7+5 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 mean the same thing: something to persuade your visitor to punch your 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're looking for a way to alleviate a frustration or fulfill a particular desire.
Your opt-in offer is a quick taste of the sort of information the visitor will find on your website currently and in the future. To be effective, it must target a problem specific to your audience.
Your opt-in offer should provide one solution to one incredibly annoying problem.
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.
You're aiming for something that your visitor could instantly apply. A good way to keep your opt-in offer lightweight and bite-size is to give yourself a time constraint.
Take no more than two hours to create your opt-in offer!
Remember that 90% of your audience are complete novices. Create it for them! Using your opt-in offer should require as little skill as possible.
When your opt-in offer needs explaining, you've lost it.
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, try to 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:
Imagine a visitor fascinated by your article on, for example, cake decorating. This visitor is so enthralled by cake decorating that they click your targeted sign-up link to learn more.
Whatever they see next must continue from the same thought, almost like an uninterrupted conversation.
If your sign-up offer is focused on not cake decoration, but say, baking in general, it's an immediate disconnect. Your visitor probably won't stick around.
However, what if we offer this visitor a quick guide on homemade cake decorations? They'd be likely to download your guide because content of the page matched their expectations.
12 Opt-In Offer Examples
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
Quiz-style personality test
Cerries Mooney, the Brand Alchemist, has clearly grasped the concept of engaging her audience in a fresh manner. Her ebooks paint portraits of different personality archetypes. To find out yours, all you need to do is answer a quick quiz!
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.
2. The Free Report, Done Right
smartblogger.com (ex boostblogtraffic.com)
Free PDF with 52 headline templates
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:
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.
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.
Free PDF with social experiments
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.
3. The Challenge Opt-In
30 day mailing list-building 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!
This challenge opt-in offer has a conversion rate of about 45%, and the paywall option gets a conversion rate of 3-4%.
4. The Ongoing Product Opt-In
David Sherry & Allie Lehman
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.
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).
5. The Insanely Successful Opt-in by a Blogging Newbie
Short quiz / workbook
Maria Stenvinkel is a newcomer in the blogosphere. When this article was first published, she didn't even have her own blog published!
She did, however, have an opt-in landing page which converted at an amazing 48%.
Maria's simple strategy follows so many successful entrepreneurs. First she grew her audience. Then she built a suitable opt-in offer.
She writes 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:
Not many entrepreneurs are bold enough to dive in and go straight into guest posting, without first dipping their toes into casual blogging. As you see from this example, boldness can pay off!
6. The Zero Effort Opt-in
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.
7. The High Value, High Investment Opt-In Offer
Free book (except for shipping)
Brendon Burchard is a big player with huge influence in the self-development field. He 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. Still a fair deal, right? But 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.
8. The Automatic Webinar Opt-In
Amy is a social media strategist and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies. She earned her stripes by travelling the world and working with no other than Tony Robbins.
After learning what she could from the world's top marketers, she decided to stop consulting other businesses and start her own. Amy quickly found her home in front of the camera and behind the mic, creating a popular podcast and many successful webinars.
It's no surprise then, that Amy's opt-in offer is a chance to partake in a webinar.
An automated webinar is a curious opt-in offer. Even though technically it's simply a recording of a previous presentation, you still get most of the advantages of watching a live webinar:
- You hear the questions people asked during the live webinar. Chances are you're going to have the same questions anyway, so it doesn't really matter who asks them.
- You get closer to the community. The webinar might offer entry to a closed membership area or some other special offer you might otherwise miss.
- You get the intimate feeling of being part of a presentation rather than watching a static Youtube video.
While the webinar requires more commitment from a visitor than just a bog standard PDF-guide, the perceived value is also much higher.
You can also try to warm up your visitors with smaller opt-in offers before presenting them with a webinar.
9. The Amazing Audio File Opt-In
How to get anything you want? Hey, sign me up!
You might know Marie Forleo from her appearance on Oprah, her own show MarieTV, or her multinationally published book. She helps people dream big and back it up to create results.
When someone with these credentials offers you a short audio clip showing you "How to get anything you want," you might want to listen up, because they're probably capable of delivering.
The real genius of this opt-in offer is the audio format.
You can listen to this while you're driving, at the gym, walking about or just taking a break from staring at the screen.
It also gives an added layer of depth and personal value when you can listen to a real person's voice telling you this stuff.
10. The Website Analyzer Opt-In
Even being a huge and powerful marketing organization doesn't relieve you from the burden of creating an effective opt-in offer.
HubSpot strives to provide an all-in-one approach to marketing with a complete set of tools and data. They have everything marketing-related under one roof.
Hubspot's Website Grader is a simple but powerful tool to quickly assess the usability of your website. All you have to do is enter your URL and email address and the software does the rest.
It can be gratifying and even relaxing to know that everything works correctly, and your visitors aren't leaving because of a website malfunction.
Obviously, your contact information is stored the moment you sign up for a try.
11. The Quiz-turned Checklist Opt-In
Quiz for new entrepreneurs
Susan Jones helps entrepreneurs get their business off the ground. As a Lecturer at at Swinburne University in Australia, she is well versed in the troubles of startup business creators and their pitfalls.
Susan's opt-in offer is a quiz that helps aspiring business builders pinpoint their weak spots.
The difference between this quiz and Cerries Mooney's quiz is that this one started out as a simple checklist.
By adding the possibility to interact and become part of the process, Susan turned a rather basic opt-in offer into something enticing and memorable.
If your opt-in feels a bit dull, this can be a great way to add some spark!
12. The Free Coaching Opt-In
20 minute consultation call
John Benzick has an impressive resume. Owner of three startups in different industries, consultation experience for companies like Procter & Gamble and Best Buy, keynote speaker for AIGA Design Camp - the guy gets around.
His website Venture Superfly has a handful of ways to collect leads and engage visitors. You can join a free trial of their entrepreneur course, you can download a bunch of videos by famous entrepreneurs, or...
... you can get a free 20 minutes coaching session.
With this amount of expertise, that's insane value. 20 minutes is also a short enough timeframe to ease commitment, in case the coaching wouldn't be useful.
This sort of opt-in offer might take up a lot of your time, but think of it this way. If someone finds value in your coaching, they will remember you and likely be committed to your products for life.
Your Turn to Create a Killer Opt-in Offer
We've now looked at 12 distinctly different opt-in incentives, all part of effective list-building strategies.
There's hundreds more out there in various forms and formats. But the ones with any success always follow the three rules of opt-in offers.
And so should you.
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 your visitor's mind.
And then you're done.
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!