Email List Signup – Meta Baeldung Marketing experiences growing Baeldung Fri, 15 Mar 2019 16:08:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The 8 Types of Optins on Baeldung Mon, 25 May 2015 22:29:35 +0000 1. Overview

There’s no shortage of ways you can opt into my email list over on Baeldung.

And make no mistake about it – nudging a random reader to raise their hand and opt in is the best way to connect that reader to your brand. Not social media and not anything else – email.

Here’s a quick rundown of the various optins that you might see on the site at any point in time.

The sidebar optin is probably the most visible one.

It’s reasonably effective as well, and that’s because I’m using 3 of them – contextually. Depending on where you are on the site, you might the optin offer one of the following lead magnets:

  • REST Services with Spring eBook
  • Get the Most out of HttpClient eBook
  • Persistence with Spring eBook

Overall I would say that, if you can – contextual is the way to go – if you can create multiple lead magnets for different areas of your site, your conversion rates will definitely improve.

3. Bottom of Every Post Optin

The “Bottom of Every Post” optin is exactly what the name says – it appears under all articles on the site.

This one usually has a better conversion rate than the sidebar optin – simply because by the time a reader sees it, they already received value out of an article. The flip side of that is – as you would expect – this optin has a lot less impressions than the sitebar optin, because not everybody reads through the whole article.

4. Exit Intent Optin

The “Exit Intent” optin is an interesting variation to the standard popup optin – it only appears when the reader signals their intent to leave the site. Usually that means that the mouse cursor goes out of the page and towards the Back button. It’s at that point that this popup appears and asks the user if they’d like to opt in.

Now – popups are a tricky one to get right. First – you need to be able to easily close a popup – none of that “the close button is almost invisible and not where you’d expect”.

Next – popups need to only pop up once. If the reader opts in – great. If they don’t – don’t bother them again.

5. What Would Seth Godin Do? Optin

This is a fun one. WWSGD is a WordPress plugin that I’ve been using for a few years now. It’s dead simple but has good results.

What it does is – it shows new visitors a message. After you visit the site for a few times (configurable) – you don’t see the message any longer.

With that in mind, the message could be something like: Welcome to my site – start here…

But it can also be something along the lines of: If you’re new here, you may want to get the {insert lead magnet here}

6. Content Upgrade Optins

The Content Upgrade is a super-powerful way to boost the conversion rates on a page. The simple idea is to use a lead magnet that is custom, valuable and highly relevant for that particular page.

Easier said than done though.

On Baeldung – I picked a few of the most visited pages on the site – and went for it with Leadpages. The lead magnet I’m using is the code sample itself – which checks all the boxes – it’s valuable and highly relevant for the page. And for the most part – it works great.

The one big downside is Leadpages doesn’t check if the user actually confirms their subscription and sends out the lead magnet immediately. What that means is that there’s a decent chance that they’ll simply forget to confirm their subscription into the email list (or choose not to).

7. Custom Optin Pages

Finally, I also have a few individual, custom optin pages on the site. These server very specific purposes and overall represent a very small percentage of my total new subscribers.

8. Conclusion

As you can see, implementing a mature, diverse optin strategy does take some work. These optins need to be checked monthly (by a VA), A/B tested and generally maintained.

But – it’s also very much worth it, as email is really the only good way I found to keep in contact with my readers and continue providing value.

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Aweber Tactics – Recover Your Unconfirmed Subscribers Sat, 23 Aug 2014 17:40:34 +0000 1. Overview

I’ve been running quite a few email related experiments recently, to improve my overall optin conversion rate and convert more casual readers into email subscribers. And it’s definitly working – I’m seeing record months with 1000+ new email subscribers per month and no sign of slowing down (not if I have something to say about it).

Anyways – here’s a quick tactic I’ve been using on Aweber to nudge some of my unconfirmed subscribers to confirm their subscription.

