Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
As effective as email marketing is, you need a list to make it work. Building a good list takes time, and buying a list is never a good idea. The good news is that building your email list can be sped up significantly. It doesn’t have to take two years, or even one year, to have a reasonably-sized list.
If your website is getting anything less than a 2 percent opt-in rate — i.e., at least 2 percent of your website visitors are signing up for your list — then it’s time to add more prompts to get more people to respond.
In addition to setting up a few of the free WordPress plugins listed below, consider using incentives to grow your email list. I addressed that topic here recently, at “Using Incentives to Grow an Email List.” A good incentive, combined with even one or two of the free plugins below, should give your list building a significant boost.
This is a good solution for people who feel like pop-ups are too invasive. Scroll Triggered Boxes only appear when someone has scrolled down on a page of your site. You can control how far down the page the scroll happens, like one third of the way down the page, or halfway down the page. Generally I find setting the scroll to appear at 70 to 80 percent is best.
The other good thing about this plugin is it takes only about 20 minutes to set up. I have hooked it up with MailChimp and GetResponse myself, but it also integrates with AWeber and should integrate any other email service provider that gives you html code to create your opt-in boxes. You can also customize the colors and how often it appears.
Many email service providers (like AWeber, Constant Contact, and GetResponse) let you create a pop-up from within your account, but others, like MailChimp, don’t. If you’re in the MailChimp situation, you’ll need a plugin or some other code to create a pop-up.
There are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins for pop-ups, but most of them are paid, or “premium” plugins. Optin Revolution is free, but some people do have quibbles with it. The advertising shown in its WordPress interface is pretty heavy, and there have been some issues with tech support, though the videos the developers added seem to have cleared up a lot of problems. That said, far more people like this plugin than dislike it. If it doesn’t work for you, try YITH Newsletter Popup.
Optin Revolution and YITH have both been downloaded more than 10,000 times and have been updated within a month of this article’s publication date. Start with Optin Revolution because it is more widely used. It also integrates with more email service providers, like AWeber, iContact, GetResponse, MailChimp, Constant Contact.
A feature box is a full-width opt-in form that sits above the fold on your home page. If you’re a WordPress whiz you can create a feature box just by editing the template of your home page. If not, using this plugin will save you hours of struggling with your home page’s template.
Plugmatter is super-easy to set up (far easier, in my experience, than the more popular Magic Action Box), and it gives you several templates to work from. It integrates with all the major email service providers; I have used it with AWeber, MailChimp, and GetResponse. If you want to do A/B split testing, or add custom feature boxes on more than just the home page of your site, check out the paid version.
Here’s an example of it live (also note the Scroll Triggered Box in the lower right corner).
Hello Bar has a long and illustrious history with list building. It may be the most widely-used plugin mentioned here. You can use the Hello Bar as an opt-in form or to promote any piece of content on your site.
I had some trouble getting the Hello Bar to work with MailChimp and GetResponse, but a few emails back and forth from customer service finally got things squared away. It would be great if someone could create a few video tutorials on how to set it up. But Hello Bar is so widely used I’m sure it can be set up with just about any email service provider. Just don’t think it’s you if the setup seems a bit frustrating. If you really run into trouble and just can’t make it work, head over to CodeCanyon.com, a paid WordPress plugin directory, and look for “notification bars.” Or try SumoMe.
ListBuilder by SumoMe is a new star in the plugins for email list building world. And it is a star. This plugin provides three things: a hello bar, a popup, and a scroll bar.
SumoMe is the work of Noah Kagan, who is becoming quite the go-to guy for list building. SumoMe is also the only tool listed here that can be used as a WordPress plugin but can also work on a regular HTML or other non-WordPress site. It integrates with MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor. Hopefully more email service providers will be added soon.
This plugin lets you create a custom page, then it takes that new page and shows it to anyone who has just commented on your blog for the first time. The opt-in rate tends to be extremely high, probably because anyone who’s interested enough to comment on your site is probably interested enough to sign up for your list.
You won’t get as many new signups from this plugin as you will from a feature box on your home page because there’s so much less traffic going to the page people see after they’ve commented, but if you really want to maximize signups, this should be in your arsenal. It’s also nice because it’s super-simple to set up. If you know what you want to say and offer on your redirect page, you’ll have the plugin configuration part of this done in less than 5 minutes.
Optin Crusher is the creation of Daniel Watrous, a clever developer who understands the value of building a list. Optin Crusher is somewhat similar to a hello bar, but it appears at the bottom of the browser window as an overlay, like in the image above. The cost is free, but you will have to sign up for Watrous’s email list to get it. Don’t worry about being spammed if you choose to sign up; He rarely sends emails.
The Crusher lets you customize the colors and fonts of the overlay, and lets you change the promo image. You can hook it up with pretty much any email service provider, though special accommodations have been made to make it work with AWeber, iContact, Constant Contact, MailChimp, GetResponse, Feedburner, FeedBlitz, and WP Responder.
I’ve used this plugin for over a year on one of my sites and have been surprised with how effective it is. It is a bit more invasive than what some people are used to, but it will definitely get you more subscribers.