Want More Opens or Clicks? Reward Subscribers!

How do you keep subscribers reading your email marketing campaigns and/or clicking to your website, especially as they “age” (as more time passes since they signed up) and you compete for their attention with an increasing number of other senders? Obviously providing valuable content plays a big part here (as we’ve discussed on several occasions), but sometimes a little extra incentive can help, too. Recently Tracey, our Director of Customer Solutions, passed me an email with a helpful example of how to provide an incentive for subscribers to keep reading and clicking on your emails.

TeeFury TeaserHow do you keep subscribers reading your permission email marketing campaigns and/or clicking to your website, especially as they “age” (as more time passes since they signed up) and you compete for their attention with an increasing number of other senders?

Obviously providing valuable content plays a big part here (as we’ve discussed on several occasions), but sometimes a little extra incentive can help, too.

Recently Tracey, our Director of Customer Solutions, passed me an email with a helpful example of how to provide an incentive for subscribers to keep reading and clicking on your emails.

How T-Shirt Vendor TeeFury Uses Open and Click Data to Reward Readers

Here’s the body of the email from t-shirt site TeeFury (click image below to see full size):

Toward the end of the email, you’ll see this banner:

TeeFury Banner

As you can see, they’re offering an incentive – a free T-shirt – to a somewhat randomly selected reader.

I say “somewhat randomly” because they’re only opening the giveaway to the first handful of people who open their email.

You Can Do This, Too!

Among the many Email Analytics tools available in AWeber is the ability to search for and segment subscribers based on whether they opened a certain email or clicked a certain link.

You can find options to search your list based on whether subscribers opened a certain email or clicked a certain link on the “Subscribers” page of your account:

Search Options

All you have to do is:

  1. Decide what behavior you want to reward (reading a certain email? clicking a certain link?)Note: Personally I prefer having people click on a link rather than open an email. This is because tracking email opens relies on subscribers having images enabled, and some people might read your email but have images turned off – so even though they might read your email, you might not know it.
  2. Come up with a bonus, gift or special offer specifically for those subscribers who take the desired action
  3. Tell subscribers about the bonus/gift/offer/giveaway/etc.
  4. Send the email you want them to act on
  5. After a certain amount of time (whatever you decide), search your list and pick out your winner/s!

Your Ideas On Using This?

Can you see yourself using this tactic? What sort of incentives would you offer?

Share your thoughts below!


  1. Lalitha Brahma

    7/9/2009 10:21 am

    Thanks for the tip. I have always wondered about improving click thru rates. I now have an answer and that too illustrated with an example.

  2. Cassie

    7/9/2009 11:10 am

    I don’t have this option. How do I get it? This is definitely info I could use!

  3. AdamTaha

    7/9/2009 11:21 am

    Yes, great tip Justin. It’s something I’m applying right now, to get ready to launch.

    I would also reward people on blogs too. Where it says post a comment to add below that with words…

    "Post a comment to have the chance to win (name the thing they win)…."

    So not just on email clicks, but also, when they go to that place and it’s for an example a video…have an option to say..

    "Send this info etc, to friends" but let it go to capture page, cause you want people to opt in first, so they give permission themselves to say, "yes, I want more info."

    Every step, reward people is a great thing to do. So great tip Justin. Loving the stuff your bringing out mate. Brill.

  4. John Dicus

    7/9/2009 11:35 am

    I recently donated a box of our edible cactus to a tortoise rescue organization that conducted a sweestakes giving our cactus away, along with other prizes…. hoping it would encourage donations to their cause, and wishing to reward their contributors.

    I thought it was a great idea… I got exposure to potential customers on their site, was mentioned in their newsletter to some 15k subscribers, and got to send a free box to a tortoise rescuer who might now purchase from me in the future.

    I decided to start my own sweepstakes giving away a box of cactus monthly…. but when I got your great idea about getting newsletter subscribers to open the mail….. well, I can tie them together now!

