A Little Incentive Goes a Long Way

Incentives give people the nudge they need to share their email address with you. They’ll not only be rewarded for signing up for your list, they’ll also get a preview of the services you have to offer as well as the quality of your business.

Remember when you were younger, and your teachers would reward your class’s good behavior with no homework over a long weekend? Suddenly, nothing else mattered except that precious extra time you’d have on your hands – and nothing beat that feeling of freedom once you had it.

As adults, we still like to be rewarded for our actions, especially when it’s a reward we can use. That’s why incentives are incredibly valuable marketing tools for any business looking to grow their email list.


What is an incentive?

Some people call it a sign up bonus, others consider it a free gift. Regardless of its name, the purpose is the same: you’re giving people a reason to sign up for your list, and you’re getting a chance to showcase your expertise.

Why are incentives so effective?

Many people are protective over their personal information – email addresses are no exception. Incentives give people the nudge they need to share their email address with you. They’ll not only be rewarded for signing up for your list, they’ll also get a preview of the services you have to offer as well as the quality of your business. Incentives help you stand out from other businesses from the get-go, as well.

Different type of incentives

By now you might be wondering, ‘What could I give away that people would actually want?’ Let’s take a look at some of the common types of incentives to choose from:

  • Free ebook or PDF
  • Coupon
  • One-time discount or offer code
  • Video or webinar
  • Another freebie that relates to your business

Which incentive is right for my business?

With all the different types of incentives you can use, it’s important to choose the right one.

Digital items, such as ebooks and PDFs, are the easiest things to turn into incentives, because you’ll never run out of inventory.

free marketing ebook

If you’re already producing content, it won’t take much time at all to flip what you already have into a PDF file. They’re easily deliverable too – you can attach files up to 1MB to an email. (For larger files, we recommend using Dropbox or Google Drive.)

Digital incentives work exceptionally well for those who provide consulting, training, coaching or any kind of internet marketing services. Think step-by-step guides, industry tips/best practices, checklists and worksheets.

Want to promote a product or service? Offer a one-time coupon code for new subscribers. Make sure your offer is valuable, because new subscribers are more likely to spread the word if they like your deal!

Here’s a great example of a coupon incentive.

coupon incentive example

There’s a good chance that if you’re on this website, you’re already interested in attending the event. Why wouldn’t you want to sign up for email updates and get $3 off your admission? It’s a no-brainer.

Here are some more ideas to help you get started:

  • Are you an author? Give away a free chapter of your latest book.
  • Foodie? Share a great recipe created exclusively for your email list.
  • Designer or blogger? Create a unique printable, like stationery, wall art, or a design for an iron-on transfer.
  • Dog-walker? Include a recipe for a homemade, dog-friendly treat.
  • Photographer? Create a computer desktop image using your work.
  • Restaurant or shop owner? Ask visitors to sign up for your list after they make a purchase in exchange for a discount on their next visit, like Fork Restaurant does.

The idea is to create an incentive that is available nowhere else! Once you know which incentive is right for your business, where do you place your incentive offer? State your incentive clearly on your web sign up form. Click here to learn more about what to write on your sign up form.

send me updates

How do I follow up and keep my new subscribers engaged?

The best thing about the incentives we’ve mentioned so far? They’re easily deliverable via email. That leads us to the most important part of incentivizing your new subscribers: following through. A follow up series serves as a great tool for delivering digital incentives. Your very first follow up message to those new subscribers after they’ve confirmed into your list should contain their freebie. Don’t make them wait!

Remember, your work isn’t done once you’ve delivered the goods. You need to continue showing your company’s value to new subscribers if you want to keep them engaged. Great content, ongoing sales and newsletter exclusives will make them feel like they’re part of your club. You might also consider expanding on the content you used as your incentive in your follow up emails.

And if your incentive isn’t as effective as you’d like it to be? Don’t be afraid of refreshing your incentive to attract people who may not have been interested in your first one. It may take a little experimentation to figure out what what works best for your business.

Have you ever used an incentive offer to encourage people to sign up for your list? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Looking for more ways to grow your email list? Download our free case study, How One Blogger Grew Her Email List to 50,000 and Counting!

free guide to growing your email list