How to Get More Mobile Visitors On Your Email List

Email Marketing 101

On Copyblogger recently we’ve talked about why it’s so important to make your website mobile-friendly.

And we’ve hammered on how critical it is to get people onto your email list.

But there’s a problem: it can be really hard for your mobile visitors to sign up for your newsletter.

Here’s why:

Most mobile-friendly themes (in WordPress or other content management systems) hide the sidebars. They show just the main content area. For example, in the mobile theme I used for one of my sites, there’s a built-in way to share posts with Twitter, but there’s no way for a visitor to see the signup box in my sidebar. No matter what they do, they just can’t get there.

Even if you’re not running a special mobile theme (for example you’re depending on the built-in mobile-friendly goodness of a framework like Genesis) your visitors are still just looking at your main content column.

Why? Because even though they see your full page when they initially arrive, the first thing they’re going to do is “double-tap” on the content column to blow it up to a readable size. That pushes those sidebars out of sight and out of mind.

Also remember that if someone is reading your site on a mobile device, you probably don’t have their full attention. So don’t expect them to take the initiative and hunt around for your signup box. They won’t.

How to fix the problem in two easy steps

The solution is simple. You need a call to action for your newsletter at the bottom of your content column.

Not in the sidebar. Not in the footer. You want it right there at the bottom of your text, so it’s the first thing people read after they finish your post.

Step one is to copy the code of your signup box and drop it onto its own page. Give it a sexy name like yourblog.com/subscribe. Add some content that lets people know why it’s a good idea to subscribe. And be sure to test that it works.

(Here’s an example if you need one.)

Step two is to get a call to action and a link to your new signup page onto the bottom of every single page you create. You can do this manually, by typing or pasting it into every post, or you can do it automatically by editing your theme.

I actually prefer doing it manually. (That’s also how they do it on Copyblogger.) I like to vary the call to action depending on the content of the post. And writing it reminds me to make sure that the rest of my content is mobile-friendly.

For example, if I’m showing a video hosted on my own site, I’ll provide a link to a copy on YouTube, so people on iPhones or iPads can see it. And if I’m using a Flash-based audio player, I’ll provide a link to download the MP3, which also allows it to play on mobile devices.

If you’re comfortable with code, you can insert the signup link into your regular theme with a hook or a widget so it shows at the bottom of the content column. Then it will show up automatically on every post, past and future.

But if you’re using a mobile theme, I don’t recommend modifying the code. That’s because your mobile theme is probably a plugin or a module, and any customizations you make will be overwritten when you update the plugin. For normal human beings, the chance that you’ll update your mobile theme without remembering to reinstall your customizations is pretty high, and unless you visit your site frequently on a mobile, you won’t notice the mistake for months.

Getting people onto your email list should be a major goal with every post you write. No matter what device someone uses to read your content, you can make it easy for them to get to your signup box.

It takes just a couple of minutes to copy your signup box onto a standalone page, and only seconds to add a link at the end of each blog post. Start doing it now, because mobile traffic is only going to increase … and you want to be sure you’re there to capture it.

Check out the rest of the Email Marketing 101 series.

About the Author: Joe Thoron writes about online marketing at Website Momentum. Head on over to check out his mobile-friendly newsletter signup in action.

P.S.

Looking for more tips about the smartest ways to market online? Check out Copyblogger’s email newsletter, Internet Marketing for Smart People. It kicks off with a free 20-part tutorial on marketing techniques that work, without sleaze, cheese, or hype.

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Comments

  1. Joe,

    I am so pleased that you wrote this right now. I am in the middle of reviewing all my blog posts, site layout and creating a focus page for the key posts I’ve made so far. This is a great tip for adding that extra oomph to my sign-ups.

    Thanks, Michael

  2. Thanks for this solid information. I think you’re right–mobile is important.

    This is a good challenge for me for the new year.

  3. Joe:

    Mobile marketing is very important. And WordPress (along with custom themes like Genesis) are very important for content management. But you raise an important question: How do you get folks to sign up for newsletters, when they are always on mobile phones? And I constantly get email replies via blackberry.

    One of the other Copyblogger posters recommended the WP Touch theme, which I used for one of my self-hosted, WordPress clients – it works great. But you gave a couple excellent tips on making life easier.

    Thanks for the mobile tips today.

