Why Smart Bloggers Build Their Email List–Here’s How to Get Started
I say this without hesitation because my inbox is just as full of email today as it was two years ago. Plus I’m seeing great results using email here with Build Your Own Blog.
Does email appear dead to you?
Despite a few hastily written obituaries, email is quite alive and still kicking with relevant energy.
Oh sure, email has a few obvious imperfections, yet it STILL delivers great results today for bloggers and the online entrepreneur.
That’s because email is a fantastic tool to grow a strong relationship between you and your followers.
And for those who want to generate income with their blog, email provides an extremely cost effective means of turning leads into sales and buyers into repeat buyers.
Consider how many websites ask you for your email address….how else would they stay in touch with you? Postcard?
Sometimes we need to remember how email is still free and saves us a lot of time and money.
Email deserves more love.
You will only get her respect in return once you put email into action, though. So don’t let this incredible, free tool go to waste.
3 Ways to Build a Ginormous Email List in a Short Amount of Time
To gather subscribers to your newsletter or blog promotions, here’s a few ways to start building your email list.
As a blogger you can use any or all of these strategies. That’s totally your decision. Let’s begin.
1. Blog on a Robust, Growing Niche
Most experts advise people to blog on something they are passionate about, and I basically do agree with that….but if your passion is Rare Icelandic Christmas Plates, you may have a difficult time creating an email list that reaches into the hundreds.
Blogging to the same small group of people can cause your sales to stagnate, even fizzle out relatively quickly.
So as you begin blogging, consider finding a large niche like I did (the build a blog niche) or something like sports, health, technology or music. Even medium sized niches like southwestern cooking or a blog about your city can be large enough to build a solid email list.
2. Provide Beneficial Information for Free
Giving something away that people want has proven to effectively build an email list.
I’m talking about information here. This isn’t about giving away a gift card or any sort of merchandise. That might get you a surge of new subscribers, but those folks won’t be loyal, because your message and information are not their top priority. They will unsubscribe quickly later on.
Giving away free info related to your blog niche that truly provides value to people is how a dedicated email list is built.
Many times these list building offers are described as a “Free Report” or an “eBook.” How much information you provide is totally up to you.
I don’t advise creating a 100+ page eBook to use as your free giveaway…..most of the free reports and eBooks I’ve downloaded from various blogs are around 4 to 20 pages in length and are in PDF format. Some include visual elements such as charts, graphs, illustrations or photos. As you plan your email list building giveaway, keep in mind that the size of your free report also depends on how you design it.
You will want to invest in a quality design for this free information, as the appearance reflects on you, your blog and brand.
Here are a few examples of how bloggers can use a free report or eBook offer to build their email list. (Btw, if any of these examples interest you, you can use the link I provide to go check it out.)
On the upper right sidebar of the home page, you can see the Hillbilly Housewife opt-in for the newsletter, and her promise to email you the “family budget report” after you provide your email address:
After I put in my name and email addresses, I clicked through the confirmation email and was then able to download a nice looking, helpful 12 page report. This is highly targeted information for a particular audience:
On this blog you will also find the email sign up and free report offer on the upper right side of the page.
After subscribing I received this sharp looking 15 page eBook:
Here is a third example. See how there’s a concise, urgent call-to-action that’s appealing. The free eBook I received looked like the one you see here and it was 38 pages, filled with illustrations and light on copy, but the illustrations clearly demonstrate each exercise.
One thing you may notice is that all of these examples have placed a prominent email sign up at the upper right area of their home page.
Eye tracking studies do support this to be a good location for your email opt-in as long as the opt-in is not close to a banner ad or looks like a banner ad. Banner ads can cause banner blindness in web users.
I do not have an email opt-in in the upper right side of the Build Your Own Blog home page..at least not yet. There is one down lower in the right sidebar, but I also have one in the footer and I use a pop-up opt-in on most of the website’s pages. The pop-up performs the best, and the footer comes in second as far as pulling in the subscribers. Honestly I’ve been experimenting and learning as I go along, which is what I’m always telling new bloggers to do to help them learn. Based on my research here, I’m now planning to test an email sign-up box on the upper right side of the page.
Back to the free info: Now being a writer by trade, I would hire someone else to design my eBooks or free reports. You may have high quality design skills but if not, you should consider finding some to help make your free offer look top notch.
What about you? Have you already started offering a free report to build an email list? Tell us what’s been working for you in the comments.
3. Create a comfortable squeeze page (landing page) for an email marketing campaign
If you have never done any online marketing, let me first define what “email marketing campaign” actually means…email marketing is using electronic mail (email) to acquire customers (or regular readers for those bloggers not interested in monetizing their blog). It can also be used for branding and promotional purposes.
