Grow your email list by teasing issues 🗞️

How to use what's coming to get people subscribed

Just because a newsletter is free, doesn’t mean your readers will join it.

Your readers are motivated by a range of factors. Some care deeply about the topics you cover. Others want access to a benefit you offer.

As you keep writing for them, you’ll learn what drives them to reply, share, subscribe or pay money.

One thing that will always work is you asking them to do something.

Today, we’re looking at how to tease your newsletter so people want in. Teasing your issues means offering a preview of what’s coming so your social media followers or website visitors will subscribe.

You’ve got lurkers. This practice will get more of them off the fence and onto your list.

📣 Want to grow your paid readership? Join us for our Scaling Paid Subs mind meld. Next session is Monday, June 3 at 1pm Pacific/4pm Eastern and it’s free. RSVP here.

How to grow your list with issue teasing

1) Plug the next issue on your primary social channel

Seamus Hughes who has 7,000+ subscribers on his newsletter Court Watch tweets about his newsletter often. He’ll highlight a key story (as shown below) or he shares a behind the scenes as he’s writing it (like this picture of his screen).

What he did well here:

  • Play to different reader motivations with each tease (one about a story, one about a specific resource, etc)

  • Make the newsletter subscribe a big, clear call to action (not buried or implied!)

👀 How to do it:

  • Schedule a post every week to go out one day before your newsletter comes out that says what is coming in the issue

  • Too much work? Pull a Taylor Lorenz and just automate the same plug over and plug. It will still drive subscribers. (Skim to bottom of this email for a tool rec!)

2) Add a coming up preview in the articles

The Lever promotes what’s coming up in the article body itself. This snippet below is actually from one of their podcast posts but it could work in any article format.

You might be asking: how do they keep that updated? They don’t bother which I love because it reduces labor and it doesn’t matter much as content ages. It lives in the timeline of the original post.

Would it be cool if this was an automated widget that would update site wide with the actual next story? Yes, yes it would.

What they did well here

  • The emoji makes the line standout to the reader

  • The fact that it’s still part of the article gets you reading it (avoids the ad scanners)

  • Calling out that what they’re sharing is for paid subscribers also prompts an upgrade

👀 How to do it:

  • You can make this copy more generic so it stays more evergreen like: “We share stories from all over Chicago just like this one in our weekly newsletter. Join 10k+ readers and get every issue in your inbox.”

  • Or you can use series-specific language: “Get the next story on Chicago policing in your inbox when you join my weekly newsletter.”

  • Make sure to link to the newsletter subscribe (even better when it sits in the article and they don’t have to leave the page)

3) Use a thematic pop-up

Scalawag has a topic newsletter on agriculture and environmental racism. They made a separate newsletter prompt that highlights that coverage area, and while I don’t think they’re using it as a pop-up, it could easily be used that way to get web visitors over to the newsletter.

What they did well here

  • They wrote an actual sales pitch for the newsletter. This is one of the best pieces of marketing copy on a newsletter subscribe block I’ve ever seen.

  • Visually their pitch stands out and grabs attention, both for the word choice and the bright colors.

👀 How to do it:

  • Use HelloBar or your built-in site functionality to trigger a pop-up subscribe box after someone’s been on an article 15-30 seconds

  • Write your newsletter sales pitch based on why people reading articles should also get the newsletter

  • If you have a major story or series coming out, this pop-up is perfect to promote it and get subscribes ahead of that release

Our takeaway

Your newsletter and your articles have slightly different value propositions. When you tease your newsletter, you get more of your social followers and article readers to subscribe to it.

And when you have more newsletter subscribers, you can communicate more often about your work and how to support it.

Which one of these will you try? Hit reply and let me know. I’d love to help you implement it if you’ll let me share the results in an upcoming issue!

—Lex (@betonlex)

🛠️ Tools you should know: Hypefury

Hypefury is a social media automator. Newsletter operators love it for turning manual tasks into a system.

Take Twitter as an example. If you schedule a tweet teasing your upcoming story, Hypefury will wait until the tweet takes off a bit and then it will automatically add a plug for your newsletter.

It can also be set to auto-retweet popular posts later. It works with Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and you can use it as a scheduler too.