    But I worry a bit about the ‘names and numbers in the hat’, and ‘I’m pulling them out and will be honest’ approach. So I got software to install which will tabulate and pick, and notify the winners automatically. I’m not the huge techie I should be, so I’ve not got it working yet, LOL… but it should be working in the next week or two… and pairing it with the newsletter is such a great idea!

    What is the cost/benefit of having the newsletter subject line read something like… ‘register for a FREE box of cactus’ ? And perhaps the signup forms on the site could read something like ‘sign up for our e-mails and be able to register for a free box of cactus on signup’ ? I could send the current link for that months registry with the follow-up confirmation e-mail.

    I like the automated ‘out of my hands’ idea with the names…. I don’t want to have anyone to worry I might be playing favorites.

    Also, what are the legalities in such a thing? I am SURE if you require a donation or purchase in order to be eligible, it is a violation of law (I’m in California with more laws than anyone). I am thinking that disclaimers such as ‘entering this contest does NOT require purchasing of any products on this site’.

    I’d think you must make it plain and clear that you are not requiring people to buy anything , or to feel pressured to buy so they can sign up. It’s much the same ethics issues as with the need for ‘double opt in’ e-mail newsletters.

    I like your e-mail service… I feel it to be a useful thing for me to keep people aware of the seasons of growth and how our product changes through the year due to weather.

  5. Neil

    7/9/2009 11:55 am

    Thanks for the interesting tip. I like your idea best Justin.

    It is a good idea to "train" your readers to click on the links in your emails, because that is how they are going to get to your offer page (eventually). Free gifts and links to other great content is a good way to do that.

  6. Eileen Thomas

    7/9/2009 12:13 pm

    This message is for John Dicus, the only thing I have heard that might be an issue is sending an email with the subject line having the word "free" on it and that is is picked up in the spam filters more frequently.

    I also am in CA and yes we have more laws than Carter’s has liver pills, but I don’t think you would have an issue as long as there is no requirement to purchase or donate prior to winning something.

    Good luck!

    To Aweber Team, gream message. Thanks and keep them coming.

  7. Crystal

    7/9/2009 1:27 pm

    Those options are not available to me.
    How do I get them?
    Very exciting!
    Thanks so much!

  8. Shelley

    7/9/2009 3:57 pm

    What a great tip – I had no idea I could do this. Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to creative ways of using this information? Wondering if you can somehow track subscriber history … now that I’m sure will reveal some interesting information 🙂

  9. Samuel

    7/10/2009 7:08 pm

    What a great idea! I will use this tips to give away a copie of my product to the first who open the email. Im happy to see how the aweber do everything to help us increase conversions. Thanks for all i appreciate.

  10. Tracy

    7/11/2009 1:51 pm

    Great idea,

    I’ll try giving away an e-coupon for a free download of our music to the first of our fans to respond.

    Thanks for sending the updates.

  11. Jeremy

    7/12/2009 11:08 pm

    That is great idea.

    My question to you would be about an development idea.

    Often with header graphic and, in this case, the footer graphic they will be same graphics always used.

    Would it be possible to somehow store a list of URL’s to the images in a "list" that maybe is a "drop down" quick list that we can choose from as opposed to having to type in full image URL’s all the time?

    Once URL is selected, the image would preview for confirmation. This would save time with on-fly broadcasting, last minute idea promotions and in general.

    Thanks for listening.

  12. Yvonne McIntosh

    7/13/2009 7:14 am

    Great tip, would love to know other ways you know of to increase opening rates, it’s a hot topic!

    Thanks for your valuable advice!

  13. Annette

    7/13/2009 3:20 pm

    I don’t have those options either in my fields when searching for subscribers. I love the suggestion.

  14. John Dicus

    7/14/2009 7:52 am

    One concern when dealing with customers is alienating anyone due to unintended consequences…. you might lose someone forever if they feel you are ‘not being fair’, or ‘not giving them a chance’.
    Rewarding the first ‘X’ number of customers might alienate anyone who happens to have been unable to respond in a timely fashion.
    Think of the person who comes home after a 16 hour day to open their mail… and excitedly registers for their reward only to find out that everyone who was able to register faster won.
    Giving everyone a few days to register, then picking the names from a hat sounds best.

