This is a guest contribution by Mike Wallagher, author of Startbloggingonline.com, a website that helps people learn more about blogs and blogging. Mike began blogging in 2009 and has since managed over 20 blogs, some with well over 500,000 monthly visitors. He also does consulting work for small businesses and startups who are struggling to grow their business online.
When asked about their number one early mistake, nearly every blogger says that it’s not starting an email list right from day one.
It’s not “not researching their niche enough” or “not having a clear offering” or not even “not creating social media profiles right away”.
Somehow, the email list comes on top.
And it kind of makes sense when you think about it. In a world where every aspect of your online business can be taken away in a second — e.g. your server can crash, Twitter can ban you, Facebook might say your page is no longer welcome, AdWords might say they don’t want your money (I’ve had this one happen to me), and so on — email is the only thing that you can truly rely on.
Should any of the scenarios listed above ever happen, you can still email your list and let them know about the situation. Moreover, sometimes you don’t need anything else except the email list to keep your business sustainable.
So yes, email lists are important, valuable, and likely your only long-term asset.
But how to build them from a WordPress site effectively? Today, we find out. Here’s a review/comparison of the top plugins and tools that make growing an email list from a WordPress site possible (and easy).
Here’s how this is going to work:
- First, I’ll list the email optin tools/plugins one by one, giving you a short description of each.
- Then, near the bottom, I’ll answer the question which tool is the best for you, based on your personal user preference.
Let’s start with free WordPress plugins.
Rapidology is just a great optin form plugin for WordPress. It delivers all the basic functionality you’d need, and it does it in a beautiful way.
First of all, it integrates with all of the popular email marketing tools:
It allows you to create multiple individual optin forms of different types:
Then, you can style your forms in whatever way you see fit:
Finally, you get access to optin stats, broken down to the individual optin forms, so you can really stay on top of things.
At the end of the day, you get a really modern solution, which you can integrate with multiple email tools and adjust to fit your site perfectly.
Optin Forms is a really nice plugin if you need just the basic functionality. For example, if you only need a single form to handle all optins on your site.
This plugin delivers some nice out-of-the-box designs, along with some customization capabilities:
When it comes to email tool integration, Optin Forms gives you a set of the most popular tools:
Note. With this plugin, you can only have one optin form, integrated with one email solution.
SumoMe has taken the web by the storm and is now used on more than 180,000 websites worldwide.
Under the hood, SumoMe is a bit different from standard plugins. Basically, it’s an external service that uses the official plugin only to integrate itself with your WordPress site.
When you install the plugin, SumoMe will display a new icon in your dashboard:
After clicking it and going to the Sumo Store, you get to choose from a handful of email marketing modules:
- List Builder: An email optin pop-up form.
- Scroll Box: Optin form triggered on a scroll.
- Smart Bar: Optin form appearing at the very top of your website design.
- Welcome Mat: Optin form taking over the whole screen (for higher conversions).
When it comes to the services you can use, SumoMe integrates with basically everything:
Hello Bar started as a simple optin form solution that would display a bar at the very top of your site design (much like Smart Bar in SumoMe). Right now, though, it has expanded, and allows you to focus on a couple more goals other than just email list growth:
The setup is very basic. You just have to provide some copy and click some buttons:
Lastly, you get customization options if you have the desire to adjust the fine details about your form:
To finalize your setup, you just need to install the official plugin and activate it:
In the end, Hello Bar is a simple nice solution if you want to have a good-looking optin bar on your site.
Simply speaking, ManyContacts is a Hello Bar alternative. It offers just a basic set of features, such as access to stats, exporting your subscribers to CSV, and integration with all of the most popular email marketing solutions. Like so:
The main tool is free, but there’s also a premium version available. It lets you create unlimited bars, white-labels everything, and lets you gather unlimited number of contacts.
In short, if you like Hello Bar, but want something even simpler, this is it.
Optin Revolution provides you with a simple way to create unblockable pop-up forms for your WordPress site.
The setup and the configuration are fairly easy. There’s a nice pre-made template available, which you can tweak to suit your needs.
You can change everything, starting from the copy, the images, the overall style of the whole thing, etc.
In the free version of the plugin, you get integration with the most popular email solutions (to get more, you need to go premium):
In the end, the pop-ups perform well and do their job like expected. So if pop-ups are what you need, check this plugin out.
