How to Build an Email List: 5 Best Ways to Get Subscribers 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 get subscribers on your blog for new bloggers and anyone else struggling to get email subscribers.
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.
Here is an overview of what we will cover in this article:
- Why an Email List is So Important
- How to Get Subscribers on Your Blog
- Still Not Getting Subscribers? 3 Reasons Why
- Most Popular Email Markeing Software for Bloggers MAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE
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 have used in the past 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, but here are the 3 most 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.
How to Get Subscribers on Your Blog
It might not seem like that big of a deal if you aren’t collecting that many leads, but if you are monetizing your blog properly, more subscribers generally means more sales.
There are a few ways to get subscribers, also referred to as “collecting 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.
When we speak in terms of effectiveness, we don’t mean with the goal of generating as many leads as possible.
There is a delicate balancing act that you must perform 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.
Sumo 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 generally need additional software to do this. Our favorite landing page software is LeadPages.
Here is an example of one of our landing pages created with LeadPages:
LeadPages also provides 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.
Make sure to also check with your email marketing provider, because some platforms (like ConvertKit) offer basic landing page software for their customers.
Still Not Getting Subscribers? 5 Reasons Why That Might Be
Many of our new bloggers take the first steps of creating a basic email opt-in form with ConvertKit and getting their first visitors to their blog – only to have no one bother to subscribe to their email list.
Why is this?
First, let’s set up some expectations for conversion rates.
You aren’t factoring in expected conversion rates.
A conversion rate is simply the ratio of subscribers to visitors that you have on your website.
For example, if 100 people visit your site and 10 people opt-in to your email list, your conversion rate is 10%.
Good Conversion Rates to Aim For:
- Landing Pages: 50%
- Above the Post Opt-Ins: 20%
- Below the Post Opt-Ins: 2%
It’s important to understand what reasonable conversion rates are so that you know what to expect on your website.
Example: If you set up a basic opt-in form (described above) below your blog post and get 50 visitors in a day to that post, you can expect no more than a 2% conversion, which translates into a measly ONE subscriber.
That means that if you’re only getting 20 visitors to your blog on any given day and this is your ONLY method of collecting leads, you’re not likely to even get one subscriber per day.
This is why it’s important to have the right expectations in place when it comes to what methods you are using to get subscribers and what the related conversion rates are.
Your content isn’t good enough.
It might seem simple enough but one of the best ways to get the highest quality subscribers to your email list is to have the highest quality blog content.
I dont’ personally sign up for many email lists myself, but when I do… It’s generally because that person WOWed me with their content.
Brian Dean, SEO expert and owner of Backlinko, is a great example. When I read his definitive guide on SEO, I searched his website for his email list and immediately signed up for his list.
I even purchased his SEO course a few days later. His content was truly incredible and it led me to subscribe and make a purchase within days. That’s powerful stuff!
Your goal should be to create the best content in your niche — so good people hang on to your every word and keep searching for more.
Make sure to check out our blog writing tips if you’re in need of some help on crafting some incredible blog posts.
You don’t have enough traffic to your blog.
If you think your content is BOMB and doesn’t need any adjustments, the next area to consider is your traffic.
With that same 2% conversion above, 1,000 visitors still only translates into 20 subscribers.
If you’re only getting 30-50 visitors a day to your blog, you are likely a new blogger that hasn’t invested in any landing page software yet and are not likely to get more than one subscriber every day or two, if that.
You really need closer to at LEAST 100 visitors a day to do proper testing of opt-ins on your website, and a simple opt-in form alone will not grow your list quickly.
Opt-ins ABOVE the main blog post content are seen by a lot more people and greatly increase your chances of a subscriber opting in.
This is simply because a lot of people that land on your blog post simply don’t make it all the way through your article to reach your opt-in. You’ll lose most of your readers along the way as they lose interest in your article or click on other links.
As we stated above, you should aim for a conversion rate closer to 20% for above-content opt-ins. With an above-content opt-in, that same 50 readers could translate into 10 subscribers!
The bottom line is that the TYPE of opt-in that you have on your page matters.
You aren’t offering a freebie (lead magnet).
