To maximise free sign-ups, adopt these key design and copy writing tactics and features used by top newsletter publishers.
1. An attention-grabbing, benefit-driven headline
With attention spans counted in milliseconds, your headline may be your only shot at persuading someone to take action, so it has to work hard.
Strike a balance between short and pithy and squeezing in as many powerful benefits as possible.
Note: benefits NOT features.
Example 1: "Become smarter in just 5 minutes" (Morning Brew, 9 million subscribers)
The headline uses a desire-creating technique, promising something truly valuable (being smarter) in return for a small amount of time and effort (just 5 minutes).
The active voice (Become smarter...) urges action.
Example 2: "Get our free weekly Money Tips email!" (MoneySavingExpert, 7.5 million subscribers)
MoneySavingExpert keeps it simply and combines the benefit of free with a call to action (Get our...email!)
The headline is telling it straight. The exclamation mark adds enthusiasm.
The newsletter has been around for 20 years and the Money Tips brand is used to leverage existing awareness.
Example 3: Your Impartial, Comprehensive Daily News Source (1440 Daily Digest, 1.5 million subscribers)
1440 highlights neutrality, feeding off a backlash against partisan reporting, and promising to cover all news viewpoints.
The benefits of wide-ranging (Comprehensive) and regular (Daily), mean the headline highlights a fulsome, independent package.
2. A 1 or 2 sentence strapline with more benefits
The strapline, or sub-paragraph, is the second shot you have to persuade the visitor to take action.
Having grabbed attention with the headline, there's time for a longer sentence.
Drive home further detailed benefits and persuasively sell the proposition.
Example 1: "Get the daily email that makes reading the news enjoyable. Stay informed and entertained, for free" (Morning Brew)
Morning Brew fires in 4 more benefits, making 6 in total.
In as short a time as possible, the copywriter is making it hard for the reader to avoid signing up because the benefits are so great.
Example 2: "Grab the latest deals, guides, tip 'n' tricks directly from Martin and the MSE team" (MoneySavingExpert)
It's active (Grab...) up to the minute (latest...), and who doesn't love the benefit of free guides, tips and tricks.
MoneySavingExpert uses founder Martin Lewis's personal brand. He is a TV personality and money expert so his first name is enough (directly from Martin...).
Example 3: "We scour 100 sources so you don't have to. Culture, science, sports, politics, business, and more - all in a 5 minute read." (1440).
The biggest benefit of curation - its ability to save you time - is 1440's main strapline point.
No one person could scour 100 websites every day, so the promise that they do it for you is powerful.
There's a good sense of the sectors covered - and again, you get all this in just 5 minutes a day.
For fence-sitters, some reassuring facts are squeezed in under the sign-up box.
3. A clear call to action
The call to action should be an active instruction, led by a verb. Best practice is for the tone to be between gently forceful and insistent.
Try It (Morning Brew)
This phrasing could make it easier to proceed by presenting it as just a trial - there's less commitment required.
SIGN UP (MoneySavingExpert)
Straighforward instructions from a no nonsense website.
JOIN FREE (1440)
Free is a top motivator, so this is a proven approach if offering a free newsletter.
Alternatively, you could try:
Get It Now (firm urgency)
Go For It! (aspirational)
Click Here - It’s Free! (nothing to lose)
Testing proves that some can perform better than others.
Unfortunately, research hasn't come up with a single right answer as responses vary between audiences.