Are you connecting with your readers beyond the blog? If not, you are missing out on a vast opportunity to really connect with and minister to your target audience far beyond them reading a blog post. Building a successful and engaged email list takes a bit of effort – which is where most Christian bloggers fall short. How do you get them to subscribe and once they do, how do you keep them engaged?
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Building a Successful and Engaged Email List
Email list building is one of the more important aspects of creating a solid Christian blog ministry. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – these are all platforms that we use for free and can be taken away at any moment. Your email list, however, is YOURS, and enables you to still communicate with your audience if the rest of the Internet goes a bit crazy! Think of it as the battery-powered (or hand-crank) radio that we use when the power goes out. It is our last mode of communication when all others fail. (Ok, that may sound a bit drastic, but you get what I’m saying!)
When you write blog content, it may be hard to really “speak” to someone because of formatting concerns for SEO and all that algorithm stuff. But in email, you can really speak directly to your audience. You can encourage them, offer them support, minister to them, and get direct feedback from them. An email list enables you to offer more than what your blog content can offer.An engaged email list is the best way for Christian bloggers to truly connect with their readers. Here are some tips for building an effective and engaged subscriber list. #christianbloggers Click To Tweet
How to Build an Email List
Your email service provider matters! You cannot use programs such as Yahoo or Gmail to email your subscribers. These programs aren’t designed for sending bulk emails (emails to a list of people) and will most likely end up in a spam folder. Kingdom Bloggers uses ConvertKit, which is specifically designed for sending mass emails to subscriber lists. It also gives you the ability to segment and tag your lists – which is important if you write about different topics on your blog.
Where to Add Your Forms
Simply having a “subscribe to my blog” form on your sidebar isn’t the best strategy for building an email list. You must be intentional and strategic in where you place your forms and how you offer them. There are several types of signup forms and you should be using a combination of all of them.
- Sidebar form – At a minimum, you need to have a sidebar form. Normally, this would be just a general “join my list” type of form, but can also be an opportunity to offer a great freebie (checklist or E-book) to get them on your list. This space is small, so make sure the image isn’t to “busy” to distract readers. Keep it simple.
- In-Line Forms – This can be another general “join my list form” but you’ll get more conversion when the form is a freebie optin that relates to the content in that post. Generally speaking, you should only have 3-5 general categories that you write about. Think of a specific thing you can offer your audience that relates to that category. You can see (above this section) our optin form for downloading the Blog Traffic Checklist. This is a form we use on many of our “blogging tips” posts. Get create! But be sure that what you are offering will add value to your reader and help them in some way.
- Pop up or Slider Form – These are the forms that either slide up from the bottom or pop up on the center of the page after the reader has been on your page a bit. This should not be a general “join my list” form. You need to give them a great reason to sign up. Also, try to avoid using the terms “join my list” “sign up below” or verbiage like that. Think “Join the Kingdom Bloggers Community” or “Connect with Me” or something more personal. Then give them a reason such as “Get access to our exclusive library of Bible studies and other resources for Christian parents” – but make sure it is something that your target audience actually needs. (Make sure you have at least one resource page that is password protected and put free resources such as downloadable checklists, etc. in there for your subscribers. Don’t offer these things in your regular resource page that is accessible to anyone.)
- Hello Bar – This is the little bar that is at the top of your site and has a signup form in it. This usually stays put unless a reader closes it out but is a great way to “keep reminding them” that they should sign up.
You should have a combination of general (subscriber to my blog) forms and post-specific forms with optins that relate to the post topic. This enables you to see which ones your readers most engage with so you can focus more on that type of content or product recommendations. If you have 5 forms across your blog and all 5 say the exact same thing or offer the same exact freebie, you won’t be able to analyze their worth to your audience. Try different things but make sure they all add value to your audience as it relates to your blog niche.
** Make sure you enable Double-Optin for all forms. This will minimize spam subscribers and leads to a more engaged audience. If they can’t take the time to go check their email to confirm, they most likely won’t take the time to open your regular emails. With most email service providers, you pay based on the number of subscribers so do your best to ensure you have an audience that wants to engage with your emails.
What Optins to Offer
Having a really great optin is the best way to build your email list. By giving your readers something of value for free, they are more willing to jump on your email list because you’ve already proven that you offer value to their life. What is a great optin? This will vary widely depending on your target audience. There isn’t a “one optin fits all” option, but here are a few optin ideas to consider.
- What does your audience need?
- What could add value to their life?
- What could make some aspect of their life easier?
Suzy Whitford has a really great course called List by Number that I took a while back and really helped me narrow down what optins I needed for each of my different audiences here on Kingdom Bloggers and my other sites.
The main thing to keep in mind when coming up with optin ideas is that they need to offer value and be relevant to your audience. This is why it is crucial that you’ve fully defined your target audience (Avatar) for your Christian blog. The more you know about your intended audience, the easier it will be to come up with things to offer them.
Welcome Email Automation
If you are getting subscribers for your blog, you need to have a Welcome Email Automation in place. This will automatically send an email to new subscribers welcoming them to your community and giving them a bit more information about you and what your blog is about. This is your first opportunity to begin building a relationship with your reader. If you are collecting subscribers and haven’t really been emailing them, they’ve probably forgotten who you are!
A welcome email can be a single email or it can be a series of emails and should:
- Thank them for joining
- Tell them a bit more about you and why you created this community
- Encourage them to connect with you on social media
- Let them know what to expect (how often you’ll be emailing and what your emails will be about
Be sure to check out Meera Kothand’s email system which really helped us create an email automation for Kingdom Bloggers.
What to Send Subscribers after the Welcome Email
This is probably the area most Christian bloggers struggle with the most. Once you’ve welcomed them, how do you keep them engaged with additional emails?
This is where you really have the opportunity to connect with them on a more personal level. This where you reach out to them (weekly or however often you decide) to offer tips, encouragement, or other kinds of support as it relates to your overall niche and your Avatar. It isn’t just about sending them a blanket email. It is about you sharing bits of your life with them in a way that adds value to their life.
For a Christian parenting blogger who focuses helping moms of newborns, for example, sending weekly emails that talk about the struggles of being a mom of a newborn and how you tackled a particular obstacle that week. I guess you could say these emails are like having a conversation with them in person about something. Often times, simply taking something that happened to you the previous week and talking about it (as it may pertain to your niche/audience) is the best approach.
Just remember – your readers subscribe to your blog because you write about a topic that pertains to them and they are needing help or encouragement with that area of your life. Make sure what you send them in your regular emails keeps to that purpose – adding value to help with a particular area of their life. Don’t just send an email talking about your crazy week. Provide tips to help them based on how you survived yours.Need help building an email subscriber list for your Christian blog? These tips can help. #christianbloggingtips Click To Tweet
Building a Successful and Engaged Email List
Having an engaged email list provides you with the opportunity to really minister to and encourage or help your Avatar. Where a blog post offers some help, it isn’t drafted in a way that helps you build rapport with your readers. In your emails, you can be a bit more intimate with sharing about your own story or testimony in a way that truly speaks to and helps them.
Simply having a “subscribe to my blog” form isn’t the best strategy for building an email list. You must be intentional and strategic in where you place your forms and what you say on them. Offer them things that add value to their life (as freebies) as a means to encourage signups. After that, continue to connect with them through weekly or bi-weekly emails.
Be sure to also read:
- Branding Your Christian Blog in an Instagram-Crazed World
- 8 Tips for Writing Click-Worthy Blog Post Titles for Your Christian Blog
- Overcoming Fear of Offending as a Christian Blogger