2. How Many Subscribers Do Not Confirm?

Your readers are human beeing – forgetful and sometimes easily distracted like all of us. So – some of them will optin into your email list and then simply forget to confirm their subscription. That’s just the way things work – nothing you can do about it. Well – almost nothing.

First – let’s see how many of these forgetful readers I have:


Hmm – that’s not goot – that’s a huge number of readers that fall into the forgetful category – 1106 in one month – that’s almost 50%!

One note about that number is that it’s somewhat higher than normal – that’s because I’m running some experiments that send the reader the optin magnet before confirming their email. That’s not ideal of course, but it’s part of the experiment. Nevertheless, 50% is huge.

So – what can we do about it.

3. The Recover Tactic

The obvious solution would be to re-send the confirmation email. Unfortunately Aweber doesn’t have allow for that – so, instead, we’ll export all of these unconfirmed subscribers and re-import them back into the system.

The export is very simple – once you have filtered them as in the image above, there is an “Export CSV” option on the page. However, you can’t re-import them just yet – since they’re already in the system. You cannot delete them either – there is no option to delete an unconfirmed subscriber in Aweber.

What you can do however, is wait – these subscribers are automatically deleted after 30 days.

So – after the 30 days have passed, we can safely re-import the CSV file. The re-import process will send the confirmation email again, and – some of these subscribers will actually confirm.

4. The Results

Finally – the results – I’m seeing a 6-8% conversation rate after import. That’s not great – but, out of 1100 people – that still means ~90 new subscribers for free.

A quick and easy tactic to recover some of your unconfirmed subscribers before they’re lost forever – hope you’ll put it to good use.

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How a Contextual CTA will lead to a higher Conversion Rate Sat, 15 Mar 2014 20:27:01 +0000 1. Single CTA for All Pages

Like so many blogs out there, my blog – baeldung – had a single sidebar optin form for a long time. It is a form that I experimented with quite a lot, but alas a single form can only do so much.

Makes sense if you think about it – there’s no such thing as a one size fits all Call to Action – yet, for the last 6 months, mine basically said:

Free eBook REST Services with Spring

My Single Call To Action Optin Form

My Single Call To Action Optin Form

I can do better!

Now – my blog has a simple structure with a handful of main categories – and it would make perfect sense to have a different CTA for each of these. What I’d like to see is – for example – for my Persistence category, a CTA such as:

Free eBook Persistence with Spring

True – that means having a new eBook – nobody said it was going to be easy – but it would make a lot more sense that the generic CTA I have now.

And so – with this goal in mind (and with the help of an editor) – I launched my second eBook, out of an already existing blog series I published on the blog. This eBook became the lead magnet for my second, now contextual Call To Action.

2. Contextual CTA depending on the page

OK, so let’s look at this – my new Optin Form uses the second eBook similarly:

Free eBook Persistence with Spring

My Second Call To Action Optin Form

My Second Call To Action Optin Form

As you can clearly see – the Optins are pretty much the same, except they use different lead magnets.

This second Optin is shown on the pages of my blog that have something to do with Persistence – shocking, I know. I’m showing the widget with the Persistence Optin on pages that have the Category Persistence and the other widget on everything else.

Technically, I’m using the Widget Logic wordpress plugin, but any plugin that will allow you to conditionally show widgets based on the category of the article will do just fine.

So there you have it – a simple execution of this concept, but one that a heap of sense.

3. The Results

It’s the numbers – specifically the conversion rate of each of these Optin Forms – that will make or break the experiment. Luckily the numbers are good:

  • the Original Optin (Rest Services with Spring eBook) => 0.75% CTA
  • the New Optin (Persistence with Spring eBook) => 0.93% CTA

That is a 24% increase in my conversion rate – which is a pretty significant jump considering that the Control – the original Optin – was pretty strong to begin with.

4. Next Steps

My next step is to do the same with the other major categories of my blog – work through 4-5 new eBooks and customize each Optin to be relevant to the article the reader is actually reading. If I see a 25% bump for each of these category – and I’m sure I will based on these initial results – I’ll be very happy with the results.

