How to Build an Email List: 5 Best Ways to Capture Leads on Your Blog
One of the first things you hear about when you start a blog is that you need to start collecting emails. We’re breaking down how to build an email list and collect leads on your blog for newbies.
Setting up a simple email opt-in form in the early stages of building your blog is absolutely essential.
Here’s the dealio in a nutshell:
You need traffic to make sales, and most of your sales are going to come from your email list.
This means that you need to turn as much of this traffic into leads as possible. BUT there is absolutely some right ways and some wrong ways to do this.
Before we dive into those differences, let’s chat briefly about the WHY we are doing this.
Why an Email List is So Important
You will hear Alex and I say this a LOT here at Create and Go, but here it is again.
The money is in the list.
Here is a simple screenshot from a software called ClickMeter that we used to use to track our clicks and sales:
The screenshot shows that the majority of our sales came from our email list, not from cold sales (new readers buying straight from our articles).
There are three main reasons WHY email lists are so important:
Email Lists Build Trust With Your Audience
The first reason can be entirely summed up in one word: TRUST.
An email marketing sales funnel gives you the time to introduce yourself to your audience and provide them with some seriously valuable and compelling content before you ask for a purchase.
The trust that is built in this funnel is what pushes people off the fence and causes them to make that purchase.
An email list will help you sell more and sell better.
An Email List Provides You with Customer Feedback
When we created our very first digital product on our first health and fitness blog (the one that ultimately failed), we only made ONE sale.
We spent countless hours on the program, and we only made ONE sale. It was incredibly disappointing and discouraging.
Here’s what happened: We created a product based on what we assumed our audience was interested in.
An email list provides you with the feedback to learn what content your audience is interested in, what type of product they would buy, and the ability to simply ASK them if all else fails.
This feedback is incredibly valuable throughout the stages of starting your blog through monetizing it. It NEVER stops being valuable because it helps you continue to optimize your sales funnels and processes to better cater to your audience.
Your Email List is Your Most Valuable Asset
On our health and wellness blog, Avocadu, we drive nearly ALL of our traffic through Pinterest. All of our eggs are essentially in one basket, if you will.
This is a bit risky because social media algorithms change all the time. But here’s the deal, we have an email list for Avocadu of 49,000 people and counting.
That means that if our Pinterest traffic disappeared, we could still market to our list or even ask them to start following us on another social media platform.
It is an asset that you OWN and that no one can take away from you.
There is an important distinction that needs to be understood when it comes to email marketing, and that is the difference between CAPTURING leads and STORING leads.
Capturing a lead simply means collecting an email address. Storing those leads and sending emails to them requires an email marketing service.
A lot of our newbie blogger clients start searching for plugins to add an email opt-in on their blog, but they haven’t actually signed up for an email marketing service yet.
When you download a plugin to capture a lead, it will ask you to connect your email marketing service to the plugin so that it can automatically transfer the email addresses that it collects straight to your email marketing account.
We’ll discuss email marketing software only briefly because we have other resources that will teach you more about that.
Email Marketing Software for Storing Leads
A quick heads up:
Email marketing software will likely be one of your biggest monthly expenses as a blogger, but that’s okay because it will also be your biggest driver of sales.>
It’s something that you SHOULD invest in because it will be your most valuable asset as a blogger (for the reasons that we outlined above).
We have settled on them after previously trying MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, AWeber, and more.
The number one reason why we love them so much is the ability to edit all of your emails in ONE screen. It saves us SO much time (and money). Here is a screenshot example below:
The most basic plan starts out at $29/month, and that will get you through your first 1,000 subscribers. It’s plenty enough for a newbie blogger.
BUT we’ve also worked out a deal with ConvertKit to get our subscribers their FIRST month FREE when you sign up through our affiliate link: Get Your First Free Month of ConvertKit!
We have a whole review of ConvertKit if you’d like to know more about why we recommend it.
The other free option that we recommend to our clients that simply can’t or don’t want to buy a paid plan is MailChimp.
Remember that free software will ALWAYS come with limitations compared to similar paid software. You get what you pay for.
That being said, MailChimp is still an okay option to start with, although you may need to upgrade quickly if you plan to email often.
We have an entire comparison article on MailChimp vs. ConvertKit for those of you that would like some more information on the similarities and differences between the two.
Please refer to some of the above-linked resources for more information about email marketing software if you need it because it’s time to move on to capturing email leads!
How to Capture Leads on Your Blog
A quick tip to keep in mind:
A software or plugin that COLLECTS the leads is not always necessary to purchase, as some companies like ConvertKit offer a form generator, but they can greatly improve conversion rates.
It might not seem like that big of a deal if you aren’t collecting that many leads, but remember that more leads = more sales.
There are a few ways to collect leads on a blog that we will discuss in order of effectiveness with one caveat: the last method is VERY effective and should be used in addition to the one or more of the first 4 methods.
By effective, we don’t mean generate as many leads as possible regardless of how you do it. There is a delicate balance here so as not to negatively impact the user experience too much.
The goal is to generate as many leads as possible in the least invasive manner for your readers.
