One of the keys to success in digital marketing is to ensure that the right hand is always talking to the left. This means that if you’ve spent time building a beautiful WordPress site and regularly write high-quality content for it, you’ll want those efforts shared across other marketing platforms.
Social media is one of the more obvious choices as it’s (typically) free to use and doesn’t take much effort to write a 140-character message and hit “Send”. But email is another one of those marketing arms that should stay closely connected to everything you do.
Of course, as a web developer, email marketing might not be something in your wheelhouse. But just because it’s your job to create websites for your clients doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to enhance it through other marketing strategies. The same goes for your own professional website. As a WordPress developer or designer, your website is a reflection of the work you do and would greatly benefit from increased exposure through email.
In general, email marketing is a term used for communications shared between you and email subscribers with the main goal of converting them into paid customers. These types of emails are the equivalent of a landing page on your website. In other words, sell, sell, sell. A newsletter, on the other hand, is a type of email marketing; however, it’s more reminiscent of a blog as the goal is to establish trust and develop a relationship with email subscribers by delivering added value.
In this article, I want to focus on the newsletter subsect of email marketing. Much of what you’d need to do to create a newsletter is similar to the work you do to build a website, so this is a logical choice for dipping your toes into email marketing (at least to start). I’ll discuss the power of email, how it can be used to promote your site, and break out some of the best newsletter plugins you can use in WordPress to create and send newsletters.
Why Your WordPress Site Needs a Newsletter
There’s a lot that goes into executing an email marketing campaign and I don’t necessarily believe it’s something you need to be fluent in as a WordPress professional. However, I do believe that every business owner (including yourself) should be using newsletters to stay connected to their audience through email.
In a recent report from Radicati, they predicted that there will be over 3 billion email users around the world by 2020 and that the number of emails sent every day will average about 257 billion. While that statistic basically says that there’s a lot of noise generated by email, it also demonstrates the huge opportunity available to business owners to reach a new audience, stay connected to them, and, hopefully, make more money through a newsletter.
Don’t believe me? Well, statistics from Statista in 2015 showed that 60% of consumers preferred to receive marketing communications from businesses in the form of email. It was overwhelmingly the most popular mode of communication. Not only that, but 61% of them indicated that they’d be happy to receive promotional emails once a week.
On the other side of the table, marketers are claiming huge benefits from using email in their marketing efforts. 81% of retail marketers surveyed by WBR Digital said that email marketing improved customer acquisition rates while 80% said it helped improve customer retention.
Want some more reasons as to why your WordPress site and business need a newsletter? Here you go:
- It’s quite similar to building and managing a website, so this may be one of the easier marketing methods for a web developer to get involved in.
- It gives you something to do with all those email subscribers who eagerly signed up to receive communications from you.
- Email subscribers won’t all be paying customers, which makes this a great tool for providing customers and prospects alike with valuable information that may help you convert consumers that were on the fence about converting, upsell current customers, or generate recurring revenue.
- It can increase the visibility of your brand by regularly staying top-of-mind with a predictable and noteworthy newsletter.
- It’s cost effective. Even if you decide to send a newsletter out every week, the hard part is done; you’ve already designed it. All you need is to plug in content—and you likely already have content to draw from on your site (i.e. your blog).
- It can be used for a variety of purposes. You can share news about your company, promote recent blog posts from your site, announce new products or services, give subscribers access to special offers, and more.
- If you have segmented subscriber lists (based on geography, demographics, on-site behavior, etc.), you can send personalized newsletters.
- It’s another great source of data for your business. You can learn a lot about what your audience wants by studying the analytics—how many people opened it, which device did they use, which links received the most clicks, etc.
At the end of the day, a newsletter is yet another means by which you can reach your audience, and I’d argue it’s a lot easier to do than social media and definitely much cheaper than paid search marketing. If you’re not using newsletters to stay in touch with current clients, convert interested prospects, and improve your business’s reputation right now, think about those potential growth and revenue generating) opportunities you’re missing out on.
