In this article, learn how to add a free mailing list subscription form solution to your WordPress website.
For nearly 20 years, I’ve been creating high-end marketing websites with low-end development budgets. Aside from time invested, nearly everything I do for myself is initially 99% free until it’s grown enough to cover its own operating costs.
Digital landscapes are constantly shifting, but one steadfast quality of the internet is there’s almost always a free option for anything if you’re willing to do the leg-work. Adding a mailing list subscription form to your WordPress website is no exception.
Popular Small Business Email Marketing Solutions
To state the obvious — there’s a ton of email marketing solutions for small businesses. A few that come to mind are MailChimp, SendGrid, AWeber, and Constant Contact.
They’re all admirable services, but from the point of view of a low-budget (or no budget) freelancer, startup business, solopreneur, affiliate marketer, or anyone just testing the waters with a new email mailing list they all have their faults and downsides.
Good But Not Great Solutions
First, allow me to explain why I’m not recommending any of these options for a new mailing list on your WordPress website. The short-answer is that they’re not free. Or if they are free then they’re branded or broken or a weird slimmed down freemium version of the real deal. And, I simply don’t like that.
When I want a free solution I want it to look, feel, and function like the pro-model. The full-version.
I don’t want advertisements displayed on the user-facing side. I don’t want branded logos shown alongside the featured product. And, I certainly do not want to pay for a service until I know leveraging it will cover the cost of using it.
And neither should you. Don’t settle for less.
MailChimp used to be my “go to”. Seriously, before Intuit bought the company it was really great and came with all the free features and tools a frugal fellow like myself could ever need. Lately, it’s gone down the toilet.
For me, having to display a branded MailChimp logo next to any non-paid sign-up form is enough to not use it. Add in limitations for audiences, mailing lists, and landing pages and it’s just a no go unless you’re signed up to a premium plan.
SendGrid is actually pretty good. It might even have a slight edge over MailChimp. At this time, SendGrid’s free plan allows you to send up to 100 emails per day forever — which is pretty cool.
If you reach 101 subscribers, you can send 50,000 emails per month for about $20/month too. Which by that point is a reasonable cost — assuming you’re using email to sell something or converting leads into paying customers.
The issue I have with SendGrid is with their subscription sign-up form and website integration offerings.
For embedding a subscription sign-up form on your website SendGrid provides you an iFrame. Seriously, an iFrame.
As reference, I haven’t used an iFrame for anything website related since 2004 when Microsoft FrontPage was a cutting-edge website editor. Shut the front door, SendGrid.
SendGrid does have a plugin for WordPress, but it hasn’t been updated in years. And yes, there are a ton of “SendGrid” plugins to connect WordPress’ email sending service to SendGrid’s servers for SMTP mail, but that doesn’t help you add an integrated sign-up form to your website, so I’m not feeling it.
AWeber is another email marketing solution that’s been on the scene for quite a while.
In fact, AWeber’s free plan is better than SendGrids. For free, you can have up to 500 subscribers and send up to 3000 emails per month — which is more subscribers and roughly the same amount of emails when you average it out by day.
Regardless, whether you’re sending 100 emails per day or 3000 emails per month the math doesn’t add up when your mailing list is maxed out and you’re sending daily mailings.
For total transparency, I haven’t tested AWeber recently so I’m not sure if they force branding when you’re using the free version, but I do know you’re limited to a single mailing list and we’ve already touched on the subscribers vs emails number issue. On top of that, I’m always always always concerned about allowing 3rd-party service providers to maintain ownership of your own mailing lists.
For these reasons, I’m out.
I’m only going to cover Constant Contact because I mentioned it as being a top-of-mind email marketing solution for small businesses. Over the years, I’ve worked with several clients who were already using it and therefore I’m familiar with it. Constant Contact is an easy to use service that works great for a lot of small businesses managing large, growing, multi-segmented mailing lists — but it’s not free, so it doesn’t really qualify as a solution for my list.
And speaking from experience, if you’re going to pay for an email marketing solution I believe there are better choices that offer more flexibility, as well as affordability. That said, CC’s still a solid service with excellent customer support, so don’t write it off if you’re in the market.
The Best Free Email Marketing Newsletter Subscription Form Solution for WordPress Websites
Okay, now that I’ve covered what not to use — how about spotlighting the best free email marketing subscription form solution for WordPress websites? *drum roll, please…*
Say hello to MailPoet.
MailPoet has a legitimate FREE version. Send up to 5,000 emails per month to up to 1,000 subscribers.
That alone blows the other “free” options out of the water.
Easy to Set Up
The icing on the cake? MailPoet is made to be used as a WordPress plugin!
It’s dead simple to sign-up for the free plan, install the plugin, configure some basic settings — like your from and reply-to email address — and start sending emails.
Easy to Integrate Sign-up Forms
With MailPoet sign-up forms are included. You don’t need to buy an additional plugin or install an extra script on your site to make it work.
Easy to Design Templates and Other Functionality
And, guess what else? It comes with a variety of subscription sign-up forms, newsletter templates, and other cool functionality like “welcome emails” and “reengagement emails” out of the box.
Plus, everything is customizable. Designing newsletter templates that fit your brand is as easy as dragging-and-dropping block-style elements — the same as you’re used to when creating normal content using WordPress.
Easy Form Embeds for Precision Placement
Not only can you create and customize newsletter sign-up forms, but you can easily add them anywhere on your WordPress website using shortcodes.
Add subscription forms to theme template files. Add sign-up forms to widgetized areas. Stick one in a sidebar or smack-dab in the middle of page content. Anywhere you need a subscription sign-up form you can create one and embed it.
Using MailPoet, you can even get fancy.
Options include pop-up subscription forms, slide-out subscription forms, and sticky-bar subscription forms. Yes, you can add a normal static form too (I use them).
SMTP Email Sending
Similar to SendGrid, MailPoet sets up SMTP to send through their own servers to you’re not bogging down your web host’s PHP mailer service.
Control of Your Audience Lists
The way MailPoet is built means you control and have ownership over your own audience lists. Unlike a solution such as MailChimp, you don’t have to worry about losing your account or losing your mailing list.
With MailPoet, it’s all part of your WordPress site, so subscriber lists are 100% yours.
Also, you can create as many audience segments as you need. Unlike the other options covered in this article, you’re not limited to a single list when you’re on the free plan. MailPoet and WordPress provide you the ability to divi up subscribers and mailing lists any way that works for you.
Extra Features if Needed
And of course, there are premium features you can purchase as add-ons, but there’s also a good chance you won’t need them as a low-budget/no-budget freelancer, startup, affiliate marketer, or blossoming small business. There’s plenty of flexibility to get your feet wet — and oh boy, is the water warm.
Try MailPoet for Yourself
Well, that’s my raving review of MailPoet. Get more leads. Land more customers. Do more business.
If you’re like me and want a free solution for email marketing that integrates seamlessly with WordPress and offers everything you need to start growing your business before sinking money into your business then MailPoet is right for you.