Who are the people who subscribe to newsletters and why do they do it?

Article written by Claudiu Murariu

On average, 64% of your website visitors will probably never want to subscribe to your email program. How about the remaining 36%? What would motivate them to share their email address with you?

It all started with a study we did last year on top online fashion retailers (it included names like GAP, Victoria Secret, Overstock, Timberland, etc.), study from which we got a glimpse on the incentives offered to visitors to subscribe to their email programs. Having that data available, we were really curious on how it matches the users reasons for subscribing.

The good old surveying

We used Google Consumer Surveys to generate a survey with one easy question and 4 answers from which people could only pick one. We targeted the survey at 1000 people from US, with Internet access, both rural and urban areas. The question: “Why do you subscribe to newsletters?”. Here is what people answered:

  • Freebies (12.7%)
  • Regular Updates (13.7%)
  • Exclusive content and deals (9.8%)
  • I never subscribe (63.8%)

Chart with the provided answers. Don't forget to display images in your email client.

Why do people subscribe?

Statistically, there is not enough data to establish Regular updates as being a clear winner. However, it is safe to state that people are interested in long term relationships with the websites they subscribe to and not just Freebies (discounts, free delivery, etc).

In fact, this does nothing more than to confirm the strategy used by the top 100 ecommerce providers we studied: only 2 out of 10 fashion retailers were offering freebies to convince people to subscribe.

It doesn’t mean that freebies don’t work for increasing lists. It means that there are a lot of people out there who want a long term relationship with you. Freebies might just not be the thing that turns them on!

Who are the ones who never subscribe

The majority of people said they never subscribe. The way I read this data is that a huge number of people had mostly bad experiences with newsletters, so they decide to not interact with them again. I am sure that a big chunk of this people do subscribe to newsletters, but only when forced (which makes them hate it even more, probably).

63,8% of people don’t want to keep in touch with you via email. That’s how much bad email marketing strategies have damaged the industry. Things get even more clear, when we look at the segmented data:

I never subscribe stats. Don't forget to display images in your email client.


There are people among your audience who really are interested in a long term relationship with you. They are not ready to buy now, but they like what you they on your website and they want to keep in touch with you. It’s your job to identify those people and treat them right.

Your email subscribers want long term added value from you, value that does not end as soon as they subscribe.

Who are the people who subscribe to newsletters and why do they do it? by

1.100.000+ email leads collected with

PadiAct helps you get more email leads. More and better.

  • http://wpicommunications.com Steve Klinghoffer

    It’s important to understand your subscribers and what they want to receive from you. You need to meet their expectations. This varies greatly depending on the industry. B2Cs have luck sending out coupons while B2Bs do well when they send out informative content.

  • http://7minentrepreneur.com/ Joe Cassandra

    I’ve heard everything in the book

    -You got to give them something free and extra sweet
    -Derek Halpern says, Screw that, I’ll put free updates

    It may come down to traffic and targeting the right audience so it’s quality traffic…still learning :D