Knowing how to get more subscribers for your email list is a valuable skill to learn in online marketing. Gone are the days where you need to publish content using a simple “Subscribe for more updates!” email form most visitors ignore. Email marketing has matured well enough to become one of the strongest forms of marketing you can implement in your business, right next to content marketing. The two even go hand in hand!
You might be wondering why it's so important for you to learn how to get more subscribers for your email list. That's part of what we're going to cover in this post. It more or less boils down to increasing your conversions, but we'll go over why it does much more than that in a second. The main purpose of this post is teaching you how to get more subscribers. We'll be going over the various services, tools and techniques you can use to get the job done.
- Why it's important to get more subscribers?
- Why is email marketing so effective?
- How can you use WordPress to get more subscribers?
Why it's important to get more subscribers?
Blogging has become an integral component of a site's overall marketing strategy. Not only does it allow you to connect with your audience, it also allows you to attract an entirely new wave of readers who have never heard of your business. This business-oriented version of blogging is known as “content marketing”, and email marketing fits right in with it. In fact, you could even say they're incomplete without one another.
We've established how it's important for you to get more subscribers to increase your conversions, but we didn't go over how this occurs. Here's a quick breakdown of how this happens:
- You publish a long, authoritative post on your blog.
- You promote the post on social media.
- The post ranks higher and higher for a few keywords.
- More and more new readers visit your site through this post.
- You place relevant opt-in forms throughout the post, and people subscribe.
- You continue nurturing those subscribers with more relevant content and free offers.
- Finally, you promote a relevant product to them, and they purchase.
It's not that cut and dry, but that's more or less the gist of it.
Why is email marketing so effective?
Blogging provides a much cheaper way for you to establish yourself as an authoritative force in your niche. It allows you to show your expertise while giving you a way to woo potential customers with content they don't need to pay for. In addition you'll rank for additional keywords in search engines which brings in more traffic.
If you don't up your email marketing game, you're missing out on wonderful opportunities to turn passing visitors of your blog into actual potential customers. These are called “leads” in the marketing world. They'll visit your blog from a link they found on Google or social media but will likely never return without a solid reminder. Not only do you miss out on a new reader, you also miss out on a potential customer.
Still, why is email marketing more effective than other forms of marketing? For starters, it allows you to target potential customers based on what they're interested in. It's also more intimate than social media, a place where you're competing with the dozens of other posts appearing in your followers' timelines.
How can you use WordPress to get more subscribers?
Let's take a moment to go over what this post is going to cover. We're essentially going to teach you how to get more subscribers and grow your email list with WordPress. As such, we'll go over the email marketing services you can use, the tools and plugins you can use to integrate with WordPress as well as the tactics you can use to grow your email list once everything is set up. Let's start with the email marketing services you can use to get more subscribers.
- Choosing an email marketing service
- Why we recommend MailChimp
- Using email opt-in forms to get more subscribers
- Tools and WordPress plugins to increase email subscriptions
- Adding a simple MailChimp form to WordPress
- Strategizing the placement of email opt-in forms
Choosing an email marketing service
Your first order of business should be signing up for an email marketing service that offers a lot more than a simple way for you to collect email addresses and send out a regular newsletter. Aside from pricing and the amount of subscribers you're allowed to have or the number of emails you're allowed to send, segmentation and automations are definitely the most important features to look for in an email marketing service.
Email segmentation allows you to segment your subscribers based on different factors, including what topics they're interested in, the products they've purchased on your site, their goals, etc. Automations allow you to set up key email marketing tactics so they occur automatically. Here are a few services that offer these features, though we here at MH Themes definitely recommend using MailChimp:
Why we recommend MailChimp
One of the biggest reasons why we recommend MailChimp over other services is the amount of features it offers at great prices. It all starts with a free Starting Up plan that allows you to offer free email subscriptions to as many as 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month. You'll even enjoy marketing automations, aesthetically-pleasing templates, email forms and professional reports. Premium plans start as low as $10/month. Here's a quick overview of the features MailChimp offers:
- Segmentation – Segments allow you to send emails that target subscribers who would be most interested in reading them. Target new subscribers, active subscribers, subscribers who have purchased specific products, etc.
- Custom Email Forms – Build custom email forms that match your brand's style. Use inline, pop-up and hosted forms. Custom email forms are ideal to attract your preferred target audience.
- Automations – Use marketing automations to welcome new subscribers, recover abandoned carts, ask for feedback after customers complete purchases, suggest personal product recommendations, send thank-you emails to first-time buyers and more. These are key to customer satisfaction and increased conversion rates.
- Drag-and-Drop Email Builder – Choose from well-designed email templates, or design your own with MailChimp's drag-and-drop email builder. Ideal to build your own custom email form.
- Analytics – Plan marketing campaigns meticulously with A/B testing, powerful reports and more.
