Well it’s that time for a new release of Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce and this one shall be called 1.2.4.

We introduced a bunch of changes around stability and…well stability.

But wait, that’s not all.

Remove from Account

A number of customers reached out and had lots of pages as restricted content. This left the My Account page on WooCommerce with a huge list of pages that just cluttered up the interface.

With 1.2.4 we’ve added a checkbox to remove a page from the My Account page, much like we already had the option to remove a page/post from the WordPress menu area.

Shiny new remove from My Account button


Translations in bbPress

There were also a few users that reached out with issues around our text matching in bbPress for the restricted content messages.

We added 2 new filters wecr_bbp_forum_message_global and wecr_bbp_topic_message_global that allow users with different translations to filter the incoming and outgoing text here so you don’t have to hack the plugin to get the proper text in your restricted messages.

That’s it, fire up your updaters and enjoy the day.

Something that some sites do well is onboard their users. For those not familiar with the term onboarding I’ll define it.

Onboarding: Walking new users through a series of step designed to help them get the most out of your site.

Most membership sites do nothing about user onboarding at all. They don’t spend time identifying what the key things a good long term member has done. Then since they don’t have that information they don’t do anything to make sure that all new users do those same things.


I recently got beta access to Cushion and it did a great job of walking you through the 3 steps you need to do to setup your account. You can see the 3 steps below.


One thing that’s not 100% clear in the shots above is that the only thing on the page during the onboarding process is the goal you need to currently accomplish.

Nothing distracts you from the task at hand.

How are you going to figure out what the key things are your long term members have done? How are you going to define your onboarding process?

If you’ve got an online store and you’re taking payments without users leaving your site you need to have an SSL certificate.

What is an SSL?

An SSL is how your web browser creates a secure tunnel to a Web site. In the case of an eCommerce site this is used during the checkout process to make sure that none of the private details of your customers can be seen by the outside world.


You see this with the little ‘padlock’ and ‘https’ in your browser when you’re on a site secured by an SSL. If you want to see exactly what all browsers look like with a secure connection then you should head over to this great post by Expedited SSL which shows lots of browsers and how they look when making a secure connection.

Which type do I need?

There are 2 main types of SSL certificates you’re going to encounter.

  1. Standard or Quick
  2. Extended Validation

Quick validation certificates generally cost between $75 – $150 though you can find people selling them for more. This type of certificate tells the browser that it is in fact connected to the expected server. It really doesn’t assert anything about the trust worthiness of your company though.

A Quick/Standard SSL can be purchase and installed within a few hours if not faster since you just fill in a few fields and then get the certificate.

An Extended Validation certificate runs between $150 – $500 (or way more). In addition to asserting that you’re connected to the expected server securely this type of certificate asserts some things about your business. It asserts that you’re a real business with an address.

It can do this because when you got it you had to fill out a bunch of information about your business and then that information was validated by the certificate issuing authority.

Any business outside of a hobby should get an Extended validation certificate.

Where do I get one?

If your host can provide you with an SSL then just use the host. It’s going to be the easiest way to install it on your server and is usually entirely automated.

If you’re host doesn’t supply the SSL’s at all or doesn’t supply the type of certificate you need then I recommend you use GeoTrust to purchase your SSL certificate. They are a highly trusted certificate authority and they aren’t priced crazy high like some other providers.

photo credit: kaptainkobold cc

Before you build out an eCommerce site you should understand the full costs of actually running it. No you don’t just put the store up and people magically come to it and then you’re a millionaire.

Running an eCommerce site (much like any decent site) takes work and some ongoing costs.


If no one knows about you then you’re not going to sell anything on your site. One of the best things you can do for your long term search engine visibility is to write at least one blog post a week.

Yeah that may sound like a lot of work if you’re not writer, but I didn’t say write to write 5000 word posts every week I said write one post.

One of my clients is a paddling shop. They write one post a week and often it’s mostly a photo post with a quick recap of where the staff went paddling that week. The biggest investment was in the nice waterproof camera for staff to take along.