The days of “Sign Up for My Newsletter!” are LONG gone.
Everybody from your favorite store to your local flower shop is trying to get you to sign up for their email list and we all get too many emails as it is.
You must ENTICE people to sign up for your email list with a free piece of content called a lead magnet (or freebie).
Just for another example for a different type of business, here is the landing page for our yoga freebie on Avocadu:
This freebie should be related to one of the main topics on your blog and ideally on a subject that you might eventually offer products on.
So, you spend the time to design what you think is an AWESOME freebie that anyone would be lucky to have – only to STILL have no one opting into your list…
No one wants what you are offering.
This is never a fun place to be folks, and most of you will end up here at some point. We sure did. Many times.
If you have designed great, professional looking opt-ins and put them in the right places and still aren’t getting any opt-ins, you have to consider this: No one wants what you’re offering.
We probably tested out 15 or more “freebies” over the first year and a half of business for Avocadu until we settled on the two that I listed above.
We had everything from recipes to exercises to healthy foods. Here is a look down memory lane at some of our failed opt-ins:
The honest truth is that they just weren’t good enough. No one cared enough about what we were offering to bother to opt in to our list.
Be careful about how much time you spend on your lead magnet because the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time creating something that no one wants.
Best case scenario is that you can at least recycle the content for a blog post or an email.
Continue to test new lead magnets until you find one that fits really well with your audience.
Pro Tip: Consider the demographics of your audience when creating lead magnets.
We once tried to swap out our 21-Day Challenge Free Training Guide for a Free 5-Day Fat Loss Training eCourse, and it bombed hard because our audience was older and preferred written content over video content.
Read the rest of the content in this article before you decide that you think your freebie is the problem, but if you think you’re doing everything else right, it is likely the problem.
You’re using free software.
We’ve said it a hundred times in our articles and videos, and we’ll say it again: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Free software will get you cheap results.
We KNOW it’s hard to invest in software when you haven’t made any money with your blog yet, but you CANNOT have the mindset that you will start spending money on your blog when you start making money.
It will never happen.
Guys, we’ve been there, and we felt the pain. It took us several months to make any money with our blog and we spent a LOT during that time on software, courses, you name it.
Email marketing software and lead collection are two of the very first things you should spend money on aside from the costs associated with starting your blog.
It all boils down to customizability, and better software will help you create better and more professional-looking opt-ins – because the colors that you use, the placement of your buttons, and the size of your headlines DO MATTER!
Thankfully, they are really rather inexpensive compared to other software in the blogging industry.
You aren’t testing enough.
Remember that testing is the name of the game when it comes to optimizing your opt-ins.
UNTIL you get the conversion rates you are looking for, you must continually test out new lead magnets, new types of opt-ins, different designs, etc.
Only you achieve your target conversion rates can you leave your opt-ins alone for a while and stop testing.
Software like LeadPages offers A/B split-testing of opt-ins, which can be super helpful in the process.
Okay, that’s it for now! If you enjoyed this article on why no one is signing up for my email list or questions for us, please leave them in the comment section below!
Most Popular Email Marketing Software for Bloggers
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).
There are a lot of reasons why we love this software, but the most important reason is the ability to edit all of your emails in ONE screen.
With every other email software that we tried, we had to navigate through multiple prompts and screens just to edit one email. Then you would have to repeat the process all over again with the next email in your funnel.
This made it really difficult to read through your emails in sequence as part of your whole funnel.
Basically, it was harder to get the big picture — aka what you want your readers to understand from your content.
Here is a screenshot of the email editor from ConvertKit below:
It has also saved us an insane amount of time and energy when writing our emails and building out our sales funnels.
ConvertKit was the brainchild of Nathan Barry, who was a blogger himself in a previous life. His experience as a blogger is part of what makes this software so different from the rest of the platforms on the market.
It was created with the blogger in mind!
Some other email marketing platforms that we have tried include:
There are many different factors to consider when choosing the right email marketing platform, including:
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
- And more
Make sure to evaluate your options carefully and make a decision based on which company you believe will be the best fit for you.
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.
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!