how to grow your email list

How to Grow Your Blog’s Email List

Posted 6 January, 2015 in Blogging Tips / 6 Comments

January’s Be a Better Blogger Challenge is all about email marketing, so many of this month’s blogging tips will focus on how you can get better at it.

So far we’ve gone over a few things to get started with email marketing: the reasons why it’s important, how to set up an account, creating RSS-to-email campaigns instead of using Feedburner, and what to include in your newsletter.

But what good is doing all that if you have no one to send emails to you?

That’s why list growth is the most important part of email marketing. So here are some tips for getting more signups:

5 Tips for Growing Your Book Blog’s Email List

1. Have an opt-in form on every page

Every single page of your blog should have an opportunity to gain a subscriber. Whether that’s through a bar across the top of your page (more on those below), at the bottom of pages and blog posts, or in your sidebar.

Why? Why not just throw a link to the sign-up page in your navigation? Because you’re overestimating how much attention people pay, and how engaged they are with your blog. You need to make it as easy as possible.

2. But still have a dedicated sign-up page

Whether it’s the hosted page your email marketing service provides you, or a page on your own blog, you should have a URL solely dedicated to signing up for your RSS-to-email or newsletter list.

This way, if someone ever asks about getting emails from you, or you want to promote your list on social media, you don’t have to say something like, “Go to the home page, then scroll down about three quarters of the way, and then fill out the information there.

3. Take it off your blog

Promote your list on social media, too. Most ESPs (email service providers), and all the ones I’ve recommended, have integrations with Facebook so that you can add a sign-up tab on your page (like this one). You could also create a lead generation card on Twitter.

You can also just share links to your newsletter signup (using the URL from #2) in lots of places. Post about it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tsu, and even Goodreads. Also be sure to add a link to it on any profile that allows a few links in your bio. Maybe not Twitter since your bio can only be 160 characters, but you can always pin a tweet with your lead gen card to the top of your profile. 🙂

Bonus: add a link to sign up for your email list in your email signature, so that anyone you email knows about it.

4. Look at your most popular pages

Log into Google Analytics, WordPress JetPack, or wherever you go for blog stats. Pick out the five or so most popular pages. They’re probably things like your About page, home page, contact page, review archives, and stuff like that.

Those are the pages you’re going to want to put a little more oomph into your opt-in efforts. For example, take my About page. In addition to my regular opt-in options (HelloBar, sidebar, and a scroll box), I also have a sign-up form in the middle of the content. Why? Because it’s one of the most engaging posts, so I want to put the option in spots where readers are loving what I have to say.

5. Offer more than one option

In the section above, you can see that there are four different places to subscribe to my RSS newsletter on each post. This may seem like overkill, but let’s do some math. My blog posts average around 800-1000 words. Each call-to-action is around 20 words. So on each page, the email signup stuff is still a very small amount of content.

On a blog with shorter posts, four may be too much, but there are very few posts of mine where more than one opt-in form is on the screen at a time.

The main point is that you want to make it as easy as possible to sign up. If someone’s at the bottom of your post and they can only sign up at the top of the sidebar, that’s a lot of scrolling that they may not want to do.

WordPress Plugins to Grow Your Email Marketing List

1. SumoMe

SumoMe is by far my favorite, because it’s a ton of tools in one. Most plugins do a few things, this one does 10. And about half of them will help you grow your email list. Top bars, popovers, scroll boxes, and more.

My recent favorite is Leads, which helps you offer lead magnets (which we’ll talk about more in tomorrow’s tip). I’ve gotten a lot of signups from people who want access to my book blogger organization template on Trello, through the leads button in this post.

2. HelloBar

HelloBar is the bar across the top of my site, and the number one source of new subscribers. SumoMe has a similar tool, Smart Bar, but I like it a little bit more. Just a personal preference.

It’s great because it stands out, you can customize the colors so that it really pops but still matches your site, and you can run A/B tests to figure out which colors, text, or button copy will grow your list the most.

3. DreamGrow Scroll Triggered Box

Scroll-triggered boxes are the best alternatives to pop-ups ever. Pop-ups are annoying, but they’re also extremely effective. Scroll boxes lose the annoying part. They still pop-up after the reader’s been on your site long enough to know they like it, but don’t mess with the user experience as much.

The boxes are usually over in the corner, not bothering anybody, covering up a small section of your sidebar at most. If the reader decides not to sign up, they don’t need to do anything extra. With a pop-up box, they can’t read any more of the post until they take the time and effort to close out of the box. With a scroll one in the corner, they can just ignore it and keep doing their thing.

4. Comment Reply Notification

This one isn’t technically for email marketing, but I’ve gotten several signups from it. Definitely try it if you reply to most comments on your blog. It lets commenters know via email that they’ve gotten a reply, but it lets you customize the email. So I added a PS after my signature with a link to my dedicated subscribe page.

5. Opt-In Forms

This plugin adds a sign-up form (and a pretty good looking one too, in my opinion) at the bottom of each post (scroll down a little further to see what I mean). I like that it stands out a lot, and captures readers at the perfect moment.

If someone’s made it all the way to the bottom of your post, they probably liked it. So when they see the option to subscribe to more posts like it, there’s a good chance they’ll take it.

6. MailChimp

If you use MailChimp, here’s a simple plugin that lets you put a signup form in any widget area of you site, like a footer or sidebar.

How to Grow Your Book Blog's Email List

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6 Responses to “How to Grow Your Blog’s Email List”

  1. Hi! I have a question. So if I can embed a sign up form on my blog when I’m using Mailchimp, why do I need to install a plugin to do the same thing? What’s the difference?

    I’m also really torn between Jetpack and Mailchimp. I know Jetpack sucks but it bothers me a little that Mailchimp emails get sent to the Promotions tab.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Angel,

      The MailChimp plugin is specifically for adding a signup form to widget areas, so for that it’s quicker and doesn’t require as much technical know-how as embedding a form (as easy as that is). You could also use an embed code in a text widget area; it’s mostly a matter of personal preference.

      I advise against using JetPack since it it’s so basic – you can’t really customize much and you’d only ever be able to do RSS-to-email. You can always include instructions for moving messages into the priority inbox in your welcome / confirmation email.

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