7 Examples of Brilliantly Effective Opt-in Offers and How You Can Use Them in Your Business
You’re all set to start building your mailing list, knowing that it’s one of the most important assets for your business.
There’s just one little issue…
…what the heck should you create as an opt-in bribe?
If you’re serious about building your list “subscribe to my newsletter” isn’t going to cut it, but neither is some generic, boring free report.
So what exactly does an excellent opt-in offer look like? Read on to find out…
Three Rules for Excellent Opt-In Offers
An opt-in incentive, an offer, a bribe, a lead magnet – all words for the same thing with the same goal: grab the visitor by the hand and persuade them to punch that sign-up button. An effective opt-in offer can take many shapes or forms, but always includes these 3 characteristics:
1. It Must Provide a Solution to ONE Problem!
Regardless of how people find their way to your website, they are looking for a way to alleviate a frustration or fulfill a particular desire. The opt-in offer is a quick taste of the sort of information the visitor will find on your website currently and in the future. That’s why it’s important that it targets a problem specific to your audience.
A common error is to be too broad and all-encompassing. An opt-in offer should provide one simple solution to one simple infuriating problem. It is not about solving ALL the problems.
2. It Must Be QUICK & SIMPLE!
A one page-cheatsheet is enough. A ten minute audio file is enough. A five minute video is enough. When it comes to your opt-in offer, bigger is not better.
Here’s a good rule to stick to: it should take you no more than two hours create your opt-in offer, start to finish.
Your audience should be able to take it and apply it immediately. Keeping it bite-sized is key, because bite-sized = actionable.
Using your opt-in offer should require as little skill as possible. Remember that 90% of your audience are complete novices. Create it for them!
When your opt-in offer needs explaining, you’ve lost it. It should be abundantly clear after reading just the title.
People think that a good opt-in offer is a 400-page ebook or a 5-hour video series. While those occasionally work, the function of an opt-in is not to educate at a massive scale. Your audience is looking for a piece of chocolate, not a gourmet meal with added benefits.
3. It Must Be Consistent With Your Overall Message!
The most often overlooked aspect of opt-in offers is consistency. To keep a good perspective on consistency, you must take a step back and remember how your visitor got to your page in the first place.
If the page your visitor lands on matches their expectations, it’s much easier to hold their attention (in our Next Generation List Building training, this is the principle of relevancy).
Think of it from a visitor’s perspective:
They read an article you wrote about designing effective opt-in forms, and become so interested in what you have to say that they click on a link to your landing page.
The landing page must continue from the same thought, almost like an uninterrupted conversation. If the landing page is focused on, say, web design in WordPress, it’s an immediate disconnect. You’ve lost your visitor’s interest.
On the other hand, if the landing page highlights some of the common frustrations experienced with opt-in form design, it’s much more likely that it’ll hold your visitor’s attention because the content of the page matches their expectations.
Brilliant Opt-In Offers Showcase
Keeping the three key concepts from above in mind, let’s look at some of the best examples of brilliant opt-in offers from around the web.
1. The Quiz Opt-In
|Opt-In Offer:||Quiz-style personality test|
Cerries Mooney, the Brand Alchemist, has clearly grasped the concept of engaging her audience in a fresh manner. She has a ton of cool ebooks detailing different personality archetypes. But does she just give them away? No! She challenges her readers to take a quiz and find out themselves.
Who could resist a quick little game to find out something about themselves? You find yourself almost throwing your contact information at the screen for a chance to find out.
The beautiful visuals Cerries uses throughout also make for a rewarding experience and are a testament to her attention to detail:
Building curiosity like this is a surefire way to not only get more opt-ins, but also build a list of highly engaged email subscribers.
Cerries’ offer is perfectly aligned with her blog’s overall tone and message. In addition, it’s easy to understand at a glance, the value you get is obvious and there’s an aspect of fun in taking the quiz.
2. The Free Report, Done Right
|Opt-In Offer:||“Headline Hacks” free PDF|
As a copywriting veteran and self-proclaimed Royal Awesomeness of blogging, Jon Morrow knows how to engage his audience.
The Headline Hacks cheat sheet is a classic example of less is more. It’s a streamlined opt-in offer, grabbing attention with a single line of copy – “A cheat sheet for writing blog posts that go viral” – and offering them a simple template book for writing killer headlines.
Simple. Effective. Anyone could write viral articles with this book. A value proposition like that is irresistible for any serious writer.
