Email marketing might be considered old fashioned by some, but it is still an important tool for bloggers.
An email list is like your dedicated audience and they are at the forefront of everything you produce.
They can respond to surveys, receive announcements of new products or blogs and they will probably be interested in any new service you offer.
The question then is how to build a list and maintain contact with your audience of subscribers? (along with everything else you are trying to do).
After playing around with several different options, I have finally settled on two main tools that I use to collect e-mail addresses and manage my subscribers. These are;
- a free plugin for WordPress called SumoMe
- a paid subscription service called Aweber.
The first tool that I use is to set up the collection forms, and that I do through SumoMe
SumoMe is a multi-tool plugin which means it offers a number of different services including social media sharing, heat map analysis and direct access to Google analytics, as well as the email marketing tools.
This also means that it can cause some sites to slow down slightly especially if you have lots of other plugins. So because of this problem I try and restrict what I use within SumoMe and not activate everything it offers.
One of the tools that I do use is the List Builder and Smart Bar options, which are both tools that can be used to collect e-mail addresses.
These two tools let you create sign up forms for email and to choose where and when you want them to appear on your site. SumoMe also has a paid Premium service which offers greater variety in the templates and design options for the forms.
Once you have activated these in your WordPress dashboard and designed your forms, then you will have the option to link them to your email auto responder service, and for this I use Aweber.
Setting up an account with Aweber is fairly straightforward and you can use their test drive option to see whether it works for you, before agreeing to subscribe either monthly or annually to the service.
The main advantage of having an auto responder service is that a prompt reply can be sent to all new subscribers. As they join they are instantly greeted and asked to confirm their intention to subscribe.
Once this has been done they will receive all your automated messages or newsletters, along with the other subscribers.
The following short video gives you an idea of how this works and shows how Aweber acts an auto responder and can manage your email sign ups for you.
One of the things that attracted me to Aweber was the ease of setting up email campaigns and monitoring email sign ups.
The dashboard is easy to read and at a glance I can monitor a number of different websites and their email subscribers. You can see how this works for 3 of my sites in part of the dashboard shown in the screenshot below.
Collecting Email Data
The system that I use is a two stage sign up. In other words subscribers sign up on my site and this information is collected by SumoMe.
The dashboard for SumoMe has a number of graphs and data including a daily stats chart like the one shown here. You can see your conversion rate and the number of email prompts that are given compared to how many subscribers actually sign up in this chart.
Each subscriber name is then passed onto Aweber, who send a confirmation email to make sure that the person really does want to subscribe.
This does tend to lose many subscribers as people often sign up out of habit, or to remove the sign up form.
On the other hand it ensures that your email list has subscribers that are more dedicated and truly interested in your site and what you have to offer. It also ensures that the email address is valid and belongs to an actual subscriber.
Staying In Contact With Your Subscribers
Once you have started to build a list the next stage is to stay in touch with everyone on it. The easiest way to do this is to send an email newsletter with links to new blog posts.
For example what happens with this site, is that subscribers receive an email alert after every second new blog post has been published.
But you can change the frequency or send a separate email every week, it’s your choice.
This is the real advantage of an auto responder service such as Aweber. I can publish a post, and without doing anything else Aweber will send out an email to all my subscribers, with links to my last two posts.
It will also convert this same email into a tweet and send it out on my Twitter profile.
Email marketing is an important way of developing a sample group of your intended audience and understanding what their needs really are.
It does a bit of time and effort to set up a proper email system initially. But once it is in place then updates and email newsletters, with links to your most recent posts, should ensure that you maintain a core readership for your site.
There are a number of other articles on this site that you might also find relevant, which include;
- Using Keyword Research To Understand Your Target Audience
- 9 Ways to Get Your Audience to Read Your Full Blog Post
If you have any further questions please leave them in the comments section below and please feel free to share this article on your own social media channels, thanks.