Chapter 13: How to Build an Email List for Your Blog

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Welcome back to our series on creating a blog and building an audience! So far, we’ve covered all the topics you’ll need to know, ranging from buying a domain, choosing a WordPress theme, writing good content, and promoting your work.

While the process of creating a blog can be time consuming and seem daunting, it’s not too bad if you take it one step at a time.

There are tons of different ways to promote your blog, including social media, partnerships, guest appearances, paid promotion, and more.

We also briefly discussed using email marketing, which is one of the most effective ways to promote your content.

In this post, we’ll expand on that.

Below, we’ll talk all about email marketing and how to build an email list. Although everyone knows what email is, not everyone knows the ins-and-outs of email marketing. How do you build an email list? Why should you build one? And how can you optimize it for peak performance?

Let’s learn about building an email list!

Before we jump into the tactics, you might be wondering: exactly why building an email list is worthwhile in the first place?

With all the different marketing strategies and methods available, what makes email marketing a good strategy?

Let’s cover some of the most important reasons.

First and foremost, email marketing is worthwhile simply because it works better than other methods on a dollar per dollar basis.

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you’ll get better results than a dollar spent on social media marketing.

To help simplify the process, there is one marketing method that has maintained its claim to fame. Email marketing still promises to deliver the highest ROI of all marketing channels—$42 back for every dollar you spend.

That’s a huge rate of return!

Email is really personal – everyone has one and most people check it every day or every few days. Most people also treat their email inbox in a more personal way than their Facebook account page or Instagram feed.

In addition, unlike other social platforms, you can really only send emails if the subscriber opts to receive them.

On Instagram, for instance, advertisers can pay to display things in your feed. There is no way to do this with email, as it would be considered spam.

This makes any emails highly targeted – if someone is receiving your email, they have already indicated that they’re interested in whatever you’re doing. This is a far better situation than just hoping that a Facebook or Instagram user will like your ad!

Compared to social media accounts, emails typically last far longer and are used more frequently by people.

Many early users of the internet are still using the same email address that they had in the late 1990s!

This is unlike most social media sites, where people often create new accounts – or the website itself goes out of business or loses popularity (like MySpace or Friendster.)

As such, collecting emails is a good long-term strategy that you can realistically use for years or even decades.

While people do sometimes change their email addresses, on the whole most don’t. You can also reliably assume that email itself will be around for a long, long time, as no viable alternative has emerged.

Even when you do need to upgrade to a paid plan, the prices are usually quite reasonable and are based on clear-cut established prices, rather than auction-style prices like Google or Facebook ads.

If you’re on a budget, this makes email marketing an excellent place to start.

One of the nice things about email marketing is that it’s relatively easy to measure in comparison with some other marketing methods.

There are fundamentally only a few different variables to keep track of when sending emails:

While there are some extra things that you can analyze to get extra data, everything basically boils down to these three things.

This makes email marketing quite simple, especially when compared to the complexities of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or other social channels that are all different and have different tools to learn, metrics to measure, and local cultures to understand.

That’s not even mentioning that social media apps come and go, while email stays pretty much the same.

Writing an email in 2022 is more-or-less the exact same as it was in 2002, with a few minor additions and upgrades since then. Most social media sites, on the other hand, didn’t even exist in 2002!

Before you jump into an email marketing campaign, it helps to first stop and consider a few things. Don’t move too fast and make some basic mistakes that you can easily avoid!

While deciding on an audience to create an email list, remember not everyone who visits your blog may be interested in receiving further updates via email.

Your blog may be covering a variety of topics. Your email subscribers may not want to receive all the updates.

Segmenting your email list will help create relevant content for each group, increasing the chances that people will open or act upon your email when received.

First off, always have a clear purpose as to why you are sending emails. Email inboxes are full enough already and most people get dozens of emails, if not hundreds, per day.

If you’re going to start sending emails, be absolutely sure you know what the purpose is.

