Podcast Episode

375 – You Need an Email List

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Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

WP Rollback is a plugin that quickly and easily rollback any theme or plugin from WordPress.org to any previous (or newer) version without any of the manual fuss.

You Need an Email List

While email lists may be common, it’s not always clear why tons of bloggers and businesses have adopted this additional task. Feeling clueless? Not sure whether you should start one of your own? Here are a few reasons why you should totally start building an email list, and one reason why you shouldn’t.

  • You completely own it
  • Email subscribers are more likely to be buyers and you can set up custom funnels
  • You can get feedback from your audience
  • People are addicted to email

If you never plan on making money from your website, you don’t need an email list, but you should provide a way for folks to subscribe and get your latest news and posts delivered to you.

Options for Newsletter Providers:

  • [ConvertKit]
  • [MailChimp]
  • [Mail Poet]

Plugins to add optin boxes to your site:

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode we are going to start a month-long conversation. We’re talking about other services that we need to run a WordPress website other than our host. Today, we’ll talk about an email list and email list providers, right here on Your Website Engineer, podcast episode number 375.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. I’m excited to be here with you this week as always and there’s always just so much fun stuff that’s going on in the news and so many cool things that I want to do on my website, and I just get inspired. Like every time I sit down to work on something with WordPress, I always get inspired and there’s so much more for me to learn and so much more that I can teach.

This month, we’re just going to talk about a bunch of cool things that you may or may not need. Most likely you’ll need them if you’re trying to run a business with your WordPress website, but first let’s go ahead and we’ll talk about the news. There are some news items this week that I want to share, and then we’ll talk about the plugin of the week.

The first piece of news – and you’ve probably seen this already – it came out earlier yesterday, I guess. It’s that WordPress 4.9.3 is now available. It’s a maintenance release and it fixed 34 bugs including fixes in the customizer, some widget areas, some visual areas, and it’s now compatible with the version of PHP, version 7.2. There are a whole bunch of things that have changed. I’ve got a link in the show notes if you want to read the whole change log, but other than that your site will probably automatically update or it will prompt you to update and you can go ahead and be safe and secure and update your site to the latest version.

The opposite update is WooCommerce 3.3. I talked about it last week and it was ready to update and the day after I had released the podcast episode, the update went out and then there were some issues with theme and template overrides, which made some wonkiness happen in stores, so quickly the 3.3 release was pulled down and the last stable version was restored on the WordPress repository. That’s 3.2.6. This is the first time that that’s ever happened, with a code being reverted inside of a big major release like this instead of doing a point release right away.

Basically, what happened is the developers took some time to figure out that; okay, here are some of the most popular themes and then they made some fixes and made sure that the themes were working properly. The big thing was that there were some template changes on some things that worked on most sites, but there was a handful of big-name themes that are out there that were making customizations to the template, to WooCommerce template files incorrectly or not in the most efficient way.

WooCommerce 3.3.1 is now out and available as of this recording, and if you have a chance go ahead and update your WordPress site. I do recommend, as always with a big update like this to go ahead and back up your website. Make sure that it is backed up so you can restore it in case something happens and then you can go ahead and update to the latest version. I’ll talk about a tool that you can use to roll back your site maybe if you have some sort of an issue with an update, but that is the second piece of news.

The third piece of news is a big deal that happened over the last week or so. It was LiquidWeb. This is a giant managed hosting company founded in 1997 that has acquired iThemes. iThemes just recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary and they said that there was some speculation that it was a multi-million dollar acquisition when LiquidWeb purchased and bought iThemes. They’re still going to work as separate entities as of right now. It’s going to be an independent unit inside of LiquidWeb and Corey Miller will remain the general manager. He is the founder of iThemes.

iThemes is the one that’s behind Backup Buddy and they’ve got Builder, they’ve got iThemes Sync, iThemes Security, and LiquidWeb has been working on some sort of WooCommerce-hosted dashboard called iThemes Sales Accelerator. And so, those two were working together and it only made sense that LiquidWeb then acquired iThemes as part of this multi-million dollar deal. So, that is another piece of news that happened this past week.

