Newsletters are valuable to any web site owner to the extent that he or she will go an extra mile to attract subscribers. While very often you don’t have to do anything special in order to gain new subscribers, sometimes you won’t be that lucky. This is why many web masters have discovered that it pays out to use incentives on order to attract new subscribers to a newsletter. Here are some of the incentives that work best.

Valuable Content Is Your Best Incentive

As trivial as it sounds, valuable content is the best incentive you can offer to your would-be subscribers. In fact, if the content you are providing in your newsletter isn’t valuable, this will kill all your efforts to grow your newsletter base because even if you manage to attract new subscribers with the other incentives on the list, when you can’t keep them because your content isn’t valuable, the net result isn’t positive.

Free Reports, Ebooks, Videos, and Other Downloadables

Valuable content is a proven way to attract and above all retain subscribers, but in today’s competitive Web it isn’t enough. This is why you need to have other incentives at your disposal. Free reports, ebooks, videos, and other downloadables (a template, a plugin, a script, or a whole application, if applicable) are a traditional incentive and you can use them, too.

The trick here is that the download must be related to your business because otherwise you will be attracting the wrong target group, which is not what you want. Additionally, the incentive mustn’t be too valuable (i.e. an iPad) because in this case people will sign for the incentive and then disappear.

Offer Coupons and Discounts

In addition to reports, ebooks, videos, and other downloadables, you can also offer coupons and discounts. Again, the same rules apply – offer a coupon/discount for an item/service that is related to your business and be careful that it isn’t something too expensive. You can make this a one-time reward or if you are in the position to offer it on an ongoing basis, don’t forget to mention this to your potential subscribers.

The Subscription Is a Reward for a Winner

If your newsletter is free, as the majority of them are, probably you are asking yourself why give out something as a reward when everybody can get it for free? Well, if your newsletter is free, obviously it makes no sense to do it but if you have a paid newsletter, a membership site, or any other type of newsletter that isn’t generally available to sign for, this incentive will work like a magnet.

Offer Incentives for Attracting Subscribers

If your goal is to attract as many subscribers as possible, you might have to hire help. Start an affiliate program and/or join an affiliate network and offer rewards to anybody who brings you new subscribers. Again, don’t throw big rewards because this will result in tons of fake subscriptions.

You can offer a few cents as a commission per subscriber, but don’t pay more than a dollar. You can offer non-monetary incentives as well, such as list the most successful affiliates in a sidebar or somewhere else, offer free ad space, etc. These incentives tend to work better than money but if for one reason or another you can’t offer them (i.e. you have no free ad space to barter), then a few cents per a subscriber could be an option. Still, use money as a last report only because usually quality subscribers don’t come and stay only because you have paid them a few cents.

Offer to Follow Them on Social Networks in Exchange

Another non-monetary incentive that will be appreciated by many people is to follow them on social networks in exchange. Twitter and Facebook are the two networks that are most popular but you can offer followship on any other network. However, make sure you will be able to keep your promise – being active on social networks takes a lot of time and when you have a huge list of people to follow/be friends with, you might end spending your whole day on social sites!

Money? No, No, No!

Finally, one more incentive that you will inevitably think of is the root of all evil. Yeah, it might sound easier to offer cash to subscribers but this simply doesn’t work. If you offer a good amount, people get the cash and then forget about you and your newsletter. If you offer a few cents, people will be insulted (‘What?! Am I that cheap?!’).

Additionally, giving money to your potential newsletter followers smells a bit like bribing them. In some countries it is even illegal to offer money for such activities. This is why you won’t see many, if any, newsletter subscription offers (or at least not legit ones) that offer you money to join them.

The assortment of incentives you can use to attract newsletter subscribers is a rich one. Of course, you don’t have to use them all at the same time. Pick one or two, test how they work, and if they work well, stick to them. If they don’t, replace the nonworking one(s) and test again. Do it till you find the winning combination – for different newsletters it is different. Sometimes you will be limited by technical issues – i.e. your newsletter plugin might not support all the incentives you plan to use and in this case you can either change the incentive, or the plugin and again more forward.