How to Generate Newsletter Opt-Ins for Your Office

Secrets to growing and maintaining engaged email lists

June 19, 2019

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Have you ever spent hours crafting the perfect email or postal mail campaign only to review the analytics and be disappointed by its performance? Have you ever wondered why your communications efforts aren’t yielding more results? It’s a common problem on Capitol Hill, in the private sector, and everywhere in between. Every leader knows that even the most brilliant communications strategy is only as good as its audience.

That's why we’re here to help you enhance your contact lists, grow an engaged community, and optimize your audience for maximum impact. Stop wasting your time messaging to a stale contact list and start generating new opt-ins today.

Grow Organically

Far and away, the best way to cultivate an engaged community is to build your lists organically. Visitors to your website who self-identify as interested in receiving your content are naturally, very likely to be some of the highest quality members of your audience. And you can drive traffic to your website by being active on social media and making your website design interactive and easily navigable. Setting up a simple opt-in web form on your Contact page is easy, but there's no need to stop there.

Use Pop-Ups Wisely

Every internet user knows how irritating pop-up ads can be. But that doesn’t mean they should be avoided completely. When done well, pop-ups can be highly effective for growing organic opt-ins. Consider adding a simple, well-designed pop-up prompting registration as a visitor enters your website for the first time. It's best to use cookies to make sure visitors who are already signed up for your lists are not asked to sign up again.

Another innovative, effective way to use pop-ups is to put an exit intent pop-up in place. This type of prompt is similar to the entry pop-up except—you guessed it—you’re prompted to join a mailing list as you attempt to leave the website. The private sector, especially online retail, has mastered this technique with effective, “Don’t go yet—sign up now and save 10%” messaging but it has yet to take hold among elected officials. Be one of the first to reap the benefits with engaged audience members by asking our web services team about implementing pop-ups today.

Supplement Paid Content Carefully

When done strategically, paid contact can be nearly as effective as organic growth. However, you need to have total confidence that any list you purchase has been fully vetted, is in compliance with all applicable legislation, and has been thoroughly scrubbed. Working with second-rate data vendors comes with consequences, such as constituent complaints, wasted money, or blocked outreach. 

The other thing to consider is usability. It’s not much help to purchase a list that’s delivered to you in a spreadsheet that you can’t use. You need to select a data provider like us that will install the information in a way that is actionable immediately. 

Write Strategically

Create content your desired audience wants to see. First, identify a few personas that embody your ideal subscribers--what type of content do they want to see? Do they want insight into the Member’s personality and family life? Or are they focused on policy, the Member’s voting record, district events, or constituent services? Take a critical look at your constituency and make some decisions about who your ideal subscribers are and what kind of content you think will repeatedly attract them to your website. 

Once you’ve settled on a content strategy to attract your ideal future subscribers, make it easy for them to sign up for your content. It’s critical to ensure that your registration form is no more than one click away (or less; see pop-ups above) from your strategic content that brought them there in the first place. You’ve done the leg work to attract your audience. Don’t lose them by burying or hiding you registration form.

Target Specifically

It’s never a bad idea to offer subscribers the option to opt-in to every content type that you publish, but you’re more likely to retain long-term subscribers by offering opt-ins for specific areas of interest in addition to a blanket subscription option. Does your office write issue-specific newsletters (e.g., an agriculture newsletter, infrastructure newsletter, etc.)? Does your office write constituent-specific newsletters (e.g., for veterans, seniors, teachers, etc.)? Think about making your content strategy more specific, and then configure your opt-in forms to match. Constituents are far more likely to engage and remain active readers if the content delivered matches their interests.

With all that said, remember to keep things as simple as possible. It’s not realistic to expect most constituents to peruse a menu of 10 or more newsletters to opt into. A good rule of thumb is to have less than 7 options for specific opt-in lists. Talk to your ITC about syncing your IQ lists with these opt-in options.

Ditch Technology Occasionally

While some senior citizens don’t need any help syncing their AirPods with their iPhone X, many older Americans may not be as tech savvy. Don’t be shy about resorting to offline methods to bolster your opt-in lists. As quaint as it may sound, always have a pen-and-paper registration sheet at every event you have in the district and elsewhere. Will an intern or LC have to manually enter these names into IQ later? Yes. But these constituents are very likely to be high quality contacts.

Franked Mail is a low-tech way to reach out to your constituents. Our Franked Mail services offer custom-designed postal mail outreach with the option to print surveys and requests for opt-ins on the material you send in the mail. Once your mailing is sent, we can automatically receive, scan, and import those responses directly back into IQ. 

Creating content for your office is one thing, but encouraging constituents to engage with that content is a separate problem. Whether organic or paid, generating opt-ins should be a priority for every office, especially as technology trends continue to evolve.

Click here to view a document on more ways you can boost opt-ins.