Another thing they write about is new paddling gear that comes in. Take a few pictures of staff wearing it and write about why they felt it was a good product to bring in.

Also remember that you know a lot about your industry already so you have a lot of ‘foundational’ posts you can write that are going to come easy.

For me that’s something like this article. I advise clients on the ongoing work an online store takes every week so to put it down in words isn’t that hard. When I sat down and started to put down titles for foundational WordPress eCommerce posts I came up with 20 titles in about 5 minutes.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is the total cost of your products/services?
  • What type of service should customers expect?
  • Why would someone purchase option A over option B?

If you’re using WordPress you should also be using WordPress SEO by Yoast to give your site the highest possibility of being found in search. If you’re not familiar with how to use it then get a membership to WP101 which not only teaches you how to use WordPress but has a great series on using the WordPress SEO by Yoast.

It will work with any WordPress eCommerce platform and allow you to specify what search engines are going to see on your content and products.


If you’re hosting eCommerce you can’t just use a $3/month host because of the security offered. If you’re taking credit cards online then you’re going to need to be PCI compliant which means a bunch of the normal stuff that’s allowed on a server isn’t allowed for your eCommerce site.

My current recommendation is to use Siteground on their GoGeek plan. It’s got everything your developer is going to need security wise and isn’t hundreds of dollars a month.


To keep things secure you’re going to need an SSL for your site. An SSL makes sure that the communication between your client’s browser and your site is encrypted which keeps their information safe.

If you’re going with the GoGeek plan then you get an SSL for free when you get started. Simply put in a support ticket and their support crew can help you get it set up.

There are 2 main types of SSL certificates. The first is a ‘quick’ SSL and all it does is confirm that the server you’re on is the expected server. They range in price from $75 – $150 and I suggest that you just get them from your host if they offer the option, like Siteground and most others do.

The second type is called an Extended Validation Certificate or EV Cert for short. They range in cost from $150 – $500+. The difference here is that they do a bunch of business validation. So they ask for your address and other information and basically make sure that you are who you say you are.

The EV Cert gives you a ‘fully secure’ green bar in your browser. If you’re a larger business (doing more than $10k/month in sales) then I suggest you get an EV Cert for your site. It shows a higher level of security and can help influence customers trust in your business.

If you’re in the market for an EV Cert then I recommend purchasing from GeoTrust. Once you get it you can work with your host to have it installed properly.

SSL are renewed on a yearly basis. Some are valid for a few years but this is a recurring expense for your eCommerce site.


You have your site backed up right? If your web developer makes a mistake and the whole site goes dead you can recover from that right?

Mistakes happen so expect them and plan for it.

All of my clients are required to have a backup plan that at least gets the whole site daily and the database 3 – 4 times a day.

If they don’t have anything then I recommend they use VaultPress which does a realtime backup. That means as things change on your site it keeps them backed up for you.

Plugin licenses

No matter what platform you choose (read my guide to choosing) you’re going to have some recurring plugin license costs.

That means if you purchased a payment gateway for Easy Digital Downloads you’re going to need to pay yearly to get the updates for that payment gateway.

Considering the actual cost to build an eCommerce platform (easily in to the hundreds of thousands if you build a custom one) a few hundred dollars a year in plugin renewals is very inexpensive.


If you’ve got an eCommerce site you should be looking at your conversions and how to optimize them. At the very least you should be looking at Optimizely and A/B testing your sites.

Optimizely has a free plan that can work for many site owners to get started testing. Some other great tools for optimizing your site for conversions are:

  • Feng-GUI which does automated UI tracking testing. Not as good as actually having users on the site testing but better that not testing
  • Inspectlet records user sessions on your site so you can see what real people are doing
  • User Testing lets you hire people at little cost to try out your site and accomplish tasks as they talk through the tasks. Super informative to see where your site is totally confusing.

If you’re not sure how to do conversion optimization I recommend reading Master The Essentials of Conversion Optimization for a great primer or get in touch and we can help.

