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The Right Way to Subscribe for Email Marketers

Kelly Sutter

The subscribe process is a powerful opportunity to show your subscribers that you value them and care about their experience with your brand. We’ll review all the important points about your subscribe landing page.


Why the subscribe process matters

Growing lists is top of mind for every email marketer. Great attention is given to tips and tricks to grow your list. (Here are 10 growth tips of our own!) Equal attention should be placed on how the subscriber is added to your email program. In fact, we believe it is an extension of an organization’s customer service.

Customer service is all about meeting needs, providing value, and continually setting expectations with your customers. What better place to do this than at the email sign-up step? The subscribe process is an opportunity for an organization to offer relevant content to any subscriber willing to opt-in.

The email address is a personal space, as personal as a home address. Entering that space without permission just creates frustration. This is in part why Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) states that a sender must have express consent from the subscriber before sending. United States spam laws (CAN-SPAM Act) don’t cover subscribing in much detail. In fact, we typically say the U.S. laws give permission to send until an opt-out is received. While this may be allowed under the law, it is very poor in practice.

Subscriber consent is really the golden rule of email marketing:

Only send to subscribers who want to receive your emails.

Let the subscriber make this decision and reap the rewards of a happy start to an ongoing relationship and excellent inbox deliverability.


Best practices for the subscribe process

Let’s review four best practices for the subscribe process:

1. No pre-checked opt-in boxes.

Part of having great customer service is being kind to your subscribers. Allowing subscribers to check the box to opt-in to your email program is really the only way to achieve that. Pre-checked opt-in boxes—especially when hidden in the purchase path—lead to higher rates of unsubscribing and spam complaints down the road. Be kind and let your subscriber decide if they want to opt-in.

2. Set expectations.

The subscriber acquisition process is not just about adding another address to your list, it’s about setting expectations about your email program and the value it provides.

Use the subscribe landing page to explain your email program to subscribers. Set out what your objective is and what the incentive is to the subscriber. Be clear about your mailing frequency (once a week, 2-3 times per week, daily), as well as from name and from/reply to address you will be using. Also, share some of the design upfront so that subscribers know what to expect from the start. Transparent business practices help set guidelines both for your program and for the subscriber.

3. Get the right information.

The subscribe process is the perfect time to collect all the information from a subscriber that you need to send relevant emails. We’ve already discussed the importance of asking customers for permission; additionally, you should always give the customer what they want.

Collect communication interests from every subscriber so that you are able to send targeted and relevant emails. Relevant emails lead to higher opens and clicks, and higher traffic to your website often means an increase in commerce. As an added bonus, higher engagement with your email leads to better deliverability for your email program.

4. Get confirmation.

Make sure the subscribe process is confirmed opt-in. Many ISP blocklists will filter out emails from programs that don’t confirm signups. Make sure your subscribe form is using double opt-in to validate that the addresses exist and that real people signed up for email. Also, consider adding a captcha for added protection against robot email signups.


WordFly subscribe tools

WordFly’s subscribe options—Signup and Lightbox—meet all of the above best practices for collecting email signups. There are no pre-checked boxes, you can add preferences and adjust text on the page to explain your email program and set expectations. You can even add a link to one of your WordFly campaign archive urls to show an example of what will be sent out.  Of course, these subscribe options are confirmed opt-in. Any subscriber who signs up will receive a confirmation email with a validation link that they must click to be added to your list.