Starting an email newsletter for your blog or business is one of the most important steps you can take that will hold real value for the life of your website. In fact, even if you decided to shutdown your website and start a new one you can still take your newsletter subscribers with you.
If you ask successful bloggers what they regret or what they would do differently if they started over many would say that they would have started building an email list sooner.
For example, here is a quote from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.
“I’m currently seeing between 50 to 110 subscribers per day, and have accumulated over 28,000 subscribers! Imagine if I had started sooner!”
What’s the Point? People Can Already Subscribe to My RSS Feed
The difference between subscribing to a RSS feed and an email list is quite substantial. A RSS feed is tied directly to the posts on your blog. The feed is only updated when you create a new post. If your reader subscribed to the feed via email then they may see it in their inbox. Otherwise, the reader would have to open their feed reader to see your new posts. Which do you think gets more attention, the inbox or a feed reader?
Even if your reader subscribed to the RSS feed via email all they would ever see is your latest posts. This is where an email list separates itself. You can send your list subscribers an email about anything at anytime. You can promote a product launch, special coupon or an upcoming webinar. Basically, you don’t have to create a blog post just to get into your subscriber’s inbox.
If you decided to shutdown your site and start a new one all your RSS subscribers, even those subscribed via email would be lost. With an email list you could continue communicating with your subscribers and even use it to promote your new site.
Choosing an Email Marketing Service Provider
When I first got started I used Outlook to manage my email list. I would add each subscriber to my contacts manually and select them when I wanted to send out a message. Imagine doing that with thousands of subscribers. I needed to find a better solution.
I looked at all the major email marketing service providers and signed up to all their trials. I really wanted to test drive all the different solutions before choosing one to go with. Once I started the AWeber trial I never looked back.
AWeber really makes it easy to manage your email list whether you have 1,000 or 100,000 subscribers. They even help you stay in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act which is something that should not be overlooked.
Setting Up Your Email Newsletter In 5 Steps
1. Signup For an AWeber Account
If you don’t already have an AWeber account I highly recommend you check them out and signup for the trial to see if it’s right for you. It’s what I use and I’m glad I chose them.
2. Create a New Email List
Once you login to AWeber click on the Create and Manage Lists link in the upper left.
Next, click on the Create a New List button that appears on the page.
You should now be at the Basic Settings tab of the List Settings page of your brand new list.
Choose a name to help you distinguish this list from others. It can be up to 15 characters long, containing only letters, numbers, and hyphens.
In a few words, tell your subscribers what this list is all about. This will be seen on your unsubscribe page.
From Name & Address
Enter your name or company and an email address that messages should appear from.
The CAN-SPAM Act requires you to include a valid postal address in your messages. P.O Boxes for your business are permitted.
You can add an email address here to receive a notification every time a new subscriber is added to your list.
Personalize Your List
Enter your company or website’s name.
Enter your website’s URL.
Enter a default signature that you would like to include at the end of your plain text messages.
Your Confirmation Message
When a user subscribes to your email list they will be first sent a confirmation email. They are required to click on the confirmation link in the email to be placed on your email list. This is also known as double opt-in. You can personalize the confirmation message here and remind people why they signed up and encourage them to click the confirmation link.
Require Opt-In on Web Forms
This should be ON to require Confirmed Opt-Ins and ensure only recipients who have specifically requested to be on the list are subscribed. This means you have proof someone opted-in, fewer unsubscribe requests and far fewer spam complaints.
You can enter a URL here to send people to when they click on the confirmation link in the confirmation email. This is a great place to ask them to take further actions such as liking your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter. You can also leave it blank to send them to a default page hosted by AWeber.
3. Create a Welcome Message
It’s important to send a welcome email to subscribers after they’re confirmed. Even if you only plan to send weekly or monthly newsletters you should take this opportunity to build a real relationship with your subscribers.
Introduce yourself and let them know what to expect as a subscriber to your list. If you used a lead magnet such as a free ebook for signing up you should deliver on it here. You can include it as an attachment or tell them where to download it.
To create your welcome message hover over Messages and click on Follow Up. Then click on the Create A New Follow Up Message button to bring up the follow up editor.
The follow up editor includes many beautiful HTML templates you can choose from or you can stick with plain text if you like.
You can learn more about using the follow up editor from this knowledge base article at AWeber.
4. Create an Opt-In Form
Click on Web Forms at the top then on the Create a New Web Form button.
You should now be in the Design tab of your new opt-in form.
Just like the follow up editor AWeber provides you with lots of nice looking templates to create your opt-in form. You can preview all the different templates here. The default name and email fields are already added to your form but if you need to add others such as a phone number or address field you can do so here.
Give your form a unique name. I have multiple websites and multiple forms on each website. I like to give each form a name that easily identifies which website it is on and the location.
If a user is logged into Facebook when visiting your website AWeber can change your form and have it prepopulated with their Facebook name and email address. You can enable this feature here.
Thank You Page
When a user clicks on the Submit or Subscribe button they are first sent to this page. You can use the AWeber default or set your own custom URL here.
Already Subscribed Page
If a user is already subscribed to your list you can send them to the default page provided by AWeber or set your own custom page URL here.
5. Publish Your Opt-In Form
Now that you have your opt-in form designed and ready we’re going to put it onto your website. There are many places you can put an opt-in form but we’ll go with the most obvious place the sidebar.
Go to the Widgets page in your Admin Dashboard and drag the Text widget into your Primary Widget Area. Paste the HTML code for your opt-in form into the Text widget and then Save.
You should now have a nice looking opt-in form in your sidebar to start collecting subscribers to your email newsletter. Another good place to have an opt-in form is at the end of your blog posts. You could do that manually or you can use the Add To Post plugin to automatically do it for you. If you look at the end of this post you can see it in use.
If anything is unclear or you have any questions please leave a comment below. I’ll try my best to answer any questions you may have.
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