Do you plan on developing a blog for your WordPress website? Then you’ll definitely want to send out a newsletter to your most avid fans and readers.
So, it’s time to find out how to run a blog subscription in WordPress!
I this article we’re going to talk about:
- The benefits of running a subscription. Yeah, folks, newsletters are alive and kicking.
- How to grow an email list.
- What’s the thing with WordPress form plugins?
- How to run a blog subscription in WordPress.
The benefits of running a subscription
Every now and then marketers announce that a certain marketing strategy is dead: email is dead, forms are dead, and so on.
I couldn’t agree…less.
In fact, I resonate with Pinja Virtanen from Supermetrics when she says that “Nothing’s dead, you’re just doing it wrong”.
So, how can you be right?
Well, start by knowing your audience.
Whenever you are creating a product or launching a blog, you need to know who you’re talking to. In marketing terms, you’ll need to identify your ideal customer. An ideal customer is a person with certain traits and behavior who resonates with your brand.
Let’s assume you’re running a blog that talks about organic cosmetics and let’s assume you’re not selling anything. You still need to define that ideal person and identify his/her traits and behavior. For example, you could try to answer the following questions:
- Does she care about climate change?
- Is she a vegetarian?
- What’s the income level?
The moment you know this you’ll know how to write, what to write about, and how to connect to these people via various marketing channels, newsletters in this case.
There are several methods that can help you figure out who your desired audience is.
This is a strategy that suits brand new companies very well. What you’ll have to do is make a list of traits and behaviors for your ideal customers. You can include age, gender, location, income, hobbies, how they consume social media, etc.
Now, if you say that these are assumptions, you’d be totally right. But this is where you should start, and then refine along the way.
Spy on your competition
Probably 99% of the time the niche you’re in already has some established players. This means you’ll need to do a bit of spy work and analyze how your competition:
- Communicates on the blog;
- Interacts on social media;
- Runs its email marketing campaigns.
Analyze website user behavior
Let’s say you’re already attracting visitors to your blog or website. There are tools out there such as Google Analytics that can help you identify:
- Which are your most valuable traffic sources;
- Which pages are getting the most traffic;
- If you get return visitors;
- What kind of user segments land on your blog;
- How your visitors interact with subscription forms and call to action buttons,
Now, the moment you know who your audience is, which topics it cares more about, you can:
- Segment it by common traits and behavior;
- Send out tailored email marketing campaigns or newsletters;
Now, let’s go back a bit to the beginning: what exactly are the benefits of running a subscription for a blog?
- Email allows you to land into the personal inbox of a person. It’s way more personal than posting on social media and hoping that your message reaches your desired audience.
- Email allows you high degrees of message personalization if segmentation is done properly.
- The moment someone gives you an email address they have more intent towards your brand than those that don’t give you their email address.
- You own that email list. You can use that email list to build new audiences in social media. For example, in Facebook, you can create lookalike audiences based on your matched email addresses. What does that mean? You can upload those email addresses to Facebook. If some of those are actual emails that people use to log in to Facebook, Facebook will try to discover users that have similar behavior (lookalike) to the users with the addresses you provided.
- The Adobe Email Consumer survey of 1000 white-collar employees revealed that workers between ages 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours a day checking their email, with more than a third checking their work mail before they even get out of bed.
What’s next? It’s time to build your email list.
How to grow an email list
This is when we get a bit more technical about our topic. Here are the three things you need to build an email list:
- A website or blog.
- Opt-in forms.
- An email marketing service.
We’re assuming you already have a site or blog, so I’ll skip them. Still, I’m going to talk a bit about landing pages. In online marketing, a landing page is a standalone web page, created with an advertising purpose. It’s where a visitor “lands” after clicking on an ad, an email, a call to action button, etc. This landing page has a single goal: from getting users to download an ebook, to create an account, to sign up, or to buy something.
These landing pages are often used to generate leads.
But what is a lead?
A lead is an individual or organization that manifests an interest in your brand. The interest is expressed by sharing contact information (eg: email address), a phone number, or even a social media handle.
Leads can become your customers, or not.
Why am I telling you this? Because besides your blog, you can also use landing pages to collect email addresses, meaning leads for your brand.
But, how do you technically collect these email addresses?
Via opt-in forms.
Let’s talk a bit more about them.
Opt-in forms: it’s nice meeting you!
You’re probably recognizing this:
The field where someone inputs an email address and then the button that gets clicked for submission is actually the most basic form out there.
Now, forms are not built-in WordPress features. You will need a WordPress plugin to create forms.
The moment you create your form, you will need to push your leads to segmented email lists.
