How To Build An Email List For Your Blog (Complete Beginners Guide)

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Growing your email list is one of the most crucial components of building a successful blog. As a matter of fact, it should the next BIG thing you do after launching your blog. In this post, you'll learn how to set up your blog for building your email list from start to finish.

Why is growing your email list so important in blogging?

After the content, your email list is your blog's lifeline. It is indispensable free traffic on tap whenever you need it.

Imagine having an email list of a few thousand loyal subscribers. Whenever you publish a new post, you can use your email list to drive a ton of free traffic and readers to your new post.

Remember, email traffic is not any old traffic. Unlike social media or search engine traffic, your email subscribers are loyal, hungry, keen, peeps that are itching to read your content and perhaps even do business with you.

Your followers are your tribe, and email is still by far the best way to grow your blogging tribe. Your email list can be more powerful than social media or even SEO.

Don't believe me? OK, let's look at some statistics.

Email marketing statistics

According to or Oberlo, there were 3.9 billion email users in 2019. And this is set to grow to 4.3 billion by 2023.

And in this report, 81% of businesses state that email drives customer acquisition, and 80% for retention.

Email is powerful and can be the difference between you succeeding with your blog and not. It is a marketing strategy no blogger can afford to ignore. A tactic that has withstood the test of time. It will continue to be relevant and powerful for many more years to come.

Let's have a few more statistics, aren't they fun?

Facebook has 2.2 billion users.

So what?

Well, that's saying that 2.4 billion of us use email. That means 34% of the world’s population has at least one email address.

An email list is yours to keep

You can use emails to inform your readers about your latest blog articles, and when the time comes, you can use your list to promote relevant products and offers too.

But, the best thing about building an email list for your blog is that it's 100% yours to keep. Unlike social media where you will never own your fans and followers, your email list is yours until some folks decide to unsubscribe.

That, my friend, is a pretty big deal.

Your 100K followers on Instagram are great and impressive, but should anything happen to Instagram in the future, or your account gets shut down for any reason, you're never going to get those followers back.

As well as owning your email list, it is also far more cost-effective to build an email list than it is to grow a fan base on, let's say, Facebook.

You can have 50K fans on Facebook, but when you decide to promote anything to them, only a few will ever get to see what you post, unless you pay to play.

So, enough with the stats and trying to convince you that growing an email list for your blog is the right thing to do, I'm sure you get the idea. Now, let's start the process of growing your email list from complete scratch.

Here's what we're going to cover in great detail -

  1. Choosing an email service provider.
  2. Best list-building plugins for WordPress.
  3. Setting your blog up for collecting emails.
  4. Connecting your forms to MailChimp.
  5. Privacy and GDPR.
  6. Using incentives to grow your email list quickly.
  7. Tips for using pop-up forms on your blog.
  8. Creating a conversion-focused email opt-in landing page.
  9. Tracking your conversions.

OK, let's get started.

#1. Choosing an email service provider

First thing you will need to source is an email marketing platform.

An email marketing provider will be able to offer you all the necessary tools and templates you need for creating and sending marketing emails.

Choosing the right one doesn't have to be a daunting experience. Here are some tips on what to look for -

  1. Affordability - This is not always essential, but if you're just starting out with your blog, then you want to keep costs as low as possible until you can start monetizing using your email list.
  2. Features - Choose an email service provider that offers a full suite of tools and features, including the integration of third-party services and spam filtering, marketing tools, etc.
  3. Deliverability - Not all email marketing service providers are created equally. You want to select one that has a good delivery rate.
  4. Security - This is the big one, security is critical when selecting the right email provider. Ideally, you should use a platform that has in place good measures to protect confidential data such as names, email addresses, and telephone numbers. These days, data protection and privacy are important.

Right then, with those tips in mind, here are some email marketing services I recommend you check out.

  1. MailChimp (Aff) - MailChimp has been around for a very long time. What makes them very competitive is the fact that their services are free for up to 2,000 email subscribers. You can create a simple newsletter using a pre-designed template or design your emails from scratch to match your brand.
  2. MooSend (Aff) - This is another platform that I recommend checking out, simply because of how user-friendly and intuitive it is. Set up is easy. MoonSend lets you select from email automation templates, and provides tools for user tracking, advanced reporting, and more. It also boasts a beautiful and easy to use drag-and-drop automation editor.
  3. ConvertKit - I recently started experimenting with ConvertKit and from what I've seen, so far, it's a rock-solid. Any wonder why top bloggers recommend this platform. It is a complete email marketing suite. ConvertKit allows you to manage up to 500 subscribers and you get access to a host of features including landing pages and signup forms.

