When it comes to content marketing, the key objective of almost all the entrepreneurs I work with is to grow their email list. Whenever I ask clients what they want their blog and content marketing to achieve the number one answer is simple: build my list.
Your email list is the key to getting everything else in your business working. Building a list of absolutely perfectly ideal clients is really important for any business. It’s a massive help to have a tribe of perfect people to work with, to whom you can directly market your stuff, as it means you’re not relying on ‘spray and pray’ marketing. It helps you generate leads. It helps you convert people from readers and prospects into paying clients. But growing your list, the physical act of getting people to hand over their email address and put themselves on your list, is something that a lot of my clients find quite problematic.
The Importance Of Infrastructure When List Building
One of the main things that I say to all my clients (particularly those on The Divine Blogging Design, which is really geared towards list building and using your content to grow your list as much as possible) is that I can create as much content as you like, and we can get your content marketing working perfectly, but if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually capture leads on your website your list building efforts will fail.
You need a website that was built with list building in mind. If it’s difficult for people to sign up in your list, you can have the best content in the world and you’re still going to struggle to get traction where list building is concerned.
When I point this out, I’m invariably asked, “What do I need on my website to grow my list?”
List Building Infrastructure
I am currently in the process of outsourcing, upgrading my website. I took it as far as I could on my own and still needed it to perform better. I needed some professional help with that. But if you’re not yet at a point where you can afford to pay for somebody else to design a professional website for you, or if you’re quite handy with WordPress and simply need to know what plugins to install, then these are the plugins for you.
NOTE: You don’t need all of them. I’m not giving you this list and saying go out and install all 10 of these on your website immediately.
I suggest you take a look at these suggestions and decide which ones sound like will work best for you, and your business. As a general rule the more plugins you install on your website, the slower it will be, and the more chance there is of conflicts. So when I say don’t install them all, I really do mean it. There is a good reason for that. If you suddenly start installing a massive load of plugins on your site you might completely screw it up.
I’ve used all of these plugins at some point. I have many clients who have used them/are still using them and have achieved great results with them. So, without further ado…
My Plugins: Thrive Leads
Thrive Leads is a really comprehensive lead generation plugin. It comes with a lot of templates making it really easy to use. You just install it, upload any of the templates and use them as you see fit. It is a paid plugin. Last time I checked it was about $70, which is good for a high-quality lead generation plugin. Thrive Leads is extremely good and one I use, so you should definitely check it out. It’s incredibly functional with a lot of great popups that you can customise to make them as user-friendly as possible. This means they’re not in your face and annoying people, but they’re still capturing visitors’ email addresses while they’re on the site, and making sure people are aware of the fact you have an email list and giving them the nudge to just sign up for it.
OptinMonster is quite similar to Thrive Leads. Before I upgraded my website, this is the one that I was using, and I got great results from it. It’s extremely easy to use. It’s about $20 for a monthly subscription, or you can get an annual subscription that cuts it down to $9. OptinMonster has lots of popup options and some really cool functions like locking content. It’s really useful because it gives you more levels to work with. By now you’re probably familiar with using optin freebies to get people to sign up – having a free e-book or a mini video course or whatever that’s available on your site in exchange for an email address email address. But not everybody can be bothered reading a free e-book or watching a free course.
They’re not that interested, but they may come across one of your blog posts and really want to read it.
Locking content allows you to make certain posts inaccessible without the visitor signing up to your email list. The odds are they’ve come across your blog post because they’ve been looking for something specific, or because they know you and they’ve seen you share it, and they’ve clicked on it because they want to read it right now.
They already want to read what you’re offering. It’s not a case of convincing them that your optin is going to be really useful to them. You don’t need to convince them of anything. They’re already there. They already want to be read it. They want to read it right now. You just put a really simple step in place that says, “You can read this, it’s just a click away, pop your email address in!”
This is a great way of getting signups. The only caution I would make is that you shouldn’t use it excessively. Save it for premium posts, the majority of your posts should still be freely available (if you want to know why, check out The Cake Construction).
My Plugins: Landing Pages for WordPress
Thrive Landing Pages is made by the same people as Thrive Leads. They work together very well. Even if you don’t have Thrive Leads, you can still use Thrive Landing Pages, which enables you to create really beautiful landing pages extremely easily. It comes with a lot of templates which makes it very simple to use, and it’s also got a drag and drop interface that makes building your own customised landing pages ridiculously easy.
