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Issue #3

Why Email Subscribers are Important and How to Get Them with Incentives

Build Your Audience

Many articles you read about email marketing will tell you how to convert a casual blog reader into a customer. Sounds like a natural progression, right? After stumbling upon your blog a couple times and reading some posts at random, a reader will have enough information to know what you’re about, trust that you’re an authority in your industry, and hit that Buy button.

The reality of that happening is actually highly unlikely. All those posts you were previously reading about the transition from reader to customer are missing one really important step– email subscriber.

The true progression of a reader looks something like this:

Your reader's journey

There's a level of trust you have to build with a reader before they'll be willing to become a customer, and that can’t be done correctly when you’re just hoping and waiting for them to keep stumbling on your site. In fact, it’s a widespread misconception that readers are going to start buying your products after just reading posts on your blog.

Don’t fall into this same bucket of misguided bloggers. It’s time to stop expecting your readers to sing your praises and buy your products without first creating trust and authority. It’s only through this work that you can create loyal and dedicated followers (aka profitable customers). And to do this, you need to focus on that sometimes overlooked Subscriber stage.

The importance of an email subscriber

You could have thousands of views on your site, but those views don’t necessarily translate into money or progress toward your goals. A subscriber, however, represents a certain level of commitment from a reader. It means they’re invested in your brand, interested in what else you have to say and teach, and are more likely to buy a product you’ve created.

Building an email list to keep track of those subscribers as soon as you start out is your most valuable asset as a blogger. When a reader gives you their email address, they’re also giving you permission to show up in their inbox.

Email is the most direct, personal, strategic, and constant form of communication between blogger and reader. Unlike social media, you have complete control over your email list. Once you have an email address, you have an open invitation to write directly to that person and a greater likelihood of turning that individual human into one of your life-long raving fans.

Through your email list, you’re able to build trust and create a relationship that feels personal to your audience, which in turn sets you up for pitching and selling your products and services. And while your job is always to serve your audience, the end goal has to be to make money, right? Making a living with your online business is the only way to earn the privilege to keep doing this work.

You’re a blogger because you want to make a living by teaching what you love. To do that you probably create products or offer services to help your audience reach their goals through your teaching. So to get readers to buy your products, you really do need them to move from casual reader into the Subscriber stage.

The big problem here is that so many people often get stuck in the Reader stage. Without any reason to stick around on your site, they’ll move to another site that offers similar information and will probably keep blog hopping from there.

Readers are looking to be drawn in. They need targeted content that sounds like it was created just for them. If that’s true, the solution to move readers into the Subscriber stage is to create material that provides incredible value for your readers and offer it in exchange for their email address.

Four ways to add value with incentives

There are a lot of aspects of your site you can control that help keep a reader sticking around. A well-designed homepage, valuable content, and interesting images and graphics are the bright shiny objects that initially grab a reader’s attention. Once you have them with that, it’s time to offer up a little extra incentive.

Providing value can come in many different avenues. You could create a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep up with your updates. That works, but it’s also pretty boring. If you really want to add value and show your readers that you care about them, creating a true incentive is key.

Incentives are the easiest way to turn readers into email subscribers because you’re giving them something valuable in return. As long as your audience sees that value, they are more likely to want to see what else you have to offer and will give you their email address to stay in touch.

Here are four examples of incentives that your readers are look for to entice them into becoming email subscribers:

Content upgrades 

Content upgrades are an incredible way to increase your conversion rate. In fact, Brian Dean increased his site-wide conversions from .54% to 4.82% in just one day with content upgrades

The upgrades can take many forms depending on your content and the needs of your audience. Whether you’re creating a checklist, how-to guides, templates, eBooks, or other bonus downloads, creating something extra for your reader shows an extra level of care. You can learn more about these incentives with our Complete Guide to Content Upgrades.

Email Courses 

If your main product is a course and you’re trying to get new traction, giving away a part of that course through an email is a great idea. Learn more about email courses and how to set up an email course using ConvertKit with Zen Courses.


Hosting a special webinar where you focus on teaching instead of selling shows your readers that you care about helping them reach their goals. It’s also an important way to get face-to-face time with your readers to help you build trust and authority. Learn more about hosting your own webinars with the Run Webinars Like a Pro Toolkit.

Exclusive offers

Everyone loves a limited time offer or to know that you’ve created something just for them (maybe in a community or group). Your offer could be anything from a discount on a product/service (this works especially well with physical products) to a personal 1×1 consulting service.

Exclusive offer incentives are also smart to add to any guest posts you have coming up. Catching a new readership’s attention with an exclusive offer they can’t refuse will guide them to your site and into your email list with ease.

How to promote and deliver content upgrades and other incentives

To promote content upgrades on your site, you’ll need to use forms. These are the boxes you see at the end of a post or on the side bar that ask for an email address. Normally it’s a simple “Sign up for my newsletter” situation, but now you can create exciting content that readers won’t hesitate to trade in their email address for.

Delivering on your promised content is easy to do with ConvertKit's incentive email. The incentive email is what is sent immediately after someone subscribes to your list through your email form on your site. You may know it better as the confirmation email or the double opt-in process. We call it an incentive email because we deliver your signup incentive while also asking for confirmation, turning a two-step process into just one.

Want to watch a video of how to deliver an incentive? Check out Megan Minns’ post, “How To Deliver A Free Download Using ConvertKit.”

Ready to turn your blog readers into email subscribers?

Now that you know the benefit of an email list and how to give your readers more value, what will be your first incentive that you create? Share your ideas in the comments as well as any questions you might have about creating incentives to turn readers into email subscribers.

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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