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Getting Opt-in Subscribers:
A 10-point Checklist

By: Azriel Winnett

Azriel Winnett is senior staff writer at Sling Shot Media LLC, which offers a wide range of hosting solutions for email lists of all types and sizes, as well as many other services for email marketers and list owners. Visit our site at: or e-mail us at:

This handy checklist serves as a brief review of some of the most effective, tried and tested, ways of building an authentic opt-in mailing list. 
  1. If you're running a business, invite all your customers or clients, and everybody who inquires about your services or retrieves documents from your autoresponders, to subscribe to your newsletter.

    We deliberately chose this method to kick off with, because it gives us an opportunity to clarify precisely what an opt-in subscriber is. Many list owners assume that all people who make contact with their business in same way or another - whether they're responding to ads, inquiring about a product, accessing their autoresponders, even entering a contest - can safely be added to any mailing list connected with that business.

    But that's a mistake. If I tell you that I'm interested in that special offer of yours, I'm not necessarily implying that I want to receive your newsletter. To be sure, if I'm ordering cat food, I'm likely to be amenable to signing up for your newsletter about cats. If you're on the ball, you'll invite me to do so right away. But you can't assume anything without asking.
  2. Archive all your past issues on your website, one page per issue, and insert meta-tags with appropriate keywords. Then register each page with the search engines. If you don't have a website yet,  acquire one! Search engine placement is one of the most important steps to ensure the ongoing growth of your subscriber base in the long term. Besides, a website enhances the credibility of your publishing enterprise.
  3. Set up a subscription form on every page of your site, preferably on the most prominent position on the page. If you have other online forms on your site for visitors to sign up for or request information on other things, include a checkbox giving them the option to sign up for your newsletter at the same time.
  4. Take full advantage of the growing number of directories of electronic publications on the Web. Register your publication with each one of them. It's a time-consuming operation, but it's well worth it, because once your publication info is listed with a directory, it stays there indefinitely, and is accessible on the Web.
  5. Similarly, grasp the opportunity provided by the plethora of lists which exist for the sole purpose of announcing new publications. Subscribe to each one, compose a message advertising your list and post it. Many of the announcement lists allow you to repost once a week or more.
  6. Publicize your list, with subscribing instructions, in the signature file that appears under all your email messages. Participate in email discussion groups, newsgroups, and online forums, especially those on topics related to that of your newsletter. Use your signature file in all your postings.
  7. Submit articles from your newsletter, or fresh ones, to other publications. Not only can you promote your publication in the "resource box" which will appear under the article, but the contribution itself, as a sample of the fare new subscribers can expect, might be the best advertisement you can ever produce.
  8. Do cross-promotions with other publishers. Swap ads inviting subscriptions, recommend their publications in your newsletter or welcome message if they endorses yours, and exchange articles.
  9. If you operate a business or a professional service, mention your newsletter on your official stationery, business cards, catalogs, brochures and all other printed material. Include explicit instructions on how to subscribe. Don't forget your newsletter in your print advertising, nor in the embossed wording on your gift promotions, such as T-shirts, mousepads and the like.
  10. All of the above methods have one thing in common - they involve no special expense. Finally, we'll refer very briefly to the various ways you can spend money to promote your e-publication.

    Firstly, of course, you can buy ads in other newsletters and ezines. Select these carefully, making sure that their readership is the target audience you're trying to attract. You can also register with the various services on the Web that will send you subscribers for a fee. Thirdly - assuming you have a far larger sum of money to play with - you can buy out a publication similar to yours, and merge its mailing list with your own.

© Copyright 2000, Azriel Winnett, Sling Shot Media, LLC

Other Articles by Azriel Winnett

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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