Pick an email provider that meets your needs.

#2. Best list-building plugins for WordPress

In order to use your blog to grow your email list, you'll need to install and set up a plugin designed to display opt-in forms on your blog.

There are a few notable plugins I'd recommend checking out. However, like email service providers, not all list building plugins for WordPress are created equally.

I recommend you take a look at these two -

  1. Thrive Leads (Aff)
  2. OptinMonster (Aff)

Both these plugins offer a range of powerful built-in tools. I use Thrive Leads for my own blog and websites.

If you'd like to compare the two plugins above, check the following post -

Recommended Reading: Thrive Leads VS OptinMonster: Comparing Features, Benefits, Ease-Of-Use

#3. Setting your blog up for collecting emails

OK, so now we have discussed the various options with regards to technology and email service provider, let's begin setting our WordPress blog up to collect email addresses.

Don't worry if you don't have a single technical bone in you. I didn't either when I started out. I'll make the instructions as simple as possible for you to follow.

Let's go.

Step One: Signup to an email marketing provider (I'm using MailChimp).

The first step is to create an account with an email marketing service provider.

I use and recommend MailChimp. I've used MailChimp since the very start of my blogging venture back in 2010. They're one of the most recognized, trusted, and cost-effective solutions for bloggers.

Info: There are other alternatives, such as MooSend or ConvertKit. MooSend is very simple-to-use, so if you don't like to get too technical, this might be the best solution for you. For this tutorial, we'll use MailChimp to get set up.

Step Two: Install a list building plugin for WordPress (I'm using Thrive Leads).

Next, you'll need to install a WordPress plugin that will help you create beautiful forms to capture email addresses and grow your list. For this, I use and recommend Thrive Leads.

Thrive Leads comes with a host of powerful list building features such as -

  1. Pre-designed forms (Customizable).
  2. Drag-and-drop email form editor.
  3. Ability to create targeted offers based on visitor, post, page type.
  4. A/B split testing engine for your forms.
  5. Actionable report and insight tools, and more.

OK, now let's get both of these technologies set up correctly.

Step Three: Connect Thrive Leads with MailChimp.

The best way to set up Thrive Leads with MailChimp is to use an API connection. The link below will take you to a detailed tutorial on how to do this successfully.

Step Four: Create lead groups in Thrive Leads

A lead group is useful for organizing your opt-in forms according to your website goals. For example, you could create a lead group with a conversion goal or offer 1, and another lead group for conversion goal or offer 2.

Let's go through the steps of creating and configuring a lead group.

Under Lead Groups, click on Add New.

Next, give your Lead Group a name. As you can see here I've named mine Members Only Content as that's the goal for my lead group.

Now you'll need to customize the settings for your new Lead Group. Here you can decide where your forms are shown.

For my lead group, I've decided I only want the forms within this group to be shown on the front page and blog posts.

OK, so we're done with configuring the lead group settings, next step is to create our first opt-in form within this lead group.

Step Five: Add your first opt-in form to group

Click on the Add New Type Of Opt-in Form button in your lead group.

A pop-up will appear and you'll be able to select the type of form you would like to add. I've selected the Scroll Mat type form.

In your Leads Group, you'll be able to see the new form added. Now you can click on the Add button for your form type.

Your dashboard will change and all of your forms will be displayed, however, as you're creating your first form, you won't have any forms to view. Now click on the Create Form button to get started.

Once you have created your form, you can go back to the form itself and click on the Edit icon for the Scroll Mat, and then on the Edit Design icon to load the form design template.

Step Six: Customizing your form

A new tab will load in your browser displaying the Thrive Leads form editor. You can now begin customizing your opt-in form.

Check out the video tutorial below to see how easy it is to customize opt-in forms in Thrive Leads.

#04. Connecting your forms to your email provider (Using MailChimp API)

Right then, you're almost done. Before you can begin collecting emails, you'll need to connect your form to your email marketing service provider. This is easy to do and only requires doing once.