Payment Gateways

All payment gateways take some percentage of your sales as payment for their service. Fairly typical is around 3% so make sure to factor that in to all your earnings projections.


Now you may not be able to handle all of the above on your own. You may need to hire someone to take care of your testing/conversion optimization or your marketing program. Prices on this vary so do some research and find a company that fits with you.

That’s all the bigger ticket expenses you’re going to have when you run an eCommerce site. Now you can be better prepared to run a profitable store.

photo credit: stevedave cc


There are a few options out there for WordPress when it comes to building an eCommerce site and making the choice can be hard especially if you don’t build eCommerce sites on a regular basis.

Where do you even start? What are the real differences between the major players like Woocommerce, WP eCommerce, Exchange, and Easy Digital Downloads?

What are you goals?

The place you need to start is to identify your goals with the site.

Which payment gateway do you want to use?

Are you shipping physical goods or is this purely a digital store?

Do you need to integrate with advanced analytics like KissMetrics?

Do you have a well built conversion ready theme that supports an eCommerce platform or are you starting from scratch?

How much support do you need from the plugin seller?

The single eCommerce platform with the most options in extensions that can do the most is WooCommerce. It can be a digital store or a store that ships things. It can run a learning based membership site and integrate with advanced metrics.

If a WordPress theme supports an eCommerce plugin then it’s likely that plugin is WooCommerce since it’s already the engine behind most WordPress eCommerce sites.

But that still doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.

Digital Downloads

If you’re building a digital downloads store (like selling books or software) then Easy Digital Downloads is your best option.

Sure WooCommerce or WP eCommerce or Exchange can also power that type of site but EDD is the easiest to set up simply because it doesn’t have all those options that are needed for physical goods.

If you’re selling software, particularly WordPress themes or Plugins, then EDD gets even easier. WooCommerce does have the ability to do software licenses, unfortunately the documentation is hard to get around while EDD offers easy examples of how to implement software licensing.

To give you an example I sat around with 2 other WooCommerce developers when I was getting ready to setup the software licensing portion of my commercial plugin and after 60 minutes of back and forth we still didn’t quite get how WooCommerce wanted so set things up.

Then I bought the EDD software licensing plugin and had it set up in 20 minutes which included tearing it apart so the software licensing pages looked different for my plugin.

It does seem a bit ironic to sell a WooCommerce plugin with Easy Digital Downloads but there is no simpler option to handle software licensing so I went with the best tool for the job.

How much support do you need?

How much support do you need? How familiar are you with code? I build sites all the time so I actually need very little support. When I hit and issue I know that I can look at the code and 98% of the time figure it out in short order. If I can’t then I have a friend who can figure it out with me.

If you’re going to need support/help with your plugins then there is a few things you should know about how each plugin does support.

Currently WooCommerce has the slowest support. They’re getting better but expect at least 24 hours to hear back from them about an issue you’re having. Their support ticketing system is a fairly long form that asks for a bunch of data you may or may not know where to get inside the plugin and inside your WooThemes account.

So WooCommerce does provide support for their paying customers but it’s a bit of a laborious process to submit a ticket and response times are slower than competitors.

Probably the best support comes out of Easy Digital Downloads. Pippin (the founder) and his team provide fast top notch support to all paying customers. Their support is fast, but if you want to be at the top of the list of incoming tickets you can pay for Priority Support. That means that the already fast and stellar support will be faster.

WP eCommerce has a ‘token’ model for support which means when you purchase an extension like Gold Cart you get a single support token. Once you use that to get 1on1 support from WP eCommerce you’re going to need to purchase another support token at a cost of $99 USD for each support request you submit.

iThemes offers 1 month of ticketed support with the purchase of a Pro pack then you move to ‘regular’ support. So during that crucial time where you are likely to have more questions as you get used to the platform iThemes has you on the fastest support.

Later on when you’re likely to have less questions you still have paid support, but the speed is a bit slower.

