How to Convert More Website Visitors to Subscribers with a Compelling Lead Magnet

Email newsletters are one of the best, simplest ways to keep your customer base up-to-the-minute on everything going on at your brand or business.

The only difficult part is getting your website visitors to subscribe!

If you’re cranking out a beautiful, poignant newsletter every month but send it to fewer people than you invited to your last birthday party, you may be doing something wrong.

Take a look at the language you use to attract your visitors to your newsletter on your website. Is it interesting and compelling? If not, that’s an issue.

To convert more visitors to subscribers and build a passionate, informed customer base, consider incentivising the subscription with a little something special. Read on to find out what that looks like along with a handful of examples to inspire you.

Highlights and Takeaways

  • People don’t want “updates”
  • Use a lead magnet to incentivise subscriptions
  • The incentive doesn’t need to be something big
  • Experiment with ebooks, guides, worksheets, coupons or cashback offers
  • Make sure you have a plan for what to send your subscribers on a regular basis

“Sign Up for Updates” Doesn’t Cut It

When you’re trying to convert more visitors to subscribers, language is everything.

Your website text is the single clearest form of communication you have with your visitors on this platform. No amount of beautiful design can negate that. You need your sign up form copy to grab the reader’s attention and call them to action.

This is common sense but it’s incredible how few brands and businesses get this right. Thousands upon thousands of websites link to their newsletter with four incredibly dull, cliché, and uninspiring words: “Sign Up for Updates”.

Lots of food and drink brands make this mistake. From the fresh-faced startups who can’t be blamed, to big guys who should really know better.

The juice giant Innocent plays a cute and slightly improved spin on the theme by inviting visitors to “sign up for love, friendship, a weekly newsletter,” but offers no more concrete incentive to plugging in an email address.

This kind of language — updates, news, sign up — translates to one thing in the customer’s mind: more e-mail. I don’t know about you but I get enough email as it is, thanks very much.

People don’t want more email for the sake of it. They do want things that inspire them and help them solve problems. That’s where the lead magnet comes in.

Use a Lead Magnet to Encourage Visitors to Subscribe

A lead magnet is a free gift that a website visitor receives in exchange for their email address.

The goal is to reduce the friction that naturally arises whenever you ask a customer to do something for nothing. When there’s an exchange of value – something that you want (their email address) and something they want (your lead magnet) it’s a different story.

It may seem counterintuitive but it’s in your interest to start the relationship off this way: by giving a gift first.

This free gift doesn’t have to be anything big. You won’t have to spend a fortune on product or postage, digital goodies will do. In fact, your lead magnet can be as simple as a PDF guide, a series of recipes or selection of top tips – these all work well. You don’t have to give away something big, you just have to give away something.

Evidence That Lead Magnets Can Convert More Visitors to Subscribers

The benefits of lead magnets are immediate and unmistakable. For a concrete example, take a look our our sister project, Eco & Beyond – a family-focused food publication.

On Eco & Beyond, we have two dedicated pages where readers can sign up for our newsletter. One of these landing pages offers a signup form alone and converts at a humble 5.19%.

Another page offers the enticing “Ultimate Guide to Reducing Food Waste at Home,” a PDF eBook chock full of tips and recipes for eating better while wasting less.

After a few lines of compelling copy, the page concludes with a subtly edited signup form. Instead of “Sign Up for Updates,” the form’s header reads “Sign Up to Grab Your Copy.”

Instead of “Subscribe” or “Join,” the form’s submit button says “Get Your Guide.”

We immediately saw great results from this lead magnet. The food waste guide offer converts at 24.2% — nearly 5 times the conversion rate of the unembellished signup form!

By now you should be on board with the idea of offering something compelling to your visitors if you want to grow your email list. So, what are some tried and tested offers you can use for inspiration?

5 Examples of Compelling Lead Magnets for Food Brands

A number of clever companies are reaping big rewards from lead magnets. This includes many of the ethical and sustainable food and drink brands that we love to work with here at Sapling.

We love what these five tasty brands are doing to convert more visitors to subscribers on their websites.

#1 Planet Organic: Free Ebook

As the UK’s largest fully certified organic supermarket, Planet Organic has a lot going for it.

Like all sustainably successful companies, they aren’t content to rest on their laurels and wait for new shoppers to accidentally wander in their general direction. The Planet Organic marketing team is constantly evolving their techniques to convert more visitors into devoted fans.

On their website, they do this by offering a free online cookbook and 10%-off coupon code to anyone who signs up for their newsletter. They’re currently offering a beautifully-photographed tome titled Our Vegan Summer Cookbook. This could benefit from being updated given it’s the middle of winter as I write this, but at least would have been relevant for  Veganuary.

