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Why You Should Start Building Your Email List Right Away

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Why You Should Start Building Your Email List Right Away

Ever since the launch of OptinMonster, we have received numerous emails from WordPress beginners asking us why do they need to build an email list?

Isn’t email marketing dead? Why pay for an email marketing service, when JetPack plugin or Feedburner has email subscription options. In this article, we will explain why every serious blogger and small business needs to focus on building an email list right now. We will also share an easy to follow actionable step by step guide that you can implement in your business right away.

When we talk with professional bloggers, not building an email list is the #1 mistake they admit. So why is it that beginners continue to make this mistake over and over? Because there is a false presumption that email marketing is dead.

But Isn’t Email Marketing Kind of Dead?

No, it is not. In fact email marketing had never been more alive as it is today. Every website wants you to give them your email address, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or The New York Times. Why email is so relevant and important?

Building a targeted email list

The answer is very simple. Everyone’s got an email address which they log into several times a day. Most people with smart phones are signed into their email accounts 24/7 with push notifications enabled. Email is much more personal, direct, and a reliable way to get in touch with most people.

Some will ask what about social media? Social media is a great way to reach your audiences, but lets face it, social media websites come and go. Not too long ago we had friendfeed, Google Buzz, MySpace, Plurk and countless other cool websites. Most of them are either dead now or irrelevant. Today we got Facebook and Twitter, but not every one is as hooked up on these sites as they are to their email account.

Facebook for example has the EdgeRank metrics which limits the reach of your updates. Twitter streams are so busy that there is a very short span of time in which you can get user’s attention. There are other places like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, etc. You need a different content strategy for different channels, but for a small business or an individual blogger this can quickly get overwhelming.

We are not saying that social media is not important. It is, and you should explore every opportunity to reach out to your audiences however you should spend more time and effort into something that guarantees much better results.

Advantages of an Email List

During our years of online marketing experience, we have learned that building an email list is probably the best thing you can do for your website and your business.

On WPBeginner, our email list drives much more traffic and has a much higher user engagement rate than any other platform.

Why? Because when someone subscribe to your email list with double opt-in, they are really interested and are much more likely to open your email and click on the links. It is not such a surprising fact, here is why:

Email is Personal – Email allows you to land into a user’s inbox. There is no ranking system limiting your reach. Your message is intended for a user and it lands into their inbox. It is very direct, personal, and casual.

Email is Purposeful – To get your email a user needs to signup for your email list and confirm their email address. Someone doing this much work is obviously already interested into hearing from you and is much more receptive and responsive to your message.

Email is Targeted – As we mentioned earlier the user has already shown interest in your products / content. They have already given consent to learn more by receiving your emails. They are much more likely to click, buy, and spread the word around for your products and services. Since you already know what they like, you can deliver them highly relevant content and offers to get better results.

Email is One-on-One – People read email in the privacy of their inbox. The message is not on a public wall or timeline. They can ask you questions directly in private with confidence. You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to ask questions on public forums where everyone can read them. Email also allows users to build a one on one relationship with you. Gradually they develop trust in your brand and proudly spread the word around.

To summarize all this, email works a lot better than any other online marketing tool. Big name brands learned that long time ago, and this is why they spend thousands of dollars on social media campaigns to get people to sign up for their email lists. They understand that the email is the best long term investment and people will continue to get their message at a very low cost for a longer period of time.

Free vs. Paid Email List Options

There are a number of free email subscription services online. Often beginners use the free options to save cost. This is understandable however it is not the most ideal way to go about it. Why?

Because most free options allow you to offer blog subscription via email. Most beginners don’t understand that email newsletters and blog subscription via email are two different things.

Services like FeedBurner or Jetpack Subscriptions offer blog subscription via email. This allows your users to receive an email update every time you publish a new blog post. This means the information they are receiving has to be public first. You can’t send out private email newsletters, you can’t personalize the email, you can’t categorize the subscribers by interest levels, and you lack reporting. So basically you don’t know anything about your subscribers specially with Jetpack.

Email newsletters while cost money allows you to send private mass emails to a group of subscribers. You can see subscriber activity, and segment your most loyal followers. You can run A/B split test campaigns to see which email subjects work better. You can see which country you have the most subscribers to adjust your timezone preferences. Last but definitely the most important, you can see the emails of all of your subscribers.