Outside of the paid support on each platform you can get community support for any of the above options by going to the WordPress.org plugin forum support pages for each plugin for which there are links below.

Updates and Stability

Regardless of which platform you use you should be running a testing server and upgrading your eCommerce site there first and only once you’ve run tests on it you upgrade your live site. Not doing this is simply asking for trouble of the emergency variety.

If something breaks and it’s on your testing site, there really isn’t a big issue. It’s simply a testing site and no one is being blocked from purchasing your products.

If you upgrade the live site first and something breaks, it’s a big deal and you’re in panic mode since your customers can’t make purchases.

The only plugin I more or less expect to have issues during and upgrade is WooCommerce. Maybe it’s a theme issue when they rewrite all their CSS (which really did need to get done it was terrible) or maybe they change how the whole coupon system works and some of the plugins you’ve purchased aren’t upgraded yet.

Whatever it is, the one I consistently have to go back and ‘fix’ after upgrades is WooCommerce.

All of the others have had issues upgrading at times but 95% of the time there is no issue with upgrading Exchange, EDD, or WPEC.

Most delightful to use

Hands down the most delightful UI and plugin function award goes to iThemes Exchange. They are the ‘newest’ option on the market and put a lot of work in to how the plugin functions for users. None of the other ones are terrible to use, but iThemes really kicks the usability up a notch.

Wrap up

Where does that leave you really, because I said that each option was best at some things but not best at others?

Like I said you need to decide a few things about what you want to do. If you’re looking a shipping a bunch of physical goods then EDD is out as an option.

Once you’ve made the easy cuts then it’s time to look at the extensions around the plugins and choose the one that has the most extensions already built to do what you need.

None of the options are terrible choices.

photo credit: 22875869@N02 cc

Even if you only have a single ‘standard’ product to see you need to start looking at what you can use as an upsell to generate more revenue with your business.

You are upsold pretty much any time you head in to a fast food restaurant. They all ask if you’d like to ‘super size’ that meal and most people say yes. Typically that means you get some extra fries and a bit more soda (or pop). That’s something that is of high value to you and really doesn’t cost them much to provide.

Does Upselling work?

8351789877_71023d6d69_oIn short yes it does. The automotive industry alone makes huge profits on selling you the carpet protection after you’ve purchased a car because adding $2/month to a payment of $400/month is barely noticeable. In fact the whole goal of the person writing up your lease/finance agreement is to try and sell you on extra stuff.

That and service are the highest profit centres in a car dealership.

But I only sell one product

Over on my personal site, I also only sell one product as I write this. I sell a single book for $29.99 but I also have an ‘upsell’ of videos to go with the book. I sell 2 books for every one set of books and videos but most of the income comes from the videos because of their pricing difference.

If I didn’t have the option to purchase the videos I would have left thousands of dollars on the table.

Can you upsell too much?

A great rule of thumb is that the upsell attempt should be useful to the customer and make sense. You wouldn’t upsell someone shopping for a point and shoot camera to a $5k dSLR plus a lens package, you’d show them a slightly nicer point and shoot camera.

One place that many stores get it wrong (Staples I’m looking your way) is to send repeated emails after a purchase to try and get you to upgrade the order before it ships.

When you embark on upselling your products do so in a way that you wouldn’t mind being upsold. Point out options that increase the value to the customer without being some crazy expensive add on that has little bearing on their current purchase.

photo credit: lego_bro cc

If you’ve run a site for more than 1 week you’ve encountered users. For some reason they seem to be able to take the most finely crafted work you and your developer came up with and reduce it to a pile of smouldering bugs within seconds of launch.

I have one project in particular that has been launched for months and suddenly we had 1 user reporting missing content. They could see it when they weren’t logged in but as soon as they logged in content was missing.
Posts ‘magically’ disappeared.

I spent 2 hours trying to track that down. My client and I were about to just give up and say it was a user problem and she was just wrong. I couldn’t reproduce the error on my local install or on our staging site or when logged in to the user account on the live site.

