In recent times, paid-for newsletters have become serious business, and rightly so.

Their authors have identified readers who are sitting with oversaturated inboxes and are willing to pay for clear content actually contributing value to their interests.

However, turning a reader into a paying customer is no easy feat.

Their journey normally involved 3 steps:

  1. Email sign up to your free or limited-trial newsletter
  2. You deliver what you say while upselling the premium offering
  3. Them upgrading with a subscription payment

Two of these (1 & 3) involve landing pages.

In this two-part series, I break down the key ingredients needed in these two landing pages ultimately leading to a new paid-for newsletter subscriber and more ARR (annual recurring revenue) for your business.

Simply put, the more subscribers you have in your free or trial newsletter, the more chances you have to convince them to upgrade.

It all starts with:

πŸ“¬ The newsletter sign up landing page

A good landing page has one objective and in this use-case, it's for the visitor to enter their email and hit subscribe. The marketing nerds call this a conversion.

After inspecting and reviewing dozens of newsletter landing pages, I've shortlisted these seven tips to help improve your sign up conversions.

1. Embed the sign up form and position it above the fold

Aligned with our one objective (signing up), when arriving for the first time these next two landing pages make it abundantly clear I must enter my email address and nothing else:

Damp newsletters sign up page
DAMP's newsletter sign up landing page
The Plug newsletter signup page
The Plug's newsletter sign up landing page

2. Spice up the form call-to-action button:

You’re excited for visitors to discover your newsletter, so why not share that excitement in your form button:

🚫 Subscribe: (meh)

Substack's subscribe button, which can't be edited

βœ… Let's Go:

The Lazy MBA's exciting subscribe button saying "Let's Go"
The Lazy NBA's subscribe form and button

βœ… Unlock the latest:

The Plug's subscribe button saying "Unlock the latest"
The Plug's subscribe form and button

3. Convince with social proof

Think of social proof as herd mentality. We tend to follow bigger herds vs. smaller herds. We are influenced by higher ratings vs. lower ratings. If everyone else is doing it, it must be the best and safest bet.

βœ… Add subscriber count:
βœ… Add awards: (#1 Product of the Month top-right)

Trends.vc social proof on the sign up page, featuring a product hunt award, and the number of subscribers
Trends.vc

βœ… Add Featured-In Press logos:

2PM's testimonials, with featured-in press logos
2PM

4. Hand-pick testimonials explaining your newsletter

So often I see newsletter landing pages packed with testimonials providing very little value to the potential subscriber.

🚫 "Great newsletter!"
🚫 "I really look forward to this newsletter each week"

βœ… Reminder of niche:

"Continually impressed by Seedtable - some of the smartest European tech analysis out there"
Seedtable testimonial

βœ… Emphasize consistent delivery: (each morning)
βœ… Benefit of subscribing: (reduce echo chamber)

"I finally found a way to escape the echo chamber. Each morning, a virtual maitre d' appears in my inbox, proffering carefully curated delights"
The Browser

5. Preview a newsletter edition

There is no better way to clear up what your newsletter is going to be above than screenshots or linking to an actual edition hosted online.

βœ… Screenshots linked to archived editions:

An example of newsletter previews on Benedict's  Newsletter
Benedict's Newsletter previews

βœ… Embed a coded edition:

An embedded example edition of One Page Love
Landing Page Hot Tips embedded preview

βœ… Wrap it in a relatable reading experience device:

Mailbrew landing page with smartphone design
Mailbrew landing page with smartphone design

6. Make the headline copy exclusively yours

How is your newsletter any different from the dozens sitting in my inbox?

βœ… Use nuances your niche would only understand:

"A newsletter without added sulfites" β€” nuances only a DAMP reader would understand
DAMP newsletter landing page

βœ… Be cheeky:

The Lazy NBA being cheeky on their signup page: "Your lazy ass inbox"
The Lazy NBA

7. Emphasize time-saving

Let's take a moment and try to understand why someone would subscribe to a newsletter:

  • Provide useful data or information
  • Improve their skills
  • Help make them money
  • Entertain them

Delivering any of the above, directly to your inbox, will no doubt save them time vs them searching for those resources online. Remind them how you will save them time in your newsletter landing page copy.

βœ… How many hours do you save them:

Trends.vc stating a subscription will save the reader 2,000+ hours of market research
Trends.vc

βœ… How long will it take to read:

Morning Brew stating readers can become "smarter in just 5 minutes"
Morning Brew 

βœ… Getting straight to the point:

The Plug getting to the point with a punchy headline of "Less noise, smarter reporting"
The Plug

βœ… "We read hundreds, recommend five"

The Browser explaining how they'll save you time with "We read hundreds, recommend five" on their subscription landing page
The Browser

I’d argue time is the most valuable commodity we have. How is your newsletter curation going to save them time?

Creating sign up landing pages in Ghost

There's plenty of flexibility within Ghost to implement all of the tactics I've shared in this post. Here are three pointers for improving your newsletter sign up landing page:

  1. Install a theme β€” you can find a wealth of beautiful free and premium themes in the marketplace, some of which have a homepage with
  2. Use Portal β€” it's important to provide frequent opportunities for people to sign up, and portal allows you to do that by placing a subscribe button on every page of your Ghost site.
  3. Create something custom β€” this is more of an advanced route that requires hiring a theme developer, but if you're serious about your paid-for newsletter it will pay dividends. Check out the Ghost experts directory to get started.

Look out for part two...

I hope you enjoyed this visual round-up of seven tips to help improve sign ups on your newsletter landing page. What are your go-to tips not included here? Hit me up on @robhope on Twitter with your favorites.

Check out part two of this edition which explains how to turn more of your subscribers into customers by strengthening your newsletter upgrade landing page:

Newsletter landing pages: How to get more paid subscribers
Your newsletter upgrade landing page can be the difference between a free newsletter subscriber and an increase in ARR for your business.

For further landing page hot tips, get an exclusive 40% off my Ebook as a Ghost reader using the link below!

Landing Page Hot Tips ebook download