Check out this short tutorial on how to correctly connect your MailChimp email account with Thrive Leads using API Connection.

#5. Privacy and GDPR

One very important thing you have to be aware of when collecting email addresses or any other sensitive info via your website or blog is privacy and GDPR.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer/solicitor and I cannot advise what you should have in your privacy statement for your blog regarding the collection of emails and user-data.

What I can say is you should make it clear, somewhere on your blog, how you intend to use the data/emails you collect from your website.

Thrive Leads allows you to add a GDPR explicit content checkbox to your forms, which is a good starting point. If you're planning on offering an asset to your new subscribers, such as a PDF eBook, you can set this up in your Asset Delivery feature in Thrive Leads before adding a checkbox to your forms.

Recommended: Check out this tutorial on Thrive Themes to learn how to do this.

#6. Using incentives to grow your email list

Incentives, or often known in the marketing world as 'lead magnets', are freebies that you can give away to anyone who subscribes to your blog.

Using incentives is a powerful and proven method to grow your email list quickly.

Also, you have to remember that 98% of your site visitors will not be ready to buy right away. Moreover, 70% of those visitors will probably never return. So, your best strategy is to make sure the majority of those who leave your site and never come back, don't leave empty-handed.

Here are some ideas of what you could use as a lead magnet -

  1. Free online course.
  2. Free PDF eBook.
  3. Access to exclusive content such as a podcast series or videos.

Think about what you would like to offer as an incentive to get more people onto your list. It's not something you have to do straight away, but definitely sooner than later.

#7. Tips for using pop-up and scroll mat forms on your blog

I've never been a real fan of placing pop-ups on my blog. That's probably because I hate seeing them on other sites myself. They can be quite intrusive and sometimes ruin the user's experience.

To be honest, any forms that pop up whilst a visitor is engaging with the content can be intrusive.

If you feel that you must use pop-up forms, the best tactic to use, in my opinion, is to make it interactive. So, unless someone clicks on a button or call-to-action on a page to trigger the pop-up form, then they don't appear at all.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this blog post (before the comments), you will see exactly what I mean. The opt-in form I have only appears when someone clicks on the 'envelop' icon.

#8. Creating a conversion-focused opt-in landing page

Another great way to boost your email list growth is to not only offer various opt-in forms but to actually have a dedicated landing page, with your lead-magnet and opt-in form.

What are the benefits of creating a custom email opt-in landing page?

  1. Shareable link - With a dedicated landing page for collecting emails, you can share the page link to anyone who might be interested in your offer or newsletter.
  2. Lead magnet information - A dedicated email opt-in page allows you to add more information about your free incentive. With some good copy, you can convert more visitors into subscribers.
  3. SEO - With better copy for your lead generation page, you can optimize it better for search engines.
  4. Track visitors and conversions - You can measure the effectiveness of your email landing page by seeing how many people visit and convert into subscribers.

OK, so here's a detailed video tutorial on how to create one for your blog.

(Video coming soon)

#9. Tracking email conversions

To wrap up, let's talk about tracking email conversions and why this is essential to the success of growing your email list.

The purpose of tracking your email conversions is so that you can see what is working and what is not. It's that simple.

There are various thing you can track when it comes to email marketing -

  1. Email opt-in form impressions.
  2. Email opt-in form conversions (Which form is converting the best).
  3. Email landing page visitors.
  4. Email landing page subscriber conversions.
  5. Email newsletter open-rate.
  6. Email newsletter click-through rate.
  7. Forms A/B split testing.
  8. Email opt-in page A/B split testing.

Thrive Leads comes with a host of email marketing conversion tools built-in. If you're just starting out, I would recommend letting your forms run for at lease 30-days so that you can start collecting conversion information.

Recommended reading: Thrive Leads Review 2020: Grow Your Email List Faster

It's a wrap!

So, there you have it. We've come to the end of our complete email list building tutorial. I hope you found this post useful, informative, educational, and resourceful.

If you have any questions regarding getting set up, please don't hesitate to ask me a question in the comment section below. If the comments are closed, you can email me here.

Recommended Posts

  1. Email Marketing: How To Offer Your Customers What They Really Need
  2. How I Exploded My Email List Growth By Almost 400% [Here's How I Did It]
  3. Thrive Leads Review 2020: Ultimately The Best List Building Tool For WordPress

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