Something else that happened this last week in code work I guess is that on WordPress.org you may or may not have seen this; if you’ve clicked maybe a link when you weren’t logged in or you were logged in to the wrong account and you try to use a URL that just doesn’t work, and within WordPress it would say “cheating, uh?” It was on there a whole bunch of times and it’s kind of a snarky little comment, like ha, ha. But it doesn’t give you any information about what happened or why you’re getting this error message. So, they’ve made some changes and they have replaced some of the text so that you know what’s happening.

So, instead of the “cheating, huh?” it’s going to say, “An error has occurred. That theme does not support uploading custom headers.” Or, “This change set cannot be further modified. You don’t have permission to do this. Sorry, you’re not allowed to edit comments.” It adds a little bit more information and just makes it more user-friendly. I think it was kind of a fun, snarky little thing to do when WordPress was very new and there wasn’t a lot of people using. Now, with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people using it and managing their sites, it just makes sense to have something that’s a little bit more user-friendly.

So, that is another thing that happened in the WordPress space. Going to the, “is there a plugin for that” section, the one I want to talk about today is one that I had to recommend a lot last week. It is called WP Rollback and it is by the folks at WordImpress. It’s got more than 40,000 active installs. This is one that I hadn’t heard of until this past week. This is a plugin that will allow you to quickly and easily roll back any theme or plugin from WordPress.org to any previous or newer versions without any of the manual fuss.

Remember just a few minutes ago when I said that there were some issues with WooCommerce 3.3 and releasing that into the wild? Well, if you had updated your website and you hadn’t made a backup it is very, very hard to try to get back to version 3.2.6 because there’s no way to downgrade inside the dashboard. When the plugin repository is saying that the latest version is on 3.3, you had to kind of go around the back door way to try to figure out where the older version of the code is stored. Then you could restore that by manually uploading that via FTP.

It was just kind of a big headache and hassle, but with WP Rollback, what you can do is now you can just click, “I want to go back to 3.2.6,” and it automatically just rolls back. It’s super-cool, super-slick and I’m surprised that this plugin hasn’t been out there for years and years and years. But this is a really cool plugin if you are ever using this. I do recommend creating a backup of your website. For example, if WooCommerce 3.3 comes out, I’d make a backup of my site and make sure everything is safe and secure and then do the update.

Oh, okay. Now it’s broken. You could either restore your entire site or you could just click a button and restore just the previous versions. So, that’s how WP Rollback works and that is made by WordImpress. You can buy it in the show notes or in the WordPress repository. That is the plugin of the week that I want to share with you.

Let’s move along to the main part of the show. We’re going to talk about email newsletters. This could be a boring topic if you’re not really interested or it can be a very exciting topic in that there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of posts that are out there talking about why should start an email newsletter list, what’s the purpose of them and whatnot, and today I just want to talk about a few different reasons on why you should an email callbox or a popup window or something to capture email addresses. Then, we’ll talk about a couple of plugins that you can use to incorporate this on your website, and then we’ll talk about the different providers that are out there as well.

So, let’s go ahead and dive right in. The email list may be common. You may have heard this a lot, like the money is in the list. You’ve got to start building your list. People talk about this. People that are very successful online entrepreneurs are always talking about this and the reason that we want to talk about it is because it is very important to have an email list. The main reason, and the ultimate reason that I want to share is because you own the list. Like if you grow this entirely huge community on Facebook – maybe you have 25,000 people following you on Facebook or following your business on Facebook – and then all of a sudden Facebook goes ahead and changes the algorithm by what people can see.

I remember a few years ago it used to go that when you published something as a business entity, like a lot of people on your timeline and a lot of people following your site would see those updates. Now, they only let a small percentage of people see those sites unless you pay to boost your ad. So, that was one of the big changes where it was like; oh no, now I can’t share as much information or I have to pay to do this because Facebook owns your list. Whether there are 25,000 people that have come to you or that you, even though you may know them Facebook owns that list. They’re able to serve your data up to them however they choose.

But when you have an email newsletter list or there’s something that’s on your website and incorporated with your website like you completely own it. Yes, it’s hosted with another company and it may be that you’re just using another tool to capture that information and capture those people’s email address and name and whatnot, but you completely own it. If you want to move to another service provider – and I’ve talked about this past; how I’ve moved from Mail Champ to ConvertKit – I’ve been through a whole bunch of different email newsletter providers over the eight years of Your Website Engineer podcast going, and so I completely own that list. Those are people I’ve formed a relationship with and I’ve communicated with. It’s all about you owning the thing.

