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On the List 🌱
How to get more subscribers.
The Broccoli Report
Friday, November 11, 2022
Time to read: 8 minutes, 7 seconds. Contains 1624 words.
On the List: How to Get More Subscribers.
Emails exist in a sweet spot between the professional and personal. Our inboxes give us a little more control when it comes to keeping ads and the stuff we actually want or need to read separate, and the absence of pop-ups and videos jumping out mid-scroll is a soothing reprieve. It’s a safe space, uncluttered by stats or likes, still relatively free of algorithmic manipulation, where we set the pace. And it’s private(ish). Trust still exists in inboxes—enough real business and important communications happen via email that it holds a legitimacy that texts or DMs can’t quite match. It’s a channel where we check in, not out—to quote Boyz II Men, it’s “not too soft, not too hard.”
That’s why email marketing works—99% of email users check their inbox every day, and some check it 20 times daily. Around 73% of millennials identify email as their preferred means of business communication, and 86% of professionals give priority to email connection. So how do you get in someone’s inbox? It’s all about the signups. Today, we’re tackling the biggest question that comes up for brands looking to bulk up their email marketing efforts: How do I get more people to sign up for my company’s newsletter?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Broccoli Report readers to share their experiences on building an email list via Google form. One interesting response came from Riley Brain of ceramics brand Wandering Bud. The company has used Mailchimp for a while, and out of everything they’ve done to build its email list, a "pipe personality" quiz generated the most leads.
I’m not surprised—just today, I was looking for new blush and found myself in some brand’s shade-finder quiz that required an email to see your answer. (I surrendered). Brain’s quiz followed the same steps, requiring an email address to reveal a personality-matched pipe.
Brain says that growing a subscriber list means focusing funnels. “Take the time to funnel as many customers, followers, commenters, and browsers over to email as you can. Have people sign up at IRL events or get creative in providing incentives for people to sign up via social media. Email is the most reliable space to communicate with customers; there is no algorithm or censorship tied into email like there is with social media.”
(Let’s hit pause here real quick for anyone who may be about to quietly open another tab and Google “what is a funnel?” Marketers are storytellers, and they love metaphors. The funnel is a way of describing a potential customer’s journey from encountering a brand to making a purchase. Those journeys can follow different paths or funnels—for example, someone might hear about a brand from a friend, then search it. Another person might see your targeted pop-up on their social media. And a third person might see your product on a shelf. Each one has a slightly different route to buying the product. Savvy marketing folks pay close attention to this and work to develop—and take advantage—of each funnel.)
One other piece of email marketing advice gleaned from Brain: Following Intuit’s acquisition of Mailchimp, she transitioned to Flodesk just in case the acquisition would impact their tolerance for cannabis-related businesses on the platform and hasn’t had any issues.
So that’s advice from a peer, but I was curious—when it comes to building those email lists, what would an expert recommend?
Kieryn Wang is a digital and experiential marketer and the founder of ALMOSTCONSULTING, a Seattle-based marketing agency that works with a variety of cannabis and cannabis-adjacent businesses. I reached out to get her take on email marketing best practices. As a test case, I asked her to consider the hypothetical case of a company that lives or dies on email, with the added complication of slim margins and no real product to discount: The Broccoli Report.
Granted, we rely on regular email signups more literally than others—without them, I don’t get paid. But what better example for the purpose of email marketing strategy than a business that is wholly dependent on them and only virtual offerings to get potential readers’ attention?
Here is our conversation:
The Broccoli Report is growing steadily, but I’d love to speed up our growth. I currently share every newsletter on my personal channels (IG, LinkedIn, and a terribly maintained Twitter), as well as on The Broccoli Report’s IG and often Broccoli's main IG Stories. I try to be sure whoever is mentioned in the newsletter gets it into their hands, but I could do better with that. Where do I go from here?
Kieryn Wang: It should be mentioned at least weekly on each social channel as well as the day before the next dispatch is set to go out. Every time, tell your communities that they can sign up and tease what's coming—even consider saying something like, "Send me your email to get it in your inbox," or "Drop your email here to sign up."
People need to know what kind of value they can get from subscribing—what information is included, what they can learn, how it can help their businesses—so be sure to include that when you promo. When you share the newsletter with those who are featured in it, ask them to share it with their communities, too. A specific call to action is always good versus an open-ended "Hey, I featured you."
I’d also recommend employing the Broccoli website, where The Broccoli Report could be on the footer of every page and a pop-up for people who are visiting the site for the first time.
Offering discounts and free gifts with sign-ups are a huge driver for email leads. What do you recommend for folks like me who don't sell physical products or can't easily discount their services?
KW: Think about a lead magnet. What can people get if they sign up? A discount on their first month’s subscription? A discount on a Broccoli magazine subscription? A one-pager with info that is of value to them?
Can you give me an example of an information-based lead magnet?
KW: Like reformatting your 101 on Gift Guides From a PR Professional, for example, in a PDF. Other ideas might be "A Guide to Shopping for CBD," or "How to Shop at A Dispensary"—something people can easily Google, but that you've put into a sweet, convenient package for them to receive as soon as they sign up for your email list. They're essentially paying you with their email for information that they don't have to seek out.
I once signed up for an email list because the person told me they would send me a how-to on calculating my net worth. I could've Googled that, but they created an informational packet for me—and of course promoted themselves and their services a bit in that PDF as well. That was enough of a value-add for me to provide my email in exchange.
Do you have different advice for licensed cannabis brands?
KW: Obviously, every state has different laws, and every business is different. A flower brand will behave differently than a licensed dispensary because you're a vendor versus a retailer. Always make sure to follow the law for your state and your type of business. For example, a CBD brand is a lot more flexible in what they can offer (such as a giveaway), whereas a dispensary is not going to be able to do a giveaway or a discount code. Make sure to stay compliant always!
But don't be afraid to get creative. For a licensed retailer, it could be access to online budtender office hours. That's a creative way to add value to your customers. For a THC product brand, maybe you can use merch to entice your audience—stickers, t-shirts, etc. Education is always a safe bet, though, so a guide to a topic related to your product or services can go a long way to collecting emails, as long as people find it helpful. Don't be afraid to test your lead magnets, too. Sometimes you need to try a few different educational offerings before you find the one that brings a lot of growth to your email list.
What about advice for brands trying to expand their subscriber lists beyond cannabis-centric audiences?
KW: Get in touch with non-cannabis-aligned brands, influencers, media outlets, etc. Think about how you can provide value to their communities—is it a collab live or virtual event? A paid content partnership? Collect emails where you can, and make sure that agreement is outlined before you start your collaboration. Sharing the list of emails collected from event attendees or people who signed up to get access to an educational piece or people who entered giveaways is quite valuable. You're acquiring users and building your audience, which (with the right email marketing sales funnel) can lead to sales/conversions down the line.
When you're dealing with a cannabis-related product and introducing it to non-cannabis-centric audiences, a lot of education is going to be involved. A LOT. So make sure you're providing transparency, information, and really breaking everything down into layman's terms. Because people who aren't familiar with cannabis need a lot of hand-holding and a lot of uncertainty removed before they're willing to consider the plant as a part of their daily lives/lifestyles. Get it down to the basics before a call to action.
In a lucky coincidence, Wang teased where we’re heading next Friday: Defining what consumer “education” looks like in action and investigating how big a role it can play in building strong relationships with consumers and creating a community. More resources, honest advice, and peeks behind the curtain coming soon. 🌸
Like, subscribe, exhale, and forward to a friend,