March 24, 2023

Sign up flows across five companies.

When you launch a newsletter, you’re thinking about topics, frequency, tools and so much more.

After you launch a newsletter — high five yourself — and then continue to think about those things. But one area you’ll continue to revisit for testing and iteration is where a user signs up for your newsletter.

The place(s) for potential readers to provide their email address and join your newsletter is key.

This may be a dedicated landing page with the backslash:


It also might be the home page of your website, found in the website footer, linked out from your LinkedIn or shared in the middle of tweet.

The sign up flow is a crucial part of a potential reader's experience. It can be a major factor in the decision-making process of whether to sign up.

Let’s take a look at how several companies approach their newsletter sign up flow.

Whether you’re launching on Substack, beehiiv, have a custom sign up page connected to an ESP or you’re looking for sign up flow inspiration — it’s all here.

🥞 Substack and 🍯 beehiiv

Tools such as beehiiv and Substack make it simple by creating a dedicated landing page for you:

After you enter your email address, a Recommendations page is likely to display. Then you’ll land on the home page of the newsletter with the latest articles.

Substack adds in a couple more layers for potential readers:

  • Sign up for a subscription plan.
  • Listen to the newsletter's podcast.
  • Share on Twitter why you signed up.

This depends on configuration.


Lenny's Newsletter


Enjoy Basketball

📰 The New York Times

With ~100 newsletters you could sign up for, The New York Times sends a lot of newsletters.

One that has become sort of the flagship is The Morning.

The Morning that we know today launched ~April 2020 and sends to millions of readers per day. According to AdWeek in 2021, it’s opened by more than 5.5 million people per day.

The main way to sign up is from the /newsletters page.

The website footer directs here and is one of the top search results for “New York Times newsletters”.

There are other landing pages like the custom one for The Morning pictured above, but /newsletters is likely the main source of traffic and sign ups.

The New York Times offers ~22 Subscriber-Only newsletters. This means you have to be a New York Times subscriber to sign up. Subscriber-Only newsletters accounts for around a quarter of their newsletter offerings.

They also offer newsletters that do not require a subscription, like The Morning.

During sign up for The Morning, you're prompted to create an account with an email address or through single sign-on (SSO) via Google, Facebook or Apple.

🍩 The Donut

The DONUT gets creative with it.

The “Dose Of News Useful Today” asks you to take a 10 second quiz to personalize your experience.

You can sign up to receive information via email or SMS. It also lets you know an estimated minutes per day you’ll invest depending on your selections.

Side note: You sign up to receive messaging from The DONUT via email or SMS. In the sign up process, you cannot sign up for both.

This speaks to the intentionality of the quiz. They want to know on any given day where you spend more time: Email inbox or texts.

On the results page after you’re displayed all the offerings, you can update your selections.

As you select the content you want to receive, the footer also updates. It includes or omits the email address and//or phone number fields. The invested minutes per day also updates based on your selections.

⛰️ The Peak

The Peak provides “…busy Canadian professionals with the news they need every morning to understand business, tech, and other must-know stories of the day,”

After you enter your email address you’re prompted to answer a couple of questions.

The questions are more about you as a subscriber: like job level and job function. This may help with sponsorships (i.e. “75% of readers are in Tech, and 25% are Director level or higher”).

It also contributes to overall knowledge of subscriber base.

Observation: After you enter your email address, the quiz pops up. When you exit the quiz, a confirmation banner displayed. Due to the quickness of the quiz popping up before the confirmation message could be acknowledged, it was unclear if the quiz was optional.

🕕 City Cast - Chicago

City Cast covers ~25 cities across the United States, aggregating “the most positive, impactful local news + events,”

During the sign up process, they “confirm humanity” via reCAPTCHA.

♣️ Thousand Faces Club

Thousand Faces Club shares stories in their newsletter along with their “…analysis on creator economy and internet trends.”

Their sign up process follows the beehiiv flow with the optional Recommendations feature.

👋 Welcome emails

After you sign up for a newsletter, it’s common to see a confirmation message via pop up, banner or on the landing page.

It’s also common to receive a “Welcome” email shortly after sign up.

The Welcome email typically contains prompts like:

  • Add Sender to contact list.
  • Move email to the Primary tab for Gmail inboxes.
  • Reply to the email.

This helps with deliverability and (hopefully!) increased engagement with readers.

You may also receive an automated: “Confirm your subscription” email.

It depends on whether they would like additional confirmation.

The additional confirmation helps with ensuring contacts are not “false” emails.

Sending to false email addresses impacts deliverability. We’ll discuss this more in a future post.

🔑 Key takeaways

  • The sign up process is an area of continuous testing and iteration.
  • Tools like Substack and beehiiv provide a starting point by creating a simple and dedicated landing page for you. They also offer the option to embed the subscribe form on your site if you want to customize further.
  • Asking potential readers to provide some information up front may help with their experience down the road. For example: The Peak asks for additional subscriber information during sign up versus post sign up. Subscriber information may or may not be something you need to ask up front. You can send a survey later in the Customer Journey. It depends on your goals and readers. Again, the sign up process is an area of continuous testing and iteration. It also depends on your goals.
  • Double opt-in or reCAPTCHA are options to ensure valid email addresses. If you send to “false” email addresses, this impacts deliverability. We’ll cover more on this in a future newsletter.
  • Welcome emails sent shortly after sign up. You can ask subscribers to add you to their contact list or reply to the email. This can help with deliverability. You can also introduce writer(s) and reiterate expectations like what day of the week they can expect to receive your newsletter.

🎉 Have a great weekend!

  • ⏩ Forward this email to a colleague or someone you know that has a newsletter or works in email marketing.
  • 👋 Say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • 💭 Send us an email with what you thought about this article. Feedback is welcome!

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