  15. Justin Premick

    7/14/2009 9:00 am

    Cassie, Crystal, Annette,

    Those options are part of our Email Analytics tools – if you opened your account before we offered them and haven’t yet upgraded, those options won’t appear in your account.

    Contact our Customer Solutions Team and we’ll be happy to help you upgrade.


    We do track subscriber history – to view a subscriber’s history, go to the "Search Subscribers" page and display/search your list, then click on a subscriber’s email address.

    We’ll show you what emails that person has been sent, which ones s/he opened, which links s/he clicked, and if you’ve added the Analytics javascript to your site, we’ll show you which web pages s/he has been visiting on your site.


    My thoughts exactly. As I noted in a recent post, it’s all about conditioning.


    I haven’t heard that suggested before but I’ll pass it along and see what sort of feedback we get to it. Thanks.

  16. Rob Toth

    7/14/2009 3:10 pm

    We’ve been using incentives for blog commenting for some time now and the response is always terrific. We’ve also offered mini contests based on email replies (ie: send your Reply and we’ll select a random winner). So the concept DEFINITELY works… but now doing it based on email opens / clicks is a great idea.

    I can see this working even better with a "teaser" footer eluding to a bonus or prize they’ll get with the next newsletter… as in "ps. I’m sending over an email next Tuesday about __________ . Make sure you read through it as I’ll also tell you how you can get a free copy of our ______ every time you interact with one of the emails you receive from me."

  17. Don Richie

    7/14/2009 6:09 pm

    I just came by to read and learn about other people points of view and decided to say to you all thanks for sharing.

  18. Lucille Felton

    7/16/2009 11:57 am

    The contest idea is a good incentive to get people to subscribe to your newsletter! I have been thinking about it for some time, and would put a plan into action on my main t-shirt website and my marketing blogs too.

  19. Dave Shillito

    7/17/2009 3:33 pm

    Excellent idea. I read email with images off, so I agree, rewarding the link click is a better bet

  20. Timothy Tan

    7/18/2009 10:36 pm

    Fantastic idea! Will get on it and let you know that works for me.

    Thanks for all the great tips; please keep them coming.

  21. Dave

    7/30/2009 12:52 am

    This is great advice!

    Recently we’ve run tests for a client and found the list(s) using this tactic out-performed the others hands down.

    Not just in the % of people actually reading the emails, but the conversion rate of those that did as well!

    This shows that by interacting more with your subscribers using this easy method you not only get your emails read more, but a higher % of those that do end up converting.

  22. Richard Bligdon

    8/11/2009 10:38 am

    I can see this "incentive idea" even benn good to use at the beginning also.

    ie: An incentive to get people to click the confirm email,then another to get them to stay and so on…

    Call it "ethical bribery" or "the carrot before the donkey" etc,everybody needs a litte "nudge" at times.

    Primarily,because we are competing for their attention with some many others.

  23. Dave Freer

    8/22/2009 4:27 pm

    We are about to send an email alerting all subscribers that contained in the next 4 emails will be links to 4 numbers (1 in each). These emails will be sent over 7 days.

    Once all 4 numbers are collected and added together they will create a valid coupon id for a 15% discount when placing an order.

    e.g 3 + 5 + 8 + 12 = coupon ID will be "28"

    Each email will contain other marketing info and each link will take customers to the page with the number on it which will also include product info and details of other forthcoming promotions.

    Its the first time we have tried this so if it is a success I will let you all know.

  24. Justin Premick

    8/25/2009 1:53 pm


    That’s a really slick idea. Please come back and share the results with us!

  25. Consolata

    8/28/2009 7:08 pm

    This is a very good tip, I have come across it but not really given it much though. I sure would try it on my blog and see. Thanx

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