The tips on this page are sorted in no particular order and they aren't meant as a step-by-step plan to follow from start to finish. Instead, this guide is exactly what you need when you're thinking "I want to work on my mailing list, but I don't know what to do".
Scroll through this list and you'll quickly find one or more things that you hadn't thought of before. Plus, most of these tips can be implemented in a matter of minutes or, at most, hours. So, there's nothing stopping you from getting right to it, as soon as you find a tip that appeals to you.
Add an Opt-In Form to Your 'About' Page
Check your analytics and you'll probably find that your about page gets quite a lot of traffic. And if you don't have an about page, you should try adding one. It's the go-to page for new visitors who are curious to know more about you, your business or your brand.
Increase your list growth by adding an opt-in form in two locations on this page:
- Right after the opening paragraphs and a summary about the main benefits you offer (this is for the readers with a short attention span).
- At the very end of the page (this is for those who read the whole page).
Interrupt Your Visitors
Lightbox opt-in forms (also wrongly referred to as "popups") are annoying, yes. They're annoying because they interrupt your visitor in the middle of doing something else, such as reading one of your posts or watching a video. But that doesn't stop lightbox forms from being highly effective. Before you dismiss this type of opt-in form completely, test it on your site and see what kinds of results you get with it.
Catch Your Visitors Before They Leave
A less annoying alternative to the usual lightbox opt-in form is one that doesn't interrupt the visitor until they're about to leave your site anyway. This is what's usually called an "exit-intent" trigger: once the visitor is about to close the tab or about to hit the back button on the browser, the lightbox pops up with an opt-in offer.
Be warned: while this type of opt-in form is less annoying than an interrupting lightbox, it's usually also a lot less effective. Read more about exit intent opt-ins here (includes case study data).
Add an Opt-In Gate to Your Site
What is an opt-in gate? It's basically just an opt-in form that you show to new visitors, the first time they visit your website (or the first time they visit your homepage). It's a very large opt-in form (perhaps even filling the whole screen), which is shown only once, to new visitors. It should inform visitors about the main benefit of your site and invite them to join your mailing list right away.
A bad way to do an opt-in gate is to redirect people to a different page on the first visit. No one likes to wait for pages to load. Instead, the opt-in gate should be shown as an overlay that can be closed instantly.
Make Your Sidebar Opt-In Form “Sticky”
A typical location for your opt-in form is the sidebar. Unfortunately, stuff in a site's sidebar tends to attract very few clicks – it's just too easy to ignore!
But there's a great solution: simply make the most important parts of your sidebar scroll down along with your visitor's screen position. Apply this to your sidebar opt-in and you'll see the conversion rate double or even triple! Here’s a free WordPress plugin you can use to make this happen.
If You Don’t Yet Have an Opt-In Offer, Create One!
An opt-in offer (or opt-in incentive) is the thing you give your visitors in return for signing up. Many sites still offer nothing else than "subscribe to the newsletter" – and that's a big mistake. Getting emails is not a very attractive offer. Sweeten the deal by offering a free report, free video series, free trial or something similar.
If you don't have such an offer yet, start by creating a very simple one. Ask yourself: what's one really cool tip you could share with people? What's a simple but useful cheat-sheet you could compile, based on something you already have a lot of experience with? Your opt-in incentive doesn't have to be huge or complicated. It only has to be useful.
To learn more about this, check out this blog post with 7 excellent opt-in offer examples and this Thrive University Course on creating your first opt-in offer.
Find 5 Ways to Re-Frame Your Existing Offer
Once you’ve created at least one opt-in offer, find 5 different ways to frame it. The idea is to take your one product, and advertise it in 5 different ways. For example, I offer a case study on my blog that can be advertised in these ways:
- How a Complete Newbie Built a 6-Figure Business in 6 Weeks
- Product Creation Case Study: How to Build & Sell Your First Product
- How to Recruit Affiliates & Launch Your Product (When No One Knows Who You Are)
- The Surprising Truth Behind How I Grew My Blog's Traffic
- The Business Model Test: Discover the One Business Model that Got 10x Better Results than Any Other
All of these titles could apply to the case study I created, they just highlight different aspects of it.
Why do this?
Because testing different offers is the most powerful way to increase your opt-in conversions – but creating different offers is very time consuming. Instead, create one general offer in your niche, advertise it using different frames and then modify the product to more closely match the frame that leads to the highest conversion rate.
