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Janet Roberts

Getting Readers to Check Those Boxes
By Janet Roberts

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Many multiple-newsletter publishers who use Web subscription forms ask subscribers to indicate which newsletter they want and to provide some general background information so that they can tailor their content to meet reader needs.

It's a useful function, but it often depends on readers to make those choices. That doesn't always happen, either because readers are in too much of a hurry to provide the information, or they're so skittish about giving out information that they don't even perform a necessary function like picking which newsletter they want.

The result, especially if you offer more than one newsletter choice on your sign-up form, is an email address and nothing else.

You can get around that by formatting your form to precheck at least one box, even though you run the risk of checking the wrong box, or by denying a request until a required box is checked.

(Does this seem like an obvious thing to do? You'd be surprised at how many Web forms will accept subscription requests without ANY choices indicated. This is especially true of List Builder.)

If your Web program doesn't allow that function, you'll have to contact readers by hand (use a letter template you personalize, so that you're not writing the same message over and over), but that takes time.

Or, you can do what publishers such as Paula Rosenthal does and send out a general mailing, reminding readers to go to the Web form and indicate their preferences.

Here's the copy she uses as part of a general welcome letter to subscribers who sign up to her Hearing Exchange newsletters through her List Builder account:

"Please take a moment to click on the link that is at the bottom of this email. It will bring you to the subscription page where you signed up. Please review the 'Interests' on the left side of the subscription page. In order to receive any of our newsletters, they MUST be checked off in this area. For example, to receive our twice-monthly issue of HearingExchange News, our most popular, informative newsletter filled with articles, resources and more, 'HearingExchange News' must be checked off on the subscription page or you will not receive it."

Someday, perhaps, subscribers will take the time to read all the valuable information and instructions you provide for them. Until that fabled day arrives, you're going to have to take matters into your own hands if you want to build a good list and gather useful reader demographics.

Ezine-Tips for February 19, 2002

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