27 Entrepreneurs Reveal How You Can Increase Your Email Opt-in Rates

You MUST offer an incentive for your viewers to subscribe. For the longest time I just had a subscribe box sitting there on the right side of my website and it took me years to reach 20k subscribers.

As soon as I offered a free eBook with every subscription my subscribers quad-rippled that day and every other day after that. I could have been at 100k subscribers, and that is a massive reach and a lot of money sitting on the table if you have a product or service to offer.

Also you should Install the Aweber app in your companies Facebook Page. Add an attractive picture and title it “Free eBook, “Free Quote” etc.. And implement your Aweber subscription box in that app, that way you are capturing leads from your Facebook fans who may not go to your site. This has helped increase our subscriptions also.

@JoelBrown / Addicted2Success

Because I have a big blog and the ability to write on a lot of mainstream media sites, I can drive a lot of traffic to a specific page. Recenlty I’ve had a lot of success telling people why it’s important to know your personality type. It’s a test most Fortune 500 companies give to high-level executives because knowing your personality type is so helpful in creating a successful career.

But it’s absurd to wait until that late in one’s career. So I tell people to take the test now. It’s a fast, easy test, but in order to get their results, they have to give me their email address. And most people opt-in to get more information about their type.

@PenelopeTrunk / PenelopeTrunk.com

I’m primarily a writer. My strategy is to build relationships with other people who have big email lists, and get my work in front of them, and make sure that work has plenty of ways to get readers back to my site and onto a tested and optimized landing page that promises an answer to something they want or need.

@TylerTervooren / Riskology

Brand your email. I don’t just mean put a logo on but put your stamp and style on the email as well (Look at Chris Penn’s newsletter for a great example of that). Again I am surprised how many email newsletters I subscribed to but when they come I can’t even remember who this guy is.

Put out your newsletter regularly or people will surely forget you.

@ChrisChristensen / chris2x

The biggest lesson I’ve seen is tell people what they’re going to get. State clearly how often you email and what’s inside, give them a sneak preview, tell them it’s easy to unsubscribe, share what other people say about it, remind them you won’t sell or share their email address. That’s a lot to accomplish in such a small are, but it’s crucial to try your best.

@AndyHayes / AndyHayes.com

Here are a few ideas that come to mind.

1) If you run a content web site, at the end of your articles / posts include a sign up box immediately following the particular article that gives the reader the option to sign up for your list. It would stand to reason that if a person has gotten to the end of a particular type of content (article, blog post, video, you name it), they’d be open to opting in to receive more of the same.

Which leads me to the second point — make sure the offer they are opting in to is related to what they just read. For example, a sign up box I’ve used successfully for years says something to the effect of, “if you enjoyed what you just read, sign up for our newsletter where you will receive great advice just like the article you finished
reading” (note: that’s paraphrasing it a bit, but you get the idea).

2) If you offer a give-away in return for joining your e-mail list, make it unique to you. This is pretty elementary, but I still see people giving away ebooks, etc produced by others. I’m not saying this doesn’t work, sure it might, but why not at least offer something unique to you & your company. That way, as people read it, they get to sample you and your companies expertise at the same time.

For example, you could offer a white paper, ebook, or perhaps even a series of audios or videos where you share, in your own voice, (or companies) some knowledge that would be of interest to your new subscriber (as best you can, keep it relevant to what they opted in for in the first place).

Again, this isn’t really cutting edge advice, but I see enough people skipping this, that it’s worth mentioning. It will also make it all the easier to put the idea below into action.

3) Do free gift / offer swaps – Say your list / readers are interested in underwater scuba diving (yes I picked a random example on purpose). What you would want to do is reach out to other web site owners, and e-mail list owners who would also have subscribers on their list with a similar interest. You offer to send their free gift to your list in return for them doing the same for you.

The key here is that you each offer a free gift in return for the person who claims the gift, opting into each persons list. In most cases, you will both already have some type of gift offer that you give to new subscribers when they join your list. Or for that matter you could even bundle several things to give them.

You will want to create a single focused page where people will go to claim (optin) to receive the free gift. The reason it should be a focused page (i.e. squeeze page) is because if you have to many choices for them to make, there’s a very good chance they won’t even optin, and will end up surfing around your site, until they end up leaving.

So you really do want a single focus, giving people the option to get the free gift by signing up (using a sign up form). Make sure your page includes the benefits of what you’re offering also.

This can be a very effective way to grow your list. But you do need to make sure you’re doing swaps with related list owners. Where each of your respective audiences have fairly similar interests, and would actually appreciate (and want) the particular offers you’re sharing.

As a general rule, you will want to swap with similar size lists, but don’t assume just because someone has a smaller sized list, that they may not be able to send a lot of potential new subscribers your way.

