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Why are you growing your subscriber list?

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hi all,
I hope this week is treating you well! This issue is going to be a little different from usual because I’m going against my own advice and doing the opposite of answering a question from my readers. In fact, I’m asking you a question right back.
A question that comes up time and again in my inbox is: How do I grow my subscriber list?
And today I want to flip that on its head: Why are you growing your subscriber list?
…Hear me out.
Engagement > Growth
I know list growth is important. It’s the top of the funnel.
But a much more useful metric is whether you’re attracting the readers who will get you closer to reaching your goal. And no matter what that goal is, I’m willing to bet an engaged subscriber is worth more to you than 100 subscribers who never open your newsletter. 
Problem is, we’re trained to see higher subscriber numbers as a fundamental measure of success. But ‘success’ means different things to different creators, and it doesn’t always work that way.
What’s your goal?
Instead of focusing on how many people receive your email in their inbox, think about what you want those people to do once they receive your email — a real action.
Do you want them to convert to paying members? Sign a petition? Check out your work on another site? Engage with your social media profiles? Answer a survey? Reply to your issues? Or simply… read and enjoy your work?
Prioritising that goal ​will bring greater dividends than focusing on growth for its own sake. The added bonus is that as you grow in the future, the effort you’ve put into encouraging engagement will mean that your new subscribers will be more likely to interact with you once they come aboard.
Resources for boosting engagement
I’ve written about ways to increase engagement in this very newsletter, and there are many different approaches outlined in the links below that might work for you:
The engagement-first approach might mean that you’ll have fewer subscribers than you would if you chose growth at all costs, but they’ll be of more value to you as a creator.
Speaking from experience
I’ll use this newsletter as an example. After Revue joined Twitter in January 2021, we saw a huge boost in our subscriber numbers. I’m talking quadruple what we had before we announced the acquisition.
Red line: Subscriber number, Blue line: Unique opens
Red line: Subscriber number, Blue line: Unique opens
I was delighted — until I realised that the engagement rate was taking a hit. A lower percentage of our overall subscribers were consistently opening the newsletter, and a comparatively higher percentage of our subscribers were never opening it at all. A lot of people signed up due to their interest in Revue joining Twitter, but perhaps weren’t as interested in the content of this newsletter itself.
My goal is to build an engaged community of creators and help people find success in their newsletter journey (plus I’ll share some news about what we’re working on here at Revue along the way). I want this to be a go-to resource for newsletter creators working with Revue and elsewhere. 
While it was nice to have a dopamine boost watching subscribers grow, it didn’t have a proportional impact on what we’re trying to achieve with The Week in Newsletters. What can move that needle is the content we put out each week and the conversations we spark with readers. Maybe they’ll tell a friend or colleague about how this newsletter might help them, and we’ll get one more engaged subscriber. I’ll always count that as a win.
So, why are you growing your subscriber list?
I’d love to hear from you what your goal is with your newsletter — click on the Tweet below to add your answer to the thread:
Revue
Having a clear goal as a newsletter creator is a great motivator to come back and publish issue after issue. Even something as simple as "I want to inform my readers" goes a long way.

What's your goal, and how do you measure success?
Don’t worry if this isn’t something you’ve pinned down yet. Use it as an exercise to test your current growth strategy to make sure you’re spending your energy wisely. I’m really looking forward to seeing your responses — we’ll share some of them in a later issue!
Wrapping up, growth for growth’s sake can be a drain on creative resources, and can leave you with an unengaged subscriber list. Factor in the why, focus on engagement, and you’ll grow in the right direction — whatever that means for you.
Now, onto some Tuesday inspiration…
Newsletter inspiration
We’ve been enjoying Heroes of Computer Science, written by Gonçalo Morais. Each issue spotlights a new computer scientist who contributed to programming in a key way — and Gonçalo keeps a callout on his profile page to encourage subscribers to nominate important figures they’d like to see featured next.
It’s a wonderful, collaborative approach, and a great way to bring readers into the creation process. Check it out and subscribe below:
Heroes of Computer Science
Let’s move on to what’s going on in the newsletter world this week.
The week in newsletters
Yahoo Mail is growing its Gen Z audience via newsletters
Exclusive to Digiday: Substack continues its acquisition streak with public correspondence startup Letter
That’s all from me today — I hope you enjoyed this issue. You can always let me know what you think be replying to this email, and I’ll see you soon!
Until next time,
Anna
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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue @revue

A weekly update for newsletter editors and audience managers, sent every Tuesday morning in the US, afternoon in Europe, and evening in Asia.

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