Is it to make more sales? To attract more users of your free service? Or maybe to get more readers of your content?

Try to be very specific about what your ultimate goals are at the beginning. They may change over time, but as the old saying goes, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”

While you may want to jump right into creating an email newsletter, it might be wise to first create some “freebies”, or free items, that you can use to attract subscribers.

This can be anything from an eBook to a course, or even a collection of useful files like Photoshop templates. Try to be creative and come up with ideas that relate to your particular blogging niche.

The overall idea is simple: offer free stuff in exchange for signing up to your newsletter. This is a classic email marketing tactic that has proven itself to be effective.

This is an excellent time to repurpose some old content, too.

While you shouldn’t just repackage old posts into a new eBook, it is usually a good idea to build on work you’ve already done. If you can add more value by transforming a series of posts into an eBook or interactive course, you should!

However, make sure that you are truly providing value with your freebie. Nothing irritates new subscribers more than to sign up for a newsletter and be disappointed by the “gift.”

This is a really good way to get them to unsubscribe immediately, so definitely put in the time and effort to create a worthwhile opt-in freebie.

As a secondary step to the one above, you should also figure out exactly what kind of content you plan on sending to subscribers. The concept of an email newsletter is pretty straightforward, but what exactly will it consist of?

New product updates? Sneak previews of future releases? Tips and tricks that readers can’t find on the public blog?

Whatever your niche is, try to create some value in your emails that goes above and beyond just the same things you post on your blog.

After all, readers are subscribing to your email newsletter because they want more from you, not because they want the exact same thing.

Before embarking on an email marketing campaign, it helps to also optimize your site for it.

Many bloggers make the mistake of simply adding a subscription form to their posts, expecting that readers will notice it and sign up without any promotion or encouragement. It usually doesn’t work this way, unfortunately!

So, you should be sure to make your site look good first, then worry about adding an email subscription form.

Make sure your posts have attractive visuals, that you don’t have any glaring errors or typos in your content, and that your site loads quickly.

Make it super easy for people to subscribe. One of the best ways to get more subscribers is by making it easy for them. If you create an opt-in page and make sure that there are no distractions on the page, then people will be more willing to sign up!

Without these things, readers may leave your site before they even have a chance to sign up to a newsletter.

Finally, once you’ve done all of the other steps, it’s time to choose an email marketing service.

As we mentioned above, email marketing is a fairly old industry and there are quite a few options in this space.

But, you might wonder, why do I need an email marketing service? Can’t I just email my subscribers directly from my Gmail or Yahoo account?

Not quite. Sending emails in this manner is a surefire way to get yourself flagged as spam.

It’s also rather difficult and unwieldy to send blog content via a personal email account. Instead, you’ll want to use an email marketing service, which handles all of this for you.

While there are a large number of options available, some of our favorites are Omnisend, Sendinblue, Mailchimp, and MailPoet.

Ready to start emailing? Let’s move on to the next step.

Now that you’ve launched your email marketing strategy, it’s time to get some subscribers.

There are tons of different ways to go about this, but let’s cover the five or so more important ones.

Offering incentives for a signup is a very important method to implement if you want to get subscribers.

These days, most people are a little hesitant to just sign up for an unknown newsletter, so if you can offer an incentive like a free course or ebook, it is highly recommended.

Now that you have created some great content, it is time to add an opt-in form so people can subscribe!

Once someone subscribes, make sure you send them a confirmation message to know their subscription was successful!

You can use a dedicated page that can help grow your email list. A landing page is distraction-free and lets you craft your marketing message towards getting people to opt into your emails.

These pages should be focused on getting the visitor to sign up for your email list and offer some sort of incentive in exchange for their email address like an eBook or course.

CartFlows is a sales funnel builder for WordPress websites. It lets you create online funnels quickly and easily to help encourage engagement.

The free version lets you build complete landing pages with all sorts of integrations while the premium version adds lots more powerful engagement tools.