This opt-in has had a consistent conversion rate of around 50% ever since it was published. And that includes cold traffic, from people who have never heard of Boost Blog Traffic or Jon before!
Here’s what Jon told us about this opt-in bribe:
Boost Blog Traffic
“On an opt-in page, you want the copy to be as short as possible. One litmus test is if what you are offering requires more than a headline to explain, it’s too abstract. It’s not familiar enough, it’s not obvious enough!
Now, just to be clear, this is a 55 page document; you don’t want to do that. If I was a beginner and I was starting over again, I would give people the one headline template that works all the time to create viral posts – the one, not fifty two.”
As you can see, we once again have a case of “bigger is not better”. Like Jon says, what makes this offer work isn’t the volume of what’s on offer, but the way it aligns with something his visitors want.
Jon’s offer, although grand in volume, is a simple concept and offers a huge, almost instantly applicable benefit. It’s perfectly aligned with the blog’s overall tone, touching something the audience shares – the desire to be a successful writer.
The Free Report, Done Wrong
Sometimes, a negative example is as useful to learn from as a positive one. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a not-so-brilliant offer before moving on.
|Opt-In Offer:||Free PDF report/book|
This book is a good example of what not to do with your opt-in offer. While the book itself is well presented and offers some entertaining social experiments, it’s near useless as an opt-in offer.
The major offender here is the presentation of the book. The name of the book says nothing about the content, and there is no copy to speak of, on the pages advertising the book. With no obvious tangible benefit available, a random visitor will more likely click the back-button than the download-button.
This opt-in creates a curious situation: only the people already familiar with “Fuck Up Nights” will be interested in this book. There’s nothing here for people who are new to the site. Incidentally, this is the exact opposite of what an opt-in offer is supposed to do.
It doesn’t matter how good the content of your free offer is – if it isn’t presented in a way that is both clear and enticing to new visitors to your site, no one will be interested.
3. The Challenge Opt-In
|Opt-In Offer:||30 day challenge|
A great way to engage your audience is by challenging them in an entertaining or useful way. Nathalie Lussier has built a 30 day list building challenge for this purpose, which appeals to anyone interested in building their email list.
The part that really shines about this opt-in offer, apart from the engagement and near entertaining education, is the brilliantly devious way of inserting a paywall into the process.
Anyone can partake in this adventure for free, receiving a new email each day for 30 days. But for the impatient ones, it’s possible to get access to the course immediately for a small fee.
Nathalie’s opt-in offer educates, entertains, challenges and engages her audience and is a source of income for her, all at the same time!
Here’s what Nathalie told us:
“As for how we came up with these things, it’s really been a co-creation process with our tribe. People wanted a way to unlock all the videos and they told us they’d be happy to pay for it, so we tried it and it worked.
It might seem silly because we really just do what our people ask for, and that’s been the biggest key to our success.”
This challenge opt-in offer has a conversion rate of about 45%, and the paywall option gets a conversion rate of 3-4%.
Your goal isn’t just to put names on a list, it’s to build an engaged audience. A challenge is a great way to attract the kind of people who are willing to engage with you over a longer period of time.
The second takeaway is that it pays to pay attention: Nathalie found a simple way to monetize her challenge, simply by listening to what her subscribers were telling her.
4. The Ongoing Product Opt-In
|Author:||David Sherry & Allie Lehman|
|Opt-In Offer:||Free photos every month|
You don’t need to be a blogger or internet marketer to have an effective opt-in. The rogue photography duo at Death to the Stock Photo uses their own products as an incentive to sign up.
The offer is consistent with the audience’s desires. People come to the site looking for free photos, and Death to Stock will send you free photos monthly. It’s also a good way to get visitors interested in a premium option, which is also available.
Note how this follows rule #2 of an offer being quick and simple. Click a button – receive stylish photos.Photo from Death to Stock opt-in offer package
Death to Stock have implemented the “freemium” business model that is common for software startups, but they’ve done it in the simplest, low-tech way possible.
If you have a personal strength or your business has a native product, think about ways you can “freemiumize” it and use it to build your list (and your business).
An opt-in offer doesn’t always have to be one downloadable thing in return for an email address. If you can offer something on an ongoing basis, it gives your subscribers a reason to stay subscribed and keep watching their inbox for your emails – two fantastic traits most email marketers can only wish for.
