9 creative newsletter promotion ideas to beat your subscriber goals in 2021

Newsletters Build Your Audience
17 min read
In this Article

Here’s a fun fact: The number of email users worldwide passed 4.03 billion people in 2021. Yes, billion—more than half the world population.

And even though some social networks are growing at a pedal-to-the-floor pace, the truth is: email is still the best way to distribute content to your audience.

However, earning your spot in an already crowded inbox is no easy task.

If you’re a creator working hard to grow your audience, these nine newsletter promotion ideas can help you beat your newsletter subscriber count goals in no time at all.

Why start a newsletter, anyway?

Before we get into tactics for list growth, let’s quickly talk about why email is still the medium that delivers results.

Maybe you’re asking yourself: “Should I even bother with creating an email newsletter?”

Short answer: Absolutely.

Here are a few reasons why email is such a powerful platform for creators to use.

Establishes thought leadership through content

According to Statista, nearly 3.7 million emails will be sent every second in 2021.

Translation: if you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to know what your readers want to hear from you about and deliver real value.

The good news is that email gives you a platform from which you can inform, educate, and point readers toward solutions and resources (all of which help establish you as a thought leader in your space.)

The more readers see you as the go-to authority within your niche, the more they’ll respect your expertise and send other people your way, too. If you’re selling digital products, this can also make them more apt to buy from you (since you’re the expert and all).

No algorithms limiting distribution

Having an email newsletter puts you in control of the content and frequency with which you communicate with your subscribers—not social media algorithms.

Email inboxes don’t have timelines like social feeds do, giving you a more direct line of communication with subscribers.

What’s more: email often feels more personal and intimate than social media, meaning it helps you build stronger relationships with your audience.

Promotes your digital products and services

Aside from sharing your knowledge and keeping in touch with your subscribers, email is also a great way to promote your online business and sell digital products such as online courses, ebooks, guides, and more.

You’ve probably come across a jaw-dropping statistic that for every $1 spent on email, you get $38 back. That's an impressive return on investment, right?

Keep in mind, however, that using email solely as a sales channel (rather than a communication tool) can put off subscribers. If you want to be seen as a true creator rather than merely a salesperson, make sure to prioritize providing value and educating subscribers over driving sales.

Builds a community of raving fans

Crafting thoughtful emails will lead to more subscribers and will help transform your audience into a community of raving fans.

The difference between an email that collects digital dust and one that readers open the moment they receive it is simple: Create a newsletter that people love to read. That’s a prerequisite to building a loyal community with a consistent connection.

With this foundation in mind, let’s next jump into some tactics that’ll help you grow your list and reach more people (so you can do all of the items above.)

Build a loyal community with newsletters

With a ConvertKit Free account you can share what you love on a consistent basis with your newsletter to connect with your followers and grow your business.

Create your free newsletter

9 newsletter promotion ideas to get more subscribers (with examples!)

Got a subscriber goal number in mind? Good.

Get ready to blow it out of the water with these ideas for newsletter promotion that’ll help you beat that number (and then some).

1. Introduce a referral program

Creators love it when subscribers share their newsletters. However, most of the time subscribers don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. Instead, they probably need some sort of incentive to help spread the word.

Enter referral programs.

Asking your subscribers to share your newsletter in exchange for a reward can be a powerful way to quickly grow your list.

Daily newsletter Morning Brew used referrals to catapult its list of subscribers from 100,000 to 1.5 million subscribers in just 18 months. By incentivizing branded swag (like t-shirts, stickers, and glasses) in exchange for referrals to their newsletter, they gave readers a compelling reason to encourage others to come on board.

And guess what? Around 30% of their subscribers came from referrals.

newsletter promotion ideas
Morning Brew uses referrals to build its newsletter list. Image via Morning Brew.