To really build an email list, you should go with an email provider like Aweber or MailChimp. They’re both paid services, but MailChimp offers a free account for first 2000 subscribers. This is great for beginners because by the time they surpass that number, that email list should be paying for itself.

How to Start Building Your Email List

Considering the benefits of building an email list, it requires very little effort, time and money to build. Here is how to get started:

Select an Email Marketing Service Provider – We would recommend either Aweber or MailChimp.

Strategically Place Beautiful Optin Forms – Some WordPress themes come with built-in sidebar email widgets. Your email marketing service provider may also provide you with the embed code that you can place into your WordPress site.

OptinMonster Lightbox Themes

If you really want to increase your email signups then you need to create better optin forms. At WPBeginner, we built OptinMonster to increase our email signups and saw a very successful 600% increase in growth.

We were getting about 70-80 subscribers a day, and after integrating OptinMonster our signups increased to 445-470 new subscribers per day with the same traffic that we were getting before.

To further increase your signup rates, you need to offer your users incentives to join your email list. People love getting things for FREE and immediately. Offer them instant incentives that they can get for free immediately after joining your email list. This can be an eBook, coupon, free resource, or anything else.

It does not matter what kind of business you run, what kind of website you have, or what industry you are in. If you got a website, and you want to turn your visitors into returning customers, then you need to get them in your email list.

Learn from other’s experience and don’t make the same mistake. Start building your email list right away.

Do you have an email list? What are/were your biggest challenges in building an email list? Share your email marketing experience with us by leaving a comment below.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Hope says:

    Hey there :)
    Thanks a lot for this article! I am in the process of starting my own music YouTube Channel and would love to begin with building an email list right from the start..
    I am not a business selling anything yet but for MailChimp I have to give a business address that will be shown in the newsletters. I dont wanna give away my private address as well but how can I still legally (with the opt-in and everything) collect email address and be able to send newsletters? Would you still recommend MailChimp for strategic purposes or do you have any other ideas?
    Thanks a lot!!

  2. Stu says:

    Great article… but why is a leading website like yours not mobile friendly. . ?

  3. Melissa says:

    A really useful article about the value of gathering email subscribers from your blog, and great to have something other than Mail Chimp suggested!

  4. Joseph Dabon says:

    To grow your email list, everybody is talking about giving free gifts as incentive for signing up. But for a beginner like me, where can we find these gifts?

  5. Line says:

    This was all helpful, Thanks! I was about to activate the Feedburner plugin on my WP-page, but after reading this, I will not.
    I have a blog, where I write about my experiences living abroad, and all I want is a feature, that automatically sends email to the subscribers when I publish a new post.
    It’s not my intention to send out newsletters – just the automatic notification about a new post.
    That is why I thought Feedburner would be great for me. But would you still recommend me to use Mailchimp or something alike for this?

    Thanks in advance – Line

    • Em Fairley says:

      Feedburner or Jetpack is all you need for that purpose. Aweber or Mailchimp etc are purely for newsletters

  6. Kyler Brown says:

    My wife has been wanting to start a mailing list for sometime now for her bakery business. She just operates from our own home, so it would be nice to have a way to branch out to our customers a bit. This helped us out a lot, and I liked your point about getting more personal with your customers through email. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Ann says:

    Great post! I started using GetResponse lately as Mailchimp wasn’t enough for me. It’s also easy to learn and has cool features!

  8. Linda Throup says:

    Mailchimp could just be what I am looking for with regards to the mailing lists, however it looks quite daunting with all the questions regarding company information, I am just an individual who has a regular job and looking to sell ebooks in the future, can you advise please?

  9. Maryam says:

    This is extremely helpful, I’m going to start right away. Because I’ve started my fashion blog in August and I still did not know to do the email subscrption and nobdy explain it wel until I read this post.
    Thanks a lot!

  10. Eric says:


    I’ve recently create a WP blog–newbie and constantly being reminded. I have Jetpack installed. I used their subscribe via email widget. I have it in the footer. The subscribe buttons does not work at all. It’s like it’s not linked to anything, but I feel like I’m missing something.

    On jetpack’s support page, they state this feature should be default and ready to go.

    What am I missing here? Thanks for any insight. I have at least 2 hours into this.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Please contact JetPack’s support. It seems like your theme’s CSS is conflicting with your subscription form.

  11. naresh says:

    Truly inspirational. That is exactly the type of business model I want and am

    currently building. Thanks for showing me that dreams can be a reality!

