Is your email list growing painfully slowly…or not at all? Are your open rates and click through rates dismal? Read on to discover how to grow your email list with a free opt-in offer… and find out how an opt-in offer can help improve your open rates and click through rates too!
How to grow your email list with a free opt-in offer
How’s your email list doing? How many new sign ups do you get a day? I’ve said it before, but did you know you should be earning around a dollar a month for every person on your email list…quite an incentive to grow your email list, no?
But so often bloggers are stuck in a rut of a painfully slow growing email list, coupled together with a very poor open rate and click through rate…leading them to the conclusion that email’s just not worth it… but that’s absolutely NOT the right conclusion. Email’s so worth it! But you have to do it the right way.
Fortunately, the trick to fast email list growth AND better open rates and click through rates is very simple… The answer? Have a well targeted, irresistible opt-in offer on your site, coupled with a fantastic automated welcome series. I’ve already shared how to create an automated welcome series. But now we are going to look at how to grow your email list with an opt-in offer.
The problem with sign up boxes
Having sign-up boxes dotted all around your site is all well and good (and you should have lots of them…see this post for ideas on where to put email sign-up boxes). But ‘sign up for my regular newsletter’ or ‘subscribe and receive regular emails about my new blog posts’ boxes are rarely compelling enough to entice readers to actually hand over the keys to their inbox!
Sure, you’ll get a few – the odd hardy soul, who just loves everything you do and wants to know every time to send out a blog post, you know the readers who hang on your every word! But sadly, those guys are few and far between.
So how do you entice the rest to sign up to your email list? Buy having a fabulous opt-in offer of course!
But before we go on…
What exactly is an opt-in offer?
An opt-in offer is simply some content, maybe a PDF, an infographic, a worksheet, a cheat sheet, a mini course or a mini ebook, which you offer on your blog as a free ‘thank you’ gift for signing up to your email list.
Typically, an ‘opt-in offer’ is a sitewide offer (like for example on Easy Peasy Foodie where I offer free meal plans), whereas a ‘content upgrade’ is something specific to a particular piece of content (like for example on this post where I am offering a free ebook on how to BLOG SMARTER NOT HARDER) and a ‘lead magnet’ is something that is designed to attract potential customers for your product.
In reality, these terms often get used interchangeably, though!
So why does an opt-in offer work so well?
Well, it’s a double whammy kind of a thing. First a well targeted freebie will be super attractive to your target audience…they will feel excited that they can get something of real value for free and handing over their email address will seem like a small price to pay.
But also, a well chosen opt-in offer will result in just the right kind of people joining your email list. You’ll get subscribers who are really interested in what you do and who are super keen to open your emails and click on your links.
It’s a big win for you and a big win for your subscribers too.
And it’s way better than the other options. When I was a newbie blogger I was once given some terrible advice about growing my email list…’run lots of giveaways on your blog and make joining your subscription list one of the entry options’ Do you know what happened? I got LOADS of new subscribers every time I ran a competition…and do you know what else? They were terrible subscribers…I don’t mean they were terrible people, I’m sure they were lovely… but I mean they didn’t open my emails and they didn’t click on my links…
Well, opt-in offers offer the EXACT opposite scenario.
But only if you chose the right opt-in…
So, what makes a good opt-in offer?
There are 4 keys to a good opt-in offer…
- Something that solves a small to medium sized problem for your target audience.
- Something that is not easily available elsewhere
- Something that attracts THE RIGHT people onto your email list.
- Something very easy to make.
Let’s look at those in turn…
1. Something that solves a small to medium sized problem for your target audience
The first question to ask yourself is ‘Who is my target audience?’. You need to know this is you are going to get anywhere with blogging. Examples could be: new vegetarians who want quick and easy recipes, adventurous travellers with lots of money to spend, first time mums (or dads) who haven’t go a clue what to do with this small person who’s just arrived in their lives, busy entrepreneurs who want help organising their life and managing their time better…so who is it who reads YOUR blog? Try and be as specific as you can.
And the second question to ask is, ‘what small to medium sized problem of theirs could I solve?’. Don’t go for the big problems, they are better solved with an actual product, like an ebook or a course, that you sell on your website. A small to medium sized problem, however, is best solved with an opt-in (or content upgrade).
2. Something that is not easily available elsewhere
This one is super important! Sometimes I see opt-ins which are not very attractive, simply because that information is really readily available elsewhere. Why would someone give away their precious email address when they could get that information so easily without having to do that?
