7 Ways to Be Extra Good to Your Subscribers

6 min

Your email subscribers are one of the most valuable assets your business has. It pays to be good to them. We say that a lot, but what are some concrete ways to reward your subscribers for their time and attention? Here are a few ideas on how to do exactly that.

1) Add content to your email updates that’s not available anywhere else.

This is one of the best ways to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter. World-class marketers like Chris Brogan and Marie Forleo use it on their websites and everywhere else in their marketing.

Chris refers to the exclusive content in his emails as his “best work”.


Marie closes her videos by saying “if you want even more great resources to create a business and life that you love, plus some personal insights from me that I only share in email, come on over to MarieForleo.com and sign up for email updates.”


One of my favorite examples of this tactic is from The Content Marketing Institute. Most of the email updates they send have an exclusive short post from either Joe Pulizzi or Robert Rose. It’s just a bit of content, but it’s always worth reading. It’s often even worth saving.

Here’s what one of those email-only short essays looks like:


2) Offer exclusive discounts to email subscribers.

One of the biggest reasons people subscribe to email lists is to get discounts and special offers. So give them want they want. Even if you’re doing information marketing or running your own blog, you can do this.

Here’s one example of a discount for an online training program:


Here’s another discount only for subscribers. This one’s from a retailer:


3) Give them new content before anyone else.

This is a twist on the previous tip. It works if you’re completely maxed out in terms of content creation, and you just can’t manage to create anything extra for your email subscribers. In that case, give them the advantage of time. Send them new content before anyone else gets it.

This works best with eBooks, whitepapers, and other research-based content. It’s also great for announcing new products. It’s not quite as good for blog posts unless you’ve got a website sophisticated enough to register users and to know when they’re logged in.

Here’s how BuzzSumo rewarded their email subscribers. It gave them early access to a new Chrome extension:


There’s another great twist on this for membership sites. It’s a way to offer new content on your site while still rewarding your paid subscribers.

What do you do? Just publish everything for free, in public, for one week. After that first week, move the content to the paid part of your membership site. This lets you create great content to entice website visitors and email subscribers. It also rewards your paid subscribers with unlimited access. Win-win-win!

For a live example of this in action, see WhichTestWon – and their weekly A/B split-test results. They send out weekly emails with their latest A/B split-test. Subscribers – and any website visitor – can see the test and its results for a week. Then it gets moved to the paid section of the site.

4) Let subscribers control how often they hear from you.

Know the #1 reason why people unsubscribe? It’s because they get too many emails. So work around that problem. Let them control how often they hear from you.

The most common way to let subscribers do this is through a preferences page. Another way to do it is to add a field to your opt-in form that lets people choose how often they hear from you.

But there’s one more way to let subscribers change how often they get emails from you. You can also do it in GetResponse through careful use of Marketing Automation. To make it work, you’d have to create a “remove-on-subscribe” rule that is set to remove people from a weekly emails campaign when they request to be added to a monthly emails campaign.

To trigger the rule, you’d have to create a link that sends weekly subscribers to a page where they can opt into the monthly campaign. Then add the link to that monthly campaign opt-in page into the footer of your email messages.

This is not a beginner tactic, but it does let you offer your subscribers more control over how often they hear from you.

5) Offer segmentation so subscribers can control what content topics they get from you.

This is a spin on the tip above: Let subscribers control how often they hear from you and which types of content they get from you. In other words: Segment your list by content interest.

I don’t recommend getting too carried away with this: Don’t create any more than five segments, max. Even two or three segments can make for more work, though the results are worth the extra effort.

Here are a few types companies and websites that could benefit from simple segmentation:

  • Real estate brokers: Segment 1: Buyer. Segment 2: Sellers.
  • Employment agencies: Segment 1: Employers. Segment 2: Employees.
  • A healthy recipe site: Segment 1: Vegan. Segment 2: Vegetarian. Segment 3: Everyone else.
  • A surfing site: Segment 1: Beginner Tips. Segment 2: Intermediate Tips. Segment 3: Advanced Tips.

To learn more about how to segment your subscribers, see our FAQ on list segmentation.

6) Give them a bonus sign-up gift.

You know what a lead magnet is, right? It’s a gift – a piece of content, free access, or a discount that companies offer website visitors. Here are some other lead magnet examples. The free gift is an incentive for the website visitors to sign up for your email lists. Lead magnets can significantly increase opt-in rates. Especially when you’ve got a lead magnet that resonates with your audience.

A good lead magnet is a great start. But some companies take it even further. They give new subscribers more than what the sign-up box promised.

Sometimes the bonus is a free surprise discount. Sometimes it’s access to a free video series. Sometimes it’s a smokin’ discount to a paid program. Whatever it is, surprising your new subscribers with more than they expected is a great way to build trust. It also keeps them guessing what you’ll do for them next.

Here’s this tactic in action. LiveIntent doesn’t promise anything but “all the latest people-based news, tips and tech” in its opt-in box:


But at the close of their welcome email, they give you a free copy of some juicy research:


7) Send a welcome email with a “quick start” guide to your content.

Welcome emails get more engagement than any other emails. It makes sense – people just subscribed to your list. They’re into you. They want your content. So give it to them, and give it to them in a way that’s a seamless experience from signing up.

There are a bunch of ways to welcome new subscribers:

  • The minimalist version: Just say thank you for signing up and point them to your most popular blog posts.
  • For SAAS companies: Include an animated gif and a link to a tutorial on how to use your product.
  • For retailers: Include a welcome message, a discount for their first order, and a list of your best-selling products.
  • For other companies: Explain what you do, tell them what to expect in the future from your emails. Bonus: Suggest they follow you on social media and point them to a couple of resources created for new users/clients/customers.

Here’s a nice example of a welcome email. It covers most of the basics: There’s a few lines of “thanks for signing up”, then the “what to expect” statement. Then there’s a video introducing us to this consultant’s work:


What do you think?

Did I forget any ways email marketers can be good to their subscribers? Share your ideas in the comments!

Pam Neely
Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 15 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Amazon.com. Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.