It’s funny that whenever a popular blogger gets asked something like, “If you were just getting started today, what would you do differently?” they almost always answer the exact same way … “I would start building an email list right from day one.”
And “an email list” isn’t just a cliche term used and preached upon by online marketers. When we think about it for a minute, it turns out that a list is the only online business asset that’s entirely ours.
For instance, even if you rank #1 for your target keywords, those rankings can go away literally over night. And with Google releasing new algorithm updates left and right, this is actually very likely to happen.
So if all this goes away, what are you left with? Yep, you guessed it – your list of email addresses. It’s the only thing that gives you direct access to your audience even if every other channel fails.
No surprise that WordPress bloggers have started realizing this too, building their email lists and reaping the benefits along the way.
Now, there’s quite a bit of advice on this topic on the web already, but most of it revolves around teaching people how they should put an opt-in form in their site’s sidebar.
As much as I would love for that to work, it simply doesn’t. Well, okay, it does if you’re getting really heavy traffic and don’t care much about conversion rates. But for the majority of us, there are more effective methods. Like these five:
1. On-click opt in
We all used to believe that in order to grow our conversion rates, we need to make our subscription forms as short as possible, and the subscription process itself as quick as possible too.
So you can only imagine everyone’s surprise when the guys over at LeadPages introduced their two-step opt-ins and then said that it has grown their newsletter subscriptions by 60 percent.
Note. You need to have something to offer to your subscribers to make this work. This can be an e-book, tool, app – something that is downloadable, per se.)
The idea is the following. Instead of displaying the subscription form, you show just a button saying “Download Here.” However, once someone clicks the button, a pop-up appears that holds the subscription form. In essence, this adds one step in the process. So in theory, it should reduce subscriptions. But it doesn’t.
As it turns out – and keep in mind that it’s just one of the possible explanations – it’s likely that once someone clicks the button, they’ve already emotionally invested in getting the gift, so taking the next step becomes easier at that point.
How to make this happen on WordPress? You either have to use LeadPages itself and integrate it with your site, or check out either of these plugins: WP Popup Plugin, or Lightbox Plus Colorbox. The former offers on-click pop-up functionality right away, while the latter provides just the lightbox functionality, so you have to build the form yourself (sometimes this is a more desirable solution).
2. Use a subscription form on your contact page
That’s a tricky method, but the idea is to not have a contact form at all on your site. Instead, use an email subscription form. Simply generate a new form through your email newsletter service, add additional fields like, Name, Message (large text field), and then embed it on your contact page.
Everyone who attempts to contact you gets put on your email list.
Important. Be up-front about it. In the subscription confirmation email, let them know that their email will only get through to you once they confirm the subscription.
3. Deliver your top content via an autoresponder
The few days right after a new subscriber decides to join your list are the most valuable in terms of building a relationship and making sure that the person sticks around for a longer while.
To make this possible, there’s hardly anything that works better than sending them your top content. Two reasons why this works:
- There’s a good probability that the new subscriber hasn’t seen all of your popular stuff yet, and since your other readers considered that content interesting enough to make it popular, the new person is likely to appreciate it too.
- People are used to being hit with promotion all the time when they subscribe to something. There’s very few email newsletters that actually focus on delivering free content instead of being purely money-centered. So if you focus more on giving rather than taking, your content-heavy emails will grow your authority and trust.
About the technical things. While there are free email newsletter services out there (like MailChimp, or GetResponse – trial only), the autoresponder functionality has always been considered a premium one. After doing some research, it seems that the only serious company providing them for free is SendinBlue (apart from the autoresponders, the free plan also allows you to send up to 9,000 emails per month, which should be enough to get started). You should probably check them out.
4. Getting additional info about your subscribers
While getting a name and email is sufficient enough info about your subscriber to build a valuable email list, you can take this a lot further and make things much more in-depth.
Check out the Leadin plugin. I’ve been using it for a short while and I absolutely love it.
It tracks every visitor coming to your site, hooks up to every form you’re using (contact forms, opt-in forms, everything), and builds a profile based of that visitor’s activity. So for instance, once someone subscribes, you can go to your Leadin dashboard and see where that person came from, what pages they browsed prior to subscribing, what page they subscribed on, what pages they visited afterwards, and even how much time they spent on each page.
This is a true goldmine of information. By having such data, you can easily identify your most effective and best converting content, and then improve on it even more.
There are still some bugs here and there in the current version (precisely with the tagging functionality), but it’s a great plugin nonetheless.
5. Custom gifts for individual posts
The main problem with the traditional approach to creating a gift for your subscribers is that not everyone will be interested in the same gift.
For example, let’s say you have a guitar blog. Your main gift is an e-book, “Improve Your Guitar Skills in 2 Weeks … Enough to Impress Your Girlfriend.” By itself, it is a fairly enticing topic, especially for a beginner guitarist. However, if someone is reading a post about, say, guitar chords then they will probably be much more interested in something like, “PDF Cheatsheet – 20 Popular Guitar Chords That Most Pop and Rock Songs Use.” In essence, it’s a gift that’s been tailor-made for that specific post.
Now, everyone’s objection is that they don’t have time building custom gifts for all of their posts. And that’s fine, because you won’t be doing it for all of them. Instead, visit your analytics and pick just five most popular ones. Create custom gifts only for them.
Also, to build those gifts relatively quickly, consider doing two things:
- Expand on the post itself. For instance, if the post was about “10 guitar chords,” add 10 more.
- Give it custom presentation. Simply sending a standard Word doc might not convince your subscribers all that much. You just don’t want them to feel tricked into subscribing. To help the situation, you can put your extra content through a tool like Visme and build an infographic or a presentation.
Next, how to deliver this extra content. Unfortunately, there’s no free way to do this effectively on WordPress. But we can still work around this a bit. The simplest method is to create a resource page and place links to all of your gifts on it. Then, when someone subscribes, you just send them the link to that main resource page. They should be pleasantly surprised to find a lot of other stuff there.
(By the way, make sure to unindex that page from Google. You don’t want it ranking for any keywords.)
That sums up the list of five email marketing tricks for WordPress. I hope you’ve gotten some cool ideas out of this, and more importantly, that you’re going to test them out soon.
So now it’s over to you. Have you stumbled upon any other unusual email marketing technique that’s turned out to be effective for your WordPress site? Do you have any other questions? Feel free to share.