Marketing January 29, 2015 Last updated September 22nd, 2018 2,128 Reads share

6 Email Marketing Taboos You Should Break On A WordPress Site

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Here’s a piece of online marketing gospel:

“People hate pop-ups!”

But do they really? I mean, everybody says they hate pop-ups, but in practice, pop-ups are proven to work exceptionally well in converting visitors to subscribers (when they’re shown a newsletter subscription form inside the pop-up).

Data confirms this. A popular site in the WordPress niche – WPBeginner – reports that using a pop-up window has increased their daily email signups by 600 percent.

Well, okay, pop-ups may be effective, but that doesn’t make them right. People still don’t enjoy being interrupted every time they try to consume a piece of content. This is especially valid for WordPress sites and blogs.

Pop-ups surely are a piece of online marketing history, and a piece that can be particularly annoying when not executed properly. Thus, it’s quite taboo to even say anything positive about pop-ups. But let’s not make this exclusively about them. Pop-ups are just one example.

So let’s break the taboos here. Let’s take pop-ups as well as those other marketing methods and try to find the perfect middle ground between not angering our audiences and still being able to effectively convince them to join our email lists.

#1. Using a homepage gate

A homepage gate is a relatively old-school approach, but with WordPress and various plugins available out there it has earned itself a new youth.

Basically, a homepage gate is a custom landing page that’s meant to catch the visitor when they try to go to your website’s homepage for the very first time. There, instead of being shown the standard homepage content, they see a “gate” page that tries to convince them to opt in to your email newsletter first.

On this homepage gate, the visitor can agree to subscribe, usually in exchange for an incentive (like a free resource that the visitor desires – more on that later). Or, the visitor can skip the page and go to the standard homepage instead.

While such a setup can seem difficult, it’s actually made available by a handful of plugins. Chief of which is the Welcome Gate plugin. It’s easy to use and offers some customization possibilities in terms of adjusting the headline and copy.

welcome gate

#2. Using smart pop-ups

Cutting right down to business, let’s focus on everyone’s favorite topic – pop-ups.

So again, people on the web are not particularly fond of pop-ups in their various forms.

For example, probably the worst kind of pop-up is one where the visitor gets presented with a pop-up message the second they navigate to a page, so they don’t even get a decent chance to take a look at the page’s content.

There’s a smarter way to do it though.

Instead, try testing on-click pop-ups. In this case, the pop-up only appears when the visitor clicks on a given button.

The way this can be utilized effectively is by offering a free download, for example, and then hooking the download button up to a pop-up opt-in form that gets the visitors on your email newsletter list.

Again, in order for the visitor to get the download, they need to click the download button first, and then input their email address to effectively subscribe to your list.

Is this effective? In a word, yes. The guys over at LeadPages actually report that using this very method has raised their subscriptions by 60 percent.

The whole method sounds complicated, but it’s quite straightforward to implement with a plugin like WP Popup Plugin. It offers this sort of on-click pop-up functionality right out the box. Additionally, to give your pop-ups a more visually attractive presence, you can tune their graphics through a tool like Visme.

#3. Engaging your new subscribers via autoresponders

An autoresponder is a mechanism that lets you put a set of email messages in place and then send them out in a sequence based on the number of days that a given subscriber has been on your list.

So just as an example, you can create such a sequence of messages:

  • Email #1 – sent right away when a new subscriber confirms their subscription. This can be your “welcome message.”
  • Email #2 – sent two days after the person subscribes. This is where you can send them your best content and invite them to share it on social media.
  • Email #3 – sent five days after the person subscribes. This is where you can send an open question just to engage the subscriber in a genuine conversation.
  • Email #4 – sent ten days after the person subscribes. This is where you can try to sell them something.
  • Etc.

The true power of autoresponders lies in the ability to engage each subscriber at precisely the right moment, no matter when they’ve subscribed.

Now, making this possible from a technical point of view depends on the email newsletter service you’ve chosen.

For instance, the company I’ve been testing lately is SendinBlue, particularly because they’re the only firm out there offering autoresponder functionality for free. So if you’re with them as well, you can first use the SendinBlue’s official plugin to integrate your WordPress site with SendinBlue, and then use SendinBlue’s own interface to set the actual autoresponder email sequence.


#4. Utilizing a top bar in a smart way

You’ve probably noticed those narrow bars that sit right above the header on some sites.

For example, here’s one at ProBlogger:


This sort of thing proves to be very effective at getting people to subscribe to your email list. For example, DIYthemes reports that using a bar like that has earned them 1,180 additional email subscribers in 30 days.[3]

Now, the problem with using a top bar is that you only get to utilize a single line of copy, and making it worthwhile is a serious copywriting challenge.

One of the better ideas is to just focus on what you’re offering as your incentive for someone to join your list, and why people would care about it.

When it comes to the technical stuff, you can use a solution like Hello Bar or a WordPress plugin like Attention Grabber.

#5. Using slide-in forms

Think of slide-in forms as your friendly version of pop-ups. In some way, they do pop up on the screen after a while, but they do so in an un-intrusive way and actually catch the visitor’s attention right when they’re the most engaged with your content.

Here’s an example at QuickSprout:


This form appears after the visitor scrolls beyond the second half of the page/post. At this point, they are highly interested in the page’s content and want to consume more. Therefore, this makes it the perfect time to show them your newsletter subscription form and your main incentive.

On a WordPress site, this can be done with a plugin like Scroll Triggered Box.

#6. Using a good incentive

I’ve mentioned the word incentive a couple of times in this post, so it’s probably the right moment to explain what I mean by it being a good incentive.

The whole deal here is that only a small percentage of your visitors will subscribe to your email list if you don’t offer them anything in exchange and just have a standard subscription form saying something like: “Subscribe to our newsletter here.”

Such forms underperform hugely, so to make the situation better, marketers have come up with an idea to offer something in exchange for the subscription.

And this is where the problems start, and where many businesses fail.

Contrary to common advice, a hastily created PDF guide won’t be enough to convince people to give you their email addresses. To build a really quality incentive, you need to look into your audience’s core challenges and problems that they’re facing.

How to do this?

  • Try looking on forums, Quora, or other similar sites where actual people get to ask actual questions. Try looking for trends and similarities in those places – questions that are asked often and by a larger number of people.
  • Next, take those questions, gather a number of experts in your niche, perform an outreach campaign and get them to help you find the answers.
  • Then, take the answers, compile them into a resource and share this as your incentive. People will resonate and will give you their email addresses just to see it.

The difference between this and any-old-PDF is that this one is created with a purpose and as a response to actual real-world challenges.

7. ?

This closes our list here, but feel free to comment, ask questions, as well as suggest your own ideas for email marketing taboos that should be broken on a WordPress-powered business site.

Images: Author’s own


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Karol K

Karol K

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