- Hundreds of Integrations – From WordPress to your preferred ecommerce platform to things like Facebook, Twitter and Salesforce, MailChimp integrates with hundreds of services and marketing applications.
You can get started with MailChimp for free and take your email marketing activities to the next level. Let's move on to what your next move should be to get more subscribers.
Using email opt-in forms to get more subscribers
Alright, so now you have a place you can use to store the emails you collect from your subscribers and manage the way to send them. Now, you need a way to actually collect those emails on your site. Let's go over the types of forms, tools and WordPress plugins you can use to encourage your readers to sign up for your mailing list.
Types of email opt-in forms
One of the most popular email opt-in forms is the inline form. It gets its name based on where it's used on a web page, meaning it's an “inline element” of the content area.
It only appears where you place it in the content area. Most bloggers choose to place it after a post but before the comments. Another type of inline form is the widget email opt-in form. This allows you to get more subscribers by placing an email sign up button and field in the sidebar, footer and other widget areas.
Another popular option is definitely the pop-up form, which comes in a variety of different styles these days. The classic version is the simple pop-up form that appears as a box in the center of the screen. Sometimes this form is showcased as a lightbox.
Pop-up email forms have earned a bad rep, and for good reason, too. We have a post discussing the death of pop-ups and why you should move toward less-intrusive forms of promoting your email list. However, it's important to note this post mainly refers to the type of pop-ups that appear as soon as you enter a site. Less intrusive forms of pop-ups include the slide-in form and ones that need to be triggered by a link, scroll percentage, the amount of time a visitor spends on a web page or a visitor is exiting the site.
Two less-popular forms are the top bar form and the fullscreen form. The top bar form appears at the very top of a web page and sometimes acts as a sticky header. It typically features a one-sentence call to action, one or two fields for the subscriber's name and email address, and a subscribe button.
The fullscreen form is least popular. It's more intrusive than a simple pop-up form as it takes over the entire web page. These forms either appear as an overlay or a “welcome mat”, the latter of which appears as soon as the visitor enters the website and doesn't go away until they either subscribe or scroll down.
Tools and WordPress plugins to increase email subscriptions
There are several tools and WordPress plugins you can use to get more subscribers by adding different types of forms to your site and using different marketing techniques. We're only going to mention a handful in this post. Some of them are exclusive to WordPress while others simply integrate with the platform.
MailChimp for WordPress
MailChimp for WordPress is an email subscription WordPress plugin which allows you to add email opt-in forms to your website and connect them to your MailChimp account. It even integrates with several contact form plugins as well as WooCommerce, BuddyPress, MemberPress, Events Manager and Easy Digital Downloads.
OptinMonster is a premium conversion application that comes with several different types of forms, A/B testing and dozens of other powerful email marketing features. It's a powerful conversion optimization toolkit to grow your email list and boost sales. The only drawback for beginners is that it costs to use its more advanced features.
Icegram is another exclusive WordPress email subscription plugin. It helps you get more subscribers with lightbox pop-up forms and header and footer “action bars” as well as inline, sidebar and fullscreen forms, which are available via premium add-ons. Icegram claims to be the best plugin to easily create beautiful optins and call to actions of your choice to target visitors and convert them to customers and fans.
Bloom is another email opt-in form plugin available exclusively for WordPress. It comes with six different form types you can use with the triggers it includes. There are also over 100 pre-made designs to choose from, and you can customize all of them. You can also choose display options to target forms for specific types of readers. The Bloom dashboard even comes reports and A/B testing features.
Thrive Leads is a direct competitor to OptinMonster, but only for self-hosted WordPress sites. This is because it’s a WordPress email plugin available exclusively for the content management system. It features many of the same opt-in forms and conversion and reporting features as OptinMonster. A few features you’ll only find in Thrive Leads include multiple-choice forms, advanced A/B testing features and advanced triggers.
MailOptin is a lead generation software and plugin available for WordPress. With MailOptin you can convert your website visitors into email subscribers and customers. Grow your email list and send automated event triggered email newsletters with ease. MailOptin is full featured and comes with an easy to use form builder and template builder. Optimize your optin forms and email newsletters for the highest of conversions. You can learn more about this plugin in our MailOptin review.
Sumo, formerly known as SumoMe, is an application that offers a suite of marketing tools designed to help you get more subscribers. It's a great plugin which offers free tools to automate your site growth. They include List Builder, Welcome Mat, Scroll Box and SmartBar. These allow you to use pop-up, fullscreen and top bar opt-in forms.
Adding a simple MailChimp form to WordPress
We just mentioned a few truly powerful WordPress plugins that allow you to get more subscribers in various ways. Now let's take a moment to simplify things by going over how to add a simple MailChimp form to WordPress. We're going to use the MailChimp for WordPress plugin. First, install and activate the MailChimp for WordPress plugin.