The key is how engaged their readers are. Ultimately you have to decide what works for you, and of course if your readers will see value in it. I can tell you that done right, it’s a real win, win for all, where your e-mail list subscribers get the biggest win of all. Which is of course what you want, to deliver value.

@JoshHinds / JoshHinds.com

Pop ups and overlays are very affective, although some people might not like them. You just need to make it look trustworthy and it has to be consistent with the website design and brand so it is not mistaken with an advertisement. As for the timing, 55 seconds work the best for us. It also needs to be simple, but flashy and big enough to get people’s attention.

Having a colored bar that sits at the top of your website and asks visitors to take a specified action (it worked well for us).

Redirecting readers to a “thank you” page (it’s polite and very personal). We always write a couple of sentences saying how grateful we are to see someone subscribe and attach a picture of ourselves underneath.

Quizzing people and asking them for e-mail so they can see the results – we’ve heard it’s pretty effective, never tried it though.

The most effective way for us was to give our readers access to extra content (our China eBook, PDFs, images etc) in return for their email.

@AgnessWalewinder / eTramping

The location of signup forms is by far the easiest way to increase your numbers. If you are successfully bringing people to your website and content, then you need a very clear call to action on the site with a simple slot for capturing their email address.

Clean website designs also tend to work better, as you then offset your opt-in are with colors and white-space to make it stand out.

@ShannonOdonnell / A Little Dirft

Some of my favorite “tactics” include:

– Asking a question – “Are you tired of working hard without feeling productive?”
– Leaving a cliffhanger – “I want to tell you something…”
– Short but sweet – “Hey, [First name]”

However, my best strategy for increasing opt-ins overall is to really target your emails precisely in the first place. Instead of lumping everyone into a general mailing list, use a CRM / email manager like infusionsoft or ontraport and build detailed profiles to find the hyper-responders within your email list. If you figure out a way to send people only things that they’re interested in – your open rates will skyrocket.

@JoelRunyon / Impossible

The first thing you need to increase opt-in rate is to drive more targeted traffic to your signup page. If your traffic is less or not targeted, you won’t get the desired results.

Secondly, split-test different types of signup pages – Try simple html, videos, social media options, etc. You can never know what works until you test different options.

Offering a free gift has always worked. People want to signup and get something instantly. Offering them a free course, ebook, software, video, etc, will be a strong incentive.

Some people have used popup windows with success. You may need to try that for your audience. While some readers feel interrupted by these popup lead capture windows, others don’t feel disturbed at all. That’s why I recommend trying it first for your blog.

@EnstineMuki / EnstineMuki.com

In my Blogging Success Program, I talk about the importance of having newsletters, because you need to get your audience’s details to maintain contact with them after their first contact — not have them visit your website ONCE and disappear the next second! I talk about numerous tips for any blogger/business owner to jump-start his/her e-mail opt-in rates, including:

#1: Having an enticing opt-in gift. Very important. This can be a PDF of an article, apodcast recording between you and someone else, a series of articles grouped together into an e-book, or anything that you want to give for free to your audience.

This can be a copy-paste of existing material on your site even, and it’s fine too. The point is that information delivered in a different format — even if it’s of content you already have on the site — has value to others, and it gives people an incentive to act now and sign up for your list.

#2: Your gift needs to be relevant. I’ve seen so many blogs give free e-books as an opt-in gift, but these e-books are hardly related to their core message or the material is too niche to be appealing to everyone!

For example, if you have an Vegetarian food blog targeted at an international audience, having a free e-book like “10 timeless vegetarian recipes” will be a whole more relevant than “10 chinese vegetarian recipes.” Know what your blog stands for, know what your audience wants, and create a gift in that intersection that will generate the most signups.

@CelestineChua / Personal Excellence

Learned this from Derek Halpern — make sure you have an opt-in form on the about page of your blog. It will convert well, because people go there only because they’re interested in you. Put one at the top of your archives page too, because people go there only when they want more of you.

@DavidCaine / Raptitude

You should offer a strong incentive for people to join your list. What’s in it for them? Giving away some useful, actionable information (e.g. a free PDF report) is a common tactic, and generally effective.

For example, for my Business & Entrepreneurship list, I offer two incentives for people to sign up: A free PDF report entitled 69 Tips for Superhuman Productivity, and access to my monthly finance reports, which detail everything I earn and spend while traveling the world and working for my laptop.

Another tip is to make your email capture form very prominent on your website. Ultimately you want people to do one of two things: buy now or buy later. Buy now is taken care of by your usual sales offers. Buy later is taken care of by your email list.

Test the placement of your opt-in form and your incentive. You can use a service like optimizely.com to run split tests and see what works best.

Lastly, invite people on your list to unsubscribe. I have more than 2,500 people on my mailing lists, and I keep my open rates above 50% (i.e. way higher than average) partly by encouraging people to unsubscribe if the content doesn’t interest them.

