5 July 2018
Near the end of the Stonemaier event at Mox Boarding House in Seattle, I was chatting with my co-designer for Scythe: The Rise of Fenris, Ryan. He was talking about his history with Stonemaier Games, especially as related to Scythe.
At a certain point, Ryan paused, searching his memory. “You know,” he said, “I just realized that I didn’t even sign up for your e-newsletter until at least a year after I started closely following Stonemaier Games.”
I found this fascinating. Here we had a huge Scythe fan–someone who loved the game enough to create a homemade expansion that would provide the early foundations for The Rise of Fenris–yet for quite some time it didn’t occur to him to to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.
This was a wake-up call to me that I need to do a better job of encouraging people to take that step, as I believe the e-newsletter is the most powerful way of delivering important information to fans (or potential fans). Stonemaier Games’s monthly e-newsletter, for example, currently has 34,362 subscribers, and the average open rate is 54.4%.
Here are a few ways people are motivated to take that final step and actually subscribe:
- They can easily find the subscription box on your website: If people can’t find where to subscribe, they’re not going to subscribe. On our website, I have a “News” link at the top of the page and a one-click e-newsletter subscription box in the footer of every page.
- They learn on social media that the e-newsletter exists (and that they’re missing out): I often see questions on social media like, “Does anyone know when X reprint will be available?” When I respond, I answer question, and I mention that we update people about that topic on a regular basis via our e-newsletter. I include a link to the News page, which shows the current status update image, links to archived e-newsletters, and a subscribe link.
- They see how it benefits them now: In the distant past, I offered an immediate incentive to sign up for our e-newsletter (“Get $5 off your next purchase from the Stonemaier Games webstore.”) I think this is a legitimate way to encourage people to subscribe, though I’m always hesitant about incentives that aren’t necessarily in line with the intended benefit of the e-newsletter. Also, I feel like since I haven’t offered that perk for a while, if I started offering it again, it may not sit well with everyone who subscribed since I removed the discount.
- They see how it benefits them later: I really like the idea of e-newsletter signups that answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” It’s hard to fully convey this in a short sentence, so keep in mind that subscribers are motivated by (a) deals and special offers, (b) important, time-sensitive updates, and (c) content that relates directly to them (see stats on this article).
- They want a very specific prompt: Whenever I announce a new product, I always include a “Tell Me When It’s Available” button on the product page that directs to the e-newsletter. My perception is that there’s a significant number of people who learn about a specific product and only want to know about it. Some of them may later unsubscribe, which is fine, but others might find value in the e-newsletter and stick around.
- They’re prompted by a pop-up window: This article claims that pop-up forms obtain 1,375% more subscribers than traditional forms like the one I have in my footer. So why don’t I add a pop-up form? Maybe I will someday, but I find them annoying, and I don’t want to annoy people.
- They have an altruistic reason to act now: I talked about this a few months ago in reference to Thundergryph Games’ signup for Tang Garden. They offered to plant a tree for each subscriber. This was paired with images of a beautiful game, compelling me to want to learn more.
- They see it on your products: I doubt I get many new subscribers from this, but I put a link to our e-newsletter on the back page of our rulebooks. I like the idea that someone who has the game in their hands–hopefully a game they enjoy–has a reminder about how they can stay in touch and learn more.
Last, what if you’re preparing for your first Kickstarter and you feel like no one even knows who you are? I’d highly recommend reading this: 10 Daily Actions to Build Your Crowd
What motivates you to subscribe to an e-newsletter? Can you think of any brands you’re passionate about that you don’t subscribe to? Why not?
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