5. The Insanely Successful Opt-in by a Blogging Newbie
|Opt-In Offer:||Short quiz/workbook|
Maria Stenvinkel is a newcomer in the blogosphere. She doesn’t even have her own blog online yet! She does, however, have an opt-in landing page which converts at an amazing 48%.
Let’s take a look at how she pulled it off:
Maria’s strategy can be summarized as follows: grow your audience first!
So what she does is write guest posts like these:
A heartfelt, informative article written with skill and personality. In her author box, Maria invites readers to click through to her landing page:
Both the text in the author box and the opt-in page it leads to are clear, concise, and very enticing. Most people who land here will feel the opt-in offer speaks to them, not only because of the obvious value it’s presenting, but because of the connection they feel to the author.
We asked Maria about how she came up with the idea for this offer:
Conscious Career Choices
“I decided to completely follow my intuition when I created the bribe. I didn’t want to be pushed by pressure, instead I wanted to get pulled by inspiration.
So, I wrote down different thoughts (that really didn’t make any sense at first), I meditated and googled on what I felt drawn to and finally I realized that all my notes were different puzzle pieces for my bribe.”
Not many entrepreneurs are bold enough to dive in like this and go for guest posts and audience building first, without dipping their toes in with a bit of casual blogging on their own first. As you can see from this example, boldness can pay off!
Building a valuable mailing list audience is all about putting the right offer in front of the right crowd. You can do this, even if you don’t have a blog of your own yet.
6. The Zero Effort Opt-in
|Opt-In Offer:||Blog content, re-purposed as a free report|
Been blogging for a while? Maybe there’s a brilliant article hiding somewhere in the dustier parts of your content feed, that never really got the exposure it deserved?
Why not repurpose it into a hot opt-in offer?
When you have an article that isn’t doing so well, or an older post that has lost traction, what do you do? You can put more effort into promoting it, tweak it, or forget it and move on. Most people tend to forget it and move on, forgetting that not all content is equally suited for all purposes.
In other words: something might be much more suitable for a video than for a podcast episode or something might be more suitable as a free report than a blog post.
Our very own Shane Melaugh had a well written article lingering around that hadn’t quite found its audience. Being the clever sort of marketer, he wasn’t going to just dump the article and move on, though.
Conversion rates for this podcast episode went from 3% with a generic offer to 7% with this new, more suitable offer. These still aren’t huge numbers, but more than doubling conversion rates by reusing a bit of content you’ve already created? Seems like a good deal.
Creating an opt-in offer seems like a big, scary task to many bloggers, but it really doesn’t have to be. Look through content you’ve already created and you might find a shortcut to a great opt-in offer.
7. The High Value, High Investment Opt-In Offer
|Opt-In Offer:||Free book (except for shipping)|
Brendon Burchard is a big player with huge influence in the self-development field, and can afford to hurl some heavy hits.
He offers his book, The Motivation Manifesto, as an opt-in offer on his homepage. Now you might be thinking “A whole book? That’s insane!”, but there’s a clear method at work here.
A physical book has a higher perceived value than an e-book and here, you get all that value for free… or almost for free, anyway.
While the book is free, you have to pay shipping to get it. That’s a fair deal for sure, to get a book for the price of shipping, but the key is that now, you’re involved in a value exchange. By taking the “free” offer, you’re making a small investment and you’ve started spending money on Brendan Burchard products.
This approach can be highly polarizing and it can also be costly (printing books isn’t free, after all), but if you have a good marketing machine ready to process the leads, this be a killer marketing strategy.
Look for opportunities to go against the flow. Everyone’s giving away e-books? How can you step up the game and stand out from the crowd? A physical book is one way to go.
The second takeaway is that if you get new leads to commit to a transaction early on, you’re building a list of buyers right away.
Your Turn to Make a Killer Opt-in Offer
We’ve now looked at seven different forms of opt-in incentives and seven distinct and effective list-building strategies.
By now you understand there’s hundreds and hundreds different opt-in offers out there. They’re all different, but the ones with any success adhere to the three rules of opt-in offers.
And you know what? These are three rules you can easily implement when creating your offer.
When you build your opt-in offer, take a step back and look at the journey your audience takes from the first moment they hear about you to the moment they end up at your opt-in offer.
Make sure the process is streamlined, and the opt-in offer answers a single burning question in their mind.
Now, stop worrying about creating the perfect opt-in incentive. Instead, create a simple offer, inspired by what you discovered in this post and start growing that list!
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below!
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