How to Turn Blog Commenters into Email Subscribers
When someone leaves a comment on your blog, they must enter their name, email address, and in some cases, if they have one, their own website or blog URL link. All of that information is stored in your WordPress database and in the comments section of your blog dashboard, where you typically go to manage and approve comments.
While you can see the user data and manually email a commenter if you so desire, trying to export all of it for evaluation or to email them is not an easy task. However, there are a couple of plugins that can assist with this, which I’ll cover in a moment. But first, a disclosure.
This strategy may be subject to CAN-SPAM guidelines, so please use at your own risk.
Create a Comment Policy
Before we get into the specific steps of converting commenters into email subscribers, I’m going to recommend that you have a comment policy in place on your site. A comment policy is a document that you create which specifies what you will and won’t allow in your comments section and the relationship between you and the commenter(s). (The Spears Marketing comment policy can be found in our disclosure document.)
Make sure this policy is publicly accessible so commenters can read and agree to it before posting a comment on your site. It’s a good idea to link this document to the comment section below each blog post so that potential commenters can agree to abide by your policies if they choose to leave a comment.
To my knowledge there isn’t any specific verbiage that is required for a comment policy (many bloggers don’t have one), but I would recommend adding something that says that “by commenting on your blog they are giving you permission to email them comment follow-ups and other correspondence.” You should also add that the policy can be updated at any time without notice. You’ll want to tweak the wording so that it fits your voice and messaging for your audience.
Converting Blog Commenters to Email Subscribers
Ok, so now that you’ve got the policy in place which gives you permission to email them if they comment on your site, let’s get into how you get them to opt-in to your email list.
1. Create a Free, Valuable Opt-In Resource
You may already have a free email opt-in created to attract visitors to signup for your email list, but I recommend you create a new one that is specific for your email commenters. It should be valuable enough for someone to want it, but also broad enough to interest all the different commenters on your many blog posts. You’re going to use this “ethical bribe” to entice these readers to signup for your main email list. Once your resource is created, you’ll most likely want to setup a landing page with info about the free gift and an email opt-in form that you send people to so they can subscribe to your primary email list.
2. Install the Commenter Emails Plugin
I mentioned earlier there are a couple of plugins that can help export your comment data, and the Commenter Emails plugin is the one I’d recommend using for this task. After you’ve installed it, you may want to evaluate and edit all your blog comments to make sure they conform to your comment policy guidelines. This can be a very long and tedious process (since it has to be done manually), depending on how many comments your blog has received over the years.