This article is written by Anita Reid
Since the internet started, there have been many different methods to grow your traffic and to build an audience. The one thing that’s remained true since day 1 is that having an email list puts you in the driver’s seat. When you have a list, you don’t have to lose sleep at night worrying about search engines changing their algorithms or your Facebook Page’s exposure being significantly reduced on a whim.
No matter what your major sources of traffic are right now, chances are that within the next year or two they will have undergone significant changes. If you’re creating a powerful mailing list, you won’t have to worry about where the traffic is coming from because you’ll be able to capture it and hold on to it long-term.
We’ll go over some tips that will help you to capture email subscribers with WordPress. But first, let’s take a look at a really interesting and successful campaign that combined social media, viral promotion and list building to create a lasting impact – and best of all – it was for an all-local, super-targeted audience!
A Real-World Example
The Mater Foundation is an organization that made a big splash with their first online campaign, and continues to reap the benefits to this day. Along with gaining a ton of exposure to sports fans (which we’ll discuss in a moment), in the media and via word of mouth, they were able to add just shy of 2500 new subscribers to their mailing list, whom they have been able to keep in close contact with years later.
This campaign (called “Change Lives) had many objectives besides just building a larger mailing list. Other objectives included raising awareness for the Mater home lottery charity, to raise awareness of their VIP program, to grow their presence online and via social media sharing platforms and to strengthen their bond with the Brisbane Lions, a local football team.
By partnering up with the Lions for this charity, the benefits were two-fold. For one, the Brisbane Lions had an outlet to give back to the communities that support them, and it helped Mater by strengthening their relationship with a popular local sports team.
Mater Foundation executed the campaign in two phases. The first phase was executed at the Brisbane Lions game, while the second phase was carried out online.
The goal of phase one was to get people at a Brisbane Lions game to enter a competition by sending an SMS with their email address. Both the SMS and the email had to be confirmed.
The prize for the winner at the game was to get a signed Brisbane Lions jersey, while the major draw would see the two lucky winners get to spend three days and go to an away trip with Brisbane Lions, including being wined and dined at the corporate box, getting the picture taken with the team, and a limousine transfer, but this was phase two.
A brilliant move was to place a call to action message in a free Chinese fortune cookie given out to everyone who attended the game, and to announce the winner of the jersey at one point in the game.
Phase two included a nudge for the entrants to invite their friends to participate by giving them more chances to win the main prize. All entrants could view a streaming video of the draw.
Campaign results of this campaign delivered on a very tight budget included:
- well over 1000 SMSs sent at the game
- over 2500 competition entries
- almost 2500 subscribers for the Matter Prize Home newsletter
Tips for List-Building with WordPress
As you can see, a campaign can be fairly inexpensive if it’s well thought out, and this Mater Foundation campaign was just one of the many examples of brilliant execution.
If you’re using WordPress for your project, it’s really easy to get setup to promote your mailing list and to gather a lot of leads. Don’t worry, you won’t need an entire sports team backing you (although it does help, just ask The Mater Foundation!)
For starters, it’s usually not a great idea to use the default templates for the opt-in boxes on your WordPress site. WP Email Capture helps you deal with this easily, as the plugin is as simple to use as WordPress is (and trust me, WordPress is easy to use compared to other CMS solutions).
The Mater Foundation had a lot of great prizes to give away as an incentive for people to share their content with friends, what do you have that you can offer people in exchange for signing up to your list?
A huge tip that most people overlook is to split-test their messages. Also known as A/B testing, this process helps ensure you’re getting the best open rates possible for your messages by taking the time to figure out exactly what wording works best for your list.
No two lists are alike, so even if you only have a few hundred subscribers, you should take time to send out variations of your messages to different segments of your list. Depending on the size of your list, you might send out the initial messages to 10-50% (lower percentage for a larger list), then once you have determined which version of the email is most effective, you can send that one to the rest of your list. The larger your list is, the smaller the % of total subscribers you’ll need to use for split-testing in order to get a decent sample size.
The Mater Foundation had both long-term goals (like increasing exposure) and shorter-term goals (like building a list and promoting their prizes and give-aways). It’s important to look at short-term results, but to always keep long-term assets in mind. A mailing list is a long-term asset that will help you to promote and raise awareness for everything you do. It keeps your readers engaged, and it helps you stay connected to people who may otherwise have forgotten about your WordPress site.
Anita Reid is a freelance social media manager working from home. She takes care of her two girls and her husband, keeps up to date on industry news and even manages to squeeze in an article or two every now and then.