Increase Your Newsletter Subscriptions with a Free Download

It seems like every site these days prompts you to sign up for an email newsletter. And it’s no surprise; a newsletter is a great way for you to communicate with your visitors and let them know the latest news, upcoming events, and new offers and promotions. But with so many opportunies online to sign up for newsletters, how do you make yours stand out?

Offering a valuable item to download as a “thank you” for signing up is an excellent way to get the attention of potential newsletter subscribers.

What can you offer?

For some sites, it’s obvious what type of item would make sense to offer in exchange for a newsletter sign-up, but even if it isn’t immediately clear what you could offer, don’t despair. Chances are good that with a little creativity and effort, you can find a tempting reward for your new subscribers.

Think about who visits your site and why, and consider what you could offer them that would be relevant, useful and exciting. It could be anything from a song to a spreadsheet as long as it fits the needs of your visitors and relates to the content of your site and newsletter.

Just a few examples of the types of items you could offer for download:

  • tutorial
  • recipe
  • coupon
  • artwork
  • photography
  • music
  • calendar
  • software
  • template
  • font
  • story
  • eBook
  • map
  • podcast
  • worksheet
  • children’s activity

Of course, as always, anything you offer for download needs to be your own product or something you are licensed to distribute.

How does it work?

Getting set up to offer a download to new subscribers is going to depend on what platform your site is built on and/or what service you use for sending newsletters. Let’s discuss the most popular option for each.


The very popular MailChimp email service is user-friendly and offers loads of features, so it’s no surprise that the ability to provide a download to new sign-ups is built right in. Following their simple instructions, it will only take you a few minutes to add a downloadable gift to your initial “Welcome” email. And MailChimp even hosts the downloadable file for you.

A significant benefit of using your email service to provide the download link, is the fact that the email containing the link comes from them. Seems obvious, right? This is important because it means that the first thing a new subscriber will do is check their email for that special gift. If it turns out the email ended up in a spam folder or was otherwise “lost” in their email system (sorted into a less-noticeable tab in gmail, for instance), the subscriber is motivated to find it and approve it. This makes it much more likely that all new subscribers will continue to see the newsletters you send them in the future.


Rumor has it that nearly a third of the sites on the internet are using WordPress. If your site is too, getting set up to reward your new newsletter subscribers with a downloadable is as easy as installing a new plugin and spending a couple minutes configuring it. A plugin like the popular Email Before Download makes the setup simple and provides you with some additional options like offering the download immediately on the page instead of (or in addition to) emailing the link (not the suggested approach, since we want the subscriber to get a little practice being excited to get an email from you) and integrating with other useful plugins for acquiring additional information from visitors and tracking downloads.

Since the plugin approach is not specific to an email service, you will likely need to handle the process of adding the subscribers to your mailing list yourself, but the tools provided make that a simple process. Email Before Download allows you to export a list of users who have downloaded the file and then you can paste that list into MailChimp or the email service you use.

If you aren’t using MailChimp or WordPress, you probably want to check with your email newsletter service first and see if they offer something similar to the MailChimp option (they probably do). Otherwise, the other popular site platforms will generally have equivalents to the WordPress plugin (Drupal, Joomla, etc.)


Offering a downloadable gift in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter is a great way to not only get more sign-ups from visitors to your site, but also to spread the word about your site and services. If the reward is useful and exciting, people will tell their friends (and any other audience they have) about it and share it on their social media. A well-considered offering can not only increase your number of newsletter subscriptions, but also bring an influx of new visitors to your site.

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