7. Default plugins and embed codes from your email service provider
Depending on who you’re working with as your email service provider, you might prefer to go with their own official WordPress plugins (or some quality third-party dedicated plugins), instead of installing multipurpose plugins.
The advantage is that although those plugins don’t usually offer that many features, you can at least be sure that the under-the-hood stuff will operate properly. After all, those plugins were purpose-made to work with a single email marketing platform.
Just to name a few possibilities:
- For MailChimp: MailChimp Forms by MailMunch, MailChimp Forms by Optin Cat.
- For GetResponse: GetResponse Integration, GetResponse Forms by Optin Cat.
- For SendinBlue: SendinBlue Subscribe Form And WP SMTP.
Alternatively, you can decide not to use any plugin and instead work with the raw embed code that your email solution gives you. In that case, you just have to follow your provider’s guidelines and set everything up manually.
Now, let’s transition to some quality premium tools:
OptinMonster is one of the best email optin systems out there. It offers a handful of unique features, along with great customization and split testing capabilities.
You can work with the same OptinMonster account on multiple websites, and there are several default optin form types for you to choose from right from day one:
For each of your forms, you get to set multiple parameters, and customize basically anything you wish:
You can also integrate your forms with nearly every email marketing tool in existence:
Finally, you can hook everything up to Google Analytics, and get custom stats on your forms’ performance.
And if you’re feeling advanced, you can set any number of split tests for each of your forms:
Integrating OptinMonster with your WordPress site is done through the official plugin:
Thrive Leads is one of the most feature-rich solutions on the market. It offers nearly every type of optin form imaginable, and lets you customize the fine details to fit your needs perfectly.
You get pop-up forms, top bar forms (like Hello Bar), in-line forms (put them in between your text content), slide-ins, widget forms, and more.
If you don’t feel much like a designer, you can take advantage of one of many built-in templates, which you can adjust through a handy drag-and-drop editor:
Apart from the looks, you can also customize where your forms appear and under what conditions (e.g. based on the page/post that the user is viewing).
Finally, you get stats and access to advanced split testing functionality (you can test different designs, optin triggers, form types, and so on).
On top of that, Thrive Leads integrates with every popular email marketing tool:
LeadPages is one of the leaders in the email optin industry, and not without a reason. What sets them apart is great analytics, and giving you the exact solutions that have already been proven to work for other users.
Under the hood, LeadPages is a very large system with multiple aspects to it. Not only can it be used for creating optin forms, but even complete landing pages.
Basically, the main power of LeadPages is that you get all of your email optin efforts taken care of in one place, instead of having to switch from tool to tool.
Just to name some of the key features (listing them all would take too much space):
- Tens of different landing page templates. They’ve been tested by LeadPages’ huge community, and there’s even a feature to sort them according to the conversion rates. Uber cool!
- You can work with unlimited sites.
- There’s built-in split testing.
- There are LeadBoxes — a feature where you can trigger an optin pop-up when someone clicks a link.
- There’s a WordPress plugin for seamless integration.
- There’s advanced “gift” delivery. For example, if you want to offer something to your audience in exchange for subscribing — a gift — LeadPages will take care of delivering it for you.
- There’s a load of great testimonials praising LeadPages for the tool’s effectiveness when it comes to getting optins and growing people’s lists. Surely worth trying out.
So which is best?
What follows are three possible user personas. Pick the one that describes you best:
“I need my optin tool to be FREE, above all else.”
In that case, get yourself Rapidology.
It’s a great all-around solution that will provide you with all of the optin features you’d need, and will make your forms great-looking during the process.
“I need something feature-rich, yet affordable.”
Here, I recommend OptinMonster.
The $99 / year plan will give you the possibility to use OptinMonster on up to three sites, create unlimited optin forms, use their great A/B testing feature, and get access to a great analytics module.
“I need the best solution on the market, no compromise!”
The top-of-the-line email optin solution on this list is LeadPages.
A bit more pricey — the PRO account is $480 / year ($40 / month) — but it gives you access to a load of features, and a vast library of tested form designs and landing page designs.
Click here to scroll to LeadPages’ description above.
Anything we missed? Or maybe you have a question? Feel free to speak up in the comments.