Often I’ll put an invitation to unsubscribe right at the top of a message. Why? Because I only want people on there who are genuinely interested in what I’m offering. It’s better to have 100 subscribers eager to hear from you than 1000 who are indifferent.

@NiallDoherty / NDoherty.com

Think about when you subscribed to lists, what convinced you? How can you apply that to your own landing pages? Consider who you want on your list before diving into strategies.

Can you describe, in detail, your ideal customer and ideal subscriber? I’d sooner have 100 people who love what I do, share it with friends and buy what I create. Rather than, a million subscribers who grab a freebie and immediately unsubscribe or, worse, stay subscribed and never open an email.

ISPs constantly check your reputation as an email sender and filter or block messages accordingly. Do not buy lists and regularly clean your lists. Make more friends in your field and cross-pollinate e.g. email swaps. Increase landing page conversion by removing all distractions and give every opt-in page singular purpose.

Start every call to action with a verb and give the offer a specific name, for example “Download 10 Relaxation Tips” is more attractive than “Subscribe”. Add an opt- in form, button or image, to every post and web page. Get your readers on your team, make your content easy to share. Add social sharing buttons to everything and create lots of shareable content.

@TheaWestra / Forward Steps

I find ‘Mailchimp’ to be a great service. They have intricite statistic statistics which enable you to see who the hot leads are, who don’t care and who have opted out completely.

@AnthonyMiddleton / Man vs Clock

Free Incentive – Also known as bait or a giveaway, a free incentive is offering someone a gift or free product if they opt in to your email list. This is almost an essential part of email list building, and it will attract many more subscribers than only offering newsletter updates.

Popup Optins – I have only experimented with popups, and haven’t used them for long periods of time. I can say, they are extremely effective. However, it depends what your goals are and how you want to accomplish them, which should determine if you use a popup. Perhaps to give your list a boost, it would be a good idea to use a popup, but in the long run it could also increase your bounce rate and you could get many subscribers who aren’t really all that interested in your content.

2 Step Optins – Finally, more recently one of the up and coming ways to get people to optin is using two steps – the psychology behind it is if you get someone to take a first step, they are more likely to take a second step. It can work to say “click here” on the first page, which will then lead the subscriber to a page where they then have to enter their email.

@MarkWiens / Migrationology

Don’t bury your email sign-up form! Make sure it’s easy to find, otherwise no one will ever notice it. And you don’t just need to have it in one place. One tactic I’ve found works great is embedding an email sign-up form at the end of every blog post.

Also, don’t forget to make it clear why someone should sign-up. What benefit will they get by being on your list? Whether it’s a free download or e-book, special discounts, or just awesome, valuable information, let them know about it.

@MartinaIring / MartinaIring.com

1. Bribes – Use a bribe to entice people to join your list. Give away something valuable for free. A short list of resources. A video. A PDF report. An audio. A 7-day email course. The format doesn’t matter as much as you helping your subscribers solve a problem.

Focus on solving one small problem. Not a 200-page book, but 5-pages of insanely valuable information on one specific issue that your readers have.

For example: Let’s say someone wants to learn how to write and publish a book. To catch people early in the process, you might target problems such as: How to come up with a great book idea or 7 mistakes beginning writer’s make.

If you want to target writer’s further along the journey, your bribe could be: How to get your novel published. Your bribe doesn’t have to be big. It has to be valuable.

2. Clear Landing Page – A landing page is the page solely dedicated to signing up to your newsletter. You can see my landing page here .

A clear landing page increases the amount of people that sign up. Fewer distractions means more subscribers. Eliminate sidebars. Get rid of anything that doesn’t have to do with signing up to your newsletter.

3. Repeated Exposure The more you ask your readers to sign up, the more they will. We have a lot going on in our lives, so having a sign up form in your sidebar isn’t enough. Put one at the end of your posts. Use a feature box on your homepage.

If you feel courageous, play around with a popup, or a sign up form that slides up at the end of your posts. And don’t forget to link to your newsletter from your articles (whenever relevant).

@HenriJunttila / Wake Up Cloud

Try different calls to action. Recently we switched from “Sign up” to “Join Us” and have noticed an increase in subscribers. Also, make it easy for someone to subscribe to your emails – include the sign up forms in multiple places on your website.

@JessicaSwingle / KW Commercial

Strong, even contradictory headlines. If you’re teaching people how to self-publish their book well, you could use a headline like: “This is why your book is going to fail.” People will be naturally curious and click through, they’ll be pleasantly surprised with your killer content and will always open your emails.

Send the least amount of emails you can, make them sweet and to the point. Offer an incentive, give stuff away from time to time.

@JKimanziC / KimanziConstable.com

Offering some sort of “bribe” to tempt a visitor to sign up to your list has worked well for us. You have to offer something genuinely tempting, of real value. Perhaps a product that would otherwise have some economic value.

