One thing that never crossed my mind when I first started blogging was creating a newsletter and collecting emails. It wasn’t until I’d been blogging for 3-4 years that I finally realized the potential that an email list might have. I then beat myself up for not starting earlier, so if you haven’t opened a MailChimp account and started collecting emails, do it today! Even if you don’t get around to setting up your RSS feed or newsletter until next month, you can be collecting emails right now.
Thankfully, it seems like a lot of you have already realized how great reaching your readers in their inbox can be. It’s intimate, personal and is a great way to deliver bonus content that doesn’t appear on your blog or simply just keep your name in front of readers’ eyes. I’ve noticed that a bunch of you in the BFK BFFs Facebook Group are already tackling the MailChimp RSS feed emails—go you! We get a lot of questions about that, and it can be a little confusing, but the good news is that once it’s set up, you’re done! We have a tutorial on setting it up here, and if you’re not in our Facebook Group yet, click here to join our quickly growing community!
Once you create your MailChimp account, list and set up your first campaign, you might run into another problem—actually growing that list. You put the sign up form in your sidebar, but your email list is only growing a few people each week. It’s not terrible, but you’re probably wondering how you can boost those numbers and keep them growing consistently!
Between my personal blog and Blogging for Keeps, I’ve learned a ton about growing my email list and have tried (and failed) at plenty of things. But, there have been some major victories in there. These victories have led to more subscribers and consistent growth over time. The key is using as many of these tips as you can.
Ready? Let’s go!
Make it Easy to Subscribe
Having your signup form in your sidebar is great, but it’s not going to get you as many subscribers as a pop-up would. MailChimp has a built in pop-up, but if you’re having trouble with it, we recommend using Boxzilla, Ninja Pop-ups, WisePops or Leadpages. The last two are paid services, but both work really well. You can also add a ‘Subscribe’ tab in your menu that leads to a dedicated subscribe page or your MailChimp hosted subscribe page (more on this below). We also have a subscribe form at the bottom of each post! Get creative and give your readers plenty of ways to easily subscribe.
Share on Social Media
We share our content everyday on social media, why not encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter too! Make sure you have a simple subscribe page you can direct them to instead of asking them to go on your site, scroll half way down the sidebar and signup. On the backend of MailChimp, there’s a couple of sharing buttons that actually let you share your subscribe page directly from MailChimp! Easy, right?!
Create a Freebie
Who doesn’t love free stuff?! You can easily create a checklist or guide, or if you’re feeling really ambitious you could make an e-book or mini-course to entice people to sign up! Just make sure it’s on brand and makes sense with the content you’re posting.
Maybe you’re amazing at editing photos and you want to create a freebie that shows people how to edit their photos too. That’s great, but if you don’t write content on editing photos or photography, this is probably not ideal. Sure, you might still get lots of signups, but are they the right people? Probably not. Chances are they’ll grab their download and never read the post updates on what you wore during your trip to Hawaii. Heck, they may even immediately unsubscribe and we don’t want that. Creating a high-quality download that fits your content is your best bet because people will be more likely to continue opening those emails when it’s something they’re genuinely interested in.
The next tip will show you how to easily deliver a freebie to your readers—no special coding required!
Customize Your MailChimp Auto-Responders
This one is something that most of us overlook, but it’s an easy way to make your readers feel more special, like they’ve joined a special club, instead of just being led to a boring ole thank you page they’ve seen a million times. Guess what? They’re super easy to customize! And if you’ve created a freebie, this is the perfect way to deliver that item without having to set up an automation.
Login to MailChimp and go to ‘Lists’ and select your list. On the next page, click the tab that says ‘Sign Up Forms’.
This first page that shows up can be used as your default ‘Signup page’ (aka, the one you share on social media). You’ll also notice that you can customize this! Feel free to change the colors and fonts to best match your branding. You can also upload a logo or image in there. If you’re offering a freebie, you could include a graphic that has an image of the front cover of your e-book or PDF to remind people exactly what they’re getting when they sign up. You can even easily share this page to Facebook & Twitter from MailChimp!
The next page I recommend you customize is the ‘Signup thank you page’. To get here, click on the dropdown menu under ‘Forms and response emails’ and select it from the group. Again, you can customize this page, or you can create a special thank you page on your blog and drop in the link to that. After someone subscribes, they’ll be redirected to this page. You should include some verbiage here to remind them that their freebie will be delivered as soon as they confirm their email address!
You can also customize your ‘Opt-in confirmation email’. This is the email that people will receive after they sign up. Inside is a button that requires them to confirm their subscription. You can add text, images and branding here. Again, it just adds that personal touch!
Okay, here’s where it starts really getting cool. Select ‘Confirmation thank you page’ from the dropdown. Here you’ll see a page that you can customize as well as the option for dropping in a link. This is where you can drop in the link to your freebie so that your readers will instantly get access to their product as soon as they confirm. Instant gratification is good! You can host your file in MailChimp or on your blog. Simply grab the link and drop it in the area provided. After subscribers hit ‘Confirm’ a new web page will open with their freebie!
Lastly, we’ll update the ‘Final welcome email’, so select that from the dropdown. Make sure you check the box that says ‘Send a Final welcome email’. In this email, I recommend including the link to the product again, just in case they accidentally close their browser before they had a chance to download it!
And, that’s it—your subscribe and welcome series is now far more personal and special and it wasn’t even that hard! Plus, having those pages customized really shows that you’ve gone the extra step and can get your readers excited about what’s to come in the future!
Host a Giveaway
I’m actually planning on trying this later this summer and I’m excited to see how it performs. If you’ve toyed with giveaways in the past, you already know they can be great for boosting your social following. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve found that growing my email list benefits my business more in the long run than a few extra Facebook or Instagram followers does. Instead of having to figure out who signed up, just open the giveaway to anyone on your email list, and let readers know that if they’re already subscribed, they’re automatically entered. That will make your current subscribers feel special and encourage others to sign up for your list as well!
Offer Bonus Content
If you’re only offering your readers emails about new posts, they might not be super interested. Plenty of readers’ actually come to your site everyday and emails like this probably seem repetitive. But, what if you offered them bonus content that never appears on your blog. Now that sounds a lot more enticing, doesn’t it?! This could be an extra post each week or month, best sale round-ups, early access to events, e-books, PDFs, video series, etc. You can really get creative if you want!
In my weekly newsletter, I always feature a sneak peek of what’s coming the next week as well as a personal note where I share information about my life, projects I’m working on, etc. that I don’t post on my blog. It’s nothing crazy, but it does give readers something more than just a recap of what I posted that week.
I hope those ideas get you inspired for unique ways to grow your email list and also create special content that your readers will totally love! And, I hope your inspired to customize parts of your MailChimp that you may not have known existed before!