I do want you to start thinking carefully about the factors that are actually going to build your business.
And if you’re doing business online, there is a good chance it is going to be that mailing list.
Getting into the heads of email subscribers
Of course, people hand over their email addresses all the time. Each day I use my email to sign up for blog subscriptions, forum accounts and so on.
But have you ever sat down and thought about what goes on inside a person’s mind when they are deciding to sign up for something?
More important, have you ever thought about what emotion or logic prevents them from signing up?
Here are some things you need to know about the mindset of a subscriber.
1. Harness the power of groups
Human beings are obsessed with groups. We need them.
Even those kids who dress up with black eye-liner and want to totally disassociate themselves from the establishment end up hanging out with other kids in black eye-liner.
We get married, make families, join sporting teams. This is vital to keep in mind when thinking about email subscribers.
When a person is on your blog or website and is thinking about handing over their email address, the first thing they are going to think about is whether they are alone in doing so. Has someone else gone before them? Are they signing up to a blog that is too old-school or too passé? This phenomenon is called social proof, and it is a very powerful tool.
When you’re just starting out, you need to seem bigger (in subscriber numbers). When you are slow, you need to appear busy.
Your visitors need to see that other subscribers have validated their decision to join you. Until you show them that in a variety of ways, you are going to lose most of your potential subscribers.
If you don’t have a big subscriber number to show yet, try one (or several) of these instead:
- Using testimonials in your sign up area. Why not show them what other people are saying about becoming a subscriber? This is especially effective if you can get a testimonial from someone respected in the industry. Don’t leave your testimonials to your testimonials page, put them where people need them.
- If you have a good number, display it. If you get a lot of comments, be sure your comment number is displayed at the top of your posts. If your number of monthly visits is reasonably impressive, make that prominent. If you have a good twitter following, highlight that. Large numbers immediately help new subscribers feel like they are becoming a part of something.
- Use exclusivity. In your call to action, you might talk about why signing up means becoming part of an exclusive community. Being part of a group is good. Being part of a group that other people don’t know about is even better.
- Use social media. Encourage the happy readers you already have to tweet your content, like it on Facebook, and otherwise use social media tools to demonstrate that you’ve got good stuff.
2. Use a direct call to action
Henry Ford (founder of the Ford Motor Company and developer of the manufacturing assembly line as we know it) was once quoted as saying,
Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.
Ford knew that (within reason) telling customers worked better than asking customers.
So how does this relate to email subscribers?
Most of us try to be polite and respectful, and that makes us ask rather than tell. But there’s a case to be made for telling, at least some of the time.
A direct call to action usually converts better than a soft one that is trying to please everyone. No, it shouldn’t be obnoxious, but it does need to instill confidence.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Soft: Why not join the Army? vs. Direct: I want YOU for the US Army
- Soft: Why not subscribe by email? vs. Direct: Enter your email today and get started
- Soft: Get a free ebook vs. Direct: Download your free ebook now
When we are given strong “orders” by an authority figure, we often feel more secure and safe, because we assume the person knows what they are doing. When you use direct language for email sign ups you are conveying the message that they are doing the right thing.
3. Face objections head-on
Selling is about overcoming objections.
When a person is faced with a decision in life, their brain cells start to fire off messages about whether or not it is a good course of action.
The famous neurologist Jonah Lehrer called it the “Oh shit!” response.
If something is a little bit off (based on past experiences) the cells will fire and tell the person not to proceed. This is otherwise known as an objection killing your sale.
(And getting email subscribers is a sale, even though you don’t directly exchange money. You’re still exchanging two things that are valuable — their permission to email and your content.)
What kinds of experiences cause our email subscribers’ brain cells to fire off those warning messages?
- Too many updates
- Messages that aren’t in line with what was originally promised
- Messages used for a purpose contrary to the call to action
- Email subscriptions that make it complicated to unsubscribe
- The worry (rational or otherwise) that our email address will be sold to spammers
If you want to convert more readers to email subscribers, you need to not only encourage them to sign up, but to overcome their mental objections.
Address their concerns head on, and you’ll find that people will be quite happy to give you their email address.
To get into their in-box, you first have to get into their head
Understanding the emotional and logical mental processes of your readers is the best way to take your email sign ups to the next level.
Make them feel part of an exclusive group. Use direct and compelling language. And overcome as many objections as you can.
If you can do these three things, you will grow a steady list of subscribers that can be a source of online income for years and years to come.
How about you? Are you doing a good job getting into the heads of your email subscribers? Share your favorite tip for encouraging sign-ups in the comments. And check out the rest of the Email Marketing 101 series.