Sometimes, these can be a little annoying, especially when you’re trying to read the content on a page. However, if done well, they are not intrusive at all and can effectively get readers to sign up to your email list.

Ensure that the sticky bar stands out on the page so that people can’t miss it. You can create custom info bars using ConvertPro as well.

You must have come across several banners, pop-ups, website elements asking to opt-in.

These are usually accompanied by a call to action (CTA) that encourages you to take the next step.

These CTAs help you generate more leads and build your email list quickly.

With the Custom CTA feature of Astra Pro, you can take this one step further. You can have custom banners inside posts or page content that encourage visitors to opt-in.

It’s pretty easy to create as well.

Here’s how you can add custom banners to your posts:

Go to Appearance> Astra Options > Custom Layouts

Design a beautiful custom layout for your blog

Next, go to Layout Settings and choose – Inside post/page content

You can also select the location of the banner and customize where to display the banner and exclude where not to display

This is a powerful feature because you can have different banners and CTAs catering to various posts. This increases their likelihood of converting the visitor into a lead.

Finally, ads are an option to consider when looking to gain subscribers. While this method generally is less effective than just writing good content and gathering followers that way, it can still work if you do it the right way.

Not sure what to run an ad for?

Try using it for the freebie content that you created above. Offering an ad for a free course or ebook is an effective approach. Also be sure to create a landing page that is customized and targeted at the particular audience you want to get.

Once you’ve done the above things, you’re pretty much set. But if you want to optimize your email marketing strategy even further, take a look at these extra steps.

They are not strictly necessary, but all of them can help increase your overall effectiveness and add more subscribers to your email list.

The most important part of email marketing is the content of your email.

Make sure that you are writing emails that are valuable to subscribers. These emails should be helpful, educational, and engaging.

Use a catchy subject line and formatting tricks like bolding or italics to make sure that your email stands out in the inbox.

If you want your email to be opened, make sure that it has a great headline as well. Then write your email body justifying the headline.

Once someone subscribes to your email list, it is good to send them an email welcoming them.

For someone to become a loyal customer, you need to create a connection with them and nurture that relationship until they are ready to buy from you.

This welcome message should create excitement for the subscriber and offer real value so they have no reason not to open or read future emails from you.

These messages should also provide helpful tips about making the most out of the email list. You can also offer another freebie in this message to get the subscriber interested in your content.

Email marketing is an ever-changing landscape, and what works today might not work tomorrow.

Make sure that you are always A/B testing your email campaigns to see what resonates with subscribers. Try different subject lines, email content, and calls-to-action to see which ones get the best results.

You can also test different delivery times and formats to see what works best for your audience.

The more you experiment, the better your email marketing will become.

Heatmap testing is a great way to see how well your landing pages perform. You can use heatmap software to track their mouse movements and clicks. This will help you know what attracts your audience’s attention on the page and what isn’t.

You can then make changes to the landing page based on this information to optimize it for better results.

As you keep testing different aspects of your email marketing strategy, you will come across many improvements. If you find that a particular subject line or call-to-action is not performing well, then it is time to optimize it.

Remember that email marketing is an ever-changing landscape and what works today might not work tomorrow. So make sure that you are always A/B testing your campaigns to see what resonates with your audience.

While asking for an optin, do not ask for too much information. This can overwhelm the visitors and raise privacy concerns in their minds. Such a lead form might not even convert well.

Instead, keep it simple. Just ask for a name and email address.

Take your time to nurture them and build trust. And then ask them for the information you need.

If you have subscribers viewing your content on mobile devices, then it is time to optimize for them.

Make sure that your landing page, CTAs, and optin forms are easy to click from a phone as well.

Even your emails should be readable through your phone. A good user experience always builds great trust!

Email marketing is a powerful strategy for any business. With email, you create customer loyalty and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

While these tips will help you get started with building an email list and launching your first campaign, it takes time to master this skill.

Speaking of emails, do subscribe to our email newsletter. We send you value-driven WordPress content every single week!

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