Many people are unaware of the importance of newsletters on blogs. Offering your readers an opportunity to receive additional content from you not only gives the idea of exclusivity (which is appealing for readers interested in a particular subject), but it also gives you more opportunities to promote your endeavors. You can add additional advertising opportunities via newsletter subscriptions, and having a mailing list that has opted-in to receiving your communications is a marketing goldmine.
There are four major players in the mass mailing game: SendBlaster, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber. They are widely used and, because of their popularity, have created WordPress plugins allowing you to utilize their service in the most personal way possible.
Many of the plugins I’ve looked into suggest using a mass emailing program called SendBlaster, which will allow you to send out 100 emails per day for free, or you can upgrade to a pro version for more freedom. List building plugins are often specific to different mass mailing programs, which I will mention prior to the plugin.
SendBlaster suggests their own plugin for WordPress, complexly titled:
This plugin, aside from being completely compatible with SendBlaster, is a good go-to for subscription management. It offers a sidebar subscription widget, making it easy for your readers to sign up upon visiting your page. You can manage the emails from within the WordPress dashboard, including adding and deleting subscribers. You may also school whether your subscriptions are opt-in, or double opt-in (which means users need to click a link sent to their email address prior to being confirmed subscribers – this prevents bots and bad email addresses from being added to your list, and your plate). You choose what text fields are present in your sign-up form, and what information is requested. It’s a great, basic subscription plugin.
MailChimp is another highly popular emailing system. They also have a free plan, like SendBlaster, but offer a bit more flexibility. You can send up to 3,000 emails per month, and store up to 500 email addresses – so if you have a small to medium sized list going, this would be a great option. Or, if you have a larger list, you can pick the paid plan that’s right for you.
MailChimp released this plugin to work directly with its generous services. It’s a very sleek, simple sidebar widget that can be customized stylistically (altering the color and the verbiage), as well as the content included. Users can select from a drop-down menu of topics that interest them, which will give you extra information about your reader base. You can also offer multiple lists right from the WordPress dashboard, allowing you to give your readers interest-specific information that you’re sure they’ll be interested in.
Constant Contact is a highly popular, well marketed mass emailing provider. They don’t, unfortunately, offer a free option, but they do offer a 60-day free trial using their system (which has received fantastic reviews). You can use their premium service for just $15 per month, which will get you storage for up to 500 email addresses.
There are two plugins that help you utilize the features of Constant Contact, one simple and one slightly more advanced.
This is probably the best plugin I’ve seen derived from a mailing provider. With this plugin, you can add a subscription box right on the register page of your site. If you don’t necessarily encourage sign-ups, the plugin also comes with the option for a sidebar widget which is nearly fully customizable. Because it utilizes Constant Contact’s API, you can edit and adjust your mailing list directly from the dashboard without logging into your Constant Contact account.
For something a little less intensive, this plugin just adds the option for a sidebar widget which you can customize to a point, but doesn’t offer nearly the flexibility as the previous plugin.
AWeber is a diligent and persistent company that offers a great service. It’s a touch more expensive at $19/month for up to 500 email addresses, at the lowest, but there are several plans available.
This is a sneaky little plugin that allows you to give your users and readers the option to know whether they’re signing up for your newsletter or not. You can adjust the settings so that each user is subscribed to your list upon registration and/or commenting on your blog – this could be a powerful list-building tool, if you play your cards right.