7 Newsletter Plugins You Can Use within WordPress
The work you do within WordPress to build quality websites is incredibly important. However, visiting a website and digging around it requires work from your visitors—and that’s not always the ideal experience. Once you’ve made that first contact, wouldn’t it be nice to give visitors a chance to sign up for a free newsletter where you take control of the relationship for a while? Yes, this means there’s more work for you to do, though probably not as much as you’d expect.
WordPress, of course, has a number of plugins available to help users integrate newsletters into their website. Usually, however, when people talk about these plugins, they’re referring to email subscription forms that connect the subscribers to you, and their data to your newsletter platform. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Popups and contact forms will take care of automating the subscription process. What you need now is a tool that will streamline the process of actually creating and sending newsletters to your email subscribers. While you could use a third-party platform to do so, there are cheaper WordPress plugin alternatives that allow you to do all the work within WordPress.
Here are 7 plugins to consider:
e-Newsletter is WPMU DEV’s newsletter plugin for WordPress and it’s really awesome. This plugin comes with beautifully made newsletter templates you can use… or you can import your own. In addition, you can customize the header, background, colors, and even add personalized information for each subscriber within the content of your newsletter. There’s so much more to this plugin, so if you haven’t had a chance to read up on this MailChimp “killer,” I’d urge you to do so now.
This free WordPress plugin is actually quite comprehensive. Not only does it enable you to add subscription boxes to your site, but it also gives you two options for sending newsletters. The first is a simple automation of sending out notifications to subscribers when a new blog publishes. The second is a more customized approach to designing and sending newsletters from WordPress.
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There is a free version of this plugin as well as a premium one available. While I normally would recommend the premium plugin, the free MailPoet seems like it would be more than enough for a small business owner or marketer to use when starting out. It comes with 70 themes, a drag-and-drop builder, built-in analytics, automated messages, and is responsive. The only difference I see between the two versions is the number of subscribers you can send to (either less than or more than 2,000) and the amount of analytics insights available.
This premium newsletter plugin is perfect whether you’re a developer trying to quickly get your own newsletter out the door or you want to give your clients a tool that’s easy enough to use on their own. With a drag-and-drop builder, live template editing, and full newsletter campaign management within WordPress, this one is worth every penny.
While this seems at first glance like your typical newsletter plugin, I think my favorite thing about this one is all the different ways it enables users to capture newsletter subscribers. Rather than rely on newsletter-specific subscription forms, it also adds a subscription checkbox to other contact forms (in case those leads missed the newsletter form or just don’t want to sign up twice). It also imports all previously registered users into your newsletter subscriber list.
What makes this plugin really stand out from the pack is the fact that there are no restrictions put on how many newsletters subscribers you can have (something that can become quite frustrating after a while—both within and outside of WordPress). Other than that, this is simply a reliable newsletter plugin you can use to build cleanly-designed newsletters and schedule out at the most optimal times for your subscribers.
Another full-featured WordPress plugin, this one from Tribulant will cover all your bases. Newsletter templates are provided. You can manage your various mailing lists and review the statistics on each within WordPress. You can create a variety of subscription forms both for your site as well as off-site. And much, much more. One thing to be aware of is that the limit for subscribers is pretty low (500) with the free plugin, so if you intend on having a much larger list of subscribers, you’ll want to invest in the premium one.
As a consumer, think about how many newsletters you receive from your favorite brands. Unless you’re swamped at work and trying to keep your eyes off of the growing list of emails in your inbox, you likely get excited to see the latest newsletter from them, right? Who knows what this next one contains? Maybe it’s a list of their most popular blogs from the week. Maybe it’s a special deal on that computer monitor you wanted to buy. Or maybe there are just silly pictures of puppies they sent to lighten the mood on your Monday morning.
As a receiver of newsletters, you know what sort of lure they have over you as a consumer. As a sender of newsletters, however, think about what you’d be able to do with those extra touchpoints with your consumer base. They obviously want to hear from you as they willingly subscribed to your newsletter, right? So why not make the most of their entrusting you with their email address and start sending them a valuable newsletter every week or every month?