    Randy

    • I have WP Touch running on my websitemomentum.com site. It’s basically great. And it does have a menu system that lets you get to “pages” (instead of posts), but I know that my attention is fleeting when I’m reading a blog on my iPhone. I don’t hunt around for anything.

  4. Great tips! Mobile design is definitely becoming more important. I read a lot via a mobile device and I always love when the site designer makes it easy for me.

  5. Yes I started doing this back in October..I will put an link at the end of each of my post..and yes this really helped and brought my list up higher..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  6. Joe, these are fantastic tips! This is going straight onto my to-do list.

    You’re right: mobile is only going to grow, so we’d better adapt so we don’t lose people.

  7. Great post! I’d like to add another suggestion: make sure you have a hidden field in the signup form that can identify the signup as coming from a mobile device (and which one, or at least the OS). This data will help you optimize your newsletter design (if you start to get lots of mobile signups), and also test engagement by sending mobile-friendly newsletters to this group of subscribers.

    • Sharp idea. I’m going to suggest this as a feature to my email service provider. (My head hurts just thinking about trying to learn how to code that hidden field.)

      • Set up a separate signup form? I know Aweber tells me which form a person signed up using, so if you were to set up a form and call it ‘mobile subs’ for example you’d be able to track them easily.

        I don’t know if this is available in other autoresponder systems though.

        • I think that would work if you hard-coded the link to the signup page into your mobile theme. The quick and easy way I have things set up, you go to the same form whether you’re on desktop or mobile.

          Either way, it would be really helpful to know how your readers are split between mobile and desktop.

  8. Great post for beginner like me
    This is Fantastic, Thanks JOE :-)

  9. Joe,
    Great tips.
    I just activated my first iPhone … so it’s getting easier for me to remember that ‘Mobile-friendly’ is more important than ever.

    I have not been adding a signup box to the end of my posts … but I will now.
    Also, good suggestions from Randy and Stephan too.
    Thanks,

  10. With 2011 on pace to be the first year that more consumers buy smartphones than standard “feature phones”, and with the raging popularity of the Apple and Android apps marketplaces, smart marketers will get consumers to opt-into their email programs via registration on mobile apps. Apps will be more fruitful for acquisition than mobile web sites due to a much simpler and cleaner user experience.

    • I see a place for both Apps and mobile-friendly websites. Here’s an example from the brick-and-mortar world: let’s say you look up something on Google Maps on your iPhone. You’re more likely to follow the link to the website (and hope it gives you the info you need even though you’re on your mobile) than to switch gears and download an app. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. I’d love to see usage statistics on this, though. Especially as to whether people are more likely to sign up for a deeper relationship from an app or a mobile-friendly site.

  11. Doesn’t the Wp Touch save you all off this?

    • No, it only delivers your main content column, not the sidebar.

      • Yes, now I remember that it didn’t show the sidebars and was also poor on script actions

      • :) I am amazed :D

        ” I actually prefer doing it manually. (That’s also how they do it on Copyblogger.) ”

        You can’t imagine how much headache this subscription has given me…But I have never thought about making another page and insert the link manually :) Thanks for giving me the emotional comfort of doing this the next time :)

    • you’re assuming that everyone’s website is built on WP; the bigger takeaway in this article is the statement that most mobile users (whose browsers can zoom) will zoom into the text, so position your signup form (or a link to it) in the same content area as your body copy.

  12. I actually think this technique works better for all users, not just mobile viewers. We definitely see more sign-ups when we put a call to action at the end of the content (which is tied back into the post in some way) rather than from a sidebar ad.

    • @Sonia: And don’t forget that ever important P.S. ;)

      • Yes, and notice how Copyblogger mixes it up. Same link at the bottom of today’s post and yesterday’s, but the language is different and so is the way it’s displayed on the screen. Very tricky, these Copyblogger folks…

        • We’re fiendish. :)

          We don’t put a CTA on every post (although that would be a good test for a few weeks) but we’re very conscious of mixing how we put the message in front of readers. Otherwise it just becomes visual white noise.

  13. Thank you so much, this was perfect and on time for me I am currently combining sites and using a new theme that I just love…I better verify it’s mobile ready and love the advice for putting on the posts!. I love Copyblogger! You guys seriously rock!

  14. I am so thankful you put this on my radar. I don’t use my mobile phone much for the web (no need since I never leave my computer!) and yes I’ve seen this but the ramifications didn’t sink in. A simple but helpful piece of advice. Thanks!

