According to McKinsey iConsumer's 2012 survey, emails are still an effective way to acquire new customers. In fact, when compared to social media, they are 40X more effective.
Our experience matches up to these statistics. I did a survey a year ago here at WHSR and asked bloggers what was the biggest mistake they’d made in their blogging career. Hands down, the #1 regret these bloggers had was that they’d not built a strong email list from the time they started blogging.
I think the #1 blogging mistake I made from the get-go was to not build an email list right from day 1.
I mean, you spend all that time and effort perfecting your blog posts, being social on social media, and marketing your blog – but what happens once you’ve hooked a new reader? Usually, they’ll read a few of your posts and leave. Building an email list helps in user retention, allowing you toget in touch with interested, targeted readers over and over.
The way I use email marketing in top10zen.com is by constantly updating my readers about new content on the website. I make sure not to send too many emails, and only when I know they’ll be interested.
Today, email traffic makes up about 15% of my overall traffic to the website. It really has been spectacular.
– Edan Barak, Top 10 Zen
Many bloggers, myself included, have paid a hefty price for ignoring the importance of an email list. If your regular site visitors aren’t subscribed, you’re missing opportunities to market to your target audience. You also risk that person leaving your site and forgetting it. Without an email from you to jog his memory, you may lose this person as a customer into the vastness of the World Wide Web.
Your email list is like online real estate. It is an asset you own. Twitter followers and Facebook fans are assets of those social networks. While you may have the ability to market to them today, there is no guarantee that won’t be taken away from you at some point in the future. It’s just smart business to try to turn these social media followers into newsletter followers, so you don’t ever risk losing touch.
The bottom line? If you run an online business and you’ve not started collecting emails, you’re losing a lot. Start building your email list immediately!
Related Article: 4 Rules for Mobile-Optimized Email Marketing
Tip # 1 – Optimized Landing Page
First and foremost, you should build an optimized landing page for email capture.
The landing page’s singular focus should be on why it benefits the site visitor to subscribe to your list. We recently looked at what makes an excellent landing page on WHSR. You want to engage your visitor and keep the focus simple.
Tip #2 – Use Bait
Use bait to entice the visitor to subscribe. Offer something they want and can’t get anywhere else.
For example, at WHSR, our subscription rate is 33 fold higher when we offer a free ebook when visitors subscribe. There are many different things you can offer, from free online classes to ebooks to exclusive content.
Tip #3 – Test Placement
Where you place your sign up form matters. Some place it in top bar, some as pop ups, some add it at sidebar, and some embed it in content. You should test email opt-in form in various locations and determine the best spot to place your signup form. This can vary, so testing is vital. You have options such as top placement, sidebar, popover or popunder.
Related Article: Cream of the Inbox: Small Businesses Doing Email Marketing Right
Tip #4 – Add Guest Posts
Use guest posts to draw your target audiences’ attention and lure them to sign up for your list.
Choose influencers in your industry. These people are already grabbing the attention of your target audience. If you can add a guest post from one of these people, that audience will come read the article on your site and many of them will sign up for your email list.
Tip #5 – Split Test your Opt-in Form
Because every audience is unique, what works for one site’s opt-in form may not work for yours. This is where A/B testing becomes vital. Try different text, colors and placement on your landing pages and split test them to see what performs the best. Change one element at a time and see what the results are.
Know your goal before starting, in this case to increase conversion rate and then test elements and track conversion changes until you find the perfect combination that gives you the highest conversion rate possible.
The following is a recent A/B test we ran at WHSR.
Tip #6 – Your Traffic Source Matters
Use Google Analytics to track where visitors are coming from and how each type of visitor is performing for signups for your mailing list by setting your Thank You page as a goal. Some traffic will convert better than other traffic and knowing this information can help you target advertising and efforts to drive traffic to your landing page.
Once you increase your email subscriptions, knowing what to do with those subscriptions is equally important. Recent studies show that site visitors are not too interested in emailed newsletters these days. However, an excerpt of a recent post or special event can capture their attention and keep it.
Use your growing email list to your advantage and continue to test your landing page, as well as results from emails so that you can find the perfect combination that spells success.