How can I increase emailing list sign-ups on my charity website?

Although this is written for charity websites, most of the points apply to ANY site which is looking to grow its mailing list.

Many of our clients run emailing lists for their customers or supporters. Usually, they use the website to help grow the list. If growing the list isn’t a top priority, often just a single sign-up form is put in the sidebar, or on the ‘contact us’ page. Although this does give people an opportunity to sign up to your mailing list, if that’s all that you are doing you are not making the most of your traffic for sign-ups. But before we start – is it really worth the effort?

Email marketing really works

Getting you message to a growing list of people who are interested in your cause is a great way to increase donations, loyalty and engagement. It’s a helps you stay in friendly, easy contact with potential supporters who will think of you when they are ready to start supporting you, and gives you a resource to draw on when fundraising or finding volunteers.

Make content your audience want to read

You need to create regular, interesting and useful content and keep on plugging away at it. If you’re a charity, great content could include success stories (don’t forget a bit of ‘happy’, from time to time!), crisis updates and campaigns. When emailing charity supporters, pat them on the back sometimes, as well as telling them about the suffering you still need to tackle – and the money you need to do it! If you’re a business you can showcase new product lines, individual product features, or new services.

Think about your audience – not just your charity’s goals

You don’t have to confine yourself to your charity’s immediate concerns. Think about content that could be useful or interesting to your target audience, and see if you can supply it. Even if it is not directly related to making sales, if it is useful to your users then it will add value to being on your email list. 

Some email content can be recycled

Email list services like MailChimp allow you to schedule emails to send to new sign-ups, so that you can, for example, send a weekly series of introductory emails to new sign-ups without any further effort. In this way timeless content you create can be reused for new subscribers.

So how do I increase the number of sign-ups?

Now you’ve thought about your content strategy, you need to grow your audience for it. So here’s a run-down of techniques you can use to increase the number of people signing up to your list from your website.

Make it easy!

Users aren’t often going to hunt around for the email sign-up form. And if they only see it once, this might not be enough either. The key is to give them plenty of opportunities to sign up, whenever they think the site has delivered and are ready for your call to action. Giving them lots of opportunities means having multiple sign-up forms and strategies. We’ll show you some examples (coming soon).

Effective calls to action

Depending on the context and space available, you will want a short snappy one-liner, or a statement plus a few bullet points. What can your readers expect to learn? How will it benefit them? What will it help them to achieve? Use a different call to action in different spaces, because you are going to have several places where people can sign up. You should design your signup forms carefully to make sure they are on-brand but present themselves strongly to your audience. You’ll see some examples (coming soon).

Where can you put sign-up forms?

There are quite a few places you can put sign-up forms. If the emailing list is a seriously important part of your marketing strategy, you should probably use quite a few of these at once.

  • Sign-up form in a sidebar 

    The classic location, but many times users can be inclined to ignore sidebar content so for maximum conversions this isn’t enough.

  • Bar above the header

    A prominent placement, you can put a signup form right at the top of the page above the entire site.

  • Feature box on home page

    Your home page is probably one of the most busy pages on your site, so to use a part of this page to get a decent call to action in front of your visitors is often a great idea.

  • Footer or PS

    Adding a PS to a blog post makes it one of the most-read parts of an article. You can use the ‘PS effect’ to get a signup opportunity front of your visitors. Or, more conventionally, you can simply add the signup form to the footer of every page.

  • Slide-up/javascript lightbox alerts

    These techniques use scripting to make a signup form appear in the foreground of the site once the visitor has scrolled a certain distance down the page. The idea is that at this point they have found value in the site and so may be responsive to the call. They can be easily dismissed and a cookie set so that they will not appear again for 30 days (or whatever you choose). These are more ‘in your face’ than the standard sidebar box, but they are so very effective that if building your emailing list is important to you then you should consider this OR…

  • Exit-intent pop-up alerts

    Special javascript can detect when your visitor is thinking o leaving the site, and display a ‘last chance’ opportunity to sign up before they go. The advantage of this is that you do not disturb your visitor while they are reading the content, but as they leave, you display a box to try to capture their details before they leave. One disadvantage is that these systems track mouse movements to work out that the visitor is going for the exit, so they don’t work on mobile. For mobile use, the slide-ups (above) will be a better bet. You can combine the two, as long as you only have slide-ups for mobile and exit-intent for desktop users.

