How To Build An Email List

One of the most common questions I get is how to build an email list or how to get more email subscribers. I do this a few different ways.

Choose an Email Newsletter/Autoresponder Service

Of course, before you can do anything you need to choose an email service to add subscribers too. I use AWeber, and while there are many other competitors out there, AWeber is my favorite due to ease of use and functionality for internet marketers.

1) & 2) Permanent opt-in forms

1) I have one opt-in subscription form at the top of every page. It’s large, you can’t missed it at the top of every page. This form has different backgrounds that randomly show so it looks different each time the page loads.

2) I have a simple form at the bottom on every single blog post page. The position and color of this doesn’t change, it’s a small form for convenience. Click the image below for a larger view.

3) Pop-up form

I use a plugin called Pippity to control my “nice” pop-up forms on the site. At the moment I have three variations that I am testing with different designs. They pop up after a certain amount of time on the site and when closed do not reappear for 8 days even if the visitor returns. I do this to reduce the annoyance of the pop-ups to regular visitors. There is another popular plugin called Popup Domination, but I prefer Pippity because of it’s ease of use and analytics capabilities.

For example I can tell which forms are used the most by new subscribers, how long the pop-ups are displayed for before being closed and make variations of the same design to test timing options.

4) Contact form

Another plugin that is brilliant is Gravity Forms. I use this for my Contact page, where it asks a series of questions to the visitor, with the final one being whether they would like to subscribe to my newsletter or not. It uses the AWeber form add-on to add any person automatically to my newsletter who selects they would like to be added to my list.

My opt-in rate for people who contact me (I get a lot per day!) is over 80%, so if you have a lot of people emailing you for support or asking you questions, Gravity Forms can be a great way to add relevant subscribers.

5) Subscribe Page

This subscribe page is for search engine visitors, searchers on my own site or if I need to provide a direct link via email to someone.

6) Paypal integration

AWeber has a great “app” that allows you to add anyone who pays you via Paypal to your email list. So whenever anyone buys one of my services, such as my Complete Blog Setup, they are asked via email if they want to subscribe to my newsletter.

Summary

There are multiple areas of opportunity and “touch points” with readers and clients that you can use to offer your email subscription list. However, as I’ve talked about before (How Much Does An Email Subscriber Cost You?), it’s what you do once you have them that is very important, as an email list, and the methods used to gather subscribers, cost money.

There are a couple of ways I can name now that I don’t use, but what are the ways you use to gain email subscribers?

The tools I use to build my email list are:
a) AWeber
b) Pippity
c) Gravity Forms

How Much Does An Email Subscriber Cost You?

I was speaking to a client the other week when an interesting topic came up regarding people signing up to your email list for free. Email subscribers aren’t free.

If, for the moment, we ignore the cost of a newsletter email service like AWeber, Constant Contact, MailChimp etc, then how much can a subscriber possibly cost you? Well it’s all about time and effort.
contact letter
So say you have 20 email subscribers, and it takes you an hour and a half to write, format and send an email. That amount of your time could be worth, for example, $100.

So each email subscriber has just cost you $5 for them to receive your email.

Now if you have 1,000 subscribers then your cost is still the same but then the email is costing you $0.10 per subscriber.

Your email system might be costing you $50 per month. So another scenario:

Email system cost per month: $50
Emails sent per month: 6
Time/cost per email: 1 hour/$60 = $360
Email subscribers: 3,000

Your total cost per month is $410 or $68.33 per email.

Each email subscriber is costing you $0.14 per month or $0.02 per email you’ve sent out.

How are you earning money back on these subscribers?

A bigger list costs more money but also divides that cost between more subscribers. You may have also spent 20 hours creating a free report to entice people to sign up to your email list. But once you have the subscribers, how are you getting value from them?

How many people are opening these emails?

If your email system charges you per number of subscribers and yet only 5% are opening your emails then your costs get much worse. Add that to the fact that in most email systems you need to delete unsubscribes as these contribute to your total, you are paying for a lot of unresponsive “subscribers”.

You don’t have to sell via email to make money

I don’t sell many things via email. I offer some of my own services and promote other valuable related tools (like AWeber and HostGator) but providing value and creating a trusted brand via email, and also getting targeted visitors to your site can also pay back what you’re spending on email services. It’s just harder to quantify!

How do you use your email service? Do you worry about quantifying value? And if so, how do you do it?

Premium Series: Pippity Popup Plugin Review

In my Premium Series I’m taking a look at Premium WordPress plugins and WordPress themes that I personally use, either for myself and for others. All opinions are my own and not influenced by affiliate commissions or anyone connected to the product.

Pippity is a WordPress plugin that promises to make your popups less annoying to visitors. I use a popup (or hover over) to promote my newsletter and the two free ebooks you get for subscribing. The optin does pretty well with the fairly basic AWeber popup I used, so I thought it would be interesting to test.

