You’ve created your WordPress website, now what? Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, or product business owner the key to a successful website is to keep your visitors (or customers) engaged by reading and sharing your content or coming back to purchases additional products or services.

Email marketing is the answer. But how does that apply to your blog or website and how do you get started with an email marketing plan that actually works?

In this post, you’ll learn why email marketing is vital to the success of any website and how you can get started immediately.

Did You Know?

The first email message was sent in 1971. The message was “something like QWERTYUIOP.” It was sent by Ray Tomlinson and it was simply a test message to himself.

He sent it from one computer to another computer sitting right beside it in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It traveled via ARPANET, a network of computers that was the precursor to the internet. He had been fooling around with two programs called SNDMSG and READMAIL, which allowed users to leave messages for one another on the same machine.

He also introduced the “@” sign as the locator in email addresses.

Thanks, Ray!

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing starts with a list of email addresses from people who have voluntarily signed up on your website to receive email updates in a newsletter or special announcement format.

Email marketing allows you to stay in touch with your existing and potential customers on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).

You can send emails about exclusive news, product-related announcements, or give special deals to your subscribers.

Why You Need to Build an Email List – Starting Now

Getting traffic to our websites is hard enough. You might be the most interesting site on the web and your visitors might have the best of intentions for coming back, but we all get sidetracked. It’s likely they’ll never come back. Especially if not prompted to do so.

THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO BUILD AN EMAIL LIST. To keep your visitors coming back.

Furthermore, email is private and personal. It’s about “relationship building.” And if those aren’t good enough reasons to start building your email list, then here’s a few more.

Email is still relevant:

  • There are 251 email marketing solutions.
  • Email is the biggest driver of Black Friday transactions.
  • 24% of Americans believe they check email “way too much.”
  • 89% of marketers say email is the primary channel for lead generation.
  • 58% of adults check email first thing in the morning.
  • Guaranteed Reach
    When you use Twitter or Facebook, your statuses are bound to be missed due to the very nature of their algorithms and updates. However, people tend to check their emails a lot more carefully than their timelines on social networks.
  • Access and Ownership
    You don’t own any data on Twitter or Facebook. At any time, your account could be suspended and you’d lose all your followers. Or what if Twitter and Facebook go away? IT COULD HAPPEN. It’s happening to Vine. An email list is something that you can keep. You’re also not limited to 140 characters. You set your limits yourself. You can integrate email services with your WordPress site a lot easier than social networks.
  • Laser Targeted Focus
    The best part about email marketing and subscriber lists is that you can target users in many different ways. One example is if you are launching a product in select locations, then email is the best way to reach your subscribers in that location.
  • Increase (or build) Revenue
    The bottom line is that when you have guaranteed reach, better targeting, and attention of your users, then you are definitely going to increase revenue. Whether you’re monetizing by offering services, products or even affiliate commissions, “the money is in the list.”

Email Newsletter Plugins vs. Email Marketing Services

There are many WP “newsletter” and “Subscribe to Blog Posts” plugins. However, I don’t recommend them and here’s why.

  • Reliability- Email marketing services are focused on providing high rates of reliability. In other words, they are the ones most well-suited to conforming to email deliverability best practices to various email clients. They know how to get you the best chance of getting your emails to the inbox and not the spam folder.
  • Limitations- Email plugins send mail from your own server which can cause unnecessary load and usage of your hosting plan resources. Also, (in many cases) you can’t send one-off custom emails. You’re limited to what that specific plugin will allow you to do.
  • Ease of Use/Stats and Analysis- Email marketing services simply provide more features than a simple email newsletter plugin can offer. They provide beautiful pre-built templates to choose from, built-in custom analytics (not to mention Google Analytics) and more.
  • Compliance Issues- Ever heard of the CAN-Spam Act? The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. Things like Unsubscribe links in every email, confirming where you got the emails and more. And there are several countries which have their own versions of these laws. It’s best to leave that to someone who’s business depends on it.
  • Cost Effectiveness- Many email marketing services let you get started for free. Compare this with the price you’d pay for server resources, especially when your list gets large can cost more than an email marketing service.