So, that’s one of the first reasons and that’s a main reason that you want to create your own list. The other thing that you want to do or that you want to think about – especially if you’re trying to sell something online, whether that be a digital product or you’re doing some sort of consulting or you just want people to take your course – whatever you’re trying to do, or however you’re trying to monetize your website, with an email list you have that sense of trust that you’re building with people. You’re sending messages directly to their inbox and the cool part about when you’re trying to build things or you’re trying to sell things within your list is that you can build what are called these custom funnels.

You can basically say like; oh, if somebody has purchased this through WooCommerce, then I want them to see this message and this message and this message and then after the fifth message give them an upsell because they’ve already bought this one thing. Give them maybe the audio download to an eBook that they’ve already purchased for $2.00 or $5.00 or whatever. So, you have that ability to automatically send people messages based on what they’ve already done on your store, which is really cool.

Now, that takes a lot of time to set up and try to figure out what those funnels are exactly. Within ConvertKit if I wanted to, I could set up, “signed up for my email newsletter list,” and then in the first message have a couple of different questions talking about what would you rather learn? Would you rather learn more developer skills or more beginner skills? Are you a developer already? I could ask these types of questions and depending on which link they clicked on to read another article, then I could tag them in my email software and then I could start sending them just developer type messages.

So, if I’m doing like a WordPress 101 workshop like I don’t have to bother those people that are developers already because they already know about WordPress. So, there are lots of cool things that you can do inside the software that contains your email list. Another thing that you can do when you have an email list is since you have that direct line of communication, you have the ability to get feedback from your audience. You can ask questions. You can say; I’m thinking about creating this product or I’m thinking about doing this or here’s my review on this.
If you’re getting most of your income generated by affiliate links, you can say; oh, well here is where I like this product and this product. What do you think, or which one looks better? You can compare and contrast. You can do tons of things and you can get feedback from your audience right away via email.

The one that I think is the most obvious is people are addicted to email. Honestly, people are addicted to email. Most people will get up and they’ll check their email very first thing. I know I’m outside the norm a little bit. I don’t even have email on my phone, so I can’t check email right away when I get up out of bed, but a lot of people are checking email constantly whether they’ll do anything with it or not. If you get really busy someday, like I guarantee you people are checking their email when they may not check Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Or they might just check it once and they might be having a really busy day. People will check their email because they feel like everything that’s coming into their inbox is a personal connection. It’s a personal thing that they have to do or look at. That’s another thing to think about.

People are addicted to email, so if you’re sending them email, they’re most likely getting it and reading it. That’s a good thing, so those are just some high-level reasons why you should be creating an email list. I think that the only people in this world and maybe the only people that have a WordPress site that have no plans of ever making money from their WordPress website, you probably don’t need a list but you should have at least buttons on your website to subscribe to an RSS feed or some way that people can automatically get your content without having to visit your website every single time.

So, that said I would say the majority of people – probably 95% of the people that have a WordPress website – should have some way to communicate and talk within email with people that are interested in what they’re doing online. That’s the reason why you need an email list.

Let’s talk about a couple of different providers that are out there. There’s ConvertKit; that’s the one that I talked about. It’s a little bit on the pricey side. For under 2,000 people on your list it’s like $25.00-ish per month and then it goes up to like $50.00 and then it kind of has a gradual increase depending on how many people that you have on your list. ConvertKit does a really good thing in that they allow the person in the email list to count only once. And so, you may have people that have signed up for your developer lessons and your webinar lessons and all kinds of different lessons and they don’t show up multiple times because they’re interested in two or three different things on your list. So, that’s really nice.

So, ConvertKit, that’s the one that’s got funneling built in. The API works with a lot of different services, so you can integrate a bunch of things together. I’m not going to go into ConvertKit right now, but that’s the one that I currently use. Another one that I’ve used in the past and I still have an account with them is MailChimp. MailChimp allows you to get started with up to 2,000 people on your list for free, which is really nice. So, you can go in there and you can just start using it. You can start grabbing email addresses and when you get close to that 2,000 limit or maybe it’s not quite working or the best tool for you right then. Maybe you need some more features or maybe you need to upgrade to another service or whatnot; then, that’s when you can move your list. You can export your list and take all your data with you and then you can go to another email service provider.