Setting up the popup is very easy. Simply choose from one of the many themes, as shown in the screenshot below

You simply have to do a few steps for each theme, it’s all point and click stuff:

– Choose the theme you want. There are quite a lot of choices by default.
– A lot of themes have color choices too so choose the combination you like, or select your own colors.
– Enter the text for each section you want to use.
– Set the appearance options. How long before the pop-up appears? How many days before you show it again to the same person? How many pages should they have viewed before it appears? Should it appear on Posts only page?
– Finally enter your newsletter subscription form code. Pippity will automatically extract the relevant info and connect it up.

If you want to see how my pop up looks go here and it will be forced to appear for you.

You can create many different popups and test what change in conversion rate they generate. Below is an example of the screen straight after installing the plugin and setting up the forms – hence the figures are all zero. In a few weeks I’ll update this to show the latest figures.

Pippity — People Pleasing Popups Positively Increasing Sign-Ups

Overall I’m impressed as to how easy the plugin is to use, and how many features it has. The plugin is low priced for one site and you can get an attractive popup that is customized for the experience you want to give your visitors. In under 5 minutes.

It will take longer to tweak and get exactly what you want, and test different variations and combinations of course. I haven’t used it long enough yet to say whether it is better than the standard AWeber one, but I wouldn’t have installed it if I didn’t think it would be.

It’s very fast too, it hasn’t made a measurable difference to my page loading speed, and it currently works with AWeber, Madmimi, MailChimp, Constant Contact, 1ShoppingCart, Get Response, Campaign Monitor, Graphic Mail and iContact.

BTG logo Summary

Where I use this: Right here on Blog Tech Guy.

Pros: Lots of templates; easy to use; no coding required; custom CSS allowed.

Cons: Not free, but nothing anywhere near as powerful as this plugin is free.

Cost: From $49.

From: Pippity (affiliate link).

How To Add Subscribers Name Or Email To Your Thank You Page

For a few clients I have set up their AWeber email subscription thank you page to show the subscribers name and, if they want, email address.

Now this is something I actually don’t do myself on my own blog as I use my thank you page in a variety of different ways, but it’s a pretty neat way of customizing/personalizing your thank you page, or even your confirmation page.

STEP 1:

For Thank You Page: When creating a web form, make sure you check the box that says
“Post CGI Variables to the thank you page?”
This essentially allows the Name and Email information (plus any other custom fields) to be sent to your thank you page.

For Confirmation Page: Go to My Lists > Confirmed Opt-in and under Confirmation Success Page, as well as entering a URL, check the box that says “Pass Subscriber Info?”.

STEP 2:

In the <head> section of your thank you and/or confirmation page, place the following javascript.


var formData = function() {
    var query_string = (location.search) ? ((location.search.indexOf('#') != -1) ? location.search.substring(1, location.search.indexOf('#')) : location.search.substring(1)) : '';
    var elements = [];
    if(query_string) {
       var pairs = query_string.split("&");
       for(i in pairs) {
          var tmp = pairs[i].split("=");
          elements[unescape(tmp[0])] = unescape(tmp[1]);
       }
    }
    return {
        display: function(key) {
            if(elements[key]) {
              document.write(elements[key]);
            } else {
              document.write("");
            }
        }
    }
}();

STEP 3

It’s easy now. When writing your message on the page, put:

<script type="text/javascript">formData.display("name")</script>

where you want the name to appear. Change the word name to from to display the email address. Hopefully it all works!

You can find all the official resources on AWeber, here, here, and here.

Is Email The Best Communication Tool?

I love using email to communicate. It makes things instantaneous without being intrusive. It keeps a written record of what has been said, and is easily organized.

I especially love using Gmail, it’s archiving, labeling and search features make it easy to use and easy to find anything that has every been discussed. It even allows you to manage multiple accounts within the same interface.

However a couple of recent “incidents” have led me to question whether it’s always best at times.

Gmail Logo

Firstly someone contacted me, and I replied promptly as always. Then, after a couple of days I a got another message, the same as the first – always a sign the recipient hasn’t received my email. Checking my reply was sent, and I resent it from a different email address in case my domain was being blocked. Then, again a couple of days later, I received a comment on my blog complaining about my lack of replies. Having no other way to contact the sender other than email, I was actually happy they had left the message! It was quickly sorted out, the emails had been filtered into the recipients spam/junk folder automatically, and they hadn’t checked. All was fine in the end, but things had been delayed a week.