Then one little tidbit of information came through. There was a ‘login’ link that I wasn’t aware of. During 2 short weeks when I was busy another developer had added it and hardcoded a path to the development server.

Development was at least a week behind live content so of course when the user logged in they didn’t see all the content.

What was a 10 minute fix took over 2 days of back and forth to find.
For most sites this process of back and forth is going to repeat itself over and over because “that’s just how it works.”

The reality is that it only works that way because you let it work that way.

Have a reporting system

Our big step to deal with future problems has been to build a reporting form for clients. We collect:

  1. Browser (including version)
  2. OS
  3. Detailed steps to reproduce (seriously the more detail the better and screenshots FTW)

We also recorded a training video on how to get your browser version and your operating system and showed how much detail is great for bug reporting.

Finally if the bug seems to be extra obscure we get clients to use Screenr to record the bug in action. We even took the time to record a video demonstration of how to record that screencast and submit it to us.

But users rarely report bugs

Even with a solid process that’s easy for your users know that most of them are not going to report a bug. In fact we typically see only about 5% of users will actually report a bug even if it affects most of them.

So it’s likely you’re going to simply be loosing sales due to a bug you don’t know about.

That sucks but your developer can do something about it.

Log some bugs

Instead of just sitting back and waiting for your users to report bugs (which we know doesn’t happen enough) you should be expecting your developer to build in error reporting for your site.

We always use tool called WP_Logging (it’s a bit technical to be sure) with our custom development to catch any situation where an error could happen.

Less technical and usually billed as a marketing plugin is Leadin. With Leadin installed you can see where your users are going so you can check where that member that just cancelled has been during their membership. I did they recycle on an odd page for a few days?

Does that page work properly? Time to figure it out.

Set up Goals

Google Analytics has an awesome feature called ‘goals’ that allows you to define the ‘flow’ of a user through your site. A typical eCommerce flow should look something like a triangle pointed down.

100 people start the funnel 80 people get to checkout and 50 people purchase a product.

Now if you have 100 people start the funnel and 80 people get to checkout and 10 people purchase then you’ve likely got a problem with the checkout page. It may not be a site bug (as in it may not be actually broken) but there is certainly something wrong with the content of the checkout page.

Issues happen on sites and it’s likely that your users aren’t even reporting them they’re just leaving. Setting up some goals in Google Analytics and some additional development logging will go a long way to making sure that you catch as many bugs as possible.

Yup we’re still talking about email. Here’s what we’ve covered so far.

Today we’re going to talk about how we increase the conversions in our email campaigns.


What’s a good conversion?

First off what is a good conversion rate for email? According to MailChimp it can depend a bit on your industry. A good ‘rule of thumb’ for a while is somewhere between 1 – 5% of the people that get your email will actually click on something in it.

Currently my opens are around 39% and my click through rate is 10% which is high but has actually come down as I’ve built my email list more. As I’ve cast my net wider I’ve been pulling in a few more people that aren’t super fans of my content.

That’s not technically a bad thing since it’s still more people and overall more people are interacting with my sites, but it can feel a bit like a fail as your clicks and opens go down.

Another thing to remember is that all conversions aren’t the same. Is it better to have 2.5% conversions on a $.99 product or 1% on a $900 product?

You’re going to make much more with that 1% conversion. So don’t just look at the raw number figure out which type of conversion is best for you.

What’s your goal

Before you start your email, what is your goal? Is it a regular content message so you stay valuable to your readers or is it time to make a bit of a pitch to them?

If it’s a content email then maybe the tips below aren’t what you should be using for this particular email.

Watch that subject line

First off you need to hook the email reader so that they open your email and that means writing a compelling subject. Did you know that email subjects of fewer than 10 characters convert better than longer titles?

A great way to lead in is to put a question in the subject line. Maybe even make it a bit shocking/funny to intrigue them. How about “Did you know that you wake up with a zombie?” for an email about a better morning routine.

‘How to’ subject lines also work well. For our morning routine email we could use “How to wash the morning zombie out of your brain”.