So, MailChimp is a great one to get started with if you’ve never started or you’ve never used it before. I highly recommend MailChimp. Then, if you just kind of want to email people throughout your WordPress dashboard, there’s one called MailPoet. This one allows you to do everything from the dashboard. You can email out snippets of your latest posts and you can do a bunch of things. I used to use MailPoet for quite a while because I liked integrating and doing everything within my dashboard. And then, for certain reasons and I kind of even forget why, I think I wanted more of the funneling. I wanted a little bit more control and I wanted to do things via ConvertKit, but that’s the reason that I left MailPoet.

MailPoet, I believe is free for up to maybe 2,000 people. I forget the details right off the top of my head, but you can install that and then you can run it right from your WordPress dashboard. So, that is another solution that’s out there. Those are the three that I recommend and the links to get to those are in the show notes for Episode 375.

For the last thing I just want to share that there are a couple of different plugins out there that you can use to automatically integrate these things together. Like if you use ConvertKit or MailChimp, those are the two big ones that a lot of people use; they will generate code for you, too. Once you build the form it will give you code and then you can just paste it into a widget box. If you want something that has a little bit more functionality, there are a couple of plugins that I recommend. One of them is OptinMonster. It’s a premium plugin, but it allows you to integrate with your services – whether ConvertKit or MailChimp or AWebber or any of the other service providers that are out there – you can set them all up and then you can use the OptinMonster plugin and then these things will pop up automatically.

Maybe if somebody has been on the page more than two minutes you can pop up an email box or if they’ve scrolled more than 75% down the page, you can pop up an email box or whatever the case may be. There is lots of functionality and there are lots of features in that.

There’s another one called Email Subscribers, or Email Newsletter Subscription Form. Those are two other ones on the WordPress repository. These are free ones, but they are very customizable. You can do some really neat things with how they work and how they operate on your WordPress site. So, the big thing is once you are ready to go, you’ll want to make sure that it’s not annoying, like as soon as a customer comes or somebody comes to your website you don’t want to pop up right away. You’ll want to make sure they’ve been on your site for quite a while before they actually are interrupted with reading your website with; hey, do you want to sign up here? Or; here’s my free download or whatnot, so that’s a big thing.

A lot of these have those customization options built right in. Then you’ll want to test to make sure that your sub scripter is actually being subscribed and then once you do that, then you’ll have to go through and look at the process. Basically, once you get it set up and going then you subscribe to your message and then subscribe to your own list and see what kind of emails that MailChimp kicks out or ConvertKit kicks out automatically. Then you can go and start customizing those and putting an autoresponder series together, so when somebody signs up they get five emails from you right away. Maybe on the sixth one you’re promoting one of your products that you’re selling and it’s kind of this automated sales funnel that just continues to work for you.

So, any time that anyone signs up they’re automatically into the sequence. There’s tons I could do; like I could talk the entire month about email newsletters, but I just wanted to scratch the service here and talk about why it’s so important and why everybody that’s using a WordPress site and has a plan for monetizing it in some way, shape, or form, that an email list is a huge, huge asset that you need. It’s basically like your business. It’s a good way and it’s a good reference point to see how well your business is growing. If you started off with zero email subscribers in February and then by March you’re up at 200 or 2,000 and then the next month from 200 you go to 800 and then from 800 to 2,000; like you can tell that’s a really big growth every single month.

You can tell that your business is growing. If that rate ever slows down, then you’ll know that something may be wrong or you may not be offering the right product or services. Maybe if you don’t gain traction or people aren’t interested, there are tons of other things you can do once you know how well and how many people are seeing your form and how many people are signing up for your form.

So, that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Again, this whole month we’re going to talk about other services. Some of them will be free services that we’ll talk about, and other ones will be paid, like these email newsletter providers except if you go with MailChimp. That’s a free option and ConvertKit is the paid, premium option that I’m recommending today. That’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Take care, and we’ll talk again next week. Bye-bye.

    • Les Black Reply

      #375 is #374 all over again. Happy Groundhogs Day?

      Feb 7, 2018
      • Les Black Reply

        Fixed! Thank you, Dustin.

        Feb 7, 2018
        • Dustin Hartzler Reply

          I had a bit of a copy/paste issue when publishing the episode 😛

          Feb 7, 2018

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