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Why you shouldn’t ask prospects to ‘subscribe’ to your newsletter

If you want your email marketing to zoom along nicely, you shouldn't ask people to 'subscribe'. Discover why 'subscribe' is a poor choice of word - and what's a better alternative.

If you want your email marketing to zoom along nicely, you shouldn’t ask people to ‘subscribe’. Discover why ‘subscribe’ is a poor choice of word – and what’s a better alternative.

Why you shouldn’t ask prospects to ‘subscribe’ to your newsletter

Eh? That sounds crazy, right? Surely you’d want prospects to subscribe to your newsletter?

After all, my last article was all about how to get more email newsletter sign ups from your website.

Let me clarify: yes, you do want to grow your email list

While you want to grow your email opt-in list, you need to be very careful about how you ask people to do that.

Your choice of words has a big influence on how your readers will react to what you’re offering… and the word ‘subscribe’ is a big turn-off.

Why the word ‘subscribe’ is off-putting

As Derek Halpern points out in his article on Copyblogger, ‘subscribe’ has negative connotations for people.

You subscribe to magazines and newspapers: i.e. you pay money to receive these items.

You also subscribe to services such as internet plans, telecommunications, and so on.

Let’s look at how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the word subscribe:

  • to pay money to an organization in order to receive a product, use a service regularly or support the organization
    She subscribes to several women’s magazines.
    I subscribe £10 a month to the charity.
  • specialized to offer to buy something or pay an amount for something as part of your business activities
    Existing shareholders subscribed to only 49% of the new share issue.
(Definition of subscribe verb from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

Thus people to tend to equate the word ‘subscribe’ with expense, commitment, hassle… stuff they don’t want.

So how do you get people to sign up?

It’s simple: instead of using the word ‘subscribe’, you use the word ‘get’.

‘Get’ is a lot more casual. For example, people get a bottle of milk from the shop. They get a haircut. They get a present. Or get a hug.

We use the word ‘get’ freely, and it doesn’t imply commitment or hassle. (Even if it does sometimes cost money to ‘get’ something.)

Here’s are two of the definitions of ‘get’ in the Cambridge Dictionary:

  • to obtain, buy or earn something
    He’s gone down to the corner shop to get some milk.
    We stopped off on the motorway to get some breakfast.
    Where did you get your radio from?
  • to receive or be given something
    I got quite a surprise when I saw her with short hair.
    I got a (telephone) call from Phil last night.
    What did you get for your birthday?
(Definition of get verb (OBTAIN) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

Does using the word ‘get’ really make a difference to newsletter sign up rates?

Apparently, yes, it does. Here’s an article on how one person improved their sign up rate by 254%.

Sure, that’s just one person, but I can see how that might work. People react very differently to certain words. So if I were you, I’d recommend that you tweak your website to use the word ‘get’ instead of ‘subscribe’. It’s a quick job, and one that could make a very big difference to your business!

Summary

Instead of asking people to ‘subscribe’ to your newsletter, ask them to ‘get’ your newsletter. Then test and measure to see what effect that has on your sign-up rates.

 

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