I just finished adding a newsletter subscription widget in my sidebar. I also added a popup box. If you stick around on any of my pages for at least 30 seconds, you will get to see it. This is email marketing for beginners.
I don’t like it when a popup appears when I first land on a page. I haven’t even started reading, so how do I know if I want to subscribe?
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So just what is email marketing (for beginners)?
Email marketing is the practice of collecting email addresses and connecting those contacts with information.
Do you have an email signup form on your website yet? If you are a beginner blogger, you probably don’t. So if not, read on as I detail the process I used, choices I made and the research I did to get the ball rolling.
You don’t just open up your email client and hit compose?
No, you want to use a service to manage your website’s email contact lists. This article from WPBeginner describes the top 7 email service providers. Since I still have less than 2000 subscribers (contacts), I decided to use the forever free plan from Mailchimp. All you need to get started is your email address, a username and a password.
The only con to this choice is that this version lacks an autoresponder. That means I won’t be able to setup a series of emails for new subscribers. You can set up a welcome email and an automatic email to subscribers when a new post is published. I think that is enough functionality for most beginners.
So you signed up for Mailchimp. Now what?
The first step is to create a list within Mailchimp. This WPBeginner post has instructions for that process. Once you get a list started, you need to decide how to display a signup form on your website. Your readers need a way to ask to be added to the email distribution list.
The WPBeginner guide also has instructions for generating the default Mailchimp signup form code as well as instructions for using the Optin Monster plugin which costs $9/month. I decided not to go with either of those options. I started researching free plugins compatible with Mailchimp.
So what plugin did you decide to use?
Mailchimp is a pretty popular option so I found 20+ options when searching for free mailchimp plugins. I first eliminated plugins that had not been updated recently enough that they were not tested with the most current version of WordPress.
The next thing I looked at was what options the plugins provided for signup location. The sidebar is a pretty standard/popular location. Even more popular is the ubiquitous popup form. I think it is prudent to have both.
I quickly realized that there were very few free plugins that offered both a sidebar widget signup and a popup signup. To get both, most plugins required a paid upgrade. In order to get both options in the same free plugin, I narrowed it down to the following two options:
- MailChimp Forms by MailMunch
- Mailchimp Forms by Optin Cat
I setup MailMunch forms on my SurvivalWithKids.com website and Optin Cat forms on this website. I was satisfied with my experience with both options, so I encourage you to try both and see which you like better. Let me know in the comments below which you like better.
Both have premium options with additional themes and layouts. The Optin Cat upgrade is a one time fee rather than a monthly fee like the MailMunch upgrade, so if you aren’t happy with the free layouts, I recommend checking the Optin Cat premium layouts first.
I have signup forms. What’s next?
Next you want to setup an RSS campaign. Again, refer back to the WPBeginner guide for instructions. I did a little bit of research and after reading this post from the Mailchimp blog, I decided to setup my emails to send at 10am in my time zone. This automatic email will only go out on weekdays when I have posted in the last 24 hours.
Those are the basic steps for email marketing for beginners. Are there any other questions you have about email marketing? Comment with them below and I will either add to this post or create a new post if there is enough additional information.
Since this is a post about email marketing, it wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t ask you to sign up for my newsletter. Optin Cat has the option to add a signup box within a post. So I will add one right below this to make it easy.