You can double the number of people subscribing per month

In this useful experiment, Buffer Social added multiple ways to sign up, and some more, to see what effect it would have. They doubled the rate at which people were subscribing. The top sources for them were:

  • 37% Slideup panel (But note that they did not try any other pop-up or exit intent alerts, which are also said to be extremely effective)
  • 34% Signup bar at the top of each page (they used a ‘smart’ bar which tailors its offer to the user, and allows testing of straplines)
  • 15% Feature box on the home page

Try it out yourself, or get us to help!

If you have the skills to implement this on your site, get out there and make it happen. If you need some help then give us a call. We should be able to help you double the rate at which you get visitors to subscribe to your charity website emailing list.

What print process should I choose?

There are a number of different commercial print processes, suitable for different applications. In this document, Geoff explains what they are, how they work and which is the most appropriate for your job. If you’re a Premonition client you can be sure we’ll help you find the best and most cost-effective process.

Conventional Offset Lithographic Press, or ‘Litho’

This is how most printed things you see have been produced.

What it’s good for Litho is good if you need a large number of copies of the same thing, and allows you a lot of flexibility in the sort of paper and inks you can use.

How it works ‘Films’, special high resolution printouts on acetate are made and the printer uses them make a set of ‘plates’. These ‘plates’ are mounted in the printing press and impressions of the image on the plates are made in ink on paper. (actually, the plates lay ink onto special rubber rollers, which in turn put the ink onto the paper, hence the term ‘offset’) It is important to realise that there are initial costs involved in setting up a press – making films and plates, cleaning the press of inks from the last job, mixing and loading the inks etc. This makes litho unsuitable for very short runs, but it is usually the most cost-effective method for a long run. Most presses are A2, but a few large presses are A1 in size, these are often used for printing a large number of different pages together.

Digital Print (Indigo Turbostream)

What it’s good for Digital print is a cost effective way of printing small quantities of full colour material. Business cards are a classic example – 250 business cards can be made out of less than 20 sheets of A3 card – this would cost far more on a litho press. Typically, runs that consist of up to 200 A3 sheets are more cost effective to run digitally. But digital presses use the four colour process, so the colours on your business cards won’t match your 2 colour letterhead! (See my article on colour matching)

How it works Digital presses are rather like large, fast, high quality laser printers. They can also handle quite heavy paper, unlike real laser printers. Files are output directly from a computer, and can be personalised – your customer’s name in full colour right in the flow of text. This makes it a powerful solution for direct mail. They can go up to A3 in size.

Large format inkjet

What it’s good for Large format inkjet printers are an excellent solution for short-run or one-off posters and for clothing exhibition display and point-of-sale stands. Using different materials to print on, you can make custom full-colour cloth banners, translucent window graphics, printed mirror-like wall hangings – even those plastic ribbed pictures that wink at you as you walk past. None of this is cheap, however.

How it works An inkjet printer, just like the one you’ve probably got on your desk, is modified so that it can print quickly on wide rolls of paper. Special inks may be used which can survive long-term exposure to weather. Any number of different ‘substrates’ can be printed on, from glossy paper to cloths. It is usually priced per copy, with no volume discount. Electrostatic prints, now dying out, are a cheaper, lower quality alternative.

Screen printing

What it’s good for When you need a number of copies of a large poster, or need to use ‘special’ colours like silver, screenprinting may be your solution. It has the added advantage that you may print onto solid plastics, even metal.

How it works Just like the silk-screen machine you probably had at school, or saw when you watched that Andy Warhol documentary. Once screens are made, making multiple copies is cheap – unlike inkjet prints where each copy costs.

