If you’re looking to add blog subscribers to your business blog, maybe it’s time you let people sign-up to receive your posts by email. Although I’ve been a long time believer in RSS, Mark Schaefer recently wrote about how the switch to this away from RSS helped grow his blog audience.
Although Feedburner is an excellent, free resource there are advantages to using Aweber (or other paid-for solutions like MailChimp); for example, you get excellent data on the number of click-throughs, open rates, and actions that your subscribers take.
Creating Your Blog Broadcast
Assuming you’ve got an Aweber account, login to Aweber Dashboard and click on create and manage lists. Then click “Create New List”
You’re asked to name the list and provide the email address the blog broadcast is from, the email address to send the broadcast from and your contact address.
At this point Aweber gives you the opportunity to add your company logo, your email signature and website URL. This is important as you want your reader to know it’s you at a glance in their inbox. Your signature is also important if you’re looking for people to contact you.
Because social media (or social marketing, if you like) is an increasingly necessary step in an integrated marketing campaign, I recommend you link your Twitter and Facebook account to your Aweber Blog broadcast list. This will auto tweet or post your link to Facebook whenever your email is broadcast.
After you’re done, click “save”.
Creating Your Sign Up Form
First click on “Web Forms” in the nav bar. Aweber gives you lots of forms to choose from – although I’m not massively impressed by the overall design quality. Later on you might want to get a designer to create a custom form, or use the WordPress OptinSkin plugin to create a custom opt-in form.
For now, however, let’s go with the options Aweber gives you for email sign up forms.
You can edit the form you select cutting or adding information fields as you like. You can also easily resize the form to make it fit your sidebar; you can even select to display the form as a pop up or lightbox, darkening the rest of the web page and centering the form. Personally, this approach irritates me but it gets conversions so I guess it’s up to you which way you go.
Once you’ve created and edited your web form don’t forget to save it!
In Step 2 you have to select the list name you want to associate with the form (i.e. the name of the blog broadcast list you created earlier on), and specify the default or custom “Thank You for signing up” page. You can either use the default page that Aweber provide or drive new subscribers to a custom page on your website. The choice is yours!
Talking of WordPress, Aweber recently introduced the Aweber WordPress Web Form Plugin. You install it like any other WP plugin, associate it with your Aweber account and then the forms that you create can be selected and added via the widget menu. Learn how to easily install a web form on your site with the WordPress Form Plugin.
Before you drag the widget into your sidebar and go live, there are a few things to do first.
Double Opt in Confirmation
One of the most difficult things about getting email subscribers is, of course, actually getting them to sign up in the first place, of course! This has a lot to do with design and where you place your form â€“ assuming your blog is a great read in the first place. Whilst Feedburner asks you to complete a captcha (I never get them get right and often give up!), Aweber asks subscribers to complete a double opt-in. In practice what this means is that once someone enters their email address to subscribe they are sent to a page informing them that they will soon receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription.
If you use a custom page for this instead of the default Aweber “You’re almost done!” make sure that the message people see on screen is friendly, professional and just the kind of thing someone would want to click. It’s even more important that the email asking them to confirm their subscription is spot on in terms of the tone you take.
The biggest stumbling block to getting regular subscribers to your blog broadcast is that many people don’t complete the sign-up by confirming the final stage of the opt in. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, be clear and friendly but also make sure the call to confirm the subscription is clear. In this way, you’ll maximize your chance of getting people to confirm their subscription.
Why not check out Aweber and see what it can do for you.