Want to build your list to 25k, 50k, or 100k email subscribers? I sure do as it would make my business dealings much more profitable. For starters, I would announce product launches to more subscribers to stimulate a flurry of purchases and buzz. Also, I would drive more traffic to my site through newsletters and other relevant information.
Subscribers are an x-factor that can have a significant impact on any business e.g. online store or nightclub. Consider the following scenario, your new product or service launches in a week, and you decide to offer a presale special of $49 (regular $79) to your 70,000 subscribers. Here are the sales that would occur at different conversion rates.
As you can see, to have that many people consenting to hear from you at even low conversion rates can lead to excellent sales results.
What Exactly Is a Subscriber?
A legitimate subscriber is an individual who has signed up and consented to receive information from you. He or she has done so under the assumption that information coming his/her way will be of interest and value. Also, a subscriber is a lead and potential customer, client, and purchaser of your products and services. Conversely, an illegitimate subscriber is someone who you add to your email list or “list” without prior consent. For instance, automatically adding LinkedIn connections without their approval. Furthermore, adding subscribers without their consent will diminish your brand and put your email metrics at risks such as bounce and spam rates.
Increasing my subscribers as part of my email marketing activities hasn’t always been a top priority, but it became a top five priority last year with my investments in Thrive Leads (Thrive Themes) and MailerLite. After reading several accounts on the importance of building a large subscriber base, I knew it was an area I needed to pay more attention.
Regarding blogging, there’s a robust correlation between frequency and quality of posts and subscriber growth. The better your content, the more chances you’ll give yourself to attract subscribers. I’m still in the infancy of my email collection efforts, but activities are going as planned in conjunction with my blogging.
The DNA of List Building
There are many techniques you can implement to increase subscribers, but your strategy involves four primary considerations:
- Opt-in form deployment
- Form design
- Sign up incentive, offer, or bait
- List building plugin
1) Opt-in Form Deployment
I love the definition of deployment; “to arrange in a position of readiness,” and as it applies to opt-in forms, we need to focus on where, quantity, and frequency.
Where – The most commonly used opt-in form is a pop-up that appears to visitors. Also, it’s quite common to see an opt-in form in a side panel or bar as a widget. However, there are many more places to position forms such as:
- Top of page as a ribbon or smart bar
- In-line with page content
- Footer area or below content
- Content lock overlay
- Screen overlay or scroll mat
- Page or content-specific
Learn more: A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Opt-in Form
Quantity – The last thing you what to do is scare away visitors and potential subscribers by inundating them with too many forms. I experience this occasionally which makes for a poor user experience. I’ve adopted a strategic less more approach of running four to six forms at any given time. For example, I currently use in-line, footer, pop-up, page-targeted, and scroll mat forms. Conversely, using one to three forms is too few to attract promising results.
Frequency – I’ve set some of my forms to appear every time a visitor comes to my site whereas others every-seven-days. I’ve done this to improve the user experience. For instance, if someone visits my site, goes away, and visits again on the same day, she won’t get hit with the same pop-up she saw the first time around. Therefore, she can continue navigating my site with one less interruption. Also, I’ve set forms not to appear for existing subscribers because there’s no point of having subscribers see forms indefinitely.
2) Form Design
The flattening of design continues, and we see benchmark companies such as Amazon and Facebook leading the way. Flat design is a style of interface design without any stylistic elements that give the illusion of three dimensions (such as drop shadows, gradients or textures) and is focused on a minimalist use of simple elements, typography, and flat colors. I’ve adopted flat design principles in many aspects of this site and for my opt-in forms because it improves readability and visual flow.
Many list building tools provide templates, but you should customize these templates with personal touches. This will help to differentiate your forms from those used on other sites. If templates are used with minor changes, they’ll blend in with the rest and won’t have an impact. For example, I see many SumoMe pop-ups that all look the same.
A/B testing your forms is another approach to take. The idea here is to have two or more forms, that are different in appearance, run against each other to see which one converts higher. Running a split test over a month or until you have sufficient impressions e.g. 1,000 will lend credibility to your experiments.