Up to A3 A3 – A2 Over A2
Short run Digital Print Large Format Inkjet
Long run Litho press A1 Litho press or Silk-screen

Choosing the right file format for a logo

Updated in May 2017 to include new information and recommendations on the SVG format and software compatibility

For a logo in a Word or Powerpoint document – SVG, GIF or PNG

If you have the latest Office 365 you can use an SVG file, so long as you’ve already got one or have the software to make one. Otherwise, you can use a GIF (.gif) or PNG (.png) file. These are ‘bitmap‘ files (pictures made of dots), and will be easily imported by Office applications. Don’t use JPEG (.jpg) files – they are generally unsuitable for logos – jpgs are intended for colour photographs, and often spoil the fine detail in text. I prefer GIF or PNG files because they use up less disc space, but bigger BMP (.bmp) files are an alternative. You might also be able to use a EMF (enhanced metafile) format, which is a windows-only vector format and so has the advantages of the EPS file I describe below, but may be difficult for beginners to work with. You can make an EMF file with Adobe Illustrator.
In order to place your logo file in Word to make stationery, you’ll need the techniques described here: how to set up stationery in Word.

For a web page SVG, or GIF or PNG

Now that Internet Explorer 8 is hardly used anymore, you can use vector SVG files on your web pages, which are supported in all other browsers and in IE 9 and up. These have the advantage of being infinitely scalable and also tend to be the smallest file sizes. So they are going to look perfectly sharp on ‘retina’ phones and tablets – this is a huge advantage.  You could also use a GIF or PNG file. You should get one the right size before you upload it – not too big or you waste people’s time and bandwidth; not too small, because it will look very bad if it has to be scaled up in the browser.

Professional print

Here the GIF file is all but useless. You need an EPS or PDF file. These are ‘Vector‘ files. Because EPS files are big, I often convert them to PDF which results in a much smaller file which is also less likely to get corrupted when emailed. When I originally wrote this piece, it was still usual to send a Quark document together with the logo EPS to the printer, together with the fonts you used. Now professional designers usually supply a PDF file of the whole job. Although PDF is suitable for holding a single logo file, it can also be used for multipage documents with crops and bleeds and so is perfect for supplying print-ready artwork. Professional graphic designers will also use AI – Adobe Illustrator files, but these are not a format often used for exchanging files.


effect of gif compression bitmap effect of zooming
GIF format logo
Blockyness when enlarging bitmap

Bitmap files are made up of a grid of square dots. When you enlarge them, you can see the dots. If you have a bitmap file, you can’t convert it to a vector file except by tracing it in vector software, either automatically or by hand, whereas vector files can be converted to bitmap without loss of quality. Examples of bitmap file formats are JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP.

BMP Bit Map Picture files are commonly used on Windows PCs. They are not suitable for transfer across the Internet, because they are poorly compressed.

EPS Encapsulated Postscript Files are vector files and used by printers, designers and other graphics professionals. Logos designed in Illustrator or Freehand (most are) will be originally in this format. From this file, you can make as many ‘bitmap’ versions at whatever size you choose. They are infinitely scalable.

GIF Graphic Interchange Format. This sort of bitmap file is very good for simple line art, logos and icons. It is rubbish for photos, as it reduces the number of colours creating a characteristic, and usually unwanted ‘speckled’ effect.

gif compressed logo jpg compressed logo
GIF format logo
JPEG format logo

JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group files are bitmaps which are great for photos but very poor for logos or text. See the side by side comparison above.

PDF Portable Document Format are vector files and used by printers, designers and for general document distribution. They have all the advantages of EPS format and a smaller file size. Take care, though – these files may contain embedded bitmaps which will not scale.

PNG Portable Network Graphics files are bitmap files. The format was invented to replace GIF which has problems with patent requirements. The format supports a wider range of options than GIF and is well supported by web browsers. It should not be used for professional print.

