Building a newsletter is an essential part of running your business, as a blog owner you should be collecting email addresses from the start. With a list you gain direct access to your readership: an email is more personal than a tweet or RSS update is more likely to be read. You can use the list to direct people to your latest post, ask for feedback, direct them to a special deal or coupon for your products.
If you are serious about maintaining a mailing list and sending out newsletters then I highly recommend using a web-based service to do it. They will handle the signup process for you, making sure double-opt-ins are used and any unsubscribe requests are honoured. The delivery rate will also be higher than if you sent the emails yourself, with less chance of the mails ending up in people's spam filters. Here are some of the main providers :
Campaign Monitor offers everything a designer needs to run successful email marketing campaigns for themselves and their clients. You can even rebrand the interface, create sub-accounts for your clients and let them send their own campaigns.
MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It's like your own personal publishing platform.
Create profitable customer relationships for your business! AWeber's email marketing tools like professional email signup forms & autoresponder services make it easy for you to build your email list and stay in touch with prospects.
VerticalResponse helps businesses of all sizes build stronger customer relationships. Easily create emails, online surveys, and direct mail postcards. Share your content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Track who opens, clicks, shares and buys.
Constant Contact's leading email marketing, online survey and event marketing tools—supported by its expert personal coaching and support—help all types of small businesses and organizations create professional-looking email newsletters and insightful online surveys and begin a dialogue with their customers.
iContact's proven and industry-leading email marketing software empowers businesses to engage, educate and retain customers, targeted prospects and website visitors – and ultimately maximize ROI.
WordPress Plugins to Gain Extra Subscribers
Once you have chosen a service to host your list, you will need to find a way to generate signups for it. Adding newsletter signup forms to your blog's header or sidebar is one way - there are also a few extra ways you can try with the following plugins :
Adds a checkbox to your comment or registration forms, a widget sign-up form to your widget areas and a shortcode to embed newsletter sign-up forms in your posts and pages. This plugin currently supports the following newsletter providers but is not limited to those: MailChimp, YMLP, Aweber, iContact, PHPList, Feedblitz. You can practically use the plugin for every newsletter provider that's around if you use the right configuration settings.
This method is quite an intrusive way of collecting emails as it overlays a popup window when someone visits your site, having said that it - I have tested this on a couple of sites and it's highly effective for gaining new subscribers - especially if combined with a free giveaway like an eBook.
This plugin adds a customisable bar at the top of your site which you can draw people's attention to signing up for your newsletter or subscribing to your RSS feed.
WordPress Newsletter Plugins
This plug-in lets you collect subscribers on your blog with a single or double opt-in subscription process. Double opt-in is law compliant and it means the user has to confirm the subscription following simple standard instructions sent to him via email.
WP Autoresponder And Newsletter Plugin
With WP Autoresponder you can create email newsletters, follow up autoresponders and provide subscription to blog via e-mail.
WP Autoresponder And Newsletter Plugin »
Sometimes you want an easy way to e-mail all the people who registered, commented on the website, now it's as easy as installing this plug-in.
Simple plugin for mailing news or updates to members registered on the blog.
News Mailer »
Sendit is a mailing lists and newsletter plugin for WordPress to manage mailing list.
Easy Sign Up
Easy Sign Up is a WordPress Plug-in that collects e-mail addresses and then redirects the visitor to a url. The plug-in generates a customizable thank you email that's sent to the visitor and the visitor's email and name are sent to an email address of your choosing.
Service Provider Plugins
This plugin provides an easy, lightweight way to let your users sign up for your MailChimp list. You can use it to sign up users for several different lists by creating multiple instances of the widget.
Constant Contact for WordPress
The Constant Contact for WordPress plugin is the best email marketing plugin for WordPress: integrate your website seamlessly with your Constant Contact account.
Vertical Response Newsletter Widget
Add a Vertical Response signup form to your sidebar. Lots of configuration options. Now with custom colors and shortcode support.
Add an iContact signup form to your sidebar or content and easily update how the form looks.
Create and send MailChimp campaigns by selecting WordPress posts directly from the WordPress administrator backend.
AWeber Web Form Plugin
This widget allows you to quickly and easily install an AWeber web form on your WordPress blog using AWeber's API.
The GetResponse Integration plugin allows you to quickly and easily add a signup form for your site.