This is a guest post from Alex Denning. Alex is a WordPress freelancer, blogger, and marketer. Check out his weekly blog, or learn how to manage almost everything about your WordPress site at MasterWP.
Effective email marketing is the one tool you can use to dramatically increase your sales that you’re probably not utilizing. It’s something that the majority of companies know the value of: email generates more than 10% of sales for 55% of companies, and 42% of businesses say email is one of their most effective lead generation channels (studies 2014 and 2012 respectively).
Email is an essential tool in the toolbox of any online business.
The good news is if you’re rocking WordPress and WooCommerce, it’s straightforward to making use of email and put a rocket booster under your sales.
The even better news is in this article we’ll equip you with the tools you need to get going. We’ll start off by covering the best ways of capturing email signups with signup boxes and then move on to look at how you can integrate with your WooCommerce installation.
The basic tenet of email marketing is capturing email signups. You need signups so you have an email list to market to. For this you’ll need an external service such as MailChimp (free) or ConvertKit (expensive). It’s important to use an external service so the emails you send definitely arrive (if you do it yourself they may get stuck in spam filters). If you don’t already have an account with one of these services, sign up for one now.
The easiest way of capturing signups is through signup boxes. There are two easy ways to add these to your WordPress site:
- Signup form widgets
- Signup form shortcodes (with a custom plugin)
We’ll work through each of these to equip you with versatile solutions.
Widgets are perfect for adding signup forms. Using Jetpack’s Widget Visibility, you can set your form to display only on the homepage sidebar and after posts. The flexibility is a real asset here.
Sadly there’s no free, do-it-all email form solution. This means you need to be flexible: there are some good free plugins for specific email providers or a straightforward DIY solution (which can draw on some customization knowledge from earlier in the course).
If your theme has a signup form built in then this should be your preference as the design will fit tightly with the rest of the theme. Moving forwards we’ll assume that you either don’t have an option built in to your theme or aren’t using it.
Plugins are the easiest way to add signup widgets (and hence forms) to your site. There are a couple of free plugins which can add a widget for you. You’ll want to find one which works with your email provider and has the design options you want. These are ones we like:
- MailChimp for WordPress: if you’re using MailChimp, this is the one to go for. Despite the name, not an official plugin. A premium version is available but you probably don’t need it.
- WP Subscribe: supports MailChimp (but the above is better for this), Aweber, and Feedburner. Minimal customization options but the widget looks pretty good.
- Newsletter Sign-Up: the predecessor to MailChimp for WordPress, this plugin works with CampaignMonitor, ConstantContact, YMLP, Aweber, iContact, PHPList, and Feedblitz. If you’re using any of those services (bar Aweber) this is your best free option.
All these plugins are free so try them out and see which works best for you. You can install any of these straight from your WordPress Dashboard by heading to Plugins → Add New and searching for the plugin name. Install and activate!
You’ll then need to add connect your account. For MailChimp for WordPress and Newsletter Sign-Up, you’ll have a new menu item added. Head to the general settings and connect your account by creating a new API key.
You’ll also want to check out the other settings to connect the plugin to a specific email list. For WP Subscribe, you can connect your account on the widget.
You can use any of these new widgets by heading to Appearance → Widgets. You’ll find a new widget added; drag and drop to any widget area to try it out. Customize options as you want them, save, and you’re done!
Final step is to look at your site and enjoy the lovely new email signup form 🙂
Customer conversion is big business and there are a lot of premium plugins available which promise various levels of signup utopia.
Just be aware that these are marketing products and the most successful options are generally run by people really good at marketing. Bear in mind it may be possible they’re overstating the benefits.
These premium options generally get you extra features such as exit-intent popup boxes (the ones that show up when you’re about to leave the page), more design options (so you can better customize), and A/B testing (test two versions of your signup boxes and see which gets better results).
If you’re selling a product or acquiring signups has a decent monetary value to you then these plugins are probably worthwhile.