If, like Planet Organic, you don’t have the time to update your lead magnet with the changing seasons, make sure to offer a gift that can be enjoyed all year around, like Eco & Beyond food waste guide.

#2 Organix: Personalised Diet Plans

Organic baby food companies are popping up around the world, Organix remains one of the most successful brands on the market.

Their creative, crisply-designed website is one of the many tools they use to maintain this success.

On the upper right corner of the Organix website, there’s a cute, rounded tab emblazoned with an icon that combines a silhouette of a baby with the gear-like “settings” icon you might recognise from your phone.

This tab links to a page that invites visitors to enter their family’s “Can’t Haves” and “Dietary Choices” to create a perfectly-calibrated healthy diet plan. Once visitors enter their email address and other information in the form, they receive the plan with relevant recipes in their inbox.

This personalised, app-like experience appeals to the thoughtful, modern customers who choose Organix for their kids.

#3 Yeo Valley: Yeokens and Kids’ Activities

The very first piece of text on the website for Yeo Valley, the UK’s biggest organic dairy, is captivatingly cryptic: “LOG IN or REGISTER for Yeokens!”

Clicking on the link reveals that Yeokens are “special tokens” hidden on Yeo Valley products. Customers can collect and trade for everything from coupon codes and playtime on cow-themed online games to physical merchandise and visits to the real Yeo Valley.

All customers have to do to use these tokens is submit their email address to create an account.  This also sets them up for the Yeo Valley newsletter.

Brands that turn over a large quantity of physical, perishable products like yogurt may find success in emulating this loyalty-based lead magnet. If you don’t have the stock required to imitate Yeokens, you can still take a page from Yeo Valley’s book by crafting fun activities that appeal to customers with kids.

Yeo Valley’s website is stuffed with activities kids can enjoy both online and off, from colouring pages to crosswords. Visitors can download these PDF activities from the website or sign up to their newsletter to get a running update on all the latest fun stuff.

#4 PLENISH: 20% off Coupon Code

PLENISH is an award-winning brand that’s riding the juice cleanse trend better than any other company in the UK. Their colourful website puts the money where its mouth is. As soon as you navigate to their main page, you’ll see a pop-up box that offers a 20% off coupon code.

We have mixed feelings about pop-ups here at Sapling. Visitors with ad-blockers might not even see this code — but no one can deny the persuasive power of a good deal.

You can take advantage of the coupon craze without resorting to pop-ups. Simply include a link to an email coupon in a conspicuous location on any page of your website. PLENISH also has a well-crafted loyalty program for its email subscribers. You could emulate this if you sell a product that customers are likely to incorporate into their daily routine. Perfect for items like the meal-replacement juices or plant-based milks from PLENISH.

#5 Yushoi: Cashback on First Bag

You may have heard of “the first one is always free”. This marketing strategy that’s been around since newsletters were printed on paper and “digital” had something to do with fingers. The theory is that if your product is good enough, customers will come back for more once they’ve had a taste on the house.

Snack company Yushoi has taken this classic approach into the digital realm. Their website includes a link to a page called “Try Yushoi”. Visitors fill out a form to receive instructions about getting cashback for their first bag of crispy, crunchy pea crisps. Along with their free bag of crisps, visitors who fill out this form receive updates on Yushoi’s latest products and offers.

This creative lead magnet method works great for brands that are lucky enough to have their products on shop shelves around the country. If you want to try “the first one is always free” trick but don’t have as many stockists as you’d like, you can instead offer an email coupon code. This code can indulge your subscriber in one free product from your online store.

Now They’ve Signed Up, What Happens Next?

Congratulations! Your clever use of lead magnets helped you convert more visitors to subscribers than ever before. So what do you do with your growing list of people who have a genuine interest in your brand?

Don’t just stand there — talk to them!

Make sure you have a plan for regularly engaging with your subscribers. You’d be surprised how many people we hear about that capture emails but don’t actually do anything with their list. What a waste of hard work and energy!

Once you’ve given your new subscribers their free gift, consider sending out an autoresponder series. This should introduce them to your brand, your values, and your mission. Keep floating at the top of your subscribers’ minds — and mailboxes — by crafting regular, consistently interesting email campaigns.

You could send out special offers, share poignant stories, and personalise the experience as much as possible. And don’t forget to throw in another free gift now and then — your loyal subscribers deserve it.

For more email marketing tips, sign up for the Sapling newsletter. We’ll be sure to keep in touch every week with more than just updates. You’ll receive weekly food and digital marketing news, tips, tactics and strategies right to the comfort of your inbox.

We’ll also send you our lead magnet, Top 10 Tips for Writing and Sending Better Marketing Emails as soon as you subscribe. See what we did there?