For blogs in particular, email lists are worth their weight in gold. The engagement that you get from people that have signed up to your mailing list is unparalleled in comparison to other traffic generation sources. Not only this, but it is a huge asset for your website in the long-term.
The problem is, how do you grow your mailing list full of people who will engage with you?
Based on my past experience, I'm sharing a few tips on how you can grow your email subscription list over time to help drive through more traffic to your content and reach a wider audience.
This is a little trick that I've been testing out on my travel blog and will be soon implementing it within Find My Blog Way.
This method consists of getting anyone who has left a comment on your blog to sign up to your mailing list once their comment is posted. It's important that you make it clear that they are 'opting-in' though, otherwise you'll just end up losing them from your list in the future.
If, like me, you use Mail Chimp as your email client, you can use this awesome WordPress plugin that will link your Mail Chimp account up with WordPress comments. All you need to do is fill in your Mail Chimp details and away you go - you don't even need a paid Mail Chimp account.
Running Online Competitions
Running online competitions is awesome for building out your mailing list as well as building your social media following. If you have an item that you think your readers would find useful, set up a sweepstakes competition where they have to give an email address in order to enter.
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One great thing with running online competitions is that you don't even need to host it on your own blog. If you partner up with another website that has a relevant community and a large following, you'll be able to absorb some of that for yourself. Taking it a step further, you can host the competition across multiple websites to grab large volumes of email subscriptions - not a bad idea, eh?
Locked Content Downloads
This is perfect subscription bait. All it requires is a piece of content that users will be interested in having in return for signing up to your mailing list.
Loads of blogs offer guides, ebooks or video tutorials that require you to hand over some of your details to access them. I recently trailed out locking content for social media shares within my 'ultimate guide to running online competitions' and that helped get the content reach a much wider audience (I used the social locker WordPress plugin to do this).
When it comes to locking content for email subscriptions, there's a whole host of different WordPress plugins that can be used. The plugin that I personally use is 'Subscribe to Unlock' and I've found this really easy to use with support for Mail Chimp, iContact and GetResponse.
In-Post Sign-Up Forms
I've personally found this to be an incredibly effective method of gathering email sign-ups. All it requires you to do is place email subscriptions forms within the content that you write.
I don't do this for every post that I write, but when I write particularly long tutorials I get a conversion rate of between 2-4% - not a bad statistic at all.
You can see with the form above that I've tried to keep it as minimalist as possible whilst keeping with the design of the blog. It's important to not over-do it here. I've had a lot of feedback from readers of the blog recently that said I can over-do it at times with the subscription forms - as a result, I toned it down slightly and my bounce-rate has dropped significantly.
This method is used on a lot of blogs, especially within the digital marketing sector to grab email addresses from readers. I actually got this really wrong when I first started dabbling with the technique and it resulted in my bounce rate going through the roof.
If I have one bit of advice for using pop-up subscription forms, it's that you should only display them once you're sure that a visitor is engaged. Site's that fire up a pop-up as soon as you land there are incredibly annoying - I mean, who wants to sign up for your newsletter before they've had a chance to even read your content?
Pop-ups are only shown on Find My Blog Way after a user has been on the site for 30 seconds. This is past the bounce period and has given them enough time to read through my content before I ask for a commitment from them. One site that always drives me mad with their pop-up forms is Search Engine Journal - their form appears after half a second and isn't even in theme with the blog - strange?
The above image is a screenshot of my pop-up subscription form stats from the past month. 1.26% isn't a bad result at all from a pop-up, so I'm pretty happy.
Blog Membership Areas
Blog membership areas are awesome for building your email list. This could be in the form of a forum, private webinar areas, training areas, etc. A great example of this is with DistilledU, the private SEO training area from Distilled - I've personally used this online course and it's awesome. Not only that but they get a load of contact information from people relevant to their niche and interested in their content.
A warning with this method is that you really have to have something unique in order to get people to sign up for access. If someone can find equally good information elsewhere that is easier to access then they will. Don't limit the reach of your content unless you feel that it will add significant value to your readers and they would be willing to make the commitment to access it.