Building an email list is one of the most important things you can do for your online business. Why? Because it gives you direct access to an audience that’s genuinely interested in what you do; an audience that, by signing up for your newsletter, has already shown their willingness to continue to listen to what you have to offer.
How do you build this valuable list? Well, it all starts by collecting (with permission!) the email addresses of folk who visit your website. Unfortunately, this is a tricky business, because we now live in a world where it’s harder than ever to catch someone’s attention!
As marketers (read: Business owners, entrepreneurs, leaders) we need to try to grab — and hold — as much of our visitors’ attention as we can. However (and here’s the hard bit), not only must we attract their attention, we must also persuade them that whatever we have to say/offer is worth listening to/receiving.
Active and Passive Lead Generation
Traditionally, marketers place the subscription box in the website’s sidebar, footer or sometimes even within an article itself (usually somewhere in the middle). Such methods are mostly passive ways of collecting emails. That is to say, they don’t prevent the visitor from continuing whatever it is they’re doing on the site, such as reading an article or simply browsing.
However, when newsletter popups arrived (the kind you occasionally see ‘pop up’ in the middle of the screen) — the game changed. Popups are active ways of collecting emails, whereby people have to literally stop what they’re doing and either (a) subscribe, or (b) close the popup.
Many marketers took this newfound power for granted, and bombarded their visitors with popups as soon as they arrived on the site — often before they’d even gotten to know what the website was about!
This, naturally, created a LOT of frustration.
The first rule for a new (or any) website should be: Don’t ask for an email address upfront.
Instead, you need to first show value, i.e. give something to the user (such as great content!), and then ask for something in return — in this case, their email address.
The term ‘showing value’ depends on your website’s domain. ‘Value’ may be a great article, free reports with great visualizations, ebooks, guides, resources Photoshop files, icons, images, audio samples, video effects — the list is endless.
Once a visitor has benefited from your content — he/she will then be naturally more inclined to share his or her email address with your business.
But how do you collect these emails? Below, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 WordPress plugins for doing exactly that: A list of the best newsletter plugins for WordPress.
Listed in no particular order:
OptinMonster ($9-plus a month)
No newsletter plugin list is complete without mentioning OptinMonster. Founded in 2013, this plugin has become one of the best-selling newsletter plugins of all time, and is now used by well over 300,000 websites.
OptinMonster comes with a variety of customization features, such as Exit Intent technology, multiple form types, A/B split testing and more.
It makes designing highly converting forms a breeze — from the full-featured form designer to amazing animations from MonsterEffects. It is, in fact, a plugin we’ve already gone to some lengths to review in a previous article: OptinMonster Reviewed.
Bloom by Elegant Themes ($89-plus a year)
Elegant Themes is one of the most popular theme developers on the WordPress market, effectively gaining well over an absolutely whopping 350,000-plus paying customers from just 87 WordPress themes!
Bloom is a beautifully designed newsletter plugin with more than 115 templates. It supports six different popup form types: Popups, fly-ins, widget area, in-line with content, below content, and content lockers.
Check out our in-depth review of this amazing plugin for more information. Plans start from $89 a year, which also includes access to all 87 themes and five other really rather powerful plugins.
And finally, should you find yourself struggling to decide between OptinMonster (above) and Bloom, here’s another handy article of ours you may be interested in: Bloom vs OptinMonster: Which is the Better Email Optin Form Plugin?
Newsletter (free or $45 a year)
Newsletter is one of the best free newsletter plugins available for WordPress — currently boasting well over 200,000 downloads. This plugin lets you have unlimited subscribers and send unlimited emails.
Here are the plugin’s most exciting features:
- Feature-rich drag-and-drop responsive email composer — which you can use to craft beautiful mobile-ready newsletters.
- Double opt-in subscriptions — thereby making sure you abide by EU anti-spam laws.
- Email tracking with advanced statistics — so you know who’s opening your emails.
- Easy segmentation to fine-target your campaigns — so you can target specific groups of people on your list.
Rather than having to rely on third-party services, such as MailChimp or AWeber, this plugin uses your web host to send emails. Although this sounds good at first, this could actually be a problem if you have a lot of subscribers, because your web host may not be able to support email delivery to such a system.
To counter this problem, the developers have a premium module that seamlessly integrates the plugin with Amazon SES — a cloud-powered email delivery service that’s offered as a part of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Along with a number of other useful extensions, such as email automation and full reporting, such addons are available in the premium version of the plugin, which starts at $45 a year.