  12. Liat says:

    Hi, I want to create a “sign up” button on my wp site where viewers can enter their name and email and then it AUTOMATICALLY adds them to my mailing list. Is there a way of doing that instead of entering each address manually? Could I do something like that through a simple gmail account or would I have to use a more complex program?

  13. Sarah says:

    I don’t have,I just signed up with mailChip after reading this article,but,if I am able to create the mail list what happens with that of Jetpack ?

  14. Syed Balkhi says:

    No because the other folks didn’t consent to receive emails from you.

  15. Chris says:

    If someone uses my e-mail address in an online mail shot (that they got with my consent) but have contacted me and not blind copied my e-mail in with others – essentially sharing my data with others – am I then able to use these e-mails for my own benefits in a mail shot (whilst ensuring all addresses are blind copied) but also ensuring there is an opt-out option in my e-mail

  16. Raquel Costa Hammer says:

    What about buying lists of emails? Do you know any safe site to buy these type of lists?

    • WPBeginner Staff says:

      Buying a list of email is never a good idea.

      • Raquel Costa Hammer says:

        Why? What you would advise on how to creste an email list from a different country?

        • Anouk says:

          It shouldn’t be a different way. Put an opt-in form on your blog or website, and people who are interested will sign up.

          Don’t buy an email list because people will report you as a spammer. You should always send emails to people who agreed to receive emails from you.

  17. Dahlia says:

    Hi how do you create a subscribe button that offers something for free? That’s what I’m having trouble with…

  18. WPBeginner Staff says:

    This can be done using OptinMonster. Checkout our guide on how to “How to Create a Daily and Weekly Email Newsletter in WordPress. As for categories you will have create RSS to Email campaign and Groups for each individual category.

  19. Samuel King says:

    Awesome post!

    I am working on a site and trying out the sidebar widget position to add the optin form. I would like to know how did you create your subscription widget box located on the sidebar? I want something that gives subscribers the option to select just like yours.

    Thanks in advance

  20. Ian says:

    Great guide, just what I was looking for but it is timing that is my question. I have just got my ecommerce website up and running selling “print on demand” (small run personalised printing) products. Have only a few items for sale so when should I try to create my email list.? Is 15 items in a shop too small so wait until I have say 50? Create a landing page that promises more in the future so sign up now? Not an easy one to find advise on. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Ian, 15 items are enough to get your visitors curious so it is time to get them to signup or otherwise they will probably never know when you add new items. We have even seen signup forms on websites that are not even launched yet.

  21. CL Langdon says:

    As a total beginner to all of this, there is a serious “learning curve” in just getting to this point. If all I want to do is create a mailing list – why do i have to have a third party mailing service if I use yahoo or gmail? Does this mean that I have to sign up with mailchimp or aweber? I find this all a bit confusing as to why i need to do this at all? and then what happens if in the future, i want to add this feature? right now i have no budget to pay additional fee-services, so it is just not an option. I find navigating all of this extremely confusing as a first time user of WP and setting up a site. Many of the plugins break my site and cause serious problems, so i am very leery on downloading additional plugins. most of them have 4-5 – star ratings but only have a few comments that created that rating. If you could consider taking one (or two) step(s) back and try to explain on a more basic level – i think that would really help beginners. I am finding all of this social media, feedburner, etc to be extremely time consuming and the blog comments i am getting are ALL advertisers, so I have marked them as spam and deleted them without displaying on my site.
    I only wanted to to set up a site that displays information and have people come to my site to sign up as interested in what we have to say. If we decided to conduct further activities in the future, we can try that after we get past this “beginner” stage.
    thank you in advance for your articles and site, to date, your site has been extremely helpful.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      CL Langdon,

      We understand how overwhelming and confusing this could be for a new user. But you will soon find out how useful it would be for you in the future. We would recommend you not to cover every thing quickly. Focus on building your site, bringing visitors, posting content. When you are stuck at something, focus on that specific problem and try to solve it using tutorials on our site or else where.

      As for email services, well actually there is a limit on how many emails you can send from a free gmail or yahoo account. Sending out mass emails is considered abuse of service by these free email service providers. Your emails will either end up in spam folder of your users, or they will not recieve them at all. It is also possible that your email service can suspend your account for violation of terms of use. This is why you need a third party email service.

  22. Lisa says:

    Great post. What is best option if I want to add opt-in like jet pack and send emails when there is a new post but also want to build email list. 2 separate forms on the site ??