3) Sign Up Incentive
Right now I’m offering a free download of my ebook Make Passive Income. So far, my conversion rate is 23% based on 254 views which I would say is darn impressive. As a result, it appears my sign up offer is desirable enough to stimulate action. Conversely, a traditional and boring incentive to offer is “Sign up to receive my monthly newsletter.” This unimaginative enticement is used by many bloggers.
It’s creativity, copy, and value that stimulates folks to subscribe. Individuals want to subscribe to non-generic offers that have attractive value propositions. For instance, my exit-intent pop-up offers free access to my next online course and attracts a 1.5% conversion rate. Not bad, but perhaps I can run an A/B test to see if some other offer can garner a 3% to 5% conversion rate.
Another important consideration concerns copywriting and the wording on your forms. We have to sell visitors on why they should subscribe without overdoing it. Trigger words such as access, exclusive, secret, hacks, special, and limited project a sense of gain and urgency to become a subscriber.
There are several items you can offer to encourage sign-ups including:
- Cheat sheet
- Online course
- How to guide
- Member or subscriber only content
- Video, webinar, and event content
- Freebies and discounts
- Access to a private Facebook group
4) List Building Plugin
Your sign up incentive will depend on you, but opt-in form deployment and design will depend on the plugin you choose. A good place to start is in understanding which plugin features are critical to list building success.
|Form types||The number of different forms you can implement, for instance, pop-up, smart bar, and slide-in would count as three.|
|Form customization||The degree to which you can customize templates.|
|A/B testing||A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of an opt-in form to see which one performs better.|
|Analytics||The data and how it is presented to help you make better strategic decisions.|
|Display rules and targeting||The ability to show opt-in forms based on customizable rules and preferences that affect visibility and frequency.|
|Integrations||The ability to integrate with an email marketing provider of your choice. For example, MailerLite.|
|Pricing||The value proposition regarding price when compared to other plugins.|
Given these vital features, let’s explore four WordPress pop-up plugins to see how they stack up.Bloom – Premium Plugin
Bloom gives you all the tools you need to turn your website’s visitors into loyal followers and customers. Not only is Bloom going to convert extremely well, but it’s also going to look great doing it.
MailMunch – Free and Premium
Create beautiful lead capture forms to grow your email list. Convert abandoning visitors into subscribers with exit intent and other marketing tools.
SumoMe – Free and Premium
SumoMe is a suite of free tools that can be used to grow your website’s traffic. The SumoMe tools are easy to install and work on any website.
Thrive Leads – Premium
Thrive Leads is a list building solution that’s created by a team of people who are obsessed with conversion optimization. Build your mailing list faster than ever before.
|Display rules and targeting||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Pricing model||Subscription or one-time||Subscription||Subscription||One-time|
|Pricing||*$89/year or $249 one-time||Free to $49/month||Free to $40/month||$67 to $97 one-time|
*Bloom is only available with the purchase of an annual or one-time membership from Elegant Themes, which also includes access to numerous themes and plugins.
Features such as A/B testing, analytics, and display rules have become standard with most list building plugins. Integrations are necessary to the point the plugin can connect with your current or future email marketing service provider. Therefore, the main differentiators are form types, customization, and pricing.
It’s clear that Thrive Leads provides the most forms alongside a high degree of customization. Thrive enables you to create forms from scratch without knowledge of coding. Bloom provides an excellent set of forms as well whereas SumoMe and MailMunch provide a maximum of four. As for pricing, Thrive Leads offers the most but charges the least. In fact, you could purchase a Thrive membership like I have and receive a suite of themes and plugins (list building, landing pages, scarcity marketing, etc.) for $19 a month compared to the higher end prices of $40 to $49 for SumoMe and MailMunch respectively.
If you’re just starting to build your list and desire a free solution, I recommend SumoMe over MailMunch because SumoMe offers additional free tools that can improve your website activities. However, SumoMe and MailMunch are overpriced for what you get. If you’re ready to invest in your business and are serious about attracting subscribers, I recommend Thrive Leads or Bloom to grow your email list faster.