I still use this on my site. I’ve used it for all my main sales pages (here’s an example!) as well my option landing pages. It’s possibly the most useful thing on my whole website as it lets me DIY the major pages rather than paying a small fortune for my tech guy to do it. In fact, it’s so good that the website overhaul isn’t including the big sales page for The Divine Blogging Design, because I’m happy with the one I created myself for now!
Another great plugin for optins is Bloom. I haven’t used this for a while, but I have a lot of clients that still use it, and they get really good results. It’s easy to use. It’s customizable. It’s got a lot of options when it comes to colours, and settings, and things like that, but the feature that I really like about this one is the fact that you can track things very easily. You can track your results and see how your conversion rates are going. You can split test. You can also target specific content, which makes it a really versatile plugin that does a lot of things in a very easy to use way.
I use PopupAlly Pro on my own site. It’s just the most useful thing in the world. I absolutely love it. It creates really good little popups. They are not even remotely intrusive, which is the thing that I really like about them. Natalie Lussier, who created PopupAlly Pro, actually refers to it as the ‘polite popup’ specifically because it was designed with this in mind: a lot of site visitors find popups really irritating and intrusive. It’s been designed in such a way that the popups are as unobtrusive as possible, so they don’t really bother you while you’re reading. They don’t interrupt visitors, yet they still grab their attention at the optimal moments and help them sign up really easily.
I have to admit I do find this a little fiddly to setup. It’s not the easiest one in the world, but once you figure out how you do it (and there are videos and tutorials that will help you do that) it is easy to do. It just take me a little while to get the hang of it. That being said, it is hands down the best lead generation plugin I’ve ever. Even though the Write Copy Girl is currently being redeveloped, we are not getting rid of PopupAlly. We’re keeping that because it’s so useful. Where popup plugins are concerned, I would definitely recommend this as my favourite.
A really good budget option if you’re not really looking to invest a lot, but you want something that will help you grow your list, is Ninja Popups. You can get that about $21. That’s just a one off payment, that’s all you have to pay, making it cheap and very cheerful. It’s extremely functional. It’s very easy to use. It comes with 40 different themes, loads of different designs, and it’s extremely responsive.
If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful budget option, Ninja Popups is definitely the one to go for.
Lead Pages is quite similar to Thrive Landing Pages in that it helps you build really great landing pages that are very effective. I used Lead Pages for a while before I got Thrive. To be perfectly honest, I found it a bit expensive, which is why I switched to Thrive and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been quite happy with Thrive, but if you don’t mind paying extra, Lead Pages is probably the industry leader for this particular thing. I think it’s the most widely used landing page plugin and one of the most popular. It’s certainly one that a lot of my clients use, and they all get great results out of it.
I personally have managed to achieve exactly the same results with Thrive Landing Pages, and Thrive is an awful lot cheaper, but it’s just going to be a matter of preference for you.
If you’re looking for a complete bells and whistles option that gives you absolutely everything you need, OptimizePress is perhaps the best one to go far. It is quite expensive, but it is the most comprehensive option currently available. You can use OptimizePress to create marketing sites, landing pages, sales pages, and option forms. You can use it to do anything that you need to do when it comes to growing your list, and you can do it all in one place. That is incredibly useful.
It is a little expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best at doing all of the things that it does.
It’s useful because it’s so comprehensive, but it is quite expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best way of doing it.
Another incredibly useful tool to use is SumoMe, which is a great list building plugin. It also has a lot of ways of building and boosting your traffic as well as growing your list. It’s very easy to integrate with Google analytic. You can create heat maps and use the highlighter, which are really useful for growing both your traffic and list.
Big bonus for this one: it’s free!
There are paid elements that you can add on, but you don’t have to and the free version works perfectly well.
Finally, if you’re looking for an option to build your list that doesn’t involve popups (because I know a lot of people hate popups), Optin Forms is a fabulous alternative. It doesn’t involve any popups whatsoever. Instead, it uses really discrete and very well-placed option forms across your website to entice people to sign up to your list at the best opportunity. You can put them in side bars, menus, blog posts, etc. There’s so many ways you can integrate these forms into your site that make it really easy for people to sign up to your list, but doesn’t bother them with constant popups.
Looking To Supercharge Your List Building Efforts?
Check out The Divine Blogging Design, my signature Content Marketing service designed with list building in mind. This monthly service provides you with regular content for your blog and social media, as well as optin freebies and content upgrades.