If you read this far, you should follow me on G+:

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2X Conversions by Showing an Inline Optin to New Visitors Wed, 12 Feb 2014 15:50:37 +0000 1. Overview

In my quest to convert more readers of my blog to engaged subscribers, I am running a lot of experiments.

This one was one of the high impact ones – basically doubling my new daily subscribers.

1.1. The Call To Action

The idea is simple – new readers only will see a small inline call to action at the start of my articles – for example:

Inline Call to Action at the beginning of the article

Inline Call to Action at the beginning of the article

This will go away after the reader views 3 pages of my blog.

1.2. The Optin

The link is part of a Two Step Optin – when it’s clicked, it will show my optin in a popup / overlay:

The Optin in a popup

The Optin in a popup

So the signup can happen right then and there – with no additional page to lower the conversion rate.

And that’s it – clean and simple, and with very nice results.

2. How I did it

To show the link to new visitors only, I used the What Would Seth Godin Do wordpress plugin – which simply uses a cookie to separate new visitors from existing readers – and only show the message to new readers.

The plugin is pretty simple – it allows you to add a custom message before or after the article, and not much more.

For the Two Step Optin, I used a Lead Link – from Leadpages. Using Leadpages – which is a paid product – was easier for me as it enables you to do this out of the box, but it’s definitely not a requirement.

The optin itself is pretty simple, and can be created by hand without to much difficulty. Showing it when the link is clicked can also be done with one of the many wordpress plugins available for wordpress (or, if you are a coder, with javascript).

3. The 2X Results

On to the results – before starting this experiment, I was getting about 13 new email subscribers / day.

First, let’s see how many times the Call To Action link was clicked:

Out of the total number of new visitors in the test period – 9633 – ~58.66% were new (and actually saw the optin).

And, out of these 5650 new visitors – 126 clicked on the CTA – that is a ~2.4% conversion rate.

Now – out of these 126 impressions of the popup Optin form – 109 actually opted in – which is an 87% conversion rate on the Optin itself – not bad.

Overall, the conversion rate is 1.93% – which is higher than my main sidebar conversion rate.

Finally – over the course of 8 days – 109 new subscribers means an average of just over 13 new subscribers / day – thus, doubling the rate with which I’m building my list.

Here are the analytics on the new optin:

Views and Optins - Analytics

Views and Optins – Analytics

4. Conclusion

The conclusion is straightforward – this is an easy strategy to implement and the results are huge.

If you’d like to keep abreast with my upcoming experiments and get high impact strategies like this one – opt into my email list (on your right).

If you read this far, you should follow me on G+:

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Is It Worth having an Email Optin Form at the End of the Page? Fri, 15 Nov 2013 13:48:41 +0000 The Premise

Until very recently, I’ve been using a single Sidebar Email Signup Form on my blog – front and center.

This has been performing relatively well – over the last couple of months, I was able to improve its conversion rate from 0.37% to 1.14% through a series of changes (all documented on this blog).

I recently started using an “End Of Article” second Signup Form on the blog – basically appearing after all of my articles. I was motivated by the well understood idea that the reader usually needs reminding in order to take action.

Before going into details about the experiment, here is the Optin Form I’m currently using:

Signup Form at the Bottom of the Page

Signup Form at the Bottom of the Page

Because the form is positioned at the very end of the page, by the time they get to it, the reader would have already presumably read the whole article. Also, given most of my articles are over 1000 words, the fact that they actually reached the end indicates that they found it useful enough to stick around – or else they would have stopped reading by that point.

So – the premise is that visitors that see this second Signup Form is much more qualified and interested in the content than the visitor who has just landed from Google and happens to see the main form simply because it’s above the fold.

Let’s now take a look at the actual conversation rate I’m getting on this form, and see if we can validate the premise for the experiment.

The Results

The data for this new Optin option is as follows:

Visits: 6044

Conversions: 141

Conversion Rate: 2.33%

How can these results be interpreted?