SVG Scalable Vector Graphics are an open web standard for delivering logos and other graphics which will look crisp on any device at any size. These files can only be generated by a vector-based graphics programme like Illustrator and CorelDRAW, rather than a photo editing tool. SVGs were adopted as a web standard in 1999, but slow implementation by Microsoft (it is only properly supported in IE9 and above) delayed their widespread use on the web until the last few years. Now it is safe to use them and they are probably the best format to use online, if you have the software to generate them.

Vector files are made up of mathematically described geometric lines and shapes (rather than coloured dots) and so will never get ‘blocky’, whatever size you print them. Examples of vector formats are SVG, EPS, AI, PDF, EMF.

Why don’t the colours match?

Lots of things affect the way colours appear and so it is not always possible to get an exact match. In this document, Geoff from Premonition design explains why sometimes what you see is not what you get.

Printing inks

Spot colours don’t match process colours. Spot colours are mixed up in a bucket like paint. They are often used when printing in two colours – on letterheads, for example. The printer then puts this coloured ink into his machine. Process colours, on the other hand are used when you print in full colour, required for colour photos, and are a mixture of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks. Tiny dots of these inks are printed on the paper in varying sizes – these dots make up the different colours. If you look very closely at a colour picture in a newspaper you’ll see these dots.

Using spot colours enables you to achieve special colours like metalics, fluorescents and very vivid colours. Process colours allow you to faithfully reproduce photographs. Spot colours and process colours will not match

Different paper equals different colour

The same ink colours will look different when printed on different papers. This effect is most noticeable when the same colour is seen on Glossy and letterhead paper. The colour on letterhead paper looks much duller. Try it yourself by marking a newspaper, letterhead and magazine page with a felt tip pen. The same ink on different papers will not match

On-screen colours are off-target colours

Colours you see on screen are never the same as those you see on a printed page. Screens make up colours by using glowing phosphors in Red Green and Blue varieties. Full colour printed paper uses inks that are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. What you see onscreen is often wildly different to what you’ll see on the printed page.

My screen’s better than your screen!

Colours vary widely from monitor to monitor. There are a host of reasons. Different brightness or contrast settings. How old your monitor is and who made it. Different software colour-matching. (Windows has some colour matching built in.) Even the same file viewed in different applications will probably look different.

So what can we do about it?

Well, at Premonition we work very hard to make sure the colours in your work are consistent and well reproduced. We take care when scanning images that we capture as much detail in the originals as possible. We then adjust contrast carefully to preserve the important detail while giving the pictures the right amount of ‘punch’. We check process and spot colours against special printed ‘swatch books’. Most of all, we apply our experience of thousands of successful print jobs to ensure that you get the best from your colours.

PDF files – what you really need to know

Here at Premonition we use Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files so that our clients can see what finished designs look like. In this document Geoff answers common questions about PDF files.

How can I open it?

You need special software to read the PDF file, but that software is FREE.

You can download the FREE Adobe Acrobat Reader from Adobe’s web site.

Alternatively, it will be on most free CDs you get with computer magazines. Or ask your IT support to install Adobe Acrobat Reader for you.

Why do you use PDF files?

We use PDF files because they are the only way we can send you documents that look like the final product will look. You can zoom in and read even small text, which you could not do if we just sent you screenshots. You can print it out, and although the photos might look a bit ‘blocky’, text and diagrams will remain legible. And you can look at them on all major platforms – PC, Mac, Linux, Palm, Pocket PC… the list goes on. It’s a great step forward.

So the final product will look exactly like this PDF, huh?

Well, no. The colours won’t match exactly. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that ink on a page is never quite the same colour as glowing phosphors on a PC monitor. Here at Premonition we go to great lengths to ensure your colour output is optimal, but that doesn’t mean it will exactly match. See ‘why don’t the colours match?’. Also any pictures will be ‘blockier’ than they will be in the final printed piece, because information has been taken away so that the file travels quickly across the Internet.