Scroll Mats (or Welcome Mats)
Scroll mats are one of the most effective ways to capture leads without upsetting your readers too much. We personally used them on both of our blogs before we had banners custom coded.
When a reader lands on your blog post, a screen will essentially scroll down with your opt-in on it. The reader can either opt-in or simply continue scrolling down the page to make the scroll mat disappear.
There is also usually a little arrow that the reader can click as well to make it disappear (see below).
The reason scroll mats are so effective without pissing readers off is that you don’t have to play the “find the X” game.
SumoMe worked out best for us for scroll mats. We also liked and used ThriveLeads for a while, but we there were often discrepancies between how many leads Thrive said that we collected and how many were actually recorded in our email software.
This is by far our favorite option, but we didn’t list it as #1 because we know that it won’t be a viable option for many bloggers. They are currently what we use on both of our blogs.
Banners can be custom coded into the top of blog posts, and they don’t take up as much real estate as scroll mats do, which provides for the best user experience for our readers.
Some blog themes may allow you to do this within the theme and without additional coding, but none of the themes that we have ever used have had this feature.
[Note: Divi Theme is our new #1 recommendation for newbie bloggers. It was previously X Theme but they have made some recent changes to their platform that have made it a little less user-friendly than before.]
If you have a website designer or can code yourself, this is a really great option to capture leads and keep your website looking beautiful!
In-text forms can be created with the help of plugins. ConvertKit has a free plugin that you can download to add simple forms inside of your blog posts.
In-text forms are far less invasive to your audience but they are also less effective than scroll-mats and banners.
They are still helpful though because the people that do bother to stop and put in their email address are going to be very interested in the content.
They look like this:
How to Monetize Your Blog - FREE 4-Day eCourse
Get the 4-Day Email Course on How to Make Money Blogging, absolutely FREE!
They can also be combined WITH scroll mats or banners. We have banners on Avocadu but we also have simple opt-in forms at the bottom of some of our articles as well.
Don’t do it. Just don’t.
Pop-ups have always been very effective because they are also VERY invasive and cause people to bounce from your website completely when the “X” to exit isn’t immediately visible.
Many online bloggers and marketers also suspect that pop-ups harm your search ranking with Google SEO.
This makes sense because Google doesn’t want to feature pages that harm the user experience.
Ultimately, pop-ups lead to higher bounce rates and fewer people reading your blog content. The leads that you generate from them aren’t worth that tradeoff.
Scroll mats and banners are far more effective and far less harmful to the user experience.
The above methods are all ways to capture leads on your blog and in your blog posts.
Lastly, we are going to discuss how to use landing pages to capture leads. This method a little different because it requires some more in-depth discussion and you should use landing pages in addition to the above methods.
Here is an example of one of our landing pages for our email list. We usually link it with an image like the photo to the right along with a call-to-action like this: “Free 4-Day eCourse on How to Monetize Your Blog!”
Landing pages are very customizable and provide you with more real estate to convince the reader to give up their email address, making them highly effective.
We link these landing pages to our blog banners, in our YouTube videos, and straight from Pinterest pins.
The catch is that you do need additional software to do this.
Landing Page Software to Collect Leads
We use Clickfunnels for Avocadu because we also host our sales pages and products on the same account. We also have a review on Clickfunnels here if you’d like to learn more about it.
Here is an example of our 8 Yoga Poses for Fast Fat Loss Opt-in for Avocadu created on Cilckfunnels:
We use LeadPages on Create and Go because we have our courses and sales pages hosted on Teachable, which doesn’t have other landing pages.
Here is an example of our Make Money Blogging Opt-in for Create and Go created with LeadPages: Make Money Blogging Opt-in for Create and Go created with LeadPages:
As you can see, there isn’t a MAJOR difference between the two and if I’m being honest, LeadPages is cheaper and a much easier to use. It’s my favorite option and definitely the way to go if you have your products hosted elsewhere.
Both Clickfunnels and LeadPages provide you with analytics that help you track how well your pages are converting as well as options to split test.
Split testing allows you to test out which designs, images, headlines, etc. are working better and help you increase your conversion rates.
As far as free options go for landing pages, I found one called ONTRApages.com that seemed okay. We personally haven’t used it, so I can’t attest to its customization or how user-friendly it is, but you can try it out if you are looking for a free option.
Okay, let’s wrap this up. We covered a LOT in this article! Everything from why having an email list is so important to how to actually capture and store leads on your blog.
As crazy as it seems, this is still the 30,000-foot overview of how to use email marketing to drive massive sales with your audience.
We go into tons more detail specifically on how to build your own email trust funnel to drive sales and how to actually build effective landing pages in our Six-Figure Blogger course.
It’s all about how to monetize your blog with affiliate marketing, creating your own digital products and services, and how to build sales pages, email sales funnels, and more.
You can check out Six-Figure Blogger here if you are interested in getting a jump start in that direction.
Co-Founder, Create and Go
If you have any questions for us on email marketing or anything else we discussed in this article, please feel free to leave us a comment below!
Alex & Lauren
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