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How to Use Social Media to Get More Newsletter Subscribers

It’s no secret that email newsletters are one of the most direct ways to get in front of consumers. According to The Washington Post, more journalists than ever are trading in their traditional newsroom jobs to run personal newsletters. Last year, Mailchimp saw a 45% increase in new publisher accounts. By March 2020, registrations had spiked a whopping 49%. 

With curator-style newsletters flooding the internet, starting a publication makes total economic sense. Newsletter readers are some of the most valuable on the market.

Though newsletter subscribers are, indeed, attentive and willing to engage with both organic content and curated advertisements, finding them isn’t exactly easy. Building an email list takes some serious strategy. The good news is: social media has made it easier than ever to connect with new audiences and get more newsletter subscribers. 

Here’s how to get new subscribers by maxing out your efforts on social media:

  1. Use FOMO tactics on social media to drive curiosity
  2. Link your newsletter in your social media profiles and make it easy for people to subscribe.
  3. Try social media advertising to add new readers to your email list
  4. Trade ad space with other growing newsletters in your space
  5. Run social contests and referral programs

Let’s dive in!

Grab people’s attention on social media by using FOMO

Never underestimate the power of FOMO. Show off your best newsletter content on social media, where you’ve already got an audience of users interested in what you have to offer.

Plenty of newsletter creators have turned to creating tweet threads that build curiosity, and spark conversation and maybe even have a downloadable attached. Check out this powerful example by email copywriter Val Gieser.

Instagram and Facebook stories are a great way to give users behind-the-scenes bursts of what they’re missing. An expose`, a deep dive into a specific subject, exclusive tutorials, and competitions are all great ‘teasers’ to showcase to your audience. 

Bottom line: Make sure you’re monitoring top-performing content to pick the pieces with the most power and share the clickiest snippets. The subscribers will come. 

Put your newsletter front and center on your profile

People can’t subscribe to a newsletter that they don’t know exists. Too often, publications hide signup pages deep in their website’s navigation or in over-looked side bars. 

The average CTR for a banner ad is an abysmal 0.2%. (By the way, if you needed convincing on how epic newsletter advertising can be, a single link click-through rate can be as much as nearly 4% depending on the industry). 

The most successful newsletters make it easy for interested users to signup. For example, the Morning Brew puts a link to its newsletters as the first item in the navigation and has a giant “subscribe” CTA in the upper right hand corner of every page. Before even scrolling, the Morning Brew gives users three options for signing up or leaning more.

A profile link is the only way social media users can quickly find out more about your brand, so make signups a simple click away. Instagram only allows users to put one link in their bio, but if you use something like LinkTree, you can point users to all your best content.

Using social media advertising as a way to get more newsletter subscribers

Sure, you can — and should — use social media to promote your newsletter for free, but paid social ads can give your efforts a major boost. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow you to promote your newsletter to brand new audiences who are already interested in similar topics. The best part is that it’s still budget friendly. 

With Facebook ads, you can start small. As little as $10 per day can get you a steady stream of subscribers. In fact, it’s how most of the big well known newsletters you’ve heard about grew their audience so quickly. Just make sure to target users who are either already interested in your work or interested in similar newsletters. 

If you want more in-depth advice, Paved has a lengthy guide on Facebook ads to grow your audience.

Partner up with other growing newsletters

People who subscribe to one newsletter will be way more likely to subscribe to another. Get a like-minded newsletter to feature you on social or in their own emails. Their readers already understand the value of a newsletter and are way more likely to subscribe to yours.

Trades are one of the simplest ways to get exposure to a big number of new readers, especially because they’re free and help both parties. A publisher rubs your metaphorical back, and you rub theirs. 

Your goal is to find newsletters that:

  1. Have an overlapping audience
  2. Have an audience of a similar size
  3. Are willing to trade ad spots with you

While it may be nerve wracking to cold email a bunch of newsletter editors, this method has proven results. For example, Exploding Topics managed to grow their newsletter from 0 to 65k subscribers in just 12 months with newsletter cross promotion. Sometimes, a single trade resulted in as many as 700 new subscribers. 

A little contest goes a long way

A key way to grow your newsletter is to offer subscribers an incentive to share, and this can be done through a contest on social media. The prize can vary — from free swag to experiences to free subscriptions.

Social referral contests can be that one-two punch for your newsletter. You can even approach brands to sponsor a contest’s prizes in exchange for exposure to your audience base. 

Or if you have enough capital, you can even just purchase a big exciting prize and hype it up on social media. Take a look at two of The Hustle’s recent promotions 

Random prize to boost opens via Facebook

Win a Macbook to boost referrals and subscriber numbers via the newsletter

I want that Macbook… here’s my referral link 😉 

The Hustle and Morning Brew really put their referral programs to work. Check out these compelling offers.

Incidentally I’m after that Morning Brew mug too. Sign up to their newsletter here. 

The prize doesn’t need to be expensive, it just needs to be something your audience wants. For bonus points, if you really want to get clever about contests and referrals, create a segmented contest that offers separate prizes to different types of users.

Don’t forget it’s about quality over quantity

Newsletters only work because the subscribers are already interested in a topic, and agree to give you front door access to their email inboxes. They want to engage, but they won’t if your content isn’t relevant.

This is why the quality of your social media audience matters more than the amount you have. The number of subscribers may impress advertisers upfront, but they’re useless if they don’t engage. When trying to monetize your newsletter, it’s vital not just to have a high number of subscribers, but also a healthy open rate above at least 20%. 

Keep it relevant to drive quality traffic to your sign up page. 


This post was written and submitted by Ryan Gould, VP of Strategy and Marketing at Elevation B2B

 Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation B2B

From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations. LinkedIn