Grow Your Email List: 6 Incentives to Attract New Subscribers

If you visit the websites of many nonprofits, you will find a critical piece missing in their list-building strategy: They haven’t the answered WIIFM question.

What’s WIIFM, you ask? WIIFM, means “What’s in it for me?”, and is the foundation of any successful marketing strategy.

And because people are asking themselves this question every time you ask them to join your email list, it’s also the key to building your email list.

WIIFM ultimately means making joining your email list so valuable that NOT joining is not an option. You do this by focusing exclusively on what your audience wants.

Here are 6 WIFM incentives to grow your email list:

1. Free guides – With an e-book you can offer a lot of value for very little money. For example, a dog shelter can put create a short e-book of “How to Housebreak Your Dog in One Week”. As you can imagine, this is a common question for all new (and potential) dog owners. It also helps the dog shelter build a list of people who might have adoption on their mind.

2. Sponsor Sweepstakes – This is a perfect way to build an email list AND enhance a partner relationship. The Needham Community Farm is enhancing their relationship with a local pizza shop by offering a chance to win a pizza party.

3. Advocacy – Research has shown that advocates are more likely than non-advocates to donate to the cause for which they signed a petition. If you’re an advocacy organization – like Citizen Action of Wisconsin  – you’re probably already doing this.

4. Pledges – Research has also shown that people who pledge to make a donation will likely follow through on that promise. For example, the American Diabetes Association has a micro site around making a pledge to stop diabetes.

5. Photo Contests – Photo contest can be a powerful way to build your email list, as long as the incentive is huge. Participants know they probably won’t win, so make the value of joining (WIIFM) is really about the chance to win, instead of the actual prize. For example, PetSave New Hampshire offered a weekend getaway for the winner and their dog (a huge incentive).

6. Action Alerts – Action alerts can be a powerful approach to building a list of volunteers, specifically. After all, they’ve opted into taking some kind of action!

The key is in the carrot

The most important of the above approaches is that the perceived gain is greater than the pain of joining your email list.

Start by asking yourself, “What’s in it for potential email subscribers?”, and “Is this enough to overcome the hurdle of joining our list?”

What WIIFM incentive are you offering?

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John Haydon