How do I grow my email subscribers? It is a question on the minds of both marketers and business owners. But, most of the answers they receive will revolve around using or optimizing: - Popups - Content offers - And similar tactics
But one tactic remains a hidden gem: negative churn.
If you're a SaaS company you'll already know about negative churn. But for those unfamiliar, it's an incredible tool for growth. Here's a simple definition:
Negative churn describes the ability for a company to increase its revenue without adding more customers. SaaS companies often use it as a growth tool to achieve non-linear growth. Okay, so this is great, but how does it relate to increasing your email subscribers?
Simple! You can use the same principles behind negative churn to create an email list which grows itself. This happens when the subscribers in your list begin to not only stop unsubscribing, but share the email with their network. This sharing in turn results in new subscribers being added to the list without any effort on your part.
It sounds magical, but it's actually already being done by a few pioneering individuals.
Next Draft is a newsletter containing Dave Pell's top 10 news stories for the day. The newsletter goes out every weekday, and has been growing in subscribers due to it's use of negative churn. Before we go any further, take a chance to look at the latest Next Draft email.
After you've looked at it we can point out a few things Dave does right:
Let's break each of these points down further. Then you can begin to implement negative churn in you email campaigns.
Applying negative churn to email marketing requires you to think about email differently. Your goals will be different, less focused on the individual campaigns and more on the long term. You'll build your emails differently, and look at results in a new light. The steps needed to implement negative churn are simple. But they require you to be in a different mindset to work. Let's take a look at 5 ways you can begin to adopt this mindset.
Many times, we don't make emails with the subscriber in mind. When putting together an email we think: how can we drive more traffic, increase revenue, and increase awareness? We don't think about how much value the email is providing a subscriber.
These thoughts are necessary. After all, without them you're email marketing campaigns wouldn't provide value to your business. The trouble is that we often get caught up thinking about how we can get the highest ROI out of each email. We forget to think about the value for our subscribers!
Going back to Next Draft as example, you can see that his emails put the subscriber first. Each email isn't about promoting his own content or projects. It's about things the subscriber will actually care about.
So, how can you provide better value to your subscribers? Simple. Think about email like you think about your blog.
Your blog doesn't just discuss your product and sales. It may not even be on a topic directly related to your blog. It features content that's useful or entertaining for your audience. This is the same approach you need to take with email.
Newsletters are often just a list of blog posts, sales, and product updates, but why not incorporate news stories from your industry? Or, what if you add a "Joke of the Week" section? Ideas like these can help make your emails something subscribers look forward to!
Once your emails begin to contain more engaging and valuable information you can focus on the next step: formatting. Formatting your email should be simple. You don't need a crazy design or colors which draw subscribers in.
Instead, go with something minimal which puts your content forward. Use headings and subheadings like you would in a blog or webpage. Lists and bold text are good too.
Focus on adding as much white space as possible. Use images when relevance, but don't go overboard.
Next, there is this idea that emails need to be short or they'll lose the subscriber's attention. This isn't true. A subscriber won't suddenly lose interest if your email is too long. But it is more important in long emails to ensure that it loads fast, is formatted well, and has plenty of whitespace.
Short paragraphs, simple sentences and a conversational writing also helps keep readers interested.
This is vital to achieving negative churn. Without it, you'll reduce unsubscribes, but not get your list to grow itself.
Simply put, make it easy for your subscribers to share emails and for those on the receiving end to subscribe.
Adding social and share links in many places is a great step. Looking back at the Next Draft email, we can see these are included under each story. That's 10 places within the email that share links are found!
Next, make it easy for those seeing an email, but not in the list, to subscribe. This can be done by adding a sentence like this to the bottom of your email:
"Did some awesome person forward this issue to you? Subscribe at NextDraft and get it in your own inbox."
Something as simple as that can help capture new users.
Next, you'll want to ensure that each of your emails are perfect. You need to check for:
An email with one or more of the problems above can result in a frustrated subscriber. Frustrated subscribers won't share your email, and may even unsubscribe. Additionally, these errors can kill your credibility. You need to ensure that each email results in the best experience for those receiving.
There are two ways to do this. One way is to take the time to manually check each email before you send. You can do this yourself or delegate it, but there's no changing the fact that this is a lengthy process. Plus, there's still a chance of missing something.
Second, you can use a tool like Send Check It to do this for you. Send Check It checks for common email errors like broken links and missing images before you hit send. It'll also provide optimization suggestions! Click here to learn more.
Lastly, you'll want to ask your subscribers to share your email with their network. This shouldn't be done often, but by doing it every few emails you can see a big uptick in the number of referrals your email newsletter gets.
Next Draft has a call to action like this in their emails every now and then. It's probably once a month - but I don't know that it follows a set schedule. Still it serves as a timely reminder that we can and should share these emails with our networks.
"Do you know anyone would would like this? Help us and them out by forwarding this to them now.
Adding a text based CTA to share the email will be enough. There's no need to go overboard.
Remember, negative churn is your ticket to an email list with nonlinear growth. To achieve it you need to: Provide plenty of opportunities to share Format emails beautifully, and don't be afraid of length Ask subscribers to share (not too often though!) Make each email perfect by checking for errors Provide great value to your subscribers
This is besides standard email marketing practices like personalization, list segmentation, and more. When combining this new mindset with email marketing best practices, you're sure to see great list growth and ROI.