We have used 5-day email courses, an app marketing cheat sheet in PDF and I’m now creating a free app icon PSD template, all content which is very relevant and useful for our audience.

@PietroSaccomani / Mobiloud

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) has been a popular topic these past few years and for good reason. Using Visual Website Optimizer, I’ve managed to increase Empire Flippers’ sidebar opt-ins by 127%, our homepage subscriptions by 34.96%, and our website’s website marketplace opt-ins by 82%.

CRO is basically making educated guesses, changing elements on your page/website, and splitting up your traffic and showing them the different versions to see which reach a certain goal (in this case, opt-ing in) more often.

Improving our homepage and marketplace subscriptions was mainly changing the headlines, body copy, and colors of the call-to-action button.

Improving the sidebar conversion by 127% was a slightly more complicated process. I first tested different versions of copy. Once I found the best converting copy I used the exact same words except I had a designer create several different logo designs to complement the copy.

@VincentNguyen / Empire Flippers

I think these tips worked well for me:

1. Optimize your About Page
2. Have a good layout and theme
3. Set up a easy to find opt-in in your site
4. Simply ask your readers to subscribe
5. Give a reward or something free for signing up
6. Create  a catchy landing page
7. Display some real recommendations and feedback from your subscribers
8. Consider using a pop-up
9. Display your social proof
10. Test, test, test.

@ErikEmanuelli / NoPassiveIncome

Perhaps one of the best ways to increase opt-in rates has less to do with the flash and design of your opt-in page, and more to do with the message you are delivering.

Does your message speak directly to your target audience? Does the person reading your opt-in page see themselves as benefiting from what you have? Are you truly putting yourself into the shoes of your audience?

Deb Dib, a fellow Master Certified Personal Brand Strategist and co-author of the recent bestseller Ditch. Dare. Do! says it perfectly: “So what? Make me care. Do it fast!” Make your target audience truly cares about how you can help them and do it in such a way that they see immediate and practical results.

@PeterSterlacci / PeterSterlacci.com

We have different messages in our optin boxes at the end of our blog posts and content, depending on the subject discussed. If the blog post is targeted and helpful to website sellers, we’ll have an optin at the end that specifically speaks to sellers. If the podcast is helpful for website buyers, we’ll use an optin box that’s tailored specifically to buyers.

I’d also suggest looking at LeadPages.net. While it may seem expensive to pay a monthly fee for lead pages and split-testing optin boxes, the value we’ve received far outweighs their limited fees. If you’re getting more than 2K visitors or 40+ subscribers per month, I’d highly recommend signing up and testing them out.

@JustinCooke / Empire Flippers

Let’s dive into a few methods that could help you to increase email opt-in rates:

Twitter Lead Generation Card: This method can be used to gather email addresses from the Twitter ecosystem. By exploiting this technique, outdoor gear and apparel company Rock/Creek generated over 1,700 new email contacts in less than one week in 2013.

Creating an offer: This is a very common, yet effective strategy to grow your email list. An offer can be anything: a free e-book, a webinar, a free marketing course, and more. By giving away something of value to your customers, you gather email addresses.

Pop-up subscription forms: Not a lot of people like pop-up windows, but several websites have had in the past outstanding results with this method, such as the University of Alberta, Canada, which had a 500% increase in email opt-in rate in less than a year.

Build a strong CTA (Call To Action): Personalize your CTA with something specific and relevant. As an example, if your audience visits your website to grab coupons, your CTA should indicate that by signing up for the email newsletter more coupons will be given away.

Build a dedicated Landing Page (LP): This is a more laborious proposition, but having a custom made LP can also be quite effective.

Send out great content: While this is not directly related to an increase in opt-in rates, if the content within the newsletter you sent out is good enough, your subscribers might forward that email to friends that could potentially become new subscribers.

Send out mobile-optimized content: As for the previous point, sending out content that can be consumed on mobile may help gathering more subscribers.

Indicate the email frequency: Some people get annoyed with daily emails, preferring a weekly newsletter. Some like just the opposite. In each case, you should always indicate the frequency of your newsletter, as this too might help increase opt-in rates.  

@DavideDiProssimo / Writeca

Offer something for nothing. I’ve gotten – and continue to get – thousands of subscribers with my free two-week e-course on how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way.

This gives people incentive to sign up, and provides them with valuable information. It’s also a great way to link to some important articles on my site, instead of leaving them to sift through the last seven years of material on my site – which can be overwhelming.

Other people offer free e-books or manifestos that new subscribers can download once they sign up. Providing value instantly helps to not only increase opt-in rates, but also to create a loyal following that is thankful for receiving something cool for free.

@NoraDunn / The Professional Hobo

Published: 29 April, 2014

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