A landing page that has the primary purpose of obtaining a visitor’s email address is also known as a squeeze page in the online marketing industry.
There are a variety of ways a blogger can use a squeeze page to build an email list. A few examples include…
- You provide a webinar related to your blog niche. People must provide email to sign up
- Offer a free trial on a product or service that requires an email address
- Offer access to an exclusive part of your website only members can see that needs their email address
There are squeeze page template services available or you can hire a designer to create your page.
Here are a few examples of a squeeze page:
However it gets designed, the squeeze page should feel comfortable to your target audience.
What I mean by a “comfortable” squeeze/landing page is one that doesn’t feel high pressured or overly “salesy.” Some direct response professionals may have different opinions on this, but the fact is many people have encountered a “squeeze page” before and opted-into something that ended up being more hype than substance. How much of a sales approach you should take can depend on your blog niche…over time you’ll learn what attracts your audience (what they want), so your landing pages will get more comfortable (effective) over time. As long as you can back up what you say, go for it. Test and see what works for your audience.
Before creating your landing page, imagine your audience as someone who has been standing on their feet for 6 straight hours…..now consider your landing page. How can you construct a landing page that resembles a super comfy sofa–not a slab of concrete? Of course, your audience will choose the cushy sofa.
Also, make your landing page unique, put some branding in the design and copy, and you’ll end up with an effective squeeze page.
Choosing Your Email Service
One final piece you will need to build an email list is setting up the email service that collects the email addresses people give along with providing the platform you need to send out emails and newsletters to your list.
If you have read through my blog setup, you know that I don’t normally recommend a free service for blogs. Well, this is also true when it comes to email service. Although you can use a free service using WordPress, you will be limited in what you can do with it. Like a free blog, you will end up looking amateurish, and tests show that emails not being dispensed through a quality service can easily end up in the spam folder. Spam filters look at what platform the email was sent from, and tend to deem free email services as “spammy.”
But there is one awesome email service that actually is free when you start and I do use it now (but I’m past the free stage.)
The email service I use for Build Your Own Blog is Mail Chimp.
Mail Chimp is one of the most popular services today. Their dashboard is super user friendly and has many cool features to help make your emails and newsletters pop. Other free email services just don’t compare (I’ll cover those features in a moment.)
The cool thing about Mail Chimp that new bloggers will like how they offer free service until your email list reaches 2,000 people (or 12,000 email sends per month. So if you have a list of 1,000 and you send 13 emails in a month, your account would no longer be free.)
Here are the three plans offered by Mail Chimp:
You will see on the next page (after clicking Learn More) that you get several different segmenting features, split testing, and other features with their Forever Free option. Two features you don’t get with the Entrepreneur plan are Autoresponders and Spam Filter Diagnostics. I wanted to use autoresponders to I went ahead and paid for the service, which has been a great investment.
Once you’re ready to start, you can do so without even giving Mail Chimp a credit card number.
After you set up your account, you can then add Mail Chimp to your blog.
How to Add the Mail Chimp Email Newsletter Opt-in to Your WordPress Blog
Side Bar Opt-in:
Earlier we looked at some other blogs where the email opt-in is prominently displayed in the sidebar. You can do this by using a free WordPress plugin for Mail Chimp. You can see on the page that this plugin can be added and your opt-in form ready to go in less than five minutes.
Of course you can use a different service to generate your form then paste the text into your WordPress widgets.
Pop Up Opt-in:
For my pop up I use Ninja Popups for WordPress. I’ve had good results with this and it’s easy to use with Mail Chimp. Ninja also works with other email marketing tools such as Aweber, Constant Contact and even integrates with social media platforms like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Pinterest.
I can tell you from experience that exporting/importing emails has been hassle free using MailChimp.
The most important thing is not which email marketing service you use but whether or not you are using one…I wouldn’t have a list that grows daily without an email opt-in on this site.
Are you now hungry for a super sized mailing list for your blog? That’s good, because
Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like Email
Email may not be a perfect tool, but it helps you make a lot more money with your blog than you would make without it.
Even if you have no desire to generate income with your blog, building an email list is still the best way to grow an audience that is engaged with your message and has a desire to come back to your blog again and again.
What I mean by “engaged” in this context is your audience responds back to your blog through leaving comments, sending you emails and interacting with you on social media.
You can see how effective email works when you think about how many websites ask you for an email address to join their mailing list….Most of them, right?
That’s because email works.
What about you? Have you already started building an email list? Tell us what’s been working for you in the comments.
P.S. This article wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of one of my opt-ins. If you want to continue reading my blog posts, I hope you will leave your email below.
Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+