First – the conversion rate for this new Optin is much better then the Main Sidebar Form – more than 2x better. The premise of visitors being more qualified at the end of the page is validated and now has hard numbers behind it.

Then – given the fact that only half of my readers reach the end of the article, but the conversion is double – it basically rounds up very nicely to another 100% increase in signups.

It will be an interesting November!

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Improve Email Opt-In Conversion by 229% – Case Study. Tue, 12 Nov 2013 15:02:00 +0000 How the Test Worked

I’ve been working to improve the email conversions on my blog lately. Up until now, every test I ran resulted in a triple digit increase in my conversions – but I didn’t expect this trend to continue. I’m happy to say – I was wrong.

After my previous test – when I saw a huge 750% increase by having my signup optin scroll with the visitor – I am now testing a completely new design of the form against the existing one.

To set up the test, I used the Split Testing feature of OptinSkin to server version A to some users and version B to others in a simultaneous A/B test. Once I reached statistical significance (over the course of several days) – I turned off the under performing version.

The initial version of the Optin Form looked like this:

Initial Email Optin Form

Initial Email Optin Form

The new version being tested looks like this:

New Signup Form

New Signup Form

I kept the copy exactly the same so that I can later on pinpoint the results to the design change and nothing else.

Obviously the one significant element that stands out from the new design is the new book representation – this didn’t exist in the old design – so it’s interesting to see how much of an impact that had on the overall conversions.

Which Test Won?

If you guessed – version 2 – then you guessed right.

Here is the data:

design 1 – 38271 impressions – 142 conversions = 0.37%
design 2 – 11309 impressions – 138 conversion = 1.22%

So the new version not only outperformed but absolutely dominated version 1 of the design – by 229%.

If there’s one conclusion that you can pick up from this experiment is that it’s a spectacular idea to include a visual artifact – such as a book – in the design of your Optin Forms.

I’ll continue to test various elements of my site and bring you the results – sign up for email updates from me (see what I did there?).

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How a Simple Visual Tweak improved my Singups by over 750% – Yet Again Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:11:34 +0000 1. A New Experiment

I said in my last article that I’m no longer expecting an experiment to yield drastic improvements in my Email Signups. I was wrong.

My first experiment – offering a free eBook – resulted in a 625% increase, and my second – a completely new Signup Form – a more modest 125%.

So, my third experiment was simple – I fixed the position of my Email Signup Form (via plugin) when the reader is scrolling down. The idea is straightforward enough – with the form staying on the screen more, the reader will have more of a chance to actually read what it says and choose to sign up. You can of course check out the blog to see it in action.

What I didn’t anticipate was just how much this small change was going to affect my conversion rate – nothing short of a 763% spike in signups.

2. Unexpected Results

The “Before” of this experiment is of course the “After” of my previous article:

Email Signups before fixing the form position

Email Signups before fixing the form position

Now, here is the data after I have made the change:

Email Signups after Fixing Optin

Email Signups after Fixing Optin

And finally, just for the visual impact this always has on my – here’s my Mailchimp:

Mailchimp - October

Mailchimp – October

3. Learning

The key takeaway from this experiment is that a single, uncluttered Call To Action works wonders, especially when the reader will keep eyeballs on it longer.

The “single CTA” point is – for me – also very relevant. Notice that my optin form does not contain any additional, secondary options – such as social buttons or badges. These would give the reader to many alternatives and less valuable ones.

Once a reader does go for one of these alternatives – for example they follow me on Google+ – it’s highly unlikely that they would also go back and signup for Email.

There are of course more “in your face” ways to collect emails – using a popup for example (on my TODO list) – but what’s interesting about these results is that this change does not qualify as “in your face” – just the opposite in fact.

Live and learn.

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How Less Options On My Optin Improved the Conversion Rate Mon, 21 Oct 2013 12:26:54 +0000 1. The New Experiment

In my last experiment, I looked at the results of offering a free eBook and how that affected my conversion rate for email signups. In that experiment, I kept the exact same Optin Form and only changed the copy – adding the eBook as an incentive.

