How to Increase Newsletter Signups without Being Pushy?

From this point forward, you don’t want to have pop-ups. You don’t want to try to juice every visitor to sign up to your newsletter. You don’t want pushy tactics. You’re not going down that road.

So how to set up your newsletter sign-up box to be different? You know the importance of building an audience. You just don’t want to build your audience by alienating it.

As we’ve seen in last week’s article on generally improving conversion rates without being slimy about it, it starts with a declaration like this one:

You Publish a Newsletter …so the Visitor Can Make Progress

What will cause your visitors to welcome your newsletter into their lives, so they can make progress on something?

What kind of struggle would they be experiencing? What would be annoying enough so they get off their chair and start to search for some way to do something about it?

Let’s chart a list to see some of the big themes around newsletters.

Struggle of the Moment:

  • ⚬→ The industry is vast, and I can’t keep up with all of what’s being talked about. It’s too much. Maybe this person will boil it down for me.
  • ⚬→ I’m just starting out on this topic and I’m feeling way too much of a newb to be making informed decisions, so I just want to start getting a sense of the important variables.
  • ⚬→ Enough of this working-for-someone-else situation. This author is doing something I want to be doing, and I want to catch whatever they’ve got that I don’t have.
  • ⚬→ This site has gold and has been so helpful. Missing even a single new article means I would probably miss something important. FOMO!.

Newsletters are about learning, especially about learning to do something by yourself.

So if that’s the struggle, what’s the appeal of your newsletter? What kind of pushback are they experiencing in their minds before signing up?

The Forces of Progress of a Newsletter


You’ll recall that there are Four Forces of Progress that are at play in the mind of the “purchaser” (the subscriber in this case), while considering the decision to go forward. The Struggle (above), The Attraction, The Anxiety (the two next ones heres), The Habits (talked about below).

Attraction of the Solution:

What makes your newsletter appealing to a visitor, for any of those struggles listed above.

  • →⚬ I will be able to learn to do it myself;
  • →⚬ I will be able to be in the loop, learn about what matters;
  • →⚬ This person will continue to publish on stuff in the future;
  • →⚬ This person has proof of knowing their stuff;
  • →⚬ I think I can safely unsubscribe(?).

Anxieties About the Solution:

What makes your potential subscriber pause and hesitate about your newsletter? These are actually quite strong.

  • ←⚬ I’m already subscribed to too many things by now, I’ll have to unsubscribe from a few before considering subscribing to this one;
  • ←⚬ Learning about this will mean I have to say no to all the other things I’m learning;
  • ←⚬ I might get my email sold to someone else or I’ll be getting more emails that I expected;
  • ←⚬ This person doesn’t seem to know their stuff;
  • ←⚬ Nobody else I know has heard of this author.

Aside: The Problem With Starting Out

If you’re just starting out your newsletter, it will be tempting to throw every tactic to gain sign-ups. If however you go through the exercise of visualizing the struggle your newsletter will be hired to solve, and if you pay close attention to the Attraction/Anxiety forces listed above, I’m sure you’ll realize this point: signing up to your newsletter isn’t automatically appealing, even when you’ve been at it for a while.

The biggest anxieties, for example, aren’t so much about your reputation, but relate to how the visitor is already subscribed to too many other email lists, or has started to learn about too many other topics. Those are two big brakes on the momentum to sign-up, and they’re not about you or your newsletter.

So, if you’re starting out, be patient (for 4, 9, 18 months), keep publishing posts that in themselves respond to a clear struggle, build a backlog of good posts that show proof that you know your material, and things will fall into place. Every time you publish a good post, you reinforce the job-to-be-done of signing-up to your newsletter which is about the visitor’s future learning. Cadence shows future value. It’s worth investing in this direction, and being confident about the future result.

Make It Compete Against Your Other Stuff

Although you might be tending to the struggle, the attraction and the anxieties, the habits of the present are what you’re really competing with.

“I’ll do it myself” is what pulls back the visitor to choose “not this, not now”.

Habits of the Present:

  • ⚬← I’ll just learn it from other sources;
  • ⚬← I’ll just come back another time on my own;
  • ⚬← I’ll just figure it out by myself, continue searching around.

In here, your product or your service isn’t competing with the newsletter. It’s nowhere to be found in the list of “I’ll just” statements.

But you can change that. If you publish an ebook, a guide, an email course sequence, or some other publication that fulfills the job of “I’d like to start learning about this topic”, then you can make that other publication compete against your newsletter, and vice versa.

  • ⚬← I’ll just read this person’s ebook instead.

Boom! Your newsletter is now competing against something else you’re offering.

Which is why next week’s article will be about the Job-to-be-done of reading someone’s ebook (or guide, or other long-form publication). Be sure to check that one out.

All Together

You don’t need to be pushy. You don’t need pop-ups. Just know what your newsletter is hired to do, put a newsletter sign-up form in the right spots and be classy about it.

Here are examples of newsletter sign-up pitches that you can use with confidence. Feel free to copy one of these four on your own site, and tweak as needed.

Get More Articles Just Like This
One email every two weeks.

Let’s Learn About The WHATEVS Industry Together
Every week, I’ll share my take on the industry beat, articles I’ve found useful, and the latest article I’ve published.

Join the List. Expect Infrequent Emails.
Be Notified When There’s Actual News.

The Week’s New Posts, Sent Each Monday.
If there were new posts in the past week, you’ll get an email with links to the new posts. Don’t miss a thing!

And if you’re super confident about your newsletter’s Job-to-be-done, no need to say more than…


Stay Sharp!


Get new articles like this one.

To learn to sharpen your sales pages.