Interestingly, referrals continued to be the number one source of growth for Morning Brew months after the program was launched. There was no fizzle or die-down in interest in this program! In May of 2020, Morning Brew’s co-founder Austin Rief tweeted that their referrals were still up over monthly averages when it came to newsletter signups.

Another great example for referrals comes from Jay Clouse—an entrepreneur, author, and host of the Creative Elements podcast.

After seeing a huge success with his weekly newsletter “Work In Progress,” he decided to launch a monthly newsletter called “Life In Progress.”

newsletter promotion ideas
Jay Clouse uses a referral program to boost the number of subscribers. Image via Jay Clouse.

To build an audience, Jay leveraged a referral program so that any reader who referred three subscribers got access to the monthly newsletter. How? He used SparkLoop with his ConvertKit account to encourage subscribers to share his writing.

Jay also does something interesting with this asset: He double-dips by offering paid access to it as well. It’s filled with value and is ever-expanding, so for some, paying for access to it is a no- brainer. Two birds, one stone.

newsletter promotion ideas
Jay Clouse uses SparkLoop and ConvertKit to build an audience for his monthly newsletter. Image via Jay Clouse.

How to promote your newsletter with referral programs

With the help of SparkLoop, you can incentivize more high-quality email subscribers with every email you send by promoting rewards and giveaways that fuel referrals.

newsletter promotion ideas
SparkLoop and ConvertKit make referral programs simple. Image via SparkLoop.

The Creator Pro plan from ConvertKit lets you unleash the potential of referrals with a free Sparkloop account.

2. Leverage the power of giveaways

Giveaways never go out of style.

They’re a great way to convert a “rented” audience of social media followers into an “owned” audience of email subscribers. The followers you have on social media channels are already interested in the work you do, so giving them a reason to sign up for a newsletter with a fun giveaway can help spur that action. Running a giveaway is also a lot cheaper than other promotion methods (like, say, social media ads).

We see this approach working in one example from Yeah Write Club, a bi-monthly newsletter featuring interviews with writers, authors, and editors, as well as writing resources and job opportunities. The creators behind this newsletter hosted a giveaway that was promoted through the brand’s Instagram account.

The goal: to promote two of their interviewees’ books and to boost the number of their newsletter subscribers.

And guess what? It worked. By offering up a few free copies of interviewees’ books as part of the giveaway, they were able to attract more than 350 new email subscribers for a giveaway that cost under $100 total.

newsletter promotion ideas
Yeah Write Club uses giveaways to boost newsletter subscribers. Image via Yeah Write Club.

How to promote your newsletter with giveaways

In most cases, creators have more social media followers than newsletter subscribers, so use giveaways to leverage the power of your network and build your email list.

As you think about your own giveaway, be sure that the prizes you’re giving away are related to the work/subject matter you focus on and write about. Relevancy is key. Check out more tips on running a successful email giveaway here.

3. Partner with influencers to boost subscribers

Most of the time we see influencers promoting products….but why not use the influence these individuals have to increase the size of your email audience?

Doing this is fairly simple:

  • Find influencer partners who align with your newsletter theme and/or products
  • Team up for a sponsored social post (or story!) that encourages audience members to sign up to your newsletter.

This way, you’re not the one asking people to sign up. Instead, you’re outsourcing the call-to-action to someone else with an established audience that they’ve worked hard to build trust and rapport with. You get to piggyback off that hard work and tap into their highly engaged networks.

Run Gum has a great example of this: Founded by two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds, Run Gum is an energy gum designed with elite athletes in mind (but created for anyone).

Leveraging Nick’s influencer status and large social following, he promotes a 20% off coupon in exchange for email signups to the Run Gum newsletter, which is a powerful incentive for curious shoppers.

newsletter promotion ideas
Run Gum partners with influencers (including its founder) to get more email subscribers. Image via Nick Symmonds.