This time, I did things a little bit different – I changed the old Optin with a new one, where I have more or less the same copy but less options (no more social sharing).

The result – a nice 115% increase in signups over the course of a 2 week period. That is less than the 625% bump I got after the last experiment, but then again I was getting almost no signups before that, so I wasn’t expecting anything of that magnitude.

2. The Before and After

Here is how my Signup Form looked before the change:

Email Form with free eBook

Email Form with free eBook

The new Optin form is simpler – the social sharing options are gone – and there is now only one thing you can do – Subscribe:

New Email Optin Form

New Email Optin Form

Notice that, besides some minor modifications, the main Call To Action copy is similar on both Optins. This is mainly so that I can clearly pinpoint any change in my signups to the new design and eliminate other possible influences as much as possible.

Next, notice that the new form is actually collecting more data than the old – I am now asking for the Name of my subscribers as well. It is a well known fact that the more information you ask for, the lower the conversion rate, because less people will actually bother to fill in everything.

But ultimately – the most important change is that the new form presents the reader with less options – the old form contains social buttons for Twitter and Google Plus, as well as a RSS feed link. The new form removes all of these so that the Call to Action is clear and there is no confusion about what I want the reader to do.

3. The Results

First, let’s look at the data from the previous experiment: I had 29 signups over the course of 28 days.

Now, let’s see how the new form changed things:

Email Signups after New Form

Email Signups after New Form

Over the course of 13 days, there were 28 new signups to my email list.

This represents a 115% increase in signups as a result of the current experiment.

4. Conclusion

This is another good step towards the end goal – which is a high performing email signup process.

My next experiment is going to be a proper A/B test – pitting several Email Optin forms against each other to see which one performs better.

Stay tuned (by signing up the my email list – go figure).

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Signing up for the Mailing List – the Success Email Sun, 20 Oct 2013 13:44:19 +0000 1. A Generic Success Email

In a previous article, I talked about the standard elements of an email subscription flow:

In this article, I will illustrate how I improved the generic Success Email template provided by default by Mailchimp.

First, let’s analyze the default email:

Original Success Email

Original Success Email

With the subject line:

The Baleldung Posts: Subscription Confirmed

1.1. What’s wrong with the default email?

Let’s start putting this email into context – the immediate value that the user is getting out of signing up for my email list is the free eBook. This is what they’re getting right now.

Of course my goal is to keep providing value to the reader with regular and useful content, but that’s going to come much later, so the eBook is important because it is available NOW.

With this in mind – this email is clearly inconsistent – it mentions nothing about the eBook or why the reader signed up for emails in the first place.

It is also a little redundant – since it doesn’t give the reader any new information – other than the fact that the subscription worked.

2. A Better Success Email

Let’s look at each element of the original email and see how we can improve it.

2.1. The Subject Line and the Title

The default subject line reads:

The Baleldung Posts: Subscription Confirmed

It is exactly the same as the previously discussed Subject of the first Confirmation email – so I’m going to skip to the end on this one:

Here’s your eBook link & thanks for signing up for the mail list!

The default title reads generically:

The Baeldung Posts

Similarly, the title has been already discussed also, so I’m going to skip to the end on this one as well – the final copy for the title:

Tips on Building Web Applications.

2.3. The Main Copy

On to the main copy of this email – by default, it reads:

Your subscription to our list has been confirmed.

So once again we are loosing the opportunity to communicate any useful information to our reader.

What we want to do here is to, first – reward the user for trusting us with their email address. We do this by providing the link to the free eBook.

We can also take this opportunity to set future expectations about the type of communication they can expect:

Thanks for confirming your email address!
Here’s that eBook I promised you about building REST APIs with Spring. I’ll send you an email about something you’ll find interesting every week or two.
Get the eBook (pdf)!

So here we are – the final version of the Successful Registration email:

Final Success Email

Final Success Email

3. Conclusion

This email is an easy one to miss – the logic goes that the reader has already signed up for the email list, so why put in the extra effort.

