How To Increase Your Newsletter Subscriptions

by Michael Goodrum  |   |  Strategy  |  0 comments

4 min to read

The Current State Of Newsletters

Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we hear the word newsletter, what do we think? Monthly? Subscription? Informational? Lengthy? Not interested?

It’s safe to say that the market is fairly saturated with newsletter subscription opt-in boxes like this:

newsletter sign up

Now while these are better than nothing, would you sign up for them? You probably receive at least 10 newsletters per month that get deleted without even being opened. This marketing tactic has been around awhile – meaning when we see a newsletter subscription, most of us simply aren’t interested anymore.


Build A Better Newsletter Offer

We’re not saying to stop your newsletter. They are a valuable way to keep all of your supporters up to date and in action. They can also be a great way to introduce someone new to your nonprofit’s brand over time. They can even work as long-term plays to acquire new donors. But if people aren’t opting into it, then none of these strategies will work. Let’s look at how to market a Newsletter in 2017.

We want to stay away from pop-ups or opt-ins that intrude into the screen when users interact with your website. This didn’t used to be an issue, but last year Google announced it will begin penalizing sites that use popups.  There are a variety of free options out there like Hello Bar, Bloom, Ninja Bar, and others that allow users to opt-into your content without being intrusive. Our personal favorite is Hello Bar because it’s free and extremely easy to set up/optimize.


Get Creative With It!

Now, we KNOW that you can do better than saying “Subscribe to our Newsletter.” If you’re using an opt-in bar, you won’t have a ton of space to write something. This means we still need to keep it to one or two short sentences. Think about the value that your nonprofit provides to its supporters. Why would people love hearing from you? Can you flex your brand or even create a new brand for your supporters?

Your team goes to a lot of effort writing these newsletters every month (or more depending on your nonprofit). Let’s make sure people actually opt-in and look forward to reading them!



No blog post is complete without examples. One of our favorite nonprofits, Wounded Warrior Homes, calls its supporters the Veteran Support Squad. Their opt-in bar could look like this:

hello bar

Notice how we don’t use the word subscribe or newsletter. We invite people to join a community and even brand that community as the Veteran Support Squad. This bar can float on the top of their site, on the bottom, or on the side.

Here’s a made up example. Let’s say you’re an organization that tackles anti-bullying in America. You could create an opt-in bar like the one below. It doesn’t need to be complex.

hello bar

Again, we don’t use the words subscribe or newsletter. We invite people to be part of a solution and take part in stopping violence. All they have to do is join us in receiving regular updates! We happen to use the word join twice to create that sense of community, but that’s not necessary nor something we do every time.

These days, our brains automatically act a certain way when they see the words “Subscribe” or “Newsletter.” They tend to reject the content even if we were originally interested in receiving it. Knowing this, let’s be better than our predecessors.


The Emerging Balancing Act

It’s interesting, isn’t it? That we have to sell people on requesting information they came for in the first place?

Human beings enjoy novelty. We find new things and ideas attractive. Marketing tools like pop-ups are being denounced by Google Almighty because we’ve gotten fed up with them. Plain newsletter subscription opt-ins do not appeal anymore. The market is full of nonprofits with nondescript advertising. Thankfully because of that, it’s not too hard to stand out.

On the flip side, human beings will always (hopefully) care about this planet. That’s why they came to your website in the first place. They want to engage. They want to help. They want to donate. But they won’t donate to a nonprofit that they don’t feel aligned with, even if they love your cause.

Create better opportunities for new people to join your mailing list and you will see an increase to the impact you’re able to have in the world.

Michael Goodrum

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