How to promote your newsletter with influencers

Focus on finding influencer partners that are relevant to your niche. Even though the goal is to get more signups, you’re really focusing on attracting quality subscribers that would genuinely be interested in the digital products or services you offer. You can find relevant partners (that match your budget and needs) with a creator marketing platform like Hashtagpaid.

newsletter promotion ideas
Creator marketing platforms make it easy to find and get matched with relevant influencers. Image via Hashtagpaid.

Another important thing to remember around these types of promotions is to have a single call-to-action. Even though you might be tempted to ask people to sign up for your newsletter, visit your website, buy your products, and listen to your podcast, focus on one thing.

When you get a subscriber’s email address, then you have limitless opportunities to share your story. Go one step at a time.

4. Offer email courses

Email courses are a powerful way to give new subscribers a taste of the value you offer.

With them, you can build a one-to-one relationship, moving from a one-time interaction to an ongoing communication that can cement your top-of-mind position with subscribers.

This approach has helped David Perell build his list to more than 40,000 subscribers. David promotes his five-day Twitter course, a seven-day writing course, and a 50-day writing course—all of which he delivers by email using ConvertKit.

In these email courses, he provides each lesson in a separate email to target a specific topic that keeps readers excited for new emails.

newsletter promotion ideas
David Perell uses email courses to build his newsletter list and engage readers. Image via David Perell.

How to promote your newsletter with email courses

Rather than putting all of your course lessons out at the same time, email courses allow you to create a sequence of lessons that are dripped out over time.

This gives your audience members the flexibility to digest each lesson at their own paces.

If you’re not sure how to start, we’ve created a step-by-step guide on creating a ConvertKit email course in as little as 48 hours.

5. Add an email opt-in above the fold on your website

The content “above the fold” is the first thing visitors see when they open your landing page or website. In other words, you need clear messaging and a single call-to-action that will encourage visitors to take an action (like an opt-in for your email list). Instead of overwhelming online visitors with different messages and opt-ins, stay focused on one main goal.

The first thing you notice when you open Austin Church’s website is a call-to-action (situated above the fold!) that encourages visitors to subscribe and get a free course.

He uses a short, powerful message that gives visitors a sense of what they will get from the course and a simple opt-in form that’s located front and center. There’s no missing it, and it’s the focus of this online real estate.

newsletter promotion ideas
Austin L. Church uses a landing page with a signup call-to-action above the fold to encourage visitors to leave their email address in exchange for a free course. Image via Austin Church.

How to promote your newsletter with email opt-ins above the fold

Creating a landing page and website page with a single call-to-action will result in more leads.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. From design choices, to messaging, to social proof and call-to-action best practices, here’s everything you need to know to create a landing page in the next 10 minutes.

6. Repurpose content to cross-promote across channels

Creators often find themselves in a vicious cycle of creating new content rather than dedicating time to promote it across channels and mediums. Even Disney used this approach with its animations.

Disney used recycled animation footage in different movies. Image via Twitter.

Repurposing content is a smart way to make the most out of the content you’ve already created (and can be used to drive email signups, too!)

The question is: How?

For many creators, Twitter is a go-to channel for sharing highlights from their newsletter with a subscribe call-to-action.

An example of this can be seen from Monica Lent, who built Blogging for Devs—a niche newsletter and a thriving paid online community. She now has over 5,000 email subscribers…but it took her over eight months to get there.

One of her secret weapons is using Twitter threads to recap her newsletters and including a signup link at the end. By repurposing this material into bite-sized, easy to consume tweets, she gets extra mileage out of her existing material and gives readers a reason to join her list.

Promote newsletter twitter
Monica Lent uses Twitter Threads to promote her newsletter. Image via Monica Lent.

How to promote your newsletter with repurposed content

If you want to repurpose your newsletter content to get more subscribers, make sure to adjust the message to fit the channel.

Let’s say you want to use Twitter threads. Instead of copy-pasting whole chunks of newsletter text, focus on pulling out the highlights and breaking the information into a bite-sized nugget, each with a clear point or valuable tip.