The reason – mentioned several times throughout this article – is a consistent signup experience – we want to keep all emails that reach our readers consistent and relevant to our own site and our own voice – instead of the generic copy that comes by default.

My next article will discuss the “Almost There” and “Thank You” signup pages – their purpose and their copy.

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Signing up for the Mailing List – the Confirmation Email Tue, 15 Oct 2013 13:13:18 +0000 1. A Generic Confirmation Email

I am on a mission to improve my mailing list – starting with the copy of the main subscription form and now, moving on to the actual emails send to potential new subscribers.

I am using Mailchimp as my email service – but any of the main service providers out there have the same exact options to configure the signup flow.

First – let’s take a look at the main elements of an email subscription flow:

  • the Signup Form
  • the Confirmation Email
  • the Success Email
  • the “Almost There” and the “Thank You” pages
  • tracking the events of the flow (Google Analytics)

In this article, I’m going to be looking at the Confirmation Email specifically. This is the email that a potential subscriber will get when they first put their email into my signup form and hit “Subscribe”.

By default, this email is already configured with some generic copy – and Mailchimp does a decent job of it – but this is the first email your potential subscribe gets from you – generic copy is not going to cut it.

Here’s the email in all it’s generic glory:

Original Confirmation Email

Original Confirmation Email

Finally – the subject line of the email is:

The Baleldung Posts: Please Confirm Subscription

2. A Better Confirmation Email

So what’s wrong with this email?

First – it doesn’t really say anything. This is a chance to impress upon the user why in the world they would like to subscribe to my mailing list – what’s in it for them. Instead all a user can get from this email is what they already know – a moment ago they wanted to subscribe.

So let’s break the email down into parts and see how we can carefully craft and improve each of these parts.

2.1. The Subject

Let’s start with the Subject of the email – currently it reads:

The Baleldung Posts: Please Confirm Subscription

This is because in Mailchimp – it’s set up as follows: *|LIST:NAME|*: Please Confirm Subscription

Instead, let’s take this opportunity to be more personal and add put this email into context:

Please confirm that you want that free eBook and other emails from me.

First – this is consistent with my main signup copy – where I specifically the reader than – if they trust me enough to give me their email address, I will give them a free eBook. So why not remind them of that: Remember that book I mentioned – you’re going to get access to it just as soon as you confirm.

Next – it sets clear expectations – always a good idea – it tells the reader that they are indeed going to receive other emails from me.

And finally – I like being personal – so this is just a bit more personal than the original “Please Confirm Subscription” bit.

2.2. The Title

On to the title – right now, it simply says: “The Baeldung Posts“.

Why? Because that’s what I originally named my email list – not knowing that this name is going to end up in the first email I send to subscribers.

But that’s easily fixed – Mailchimp is nothing if not configurable, so instead let’s actually give the reader some valuable information:

Tips on Building Web Applications.

Nice and simple – and exactly what they’re going to get from my blog – articles about building Web Applications – not Posts.

2.3. The Main Copy

This is the final act – the main copy of the email; by default, it reads:

Please Confirm Subscription

Again – this is a lost opportunity. The reader already knows this is a subscription confirmation email – they know how this work, as it’s highly unlikely that this is the first one they see.

So instead of this generic and redundant text, let’s go for something more contextual, and friendly:

Want the eBook and an occasional email from me?
Click below.

And we are done – the email is short and to the point, and hopefully the user will actually read it now, instead of just glossing over it.

2.4. Finally – the improved Confirmation Email

Here we go – after all the careful tuning – this is what the user is going to get now:

Final Confirmation Email

Final Confirmation Email

3. Conclusion

It’s important to keep one thing in mind – when reading any of these elements – the reader needs to be able to answer – “Why am I signing up to this?

If it’s some generic copy that has nothing to do with why they’re actually signing up – then they simply wont.

On the other hand, if it’s clear what the win is for them – if one quick action can lead them to immediate gratification – then maybe they will and you will have gained a new subscriber.

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