Newsletter open rates are driven by quality of content. Newsletter subscription rates are driven by something else… something not so easily defined.

If you’ve ever subscribed to a newsletter, I’d like you to take a moment to try and recall what enticed you to sign up. Was it brand loyalty? Perhaps it was the need for more information or the possibility of future savings that swayed you?

One last question, or rather a pair of questions. How many times do you need to visit an online store before you consider subscribing to its newsletter? Would you subscribe as a first-time shopper or only as existing, loyal customer?

The point of this exercise is to get you thinking about the psychological reasons, and unique circumstances, people subscribe to newsletters in the first place. Now I'd like you to think about your own e-store’s newsletter and what you can do to increase its subscription rate.

Nearly 75 percent of 3dcart store owners use newsletter marketing in an attempt to grow their business. Why that number isn’t closer to 100 percent baffles me slightly, but let’s move past my bewilderment for the moment and on to more important matters.

The average newsletter subscription rate for 3dcart store owners rests at around 17 percent, which leaves the other 83 percent of shoppers blind to your email marketing efforts.

As far as I’m concerned, creating an amazing newsletter is hard work. It takes time, planning and strategic execution. Above all else, you want your newsletter's content to shine, but you also need to feature a layout that is both easy to look at and highly functional. Creating a good newsletter will take at least a few hours, and that's a lot of effort to put forth for only 17 percent of your customers.

In an attempt to overcome your newsletter’s visibility problems, I would like you to first read a quote from David Edwards, owner of the incredible 3dcart store known as New Mexico Tea Company.

When asked how he’s been able to effectively grow his business, David’s response was “New Mexico Tea Company has been able to grow its online presence thanks to our custom newsletter and word of mouth. About six months after we opened, I noticed that approximately 10 percent of people were signing up for our newsletter. I soon came to realize that I was not offering customers anything in trade for their electronic attention, so we started a program -- that lasts even now -- and this program is one of the single reasons we’re still open. Everyone who is on our email list gets a free sample of tea each month, and now about 90% of our online shoppers sign up for the newsletter,” said David.

What a brilliant idea. One I think every online store owner should copy. Rather than just featuring a newsletter subscription field in the footer of your website and hope people will sign up, try offering an incentive in exchange for the electronic attention of your customers.

David offers his customers a free sample of tea every month in return for their email addresses, and I’m not saying you need to pump out free swag – by all means do so if you can – but you should definitely give customers something for their time.

Here’s my suggestion, and it’s a simple one. Offer shoppers 30 percent off their next order when they sign up for your newsletter.  Also, advertise this promotion using web copy, call to action buttons, homepage sliders, etc… and make your newsletter subscription filed highly visible, which means moving it out of your footer and above the fold on your e-store’s homepage.

When setting up a promotional offer, be sure to send an automated email response immediately after a shopper subscribes to your newsletter. This email should be a standard welcome message that introduces your brand, breaks down what they can expect as a loyal consumer while also offering an exclusive promotional code that can be used at checkout.

I know what you’re thinking. “30 percent off an entire order is too much.” To that I say “hogwash.” Thirty percent on a single order -- regardless of its cost -- pales in comparison when you consider that you’ve just gained the future attention and loyalty of a customer.

Now that you have their attention, go out and create stellar content. Make your newsletter an extension of your brand and keep it interesting. Failing to do so will kill your open rates, and if no one is reading your newsletter, who cares what percentage of shoppers subscribe to it?

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please post them in the appropriate field below.

Thanks for taking the time to read everyone. Have fun out there and happy selling.