It was brought to my attention by a commenter on my Feedburner post that my email signup form was not working (Thanks Heidi @ Farm, Home & Garden! I owe you big time.) I did find it strange that no one was signing up to receive my posts by email but I just chalked it up to low interest. As it turned out the plugin that I selected to integrate with my MailChimp list was simply doing nothing when the Submit button was clicked. So I spent a good couple hours reviewing WordPress plugins and testing them out before I found the perfect combination of tools to make it easy for readers to subscribe to future blog posts and keep them coming back to my site.
Even though this post provides steps for WordPress.org specific sites, the information is useful for all formats of websites as there are several tools out there that will perform the same results.
Subscribe to future posts by email
My first order of business was to find a replacement plugin to capture email addresses and add them to my MailChimp list to send automatic emails when new posts are published (This is called their RSS to email service and I will write a post about why this is better than Feedburner next week). MailChimp has their own easy form to add to a site and it works well, BUT as soon as the user hits Submit it takes them off your site to a confirmation page on MailChimp. I was looking for something that was simple and had a confirmation message appear on the same page as the email form. After testing many plugins that failed my criteria, I found the perfect fit: Newsletter Sign-up.
This is why I think this is a perfect plugin to boost your email subscriber list:
- You can use this signup form for any email marketing service – not just MailChimp:
- You can customize your form by changing the email form label, what the default text is within the form, change the Subscribe button text to what you want (Submit, for example) and what the successful submission text will read after the form is submitted. Here is what my form settings look like:
And this is what my form looks like after a successful submission.
- The form widget allows you to add text above and below the form which not every widget allows so that is very nice. This is where I added the link to my RSS feed with Feedburner for those who like to subscribe and read blogs in their favorite reader. It is important to add that option. Here is what my widget settings look like:
- One of my favorite features of this plugin is that you can set your form to prevent double opt-in. That means the subscriber will not receive an email to confirm their subscription. That is one extra step that subscribers may not complete and then will not be added to your list. However most marketing email services, like MailChimp, give a higher trust rating to lists with email addresses that have confirmed through double opt-in so clicking this may cause problems later if you have too many people unsubscribing to your list or reporting your emails as spam, but I think it is worth it to build my list.
- A bonus feature of this plugin which is the coolest by far is adding a checkbox at the bottom of the comment form (or your registration form) asking if the commenter or user would like to sign up for future emails. This is so convenient for the use since they already enter their email address in the comment form anyway. You can set the text on this checkbox to read whatever you want. Here are my settings:
And here are the results:
Followup Comments by Email
You probably noticed the checkbox above the signup “Notify me of follow-up comments by email”. This is not a feature of the Newsletter Sign-up plugin but of Subscribe to Comments plugin. It is surprising to me that more people don’t use something like this on their blog. It has really helped my readers who ask questions in the comments know when I answer them.
There are 2 very handy features of this plugin:
- In the plugin settings you can change the text next to the checkbox (highlighted), confirm the Sender info in the email that will be sent to the commenter, or change what the commenter will see on the post if they are already subscribed to the comments. Also note that in the email the comment subscriber receives there is a link at the bottom where they can unsubscribe which is nice because they will continue to receive emails from subsequent comments on that post even it is not in reply to theirs.
- You can see a list of comment subscribers and what posts they are subscribed to – find this under Tools. There are all sorts of things you can also find in Advanced options such as copy the list of your subscribers so you can email them in your email program, or unsubscribe someone from a comment thread.
And that wraps up the 2 tools (Newletter Sign-up & Subscribe to Comments) that I use to boost my email subscription numbers. As always I love your questions. Please comment below and please check the box to receive future posts.