For example, in the Colibri case, here you have some list examples:
- Colibri buyers. The checkout flow is also a form, where people fill in fields containing personal and payment details.
- Ebook downloaders. The visitors that leave their email address on the landing page that promotes our ebook on how to create a website using WordPress get added to this list.
- Newsletter subscribers. Here we push all the users that subscribe to our newsletter. The form is included in a banner placed inside blog articles.
In order to properly segment your leads, you can add some new fields in the form. In the example of marketing consultant, Neil Patel, he asks for information about company revenue and marketing budget. So, if a user belongs to a certain bucket, he will receive tailored email marketing messages according to its needs. Smaller companies, with smaller budgets, have different goals from bigger ones.
Now, you can also include opt-in forms in banners in the sidebar, or inside website pop-ups.
For example, the moment you want to exit Neil Patel’s website, he has a pop-up that takes over the whole screen asking “Want More SEO Traffic?”. He now has a multistep form, where he tries to segment his leads. In exchange for answering 9 questions, the leads can get a 7-week action plan for getting more traffic. Pretty fair, don’t you think?
You can also capture leads via website chatbots, like the example below from Planable.
What’s the thing with WordPress form plugins?
Now, going back to forms, I mentioned that they can be built by form plugins. Some of the most popular WordPress form plugins out there are Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, and Forminator, which we mentioned in a previous article of ours.
They can help you design beautiful forms, segment your users, send an initial mail, and that’s kinda it. If you want to send out newsletters and email campaigns based on some conditions, you will need to create an account with marketing providers such as Mailchimp, Sendinblue, or others. The form plugins mentioned above already have built-in integrations with the most popular email marketing tools out there.
On the other hand, some of the most popular email tools have built their own WordPress plugins.
Here, at Colibri, we’re using Sendinblue as our marketing service providers, together with their very own WordPress plugin.
In the following chapter, I’m going to show you how we manage our own WordPress blog subscription. It’s going to be really hands-on. The process can be replicated with most of the tools out there.
Let’s hit the road, shall we?
How to run a blog subscription in WordPress
- First thing first: create a Sendinblue account and complete the whole setup. Make sure to go through the default settings. Inside the sender and domains, you will set up your domain and email address from which the mails will get sent out.
- Head over to lists, and click on “Add a new list”.
- Name your list. Make sure to use a relevant name. You could go with “Blog subscribers” if you’d like. Now hit “Create empty list”. Your lists will automatically have columns. The columns will contain the information you are collecting about your leads. This information is called contact attributes: eg name, email, country, etc. Whenever you add a new field to a form, it will collect such an attribute, that will be sent to Sendinblue, or to your email provider. The logic stays the same.
- Install the Sendinblue WordPress plugin. You will be asked to “Activate your account with your API key v3”. This way your Sendinblue account will get to communicate with your website and collect data. Here’s a tutorial on how to install any WordPress plugin.
- Create your blog subscription form in WordPress. Head over to Forms -> Add new form.
- You will end up inside an HTML form builder. Styling can be managed via CSS coding. The preview box then lets you see any edits in real-time. Now, there are tools out there that can help you avoid HTML design. We chose this one because we wanted to be able to customize everything.
- When the form is saved, a shortcode gets generated. A shortcode is a tiny code snippet that you can copy and paste anywhere you want. On the live page or post, it will load your actual form. Shortcodes are a common practice in WordPress. For example, we’re also using a plugin for tables. Inside the plugins, we’re preparing the design of the table. When the table is ready we do not have to copy all of it in a blog post. We’re just going to place there its shortcode. It’s a more elegant method. If you need to make changes to the form, you’ll go back to the plugin. The shortcode will stay the same, so you won’t need to alter it.
- Push your contacts to a list. Before saving your form, make sure that the contacts get pushed to the relevant contact list. Also, you can choose whether to show a success message after form submission or a thank you message on a separate website page, called the “Thank You page”.
That’s it, you’re done.
Now, you have a form ready, and contacts are being pushed in real-time to your email marketing tool.
Now, you can start sending out those newsletters!
For example, in Sendinblue you can create emails and newsletters inside a drag and drop editor.
Once you have added text, buttons, and images, you can select your desired list, and schedule your newsletter.
Aaaand, that’s a wrap, folks!
So, when you want to run a subscription on your WordPress blog you’ll need:
- To get to know your audience.
- A form to capture contact data. The form can be created inside a form plugin in WordPress.
- To create an account with an email provider.
- Make sure that the WordPress form plugin that you chose can integrate with the email provider so that contacts can be pushed real time.
- Create segmented contact lists inside the email marketing service.
- Send out personalized emails and newsletters to your contact lists.