SumoMe (Free or $10-plus a month)
SumoMe is far from just a free list-building plugin. Rather, it’s more of a full-blown marketing solution that’s used by more than 430,000 websites around the world, including the likes of Airbnb and Social Media Examiner. Further, it’s actually one of the most popular free marketing plugins in the WordPress store — with well over 100,000 active installations!
With regards to the newsletter-specific features of the plugin, first off, you have the popular opt-ins such as the welcome mat scroll-in popup, coupled with exit-intent technology. The free version also includes a form customizer to reflect your brand’s identity.
Premium features include customizable templates and A/B testing, allowing you to measure the effectiveness of your signup boxes, and so on. Advanced display rules enable you to show the popup on a mobile, desktop or home page. The SumoMe product suite is an excellent starting point for a data-driven content marketer. For more information, check out another of our in-depth reviews: SumoMe Review: The Ultimate All-in-One Set of Online Marketing Tools for Website Owners?
ChimpMate Pro — WordPress MailChimp Assistant ($19)
Since MailChimp is my (and many others) go-to newsletter service — free or paid — I dig deep into any plugin that extends MailChimp’s features in WordPress. Remember how we discussed active and passive newsletter plugins? Well, ChimpMate Pro falls under the active category, with multiple trigger actions.
Let’s take a quick look:
- With the inactivity trigger, the popup is shown when the user is inactive on the page.
- With the time delay trigger, the popup is displayed after a certain time has passed, regardless of the activity of the user.
- The next one is the exit-intent trigger, which displays the popup right when the user is about to close the tab.
- The page scrolling trigger displays the popup after the user scrolls the page.
The plugin also supports content locking (i.e. content is displayed only after subscribing to the newsletter), and features material design, A/B testing, mobile-first lead capture lightbox, one-click backup and restore (a great option if you run multiple sites), and powerful analytics.
All of this for $19 — that’s a steal!
The developers of Icegram describe their product with the tagline ‘grow your subscriber list, engage and convert visitors, decrease bounce rate’.
To be honest, I wouldn’t categorize it as a completely free plugin, though, since the free version doesn’t offer triggers such as time delay, or common lead generators such as header action bars, toast notifications (such as the ones you get on an Android phone) and slide-in messages.
There are, however, a ton of capabilities that are offered as addons starting from $19 — check out this page for a complete list. Moreover, you have the freedom to only purchase the addon you want, which could reduce costs significantly.
MAILOPTIN (FREE OR $69 A YEAR)
MailOptin is another plugin for creating newsletters signup form of different kinds such as popups, slide-ins, notification bars and sidebar forms. It uses the WordPress customizer as it’s form builder with variety of different templates that you can customizer to your heart content.
It includes conversion boosting features such as A/B testing, scroll trigger, Exit Intent, Lead Bank with support for major email service providers.
MailOptin can send automated newsletters to your list subscribers (on MailChimp, Aweber etc.) each time you publish a new post in WordPress. It can also send published posts as daily, weekly or monthly email digest.
MailPoet (free or $10/mo)
One of the best things I like about MailPoet is its ability to quickly create newsletters using their drag-and-drop email builder. Having extensively used MailChimp in the past, MailPoet’s interface feels very intuitive.
MailPoet has over 100,000 active installations, and comes with ready-to-use email templates to kickstart your email marketing campaigns. These free templates include welcome emails, newsletters and new post updates, all of which support marketing automation.
MailPoet uses your WordPress host to send emails, or you can use third-party services such as SendGrid and Amazon SES. The sending limit, however, is determined by your WordPress host. The free version of the plugin supports up to 2,000 subscribers.
MailPoet premium offers unlimited subscribers, advanced analytics, segmentation capabilities (based on email activity such as opens, link clicks, etc.) and advanced integration with WooCommerce transactional emails. This version costs $99/year.
Finally, MailPoet also enables you to completely outsource the email deliverability to them – enabling you to solely focus on your campaigns. This follows a monthly paid model at $10/mo for 500 subscribers.
Ninja Popups ($25)
Ninja Popups is the most popular newsletter plugin in the Envato WordPress plugin store (CodeCanyon), with more than 22,000-plus sales. On the features front, the plugin has everything you’d expect, including:
- a drag-and-drop newsletter builder
- 50 popup themes and eight free opt-in panel designs
- 70-plus animation effects
- an opt-in locker and social locker
- A/B testing with Google Analytics Event Tracking integration
- page/post level targeting
- integration with almost very email marketing software.
I like the fact that there are so many ready-made templates available — the best part is these templates are built by competent designers, which means they’re bound to look good! Plus, this plugin is a one-time purchase, meaning all future updates are free.
