Ever since the launch of OptinMonster, we have received numerous emails from WordPress beginners asking us why do they need to build an email list?
Isn’t email marketing dead? Why pay for an email marketing service, when JetPack plugin or Feedburner has email subscription options. In this article, we will explain why every serious blogger and small business needs to focus on building an email list right now. We will also share an easy to follow actionable step by step guide that you can implement in your business right away.
When we talk with professional bloggers, not building an email list is the #1 mistake they admit. So why is it that beginners continue to make this mistake over and over? Because there is a false presumption that email marketing is dead.
But Isn’t Email Marketing Kind of Dead?
No, it is not. In fact email marketing had never been more alive as it is today. Every website wants you to give them your email address, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or The New York Times. Why email is so relevant and important?
The answer is very simple. Everyone’s got an email address which they log into several times a day. Most people with smart phones are signed into their email accounts 24/7 with push notifications enabled. Email is much more personal, direct, and a reliable way to get in touch with most people.
Some will ask what about social media? Social media is a great way to reach your audiences, but lets face it, social media websites come and go. Not too long ago we had friendfeed, Google Buzz, MySpace, Plurk and countless other cool websites. Most of them are either dead now or irrelevant. Today we got Facebook and Twitter, but not every one is as hooked up on these sites as they are to their email account.
Facebook for example has the EdgeRank metrics which limits the reach of your updates. Twitter streams are so busy that there is a very short span of time in which you can get user’s attention. There are other places like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, etc. You need a different content strategy for different channels, but for a small business or an individual blogger this can quickly get overwhelming.
We are not saying that social media is not important. It is, and you should explore every opportunity to reach out to your audiences however you should spend more time and effort into something that guarantees much better results.
Advantages of an Email List
During our years of online marketing experience, we have learned that building an email list is probably the best thing you can do for your website and your business.
On WPBeginner, our email list drives much more traffic and has a much higher user engagement rate than any other platform.
Why? Because when someone subscribe to your email list with double opt-in, they are really interested and are much more likely to open your email and click on the links. It is not such a surprising fact, here is why:
Email is Personal – Email allows you to land into a user’s inbox. There is no ranking system limiting your reach. Your message is intended for a user and it lands into their inbox. It is very direct, personal, and casual.
Email is Purposeful – To get your email a user needs to signup for your email list and confirm their email address. Someone doing this much work is obviously already interested into hearing from you and is much more receptive and responsive to your message.
Email is Targeted – As we mentioned earlier the user has already shown interest in your products / content. They have already given consent to learn more by receiving your emails. They are much more likely to click, buy, and spread the word around for your products and services. Since you already know what they like, you can deliver them highly relevant content and offers to get better results.
Email is One-on-One – People read email in the privacy of their inbox. The message is not on a public wall or timeline. They can ask you questions directly in private with confidence. You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to ask questions on public forums where everyone can read them. Email also allows users to build a one on one relationship with you. Gradually they develop trust in your brand and proudly spread the word around.
To summarize all this, email works a lot better than any other online marketing tool. Big name brands learned that long time ago, and this is why they spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists. They understand that the email is the best long term investment and people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.
Free vs. Paid Email List Options
There are a number of free email subscription services online. Often beginners use the free options to save cost. This is understandable however it is not the most ideal way to go about it. Why?
Because most free options allow you to offer blog subscription via email. Most beginners don’t understand that email newsletters and blog subscription via email are two different things.
Services like FeedBurner or Jetpack Subscriptions offer blog subscription via email. This allows your users to receive an email update every time you publish a new blog post. This means the information they are receiving has to be public first. You can’t send out private email newsletters, you can’t personalize the email, you can’t categorize the subscribers by interest levels, and you lack reporting. So basically you don’t know anything about your subscribers specially with Jetpack.
Email newsletters while cost money allows you to send private mass emails to a group of subscribers. You can see subscriber activity, and segment your most loyal followers. You can run A/B split test campaigns to see which email subjects work better. You can see which country you have the most subscribers to adjust your timezone preferences. Last but definitely the most important, you can see the emails of all of your subscribers.
To really build an email list, you should go with an email provider like Aweber or MailChimp. They’re both paid services, but MailChimp offers a free account for first 2000 subscribers. This is great for beginners because by the time they surpass that number, that email list should be paying for itself.
How to Start Building Your Email List
Considering the benefits of building an email list, it requires very little effort, time and money to build. Here is how to get started:
Select an Email Marketing Service Provider – We would recommend either Aweber or MailChimp.
Strategically Place Beautiful Optin Forms – Some WordPress themes come with built-in sidebar email widgets. Your email marketing service provider may also provide you with the embed code that you can place into your WordPress site.
If you really want to increase your email signups then you need to create better optin forms. At WPBeginner, we built OptinMonster to increase our email signups and saw a very successful 600% increase in growth.
We were getting about 70-80 subscribers a day, and after integrating OptinMonster our signups increased to 445-470 new subscribers per day with the same traffic that we were getting before.
To further increase your signup rates, you need to offer your users incentives to join your email list. People love getting things for FREE and immediately. Offer them instant incentives that they can get for free immediately after joining your email list. This can be an eBook, coupon, free resource, or anything else.
It does not matter what kind of business you run, what kind of website you have, or what industry you are in. If you got a website, and you want to turn your visitors into returning customers, then you need to get them in your email list.