The classic is the food blogger giving away a ‘free recipe ebook’. I’m not saying this is always a bad idea, but most of the time it is. It’s just not compelling enough, because there are free recipes ALL OVER THE INTERNET and indeed on your own site. For example, on my food blog, easypeasyfoodie.com I could have created an opt-in offer of ‘my free easy midweek meals recipe book’ – but I doubt if I would have got many subscribers from it, because people would look at it and think ‘but I could get that by doing a quick google search, or even just looking at your easy midweek meal ideas category, why would I give away my email address for that?’
For a food blogger, a much better idea would be to give away something related to the kind of recipes you do, but not a recipe book… so for example a health food blogger giving away a free healthy eating meal plan, a gluten free blogger giving away a guide on how to go gluten free, a family food blogger giving away a free packed lunch guide and so on…
And of course, this works well on all kinds of other blogs too. A fashion blogger could give away a guide to the ultimate capsule wardrobe, an organisation blogger could give away a free 5 day organise your house challenge, a mummy blogger could give away a free ‘get your baby to sleep through the night in a week’ guide (no actually, that’s probably better as a product…people would be willing to part with a lot of money for that!)
3. Something that attracts THE RIGHT people onto your email list
This is so important. You don’t want just anyone on your list! It’s tempting to do all kinds of things in order to grow a really big list…but in fact a really big list full of people who are not really interested in what you do, never open your emails and never click on your links is not half so useful as a much smaller list full of people who love your stuff, open and click on everything and, crucially, trust you enough to buy from you.
So when you create your opt-in, make it super targeted. Think about something your CORE audience would really want, think about something that will attract the kind of people who will love all your stuff and open everything, think about something that will attract people who would be willing to buy from you later down the line…
So, for example, if your blog is all about vegan cakes…don’t make your opt-in something generic about going vegan, make it really specific – like a guide to vegan baking, that way your opt-in will not attract any old person who is vaguely interested in veganism, but people who share your passion for vegan baking. Or say your blog is about travel with kids…don’t just do something generic about travel, do something really specific, like a packing guide for people with kids under 5.
4. Something very easy to make
An opt-in doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s often better if it isn’t. When it comes to op-in offers people mainly want INSTANT…a quick guide, a cheat sheet, a 5 day email challenge, an infographic. If it seems too long winded or complicated, or it seems like it’s going to be a lot of effort, your readers may actually get turned off. But if it looks like a quick win, they won’t be able to give you their email addresses fast enough.
And of course, this is good news for you! You don’t have to toil away for hours on end, developing a clever and complicated opt-in. A quick cheat sheet you knock up in half an hour will work just as well…probably better!
How to deliver your opt-in offer
There’s no point in going to all that effort of researching and creating an opt-in offer if you can’t get it to your new subscribers!
So how do you do it?
Well, first you need to create the opt-in and save it as a PDF.
Next you need to put that PDF somewhere. Most email service providers, like Mailchimp* and ConvertKit* will host a PDF document for you. You just need to upload it, as you would a photo. If you don’t want to do that for some reason, or your email service provider doesn’t have that facility, then you can put it as a read-only document in somewhere like One Drive / Google Drive / Dropbox. Just make sure it is definitely read-only…or your new subscribers may start editing it!!
Whatever you do, DON’T put your PDF on your website, the whole point of your opt-in offer is that it is only available to people who subscribe. If you put it on your website, anyone can potentially find it!
Once your opt-in offer is hosted somewhere, you have to make sure your new email subscribers actually get the free gift when they subscribe. And the best way to do that is as part of your welcome series. When a new subscriber joins your list, they should automatically go into an automated welcome series… (you can find out more about how to create a welcome series here). In your very first email you can send your subscribers a link to the opt-in offer they signed up for.
So that’s really it. Make a good opt in offer that solves a small to medium sized problem for your target audience, is not easily available elsewhere, attracts THE RIGHT people onto your email list and is easy to make and watch with AWE when people start joining your email list in droves and really start engaging with your content!
Other posts in the email marketing mini-series
- Why every blogger NEEDS an email list
- How to get started with email marketing and get your first subscribers
- What to put in your email newsletter – 11 ideas to really connect with your subscribers!
- How to create an automated welcome sequence for your email list
Don’t miss a thing!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!