Recommended Services

Remember that number of 251 email marketing services above? Rather than digging through all those, I’d recommend these as my personal top three.

#1 – MailChimp

The reason MailChimp is my first choice is because they offer a free plan. It comes with a cap of 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 email sends per month. This is more than enough for anyone new to email marketing to get started.

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#2 – Constant Contact

Constant Contact is free for 30 days and does not offer a free plan, but the interface for creating emails comes a close second to MailChimp. Free for 30 days, then $20 per month.

constant-contact

#3 – Aweber

Aweber also has usable interface and this service is especially geared toward marketers. Their lowest plan is also free for 30 days, then $19 per month.

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Creating Your First List

Before you create your first list, there are some things to consider that will help keep your email marketing efforts organized in the future.

Decide what your first list is for:

  • all blog posts
  • monthly newsletter
  • specific product/service
  • something else on a specific landing page, etc.

Knowing what kind of content you’ll be sending your subscribers of each list is key in making sure you have engaged readers and more email opens.

Creating Subscription Forms

There are two main ways to create and display email subscription forms in WordPress; embedding the HTML form code from your email marketing service, or using the integration options that many of the top WordPress form builder plugins provide.

I recommend using any of the form builder plugins below rather than embedding HTML from your email service provider. The reason is that you’re able to build more advanced (and beautiful) forms with these plugins than any email service can provide.

  • Gravity Forms
  • Caldera Forms
  • Convertplug
  • Optinmonster

Email Marketing Best Practices

  • Get Permission-Don’t buy lists!
  • Single Opt-in – new subscribers fill out a signup form and are immediately added to a mailing list. Problem: even if their address is invalid or contains a typo. This can clog your list with bad addresses, and possibly generate spam complaints from subscribers who don’t remember signing up.I always recommend the Double Opt-in – It adds a layer of confirmation to your signup process before adding new subscribers to your list, and it has three main benefits compared to single opt-in.It adds protection against spambots, email scams, and fake subscribers, which could increase your monthly billing rates. It assures valid email addresses and confirmation that your subscribers want to hear from you and an archived record of the subscriber’s consent. This results in higher campaign open rates, and lower bounce and unsubscribe rates.
  • Get Whitelisted- In every email you send, include an “Add to Address Book” sentence or two. When users add you as a contact, they’re more likely to actually see your email and you’re less likely to end up in the spam folder.
  • Manage Expectations and Stick to the Schedule- Will you be sending one email per day, per week, per month? Whatever your schedule, this should be clearly listed on or near your email subscription form and you must stick to this schedule in order build trust and recognition with your audience. You should also reiterate this schedule on first follow up email. The initial follow-up email should be sent immediately as a way to introduce yourself and detail what you plan on doing with your new subscriber’s email address.It’s better to be long-winded and detailed than it is to be quick and unobtrusive, but if you can pull off quick and concise then more power to you.
  • Consistent Messaging- Remember, you’re building a relationship first and relationships are built on trust. Always add value first. You should also be aware of using the same language in your writing. If you swear a lot in real life, consider NOT editing yourself.

Tips for Getting Subscribers

There are many reasons people will subscribe to your email list, the biggest being that what you provide is valuable to them. That doesn’t mean you can’t also provide “extras” to help prompt them to sign up. These are known as content upgrades. In short, you give something of value to them in return for their email address. Content upgrades and email conversion methods are for another post, but here are a few ideas of valuable items you can provide to visitors in exchange for their email subscription.

  • List of tools and resources
  • Additional related content
  • Transcripts
  • Quick start guide
  • A checklist
  • Downloadable asset
  • Multimedia summary
  • Printables
  • Access to a webinar

I hope this post helped to convince you that email marketing is not only effective, it’s something you should start implementing today in order to grow your readership and your online business. As a final thought, it is important to make sure your website is a safe and secure landing point for the people, you are trying to dive to it. To get a free security consultation call SiteLock at 855-759-1108.