Converting your social media followers into email subscribers takes time, but it’s worth it.

7. Give new subscribers a free gift

Convincing people to give you their email addresses in a world of email overload can be a real challenge. However, creators dedicated to building valuable content for their audiences have a significant advantage over sales-focused emails that provide no real value.

Take a page from Anne-Laure’s book. At Ness Labs, she focuses on content about mindful productivity and creativity tips. She now has over 25,000 curious minds subscribed to Maker Mind, a weekly newsletter packed with neuroscience-based insights.

To encourage people to sign up, Anne-Laure offers a free welcome gift: The Beginner’s Guide to Mindframing, which is an actionable 22-page handbook that teaches readers how to better set and achieve goals.

newsletter promotion ideas
Anne-Laure Le Cunff offers a free ebook as a gift for newsletter sign-ups. Image via Ness Labs.

How to promote your newsletter with free gifts

If you want to use content, courses, books, or resources as a free gift for newsletter sign-ups, make sure it has a high perceived value from your audience.

If the incentive you give to subscribers as an exchange for their email address doesn’t meet their expectations, they’ll end up feeling frustrated (and likely will unsubscribe).

If you’re not sure where to start, we have the (actual) complete guide to content upgrades.

8. Get in front of subscribers’ objections to joining your newsletter

Getting people to click the “subscribe” button is more challenging than ever. You really have to give readers a good reason why they should allow you to enter their inboxes.

In other words, you should experiment with answering the “why” question and proactively address objections to sign up right on your opt-in landing page.

We see this at work with Noa Kageyama, known for his email newsletter the Bulletproof Musician. He gives readers seven reasons to subscribe right on his newsletter landing page. From all the perks and benefits readers get to how simple and safe it is, Noa answers all the questions his audience might have even before they click the “sign me up” button and proactively addresses their concerns.

newsletter promotion ideas
Noa Kageyama gives readers seven reasons to subscribe to his newsletter. Image via the Bulletproof Musician.

How to promote your newsletter by addressing objections

Understanding what your readers want is your ticket to their inbox.

Think of what makes your newsletter unique and talk about the value you provide, promoting the core reasons a subscriber would want this content in his or her inbox. Always start with “why.”

The easiest way to answer these questions is by understanding your niche audience. When you are aware of the unique challenges your niche audience faces, you already know the answers that make their eyes sparkle. Reflect your audience back to itself with language like this that says, “Hey, I get you.”

9. Put social proof to work

People love the idea of belonging to a tribe or niche community. Giving readers the feeling that they’re a part of a bigger community of like-minded people gives them a powerful reason to click the subscribe button. It’s human nature.

Aware of this psychological fact, writer Khe Hy prompts visitors to subscribe to his newsletter by emphasizing the number of subscribers that are already on board with RadReads. He also shares readers’ quotes that give people a sneak peek of what they can expect from the newsletter. Both are powerful forms of social proof.

newsletter promotion ideas
Khe Hy uses the power of social proof to attract more newsletter subscribers. Image via RadReads.

How to promote your newsletter with social proof

If you conduct regular surveys or ask for feedback from your subscribers, keep a running list of the quotes and testimonials you get from your audience members and put them around your opt-in. It might feel weird, but it’s okay! Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn.

You can spotlight this praise and other forms of social proof (like your subscriber count) to prove to new readers that they’re in good company.

Start growing your email list today with ConvertKit

With these smart tactics, you can blow past your subscriber count goal months ahead of target.

From email courses and content upgrades to giveaways, referrals, and cross-promotion on social media, these are just a few ways you can quickly reach your goals around audience size and list growth.

Still haven’t started growing your newsletter? No worries, it's easy to get started today with a free ConvertKit account.

Build a loyal community with newsletters

With a ConvertKit Free account you can share what you love on a consistent basis with your newsletter to connect with your followers and grow your business.

Create your free newsletter

Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer who works closely with SaaS companies and marketing teams for content creation.

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project