6 Ways to Build Your Email Subscriber List through Social Media

Post by Frank Barry - 5.31.2009 - Follow me on Twitter

According to the 2009 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study released by NTEN, Email is still the “killer app” we all thought it was when it came out!

That said, we know that Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others are growing at astonishing rates. Facebook reached 200 Million users according to Mark ZuckerbergTwitter grew by 1382% in February of 2009 according to Nielsen. YouTube shows that 14.8 billion online videos were watched in January 2009 alone according to Google Source.

snail mail image for 6 ways to build your email subscriber base with social media postSo what do you do? Focus on email acquisition or focus on “joining the conversation” in social media?

I say, do both because social media and email can play nice together! In fact, they are a great complement to each other. Check out what the benchmarking study had to say with respect to gaining email list subscribers via social media sites:


… it’s not just quantity that these sites (social media sites) are delivering. The email addresses National Wildlife Federation gained from social networking campaigns are high-quality, because they are true opt-ins from highly qualified sources. They have maintained a 35 percent open rate on the weekly e-newsletter.

That’s right … 35% open rate on their weekly email newsletter. To put that into context the average open rate from 2008 was 16%. This is just one example. I bet there are numerous other nonprofits out there who could share similar stories - if they are tracking things?

On to the tips (adapted from study referenced above) …

  1. Build relationships, be social and share valuable information, tools and resources with people on a consistent basis. This type of interaction is going to help you connect with people in a closer and more intimate way. When people feel close to your organization through a personal relationship and are excited about your cause they are more likely to engage with you in other ways.

  2. Be patient. Social media is about having conversations. It’s a long term strategy that will pay off, but you have to work at it, be consistent and engage with people.

  3. Produce great content consistently. Content that is useful, informative and helpful to your supporters. Use social media to share this stuff as part of your conversations so it’s not all about you “blasting” our “yelling” about you. Remember, this isn’t a TV advertisement.

  4. Track your social media efforts with respect to how they drive traffic to your website. Knowing how effective your use of Twitter is, what social media sites are driving the most traffic back to your main web site or how much your content is being spread through the web by social sharing tools like delicious is invaluable to helping you make decisions and adjustments that will help you continue to improve your email acquisition. If your not sure how to do this check out 4 Keys to Building a Successful Nonprofit Website for some things to think about.

  5. Have a clear call to action on every page/site to which you drive traffic. Capitalize on that traffic by giving them something to do! You should also have a clear call to action on your social media sites where possible. The ONE Campaign did a nice job of this with their Nonprofit Facebook Fan Page.

  6. Segment the folks who subscribe to your newsletter via social networking sites. Make sure you know which networks and which conversations are driving the most traffic and recruits.


Thanks to NTEN and M+R Strategic Services for producing the report. Great information!

Photo Credit: Today is a good day


What have you seen be effective in building your email subscriber list? Have you had any success in using social media to gain subscribers? Do you track RSS subscribers as well or think about them in the equation at all?

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