There are a ton of these to choose from, but you’ll find the best options below (pricing is for mid-level traffic website with comparable features you’d want at annual cost):
- OptinMonster ($99): decent option and the admin panel is well laid out, but limited design customization options and can get expensive if you need to upgrade.
- SumoMe ($468): feature rich but gets very expensive very quickly. A lot is available on the free plan, but you’ll need to pay to remove branding. Probably not worth it.
- ThriveLeads ($67): can be quite difficult to use but if you can deal with that, offers decent selection of features at a reasonable price.
- Ninja Popups ($32.50): we’ve not used this, but it deserves a mention as a cheap option with plentiful designs to choose from. Worth taking a look at.
The competitive nature of the premium signup plugin business means all these options (except Ninja Popups) offer money-back guarantees, so there’s no harm in trying out different options and sending back if they’re not for you.
All come with extensive documentation and support for installation.
There’s a final option which doesn’t involve any plugins. WordPress has a text widget which allows you to enter your own HTML to any widget area. If you’re using an email service offering pre-designed signup boxes such as ConvertKit you can just copy the box code and paste into a text widget. Save the widget and you’ll have it on your site immediately.
There’ll likely be a line of code to load a stylesheet or some inline styles so the box looks nice. You might want to copy these styles into a custom CSS solution such as the one found in Jetpack by WordPress.com. Having fewer CSS files to load will make your site load faster. Once you’ve copied the CSS over, delete the reference in your text widget to stop the styling loading twice.
Collecting emails throughout your site is one part of the email marketing puzzle. Once you’ve got emails you can start sending out notifications of new products, updates, and promotions.
You should see some positive results straight away, but you’ll get even better results if you can personalize your emails more. You want to be able to do things such as:
- Offer exclusive discounts to existing customers.
- Entice those who have signed up but not purchased with their own sales emails.
- Make sure you’re not pitching to customers who’ve already purchased the product you’re talking about.
With WordPress and WooCommerce all this is possible and pretty straightforward. You’re only wanting to do a couple of things:
- Add customers to your email list.
- Make sure your email list knows what was purchased.
- Segment purchases and customers on your email platform so you can send different emails to each.
This means you just need to connect WooCommerce and your email marketing platform. Again, there are a number of plugins which will let you do this and they’re straightforward to use.
The informatively named WooCommerce MailChimp plugin is the best option if you’re using MailChimp. This unofficial plugin is free and lets you have full and deep integration between the two platforms. As with the widgets, installation is straightforward but requires you create an API key. Make sure you set up interest groups so you can segment customers in MailChimp.
Other email marketing services typically have a similar plugin available. A search for
WooCommerce + email service name will typically find you the plugin to use.
Once you’ve integrated purchases with email, you’re in a position to massively extend what you can do with your email list – and the potential to generate revenue.
We’re not quite done yet. You also have the option to go a lot further, but this involves more setup and paid products. These are some ideas to get you thinking about what else you can do with email and WooCommerce:
- Reduce cart abandonment: automatically contact customers who’ve entered their email but failed to complete a purchase. This can retain a huge number of sales you would otherwise lose.
- Retain inactive customers: if and when customers go a long time without a purchase, get in touch and offer them the right deal to get them buying again.
- Make full usage of receipts: these are emails with huge open rates. Start using them as an opportunity to sell again to customers.
Email is provides such a powerful revenue generation opportunity. It’s well worth spending some time asking how you can use it to most effectively harness it to take your WooCommerce site to the next level.
The techniques we’ve discussed here offer some powerful ways of connecting with visitors and turning them into loyal readers and subscribers. Especially with the premium plugins we looked at and the A/B testing they offer, there’s scope to be exceptionally effective at this.
Being really good at email marketing is a hugely valuable skill and these are the tools which can get you 80% of the way there with 20% of the work. Put these into practice and there’ll be a huge help on your journey to Mastering WordPress.
Want to do more things with WordPress? This post is an excerpt from MasterWP, a full course that will empower you to do everything you want with WordPress, yourself. Get to power user status as efficiently as possible: check out Become a WordPress Master.