Secondly another client sent me an email for some further work. And then sent me another, and yet didn’t receive a reply. She then sent me an email from my contact form which alarmed me, as she had been worried about why I hadn’t replied. Of course I hadn’t received the emails, but why? The answer rests in Gmail’s virus scanner. All the emails that had been sent had contained a .php attachment. Gmail does not allow executable files or scripts to be sent in email, however the details are a little sketchy. .exe’s are blocked and so are password protected zip files. .php files are not mentioned though seem to be blocked, but not when they’re zipped. There is obviously no notification when an email is blocked (otherwise you would get lots and lots of notifications from spam bots), so I hadn’t known anything is wrong.

Gmail launched in 2004 and is still classed as a BETA – i.e not complete software. Perhaps this shows why?

ACTIONS: My contact form now includes a telephone number / Skype box in case someone wants to provide an alternative contact method. I also check my own spam folder regularly.

So, if I don’t reply to you, send me an email from my contact form with a phone number and explain the problem. I look forward to speaking to you soon!

How To Add An Email Subscription Box To Your Blog

Another of the great questions I got in response to my newsletter is regarding how to add an email subscription box to your website or blog. So I’m going to look at two methods, Feedburner and AWeber.

Feedburner

Feedburner is a service where it makes it easy for people to subscribe to your feed, and tracks all your subscribers in one location. They also provide an email subscription service, where subscribers will receive a daily email containing all your blog posts for that day (no posts = no email, 10 posts = 1 email).

1. Log in/sign-up to Feedburner (to sign-up you’ll need your blog’s RSS feed which will be something like this http://www.your domain name.com/feed/).

2. Once logged in or set-up, click on your Feed name to go to your Feed Stats Dashboard.

3. Then click the Publicize tab – See the image below.

4. In the left hand column you will see an option called Email Subscriptions, click this.

5. Choose how you want your email to be delivered. For now we’ll choose Feedburner.

6. Click Activate to begin the service.

7. You will now be presented with the form code to put on your site. Scroll down past the AWeber instructions to read how to put this on your blog.

AWeber

AWeber is a professional email newsletter and autoresponder sequence service. I’ve been a member of over a month now and have been thoroughly impressed with their service. From the quick technical support, to the flexibility of their autoresponder and newsletter broadcasts, if you don’t mind paying for a great solution then I would definitely recommend giving their 30 day risk free membership a go (note this isn’t free, just risk-free meaning you can get a refund within 30 days).

To create a sign up form, simply sign into your account:

1. Go to List Settings > Web Form. If you have not set up you list you will be asked to enter certain details before being able to proceed.

2. Press the Create Web Form button.

3. On the form details tab enter:
Form Name: Your unique name for the form
Type: In this example we’re just doing the in-line form, we can experiment with others later (like the Pop-over/Hover that appears on my Contact page for new visitors).
Thank You Page: We can customise this later, for now we can leave it as AWeber’s default page.
Ad tracking: You can give you form a name here so if you have multiple forms you can see which one a subscriber used to sign up.
Press Next.

4. The Design Form window will appear. I like to keep the form short and simple, maybe adding the Name box like I have. Just hover over it with your mouse and press the green + button when it appears. You can also add a headline to your form, and change the name of the submit button. You can always change the form options later.

5. Once you press Save you will be taken back to a list of all your forms. You will see a Get HTML column, and link. When you click on that you will be presented with two options: Javascript or raw HTML. I recommend using the javascript form, the difference is with the javascript form you can track the number of times it is displayed (and compare it to number of sign-ups to find out your sign-up rate), and while the HTML form doesn’t allow this, it does allow you to customise the form outside of AWeber. For now we’ll stick with the javascript.

Adding the code to your blog

If you have signed up for Feedburner, or AWeber, then the act of putting the code onto your blog is essentially the same. Here I will show you how to simply add the code to the sidebar of your WordPress blog (version 2.5+) and am assuming your theme is widget enabled.

1. In another window or tab, open your blog. You will need your email code window still open, so don’t close that just yet.

2. Go to your WordPress blog’s management dashboard.

3. Select Design, then Widgets.

4. If you see no widgets here then your theme may not be widget enabled and you will have to add the code directly to your theme files. Please contact me if this is so and I can talk you through the options.

5. On the left hand side, find Text Widget and press Add to add it to your sidebar on the right hand side.

6. Once added on the right hand side, press Edit to open the widget. At the top of the widget you can give the widget a title, such as “Subscribe to Email Updates”.

7. As shown in the image above, copy the code that you’ve been given by your email service (javascript of HTML) into the main body of the text widget. Don’t worry about changing it for now.

8. Once you have the widget title and code in place, remember to press Change to close the Text widget box, and then press Save Changes.

Your subscription box should now appear on your website. In a later tutorial I’ll show you how to change the styling of this. You can re-order your sidebar widgets by dropping and dragging them up and down your sidebar. Just remember to press Save Changes in order to see the results on your website.

You can also put this code in the body of a blog post too, like my newsletter sign up box below! Any questions, or problems please let me know.