If you’re here on this page from Arto’s (the founder of 10Web) newsletter, then our mailing lists are already successful.
We’ve been paying a lot of attention to our email communications recently, and it seems like list building is among the tricky stages.
First of all, you don’t build an email list out in the dark: you should decide beforehand what you need the list for, how you’re going to use it, and who’s your target.
Then you start thinking about the tools you’re going to use to collect the emails. It can be separate from your email marketing tools. That’s a whole different story and you don’t want them mixed up. But if you’ve already chosen a popular tool for email marketing, you can integrate it at once to save time on exporting and importing your data.
And finally, you have to constantly filter your list and keep it up to date, or else your statistics and overall results will be confusing, not to mention the increasing spam rate.
Now let’s go ahead and discuss each point separately.
Build a full-length conversion funnel
We’re speaking about the prep stage of email marketing here. Every little step you make must be in line with your current marketing strategy.
In email marketing, a prospect becomes a lead when they share their contacts with you. In most cases, that’s when they also get something valuable from you.
You don’t just need a bunch of email addresses just for the count. When you have all your marketing strategy planned, it’s easier to find the users you want.
What you really need is people who do want to receive your emails and willingly share their addresses with you in the hope of receiving something useful.
Most marketers offer ebooks, tutorials, free trials in exchange for an email subscription.
Moreover, if your prospects are in the EU, you’re working under GDPR which means you need their informed consent for sending then any emails.
So before a prospect submits their email address, you need to clearly state what you’re going to use the address for and let then decide. You can’t even have the “I agree” box ticked by default; it must be a user’s choice to tick it.
Even if these rules don’t apply in your region, informing the users what they are going to receive is the ethical thing to do.
Now, to convert your user to prospect, you need a well-planned landing page.
Here are the components of a converting landing page:
1. Attractive offer
Users don’t just subscribe to anything these days. You must promise something really useful. Look what you have. A newsletter? A guide? An online course? Study your audience’s needs to find what you can offer.
2. Beautiful design
In 2019, there’s no way to gain a user’s trust with just an average page design. If you’re a 10Web user, you can create the page in a few minutes with our WP website builder.
3. Convincing CTA
The final click. What do users click on? “Subscribe,” “Join Our Journey,” “Receive It Now” or anything else? That totally depends on your target audience. Do a split test and see which one works best.
4. No distractions
Your landing page must have one main goal: to convert leads. So don’t let any distractions get on your way. Remove the header and footer menus, and only leave your link to the homepage if you strongly feel it’s the right thing to do. The CTA must be the only button a user can click; the rest should remain a dead-end.
In our discussion about convincing people to give their emails, Alex Panagis — the founder of ScaleMath — cites Ahrefs CMO Tim Suolo’s recent tweet:
“If you have a mailing list that’s worth signing up for, you don’t need to trick, cajole, or bribe people in order to get them on board.
You only need to do that when you know that most people wouldn’t voluntarily join.”
"If you have a mailing list that’s worth signing up for, you don’t need to trick, cajole, or bribe people in other to get them on board.
You only need to do that when you know that most people wouldn’t voluntarily join.
That’s a pretty weirdly coercive play."
— Tim Soulo (@timsoulo) September 9, 2019
“I also don’t make use of lead magnets,” Alex said, “as I don’t believe in the concept of just offering someone something they want to then later bombard them with unrelated emails.”
Find your best tool
As a WordPress user, you probably need a plugin to collect, store and categorize the emails of your subscribers.
At 10Web, we’re using 10Web Form Maker integrated directly with 10Web’s core where we have our custom-built mailing software.
The form maker also has a MailChimp integration option. But if you haven’t decided what you’re going to use for email marketing, you can simply collect the emails with a form plugin for now, and later export the email list to the tool of your choice, plus integrate that tool and simplify the process.
The tools come second after a well-developed strategy, and we’re still curious about which tools others prefer and why.
So I asked my colleagues what they use for building their email list, and here are their answers.
Alex Paganis from ScaleMath says:
“In the past, I have used tools like OptinMonster and I continue to recommend them to people, but I have now personally resorted to using custom-developed forms on my homepage and in my blog page.”
And of course, custom forms are fantastic if you have the time and resources to build them. But if you don’t plugins will serve you just fine.
Here’s what Cory Dugan, the President of vertical-training.com is using:
“My favorite method is using Aweber. It is easy to use, intuitive, and inexpensive. It also gives me plenty of ways to customize my landing pages and autoresponder lists.”
And here’s another Aweber user, Ben Taylor, a serial solopreneur since 2004 and founder of www.homeworkingclub.com. He’s managing a website with over 9000 subscribers for a weekly newsletter:
“I personally use Aweber to manage my email lists. It is a rather “old school” tool, and I know there are many alternatives nowadays. However, I’m perfectly happy with what it does, and it is particularly good at deliverability — that means ensuring as many emails as possible hit people’s inboxes, instead of their spam folders.”
Jason David, the CEO of Software Portal, prefers a different one:
“I’ve been creating mailing lists for a while and one of the best plugins I’ve found for it is Thrive. It’s a great WP plugin that allows you to create well designed opt-in forms with a drag and drop interface. You can also hide the links from those who have already subscribed.”
Oh and most importantly, as you keep maintaining and filtering your email list, make sure it’s backed up along with your website. It would be a nightmare to lose previous versions after a simple change.
Common mistakes when building email lists
As the conversation went on, I decided to ask colleagues about the mistakes they’ve made when building their email lists and the solutions they later found.
Here’s Alex’s mistake:
“As is the case with a lot of people, I got hung up on the tools I should use. Should I use MailChimp, ConvertKit, Campaign Monitor or Active Campaign…or? Don’t go down that rabbit hole. It isn’t worth your time, just got with a tool and get started, switching later when you do decide that another platform is better is a lot easier than you think.”
This is what Cory regrets:
“The biggest mistake I learned early on is simply how to make a landing page look good so that people would be willing to give me their information.
Over time, though, I learned how to be creative and occasionally use plugins that do the work for me.”
And here is what Ben Taylor has to share:
“I’ve set up several blogs over the years, and establishing an email list is one of the first and most important tasks for each new site. A mistake I’ve made in the past is to build a blog, develop an audience, and only then get around to starting to build the list. This means I’ve potentially missed the chance to turn all of those previous readers into subscribers.”
That’s how we build our email lists with WordPress. What about you? How do you plan it? What tools do you use? What do you regret? We’re all really curious. Share your experience in the comments.
If you still have questions about building email lists with WordPress, come join us at WordPress Family Facebook Community and ask away!
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