There are a number of other awesome ways to write subject lines and Campaign Monitor has a great post on them all.

The takeaway is, don’t just write something and let it go. Put some thought in to your email subject lines and you’re going to get a better opening rate.

Personalize the email

Do you like talking to someone that obviously hasn’t done any research on you or someone that actually engages with you? Pretty obviously you prefer to talk to someone that has actually taken time to do some research on you and knows your name.

All the email providers have the ability to use a ‘fill in’ which is a bit of placeholder text that becomes the user’s name when the email is sent.

Make sure you use their first and last name in their email if you have them.

I regularly go through my MailChimp lists and try to find out the first/last names of the subscribers and put them in to MailChimp and when I do, opens and subscribes get higher.

Invite personal reply

What’s your biggest business problem? I’d love to hear about it at curtis@curtismchale.ca.

See that, that’s a question and when you put those in your email broadcasts your going to get replies. Yes that’s work but there is no magic bullet to building a solid email list with great fans of your brand.

Asking them a question and engaging them will increase your conversions on later emails as well because they now have a person connection with you.

Send it again

You may think that because someone didn’t open your email they aren’t interested in what you have to offer, but that’s totally not true.

Look at what Nathan Barry says about his second email for the launch of his Authority book.

…that email drove $5000 in revenue

He made around $26,000 in 24 hours on the product launch and $5000 of that came from the second email. That’s users that didn’t purchase with the first email and it’s almost 20% of the total revenue.

If you can, track the conversions on your email list right through to the site then segment out the users that already purchased your product and only send the second email to those that haven’t purchase.

If you can’t then send the email to everyone on the email list again. Remind them when the sales window is about to close and invite them to purchase again. Provide them with the coupon you gave your email list (if you gave them one).

Make it easy for them to buy from you.

Make it mobile friendly

Please oh please make your email mobile friendly. According to reports between 48% – 55% of email opens happen on a mobile device.

You know you do it to, roll over and check your email before you’ve even had breakfast. Maybe it’s just to delete the crap you don’t want in your inbox, but you at least look at them all.

Mobile users are increasingly purchasing on their mobile devices with 1/3 of all eCommerce purchases being made on a smartphone in 2013.

So right in your users hand is a device that they’ll check first thing in the morning and then use to make purchases.

One of the best resources for mobile friendly emails are the MailChimp email blueprints they put out for free.

For my email lists I use a basic MailChimp template since it’s already ready for a mobile device. They simply work and you don’t need fancy you need something that converts.

Ask them to share the email

Once the email has been opened and actions have been taken make sure you ask them to share the email with someone they think would find the content useful.

A personal recommendation from a friend goes a long way to building trust with a customer you may not have contact with.

The easiest way to approach this is to simply write it in to the initial email you send. Something like “If you know someone that will benefit from this email list please share it with them”.

In MailChimp you can also segment users to find the top openers/clickers on your list and send them a custom email thanking them for their participation in your content and encouraging them to share it with a friend that would also benefit from your content.

Which ever way you do it, make sure you ask your subscribers to tell their friends about your email list to help build it.

photo credit: wbaiv cc

Last week I talked about the fact that if you’re not building an email list you’re leaving sales on the table.

But how on earth do you use it? Do you just blast people with the sales you have? Do you email them daily or weekly or monthly? Do you send extra emails during the holiday’s or for big sales?

The 80/20 rule

The best rule of thumb to start with is the old 80/20 rule. Provide 80% useful free content to your email subscribers and only ask for sales 20% of the time.

By bombarding them with requests to purchase all the time all you’re going to do is tire them out and make your real call to action when you’re launching a new product something that your users are blind to.

If they even read your email anymore.

Now putting a ‘brought to you by’ section with a link to a product you sell at the end of every email is different. That’s a ‘soft sell’ that people will just see in the bottom.

When I’m talking about not selling to them, I’m saying that you shouldn’t just make the whole email about selling for 80% of the email you’re sending.