Next, connect the plugin to your MailChimp account. You do this by entering your API key for MailChimp on the General Settings page. There's a “Get your API key here” link that takes you there provided you're signed into MailChimp in your browser. If you don't have a key, create one! Then, copy the code in the API Key column in MailChimp, paste it in, and click Save Changes.
Next, create your first form by going to MailChimp for WP → Form. The default form comes with fields for the user's email address and a submit button. You can add more fields using the default selections already available. All you need to do is place your cursor where you'd like to insert the new field in the text editor, and configure your settings.
If you want to add a field that isn't available by default, you'll need to create it in MailChimp first and renew your lists in MailChimp for WordPress. Once you're done building your form and selecting a style for it, click the Get Shortcode button to copy the shortcode for it. You can paste this shortcode anywhere a text field is located, such as the middle of a blog post. Choose the placement of the form wisely for optimal conversion, which takes us to the next topic.
Strategizing the placement of email opt-in forms
The placement of your forms and the style you use to display them play huge roles in how effective they are in helping you get more subscribers. Every single reader of yours is not going to get through the entirety of your articles and reach the opt-in forms you place at the end. Therefore, it's better to use other forms on the page to ensure they see at least one. Let's go through the different locations and styles you can use to display email opt-in forms:
- After the post content
- Middle of the post content
- Popular pages on your site
- Widget areas on your site
- Top bar of the page
- Comment section opt-in
- Less-intrusive pop-ups
After the post content
We just mentioned this a moment ago, but you should always place an inline opt-in form at the bottom of every post you publish on your site. If you've ever wondered how to get emails from your most-engaged readers, this is it. Readers who subscribe through this form have read enough of your post to reach the end, making them among the most valuable types of subscribers you can have on your list. Make sure you name this form “After Post Form” or something similar when you create it so you can identify these subscribers later.
Middle of the post content
One good way to ensure all of your readers see at least one opt-in form (without you having to resort to more intrusive forms) is to insert another form in the middle of a post. You should always use a simpler form in the middle of a post so it doesn't take up too much space and appear obnoxious. You can even use a special type of pop-up here that only appears through a link trigger.
Popular pages on your site
Your homepage, about page and features/services page will be among the most popular pages on your site. They're the ones new visitors will see the most, and you may be missing out on a lot of opportunities to acquire new subscribers from these pages by not placing opt-in forms on them.
You should consider using what's known as a “hero section” on your homepage. Hero sections are typically part of your homepage's header and feature a call to action, an image to complement the call to action and a button or opt-in form the visitor can take action on. When a button is used, it typically leads to a landing page that features an opt-in form. Take a look at your site's analytics, and find places to add non-intrusive opt-in forms to your site's top pages.
Widget areas on your site
Let's make this simple. If you use a sidebar, a footer and other widget areas, you may want to consider adding a simple opt-in form to them. They may not help you get more subscribers, at least not in large quantities, but you may as well as add them if they don't take up too much space.
Top bar of the page
Here's where we start diving into the realm of intrusive opt-in forms. The top bar is a thin element you can add to the top of a web page. You can typically choose between static and sticky styles. A common use for the top bar is to place a simple opt-in form in it or a call to action that leads to a landing page that features an opt-in form.
Comment section opt-in
Your comment section is one of your most valued assets on your WordPress site, it's where the discussion of the content you publish happens. More often than not, it is also a good place to inject an opt-in form that will allow you to collect subscribers from that part of the site as well.
The most easy way to achieve this, is by installing a plugin such as MailChimp Comment Optin. This plugin allows you to insert a checkbox at the end of your comment forms so your viewers can double opt-in to a MailChimp list of your choosing. But do keep in mind that comment services such as Disqus might not provide an opportunity like this.
We highly recommend steering away from the type of pop-up forms that appear as soon you enter a site, but there are several types of pop-up forms that are less intrusive but still highly effective. These include scroll, timed, slide-in and exit-intent forms. Always use pop-up forms wisely so that they don't negatively affect user experience.
Final thoughts with tips & best practices
That's the gist on how to get more subscribers for your email newsletter, at least the technical side of it. However, like we said before, email marketing and content marketing go hand-in-hand. Therefore, if you want to get more subscribers, you're going to have to find ways to integrate the two on your site.
This means using lead magnets instead of a generic “subscribe with email to receive updates” opt-in incentive. It means offering free ebooks, podcast episodes, mini courses, PDFs, checklists, challenges, etc. that relate to the content on the page. If you have a cooking blog with a post on cooking a specific breakfast meal, offer a free ebook filled with breakfast meals or a PDF featuring a 5-day breakfast meal plan.
In closing, if you want to get more subscribers to increase your sales and conversions, you need to offer a positive user experience on your site. You can't do that if you're using too many opt-in forms or intrusive opt-in forms. Keep this in mind when determining which types of opt-in forms to use and where to place them. Do you have any email marketing tips of your own to share? Be sure to leave them in the comments!
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