Plugmatter Optin Feature Box (Free or $67-plus)
One of the most interesting features in Plugmatter’s Opt-in Feature Box plugin is its capability to target specific user groups. For example, you can create custom popups for individual pages that line up with your content. You can also assign a different popup for returning visitors to your site.
The free version of the plugin enables you to turn off the popup for already subscribed users, which is a pretty neat feature for a free plugin.
With the premium version of the plugin, you can also visually customize its look and feel to uphold your brand’s identity. Apart from this, it also supports A/B testing and Google Event Tracking for all you hardcore data buffs out there!
Thrive Leads ($67-plus)
ThriveThemes are one of the most highly reputed WordPress developers in the market — and they’re damn good at their job. Just look at the Thrive Leadslanding page! Go ahead, try it — it’s pretty cool! Its neat design, coupled with actionable information, makes me want to buy the plugin right away!
Thrive Leads has a host of amazing features built into the plugin:
- It has ten (yes, you read that right) different types of opt-in forms, including content locker, sticky ribbon, full-screen filler, scroll mat and multiple choice forms.
- Trigger options include time, exit-intent, scrolling and clicks.
- You can target specific people in your website based on post, page, tag, category, URLs and even custom post types!
- Thrive Leads features more than 20 awesome animations to jazz up your opt-in box.
Apart from this, you have features such as: A/B testing; targeting specific user types such as new visitor, returning visitor, and customer; and no-fluff, actionable reporting.
Starting at $67 for a single site license, Thrive Leads is an excellent plugin for those who are ready to take their email marketing to the next step.
For more info on Thrive Leads, take a look at another of our one-off in-depth reviews.
Popup Domination ($9-plus a month)
Popup Domination is one of the most beautifully designed newsletter plugins out there. Actually, terming it a newsletter plugin is an understatement, because it does so much more!
Popup Domination has a number of unique features, such as geographical targeting, countdown timers, redirect themes (which is essentially a popup redirecting you to another website), and popups based on the referring/source URL. This essentially means that you can configure two different popups for people coming from Facebook and LinkedIn.
Of course, it also has all the basic features you’d expect, such as split testing, responsive customizable designs, page-specific popups and more.
Popup Domination follows a monthly pricing plan starting at $9 a month, with 30,000 popup views per month.
There are a couple of awesome benefits to it:
- You can use it on an unlimited number of websites, which is super useful if you run multiple niche blogs.
- Live chat support helps resolve your problems faster.
- A steady revenue stream for the developer means faster updates and more beautifully designed themes.
WP Subscribe Pro
Like most premium newsletter plugins, WP Subscribe Pro offers all the necessary features you’d expect, such as basic popup triggers including specific posts/pages, time delay, exit intent, and so on. The popup’s behavior and design customization options are pretty simple too, so you’ll be up and running in no time.
WP Subscribe Pro is compatible with Feedburner and a limited number of newsletter services, including MailChimp, Aweber, GetResponse, MailerLite and Benchmark Email. What sets the plugin apart, however, is its pricing policy: With most premium plugins, the updates and support are valid for one year, but with WP Subscribe Pro you get lifetime updates and support for just $29.
WordPress PopUp — Popover Maker (Free)
A freemium plugin from WPMU DEV, WordPress PopUp offers most of the good features such as eight popup animations, 20-plus conditional behaviors, various popup trigger options and more. You can also design responsive popup forms using the free form builder, or use any of the prebuilt customizable templates.
The premium version of the plugin also includes more popup trigger options and ad-blocker bypassing. While the free version is a great option for beginners, the premium version includes access to WPMU’s library of multiple plugin lists.
Mailster (formerly MyMail) — Email Newsletter Plugin for WordPress
Mailster is one of the most powerful and cost-effective newsletter plugins, and it can save you a lot of money if used properly. It’s not actually a popup plugin — instead, it works with other form-builder or popup plugins such as Ninja Forms.
Mailster builds fully functional newsletter software right on top of WordPress, and uses third-party services such as Mandrill and Amazon SES to send emails to your subscribers. It has six types of autoresponders, and supports real-time tracking of mail open rate, clicks and more.
However, I would not recommend this plugin to folk just starting out with email marketing, as it involves quite a bit of technical setup.
Starting off with email marketing is a good step toward your overall marketing goals. However, it’s important to have a content marketing plan (i.e. a solid strategy in place) before you take the plunge. To get started, ask yourself questions such as: How often do I send emails? What will I be promoting in my emails? Should I consider a drip-email strategy?
Investing in premium plugins can deliver good user engagement and ultimately a good return on investment for larger websites.
Consider your budget, which features you need (and which you really don’t) and give a few different options a try before deciding. Good luck!
Author of this Post: Sourav Kundu