What’s in the 80%

So you’ve got the 20% taken care of right. You’ll write some stellar copy (hey have you seen the CopyHackers material on awesome copy?) and people will purchase your content in droves.

What goes in the 80% though?

For my email list on my personal site I email weekly and most of the time I send people the content from my blog post for the day.

I also send them some awesome content I’ve found around the web during the week that’s not mine.

Yup I may even send them to competitors and no I don’t worry about it at all.

See I’m the one that found it so I’m still the contact to the competitor. I’m the one that will be remembered as the connector, even if they purchase from the competitor.

The goal is to make sure that you’re providing relevant content to your subscribers so that they keep opening your emails and reading them. If they’re not opening them then they’re not going to see when you’re launching something new so they’re not going to purchase it.

The exception

The only exception to the 80/20 rule is when the sole purpose of your email list is to send people information on products. That’s what AppSumo does so all you get from them is emails on deals they have on products.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 8.20.17 AM

If that’s the type of email list you’re building then my all means email about products all the time.

No go forth

Now it’s time to set up that email list (I recommend MailChimp and Leadin) and start using it for awesome content so you can get more sales.

Not sure how to set it up, get in touch and we can help.

Despite many of us not liking lots of emails in our inboxes did you know that email marketing is still the highest converting form of online marketing?

No other online medium even comes close.

If you’re not building and using an email list then you’re leaving sales on the table.

So here are my 5 best tips for building an email list.

1. Ask them lots

Yeah I know popups can be a pain, but you don’t have to use a popup to get an email subscriber. On my personal site I use a plugin called Leadin and it provides me with a tidy slide up box which appears after a user has scrolled down the page.

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 4.27.47 PM

That’s not the only place I have my email opt-in though. Right at the top of my homepage I’ve got an email opt-in. Adding that to my homepage meant a 10% increase in email subscribers right away.

How about your sidebar, does it have an email opt-in box?

I know it may seem overkill, but you typically have to ask 4 – 6 times for an email address before you get it. When I added more places to opt-in to my email list I had users that had been on my site for over a year finally opt-in.

2. Do a Hangout

Call it a Webinar or whatever you want, you’re an expert in your field and that means you have awesome advice to share.

Put together a presentation outline and then schedule a webinar with Google Hangouts On Air. Provide your notes to the users at the end along with a sheet giving them bullet point take away items and ask for an email in exchange for the extra information.

3. Have a contest

When I started giving away a business book a month on my personal site I immediately gained subscribers.

In fact every time I’m setting up the giveaway I post about it on Twitter with a link to my email subscribe page and add 10 – 15 users to my email list.

The giveaway costs my around $15/month but increases the reach of my list (and my potential customers) in a huge way.

4. Add a giveaway for the email

Currently I entice new subscribers to sign up for my email list by giving them the 5 best pricing resources I’ve found.

The big thing to remember is that the giveaway content should be almost totally free. In my 5 best pricing resources I only link to one paid resource, and it’s not even mine.

I’m working on a short book to giveaway to all any new email subscriber all about running a business properly. Sure I might sell it on Amazon as well, but it’s meant for my email subscribers as a free item.

For this site I’m working on a guidebook on the 5 biggest eCommerce design mistakes I see which will be a free resource for new email subscribers.

5. Actually use the email list

If you’re going to put in the time to build an email list you better actually use it. It doesn’t have to be weekly, but how about a monthly email with 4 of the best articles you’ve found in your field?

They don’t all have to be your articles, in fact they should be from competitors as well. The point is that when your email subscribers sign up they get awesome information from you every month.

Even if you’re sharing competitor’s content, you’re the one that’s actually giving new information to the client and being super helpful.

At the end of each email ask your subscribers if they know someone who would benefit from the content and ask them to send it to the friend. A personal recommendation goes a long way in enticing others to join the list.

No email isn’t the sexiest thing around and everyone talks about social media as the ‘big thing’ but email is still the highest converting sales tool you have online.

So get out there and use it.