  23. Mursaleen says:

    i am using Wysija for newsletter at my .. what will be the result if i create list myself and send newsletter will it be deliveered in spam boxx ?

  24. Alex Ferrara says:

    This was helpful and timely for me. I am in the planning stage and have been researching the various email services. One that i have come across that appeals me is GetResponse. But i have found limited info on this. Are you familiar with this service? How does it compare to aweber or mailchimp?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Alex GetResponse is a good service too. They have a smaller customer base than MailChimp or Aweber but they are definitely on the right track. You should consider your own options that will help you decide. For example, pricing, growth, support, reliability, deliverability, spam filters, etc. Make a list of these factors to compare on your own, you will also find such analysis around the web but those analysis could be biased towards one of the service. So you better do it on your own.

  25. afshin mokhtari says:

    My website/blog has been around for about 3 years. I added the option to opt-in to be notified of my latest posts about a year ago. I get an email everytime somebody subscribes and that turned out to be about 1 or 2 a week.

    In the last say 6 weeks, all of a sudden I’m getting at least 4 or 5 emails from my blog telling me someone signed up for my mailing list. I look at the email adresses and it seems to me a good 1/2 of them are bogus emails! What gives?

    I understand fake people getting an account on your site so they can post a link to their own products or sites, looking for a linkbacks and such…. but I personally approve all comments and dont publish spam. I don’t understand why I’m getting such a high number of fake subscribers.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Which email service provider you are using? Proper email service providers like mailchimp or aweber come equipped with tools to deal with such signups. As for your email subscribers, you can check out this article on how we boosted our email list subscribers on WPBeginner.

    • Richard Benjamin says:

      In response to “bogus” email subscribers, I will tell you why it is done… because I do it myself. When I am forced to put in my email information just to get some free information, it irritates me. The reason it irritates me is because, I deal with many companies in my business, I can not afford the time to keep sifting through my inbox to delete 50 emails from a company that I just wanted a little information from. Email marketing optin is great, but keep in mind – not everyone wants the bombarding of emails after-the-fact.

  26. Pam Burzynski says:

    That was great information, almost answering a questions I was asking myself. Even Mail Chimp is too complicated for me. I wish there could be something as simple as Jet Pack to build an e-mail list.

    I have seen people get thousands of subscribers with JetPack. If people have double opted in, which I believe they have with JetPack….why can’t the e-mail addresses be viewable so you can send them e-mail?

    Both mailchimp and aweber have too many features for someone that wants to keep it simple. I’ve tried both and went to JetPack. I’m sure a few simple features could be added to JetPack….keep it simple and charge a smaller fee, than aweber. I had and know others as well that got sold on aweber and never used it, paying a heafty monthly fee for nothing. That’s the way of the world now….get them to sign up, put it on their credit card and they forget about it and never learn how to use it. Helps pay for all the other people that spend endless hours on the helpline gobbling up the service reps time trying to figure it all out.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one that needs more simplicity.

    Thanks for a great forum. ~Pam

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Pam, we are sure JetPack has nice features and all but it allows you to add a blog / comment subscription module only. On the other hand services like MailChimp and Aweber are professional email service providers offering many powerful features which allow you to really benefit from the email list you are building. As far as simplicity is concerned, we are slightly more inclined towards MailChimp, they have a great user interface even for absolute beginners, they have excellent documentation, and lots of resources to learn how to use each feature available.

  27. Karen says:

    I’m really interested in Optin Monster and everyone talks or used MailChimp,
    but I want to make sure I have it all clear as to what I need to do so I don’t stuff up my site! – I currently use Jetpack for email subs.

    So first, I sign up with MailChimp for my website
    then, I buy Optin Monster to increase conversion rate?
    and is it all self explanatory how to set them both up and integrate into site? – yes, newbie blogger!

    Great info in this post
    cheers karen

    • quin says:

      i’m also interested in the answer to karen’s question. what’s the difference between mailchimp and optin monster? thanks for the great post!

      • WPBeginner Support says:

        MailChimp is an email service provider. It allows you to collect email addresses and send newsletters. OptinMonster helps you gain more email subscribers by placing email signup forms at different spots on your website.

  28. Zimbrul says:

    I own licence for PLM, WP Subscribers and Pop Up Domination and Optin Skin. How is Optin Monster different from these?

    • Editorial Staff says:

      OptinMonster is far better coded than any other option. It offers exit-intent functionality, multiple optin types, and much more.

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