  15. If you don’t have a web-capable phone but need to see how your site looks on mobile, you can use the Opera Mini simulator. I’ve got some tips for using it at:

    http://websitemomentum.com/mobile/just-how-bad-does-your-site-look-on-a-mobile-phone/

    The simulator isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot easier than asking to borrow a phone every time you make a tweak to your design…

  16. What a great idea! If anything else, it puts the COA in front of the web readers as well. A+ to you, Joe!

  17. Thank you for this post! I learned so much – especially useful is my newfound ability to double tap text on my phone to make it bigger. You jet isnantly improved my quality of life :)

  18. I think those that don’t have a mobile ready blog in 2011 will be missing out of loads of mobile traffic because mobile communication is exploding

  19. That’s awesome Joe, great post.

    Two things – I switched to Genesis a couple of months ago and hadn’t realised it was innately mobile friendly. I just checked it out on my phone (I don’t use my phone for internet much) and it looks so much better than it ever did before! Thanks Genesis!

    Secondly – I’d never thought to add the signup at the bottom of the main content. One of those DOH! moments, so obvious when you think about it. Thanks heaps Joe.

    I recently had a webmaster (!!!!!) tell me he didn’t think there was any point optimising a site for mobile devices as not many people viewed the internet via mobiles. Yeah, I’m still stunned. That’s one piece of advice I’m going to ignore….

  20. Hey Joe

    I added WP Touch to my One Spoon At A Time blog as a result of seeing a great post here on Copyblogger – but not being a mobile internet browser I would never in a million years have known that the sidebar is missing.

    I’ll be adding calls to action in the posts to gather in some of those mobile subscribers – thank you for an excellent post, and an excellent tip.

  21. Great insights, Joe. Surely we all need to be more aware of what’s happening in the mobile realm. It also makes me think about how with video exploding right now, we probably need to have more than one version of our videos just for mobile.

    • Good point, Steve. My workaround with video is still pretty clumsy. Mobile viewers just see a blank space on the page, which is less than ideal. If you’re using YouTube to serve the video you can send mobile viewers there, at least on the iPhone, but then they’re gone from your site. I haven’t yet tried to understand HTML5 or any other new ways of including video that might play nicer with mobile devices.

      • You bring up a good point about YouTube and how it can sort of hijack your views. But Amazon S3 Web Services for video could be a key for everyone. They’ll let you use HTML5, which provides nearly universal access. And it’s incredibly cheap.

  22. Joe – very helpful. I’ve always thought doing the CTA for this manually probably made the most sense.

    On a different note, I’ve just added a popup box for email on my site. Lots of folks are saying the pros far outweigh the cons. Overall, it’s helping. However, I’ve noticed it doesn’t work too well on mobile. Any suggestions or opinions on pop-ups?

    bd
    @bdunc1

    • I wonder if there’s a way to disable the popup plugin if the mobile theme is activated. I agree it’s not working well. Maybe check with the plugin developer.

      You might also want to experiment with the timing of the popup. I installed one of those roll up from the bottom call to action footer ads on a site and it absolutely killed my conversion rate (cut it in half) until I wised up and put a longer delay on it. Now people have a chance to get involved in the site and the “invitation” seems less like I’m coming on too strong and more like I’m being helpful.

      Either way, adding a call to action at the bottom of your posts gives you another chance at those visitors who dismiss your optin popup by reflex.

  23. Great tips..to get mobile visitors. We should consider this because there are more number of gadget user for internet.

  24. Joe – what’s the name of the plugin you use for the rollup from the bottom?

    bd

    • Ultimate Footer Ad. It’s a little cheesy in its out-of-the-box configuration. (It’s not a WordPress plugin, but it works with WordPress.)

  25. Nice work Joe. When I speak on trends mobile continues to be one of the most important. I’m expecting 2011 to be the year companies of all sizes will explore mobile apps and mobile friendly sites like nothing we’ve seen so far.

    Thanks for the post.
    Victor

  26. This is great info! As more brands especially in my market luxury brands start to recognize the importance of list building mobile contact is critical.

    Happy New 2011!

    CR

  27. Yep. I added a small link below my opt in box at the end of the content area to a landing page with 6 reasons to sign up and it worked well. Another way is to redirect comment leavers to the same page using the rss redirect plugin