To see an in-depth example of exactly how you can do this, check out this post.
Create a Dedicated Landing Page (for Each Offer)
Any time you create an opt-in offer, you should also create a dedicated landing page (i.e. a page with its own URL) for it. Even if your main purpose is to advertise it on your blog, you should have a page that you can easily link to. This page is what you can link to from social media and where you can send people who ask about how to get more cool stuff from you.
Use one of the many templates in Thrive Landing Pages to make this process super quick.
Ask Your Subscribers for Feedback
In your follow-up emails, add an email where you simply invite your subscribers to give you some feedback. Ask them to share their thoughts about your free report (or whatever the opt-in incentive is) or send them to a survey.
Not only will this help you build much better offers and products in the future, it will also provide you with some glowing testimonials. Ask the subscribers for permission and then add the testimonials to your opt-in forms and landing pages to increase conversion rates.
If you're using Thrive Ovation, you can send your subscribers immediatly to a testimonial capture form with specific questions that will help you get glowing testimonials and interesting feedback at the same time.
You can check out our mini-course "Harvest the Power of Testimonials" to find out the exact questions you should be asking.
Change the Button Text on Your Opt-In Form
Does the button in your opt-in form say something really boring like "Submit" or "Subscribe"? Time to change that!
Change the button text to something action-oriented such as "Get Instant Access" or "Get the Free Report Now!" and you'll likely see a conversion lift.
Test Different Images
Your opt-in form should have an image that represents the opt-in incentive. Something like an e-cover graphic to visually represent a free ebook, for example.
This image can be a powerful persuasion element, so it's worth testing several to see which works best. Luckily, you can get graphics like this done very cheaply on places like fiverr and Upwork. Or you can follow the instruction in this blog article to make them yourself.
Remove Stuff from Your Opt-In Form
Sometimes, an opt-in form or landing page works better when there's less. Less of everything, that is. Try removing bullet points, paragraphs of text, even images. Test a super-minimal form that just tells people what they get for signing up. Sometimes, more information simply makes people over-think.
In this video, you can see an example of a minimal template that is suitable for many purposes (and works best when it's kept minimal).
Make Your Opt-In Offer Smaller & Simpler
The tip above even applies to the offer you make on the page: people's attention spans are short and maybe they don't want to download a 500 page ebook which is the ultimate tome about everything ever. Maybe a single (but valuable) tip or a 3-minute video will get far more people to sign up than a big, intimidating offer.
If you need help creating such an offer, check out the course "How to Create an Opt-in Offer in 6 Simple Steps"
Offer More Value to Your Subscribers
Okay, this is a direct contradiction to the tip above, but hear me out: you can get great results by overwhelming your subscribers with value. You can quickly turn someone into a fan using this method. Here’s what’s needed for this to work:
First, the value you offer has to be real and relevant to your subscriber's interests (that's why it's good to test first, see Tip #07).
Second, at least some of the value should be a surprise bonus. It's much better to advertise one thing and deliver 3 things, than to advertise 3 things right from the start.
Make Your Offer More Relevant
Not everyone's interested in the same thing. That's why different people come to different pages on your website at different times. Sounds quite trivial when I put it like that, I know. But very few people apply this knowledge to the way they build their list.
By showing different, relevant offers to your visitors, you can increase the speed at which your list grows and you can also increase the value of your mailing lists.
Create specific offers that match certain topics, categories or individual posts on your site, to take your list-building to the next level.
Make Your Message More Relevant
You can combine tip #15 with tip #07: instead of creating completely separate offers for different segments of visitors, you can also get a conversion boost by just framing the same offer in different ways, depending on which pages, posts or categories your visitors are looking at.
Segment Your Audience (by Giving Them a Choice)
Give your visitors a choice and use that as a way to segment your lists. Simple example: create a free guide aiming beginners in your niche and one aiming veterans.
Not only can this lead to increased conversions, but you now also have two separate lists that you can send much more relevant and targeted offers to. Result: more money from your list!
If you want to discover all the ins and outs of multiple choice opt-in forms, check out the "Multi Step Mastery" course.
Create a Better Opt-In Experience
It's all well and good to optimize conversions on your site, but your interaction with a visitor doesn't end once they fill the opt-in form and click the button. Are you currently sending visitors to a generic thank you page or confirmation page created by your autoresponder?
You can increase the value of every single new subscriber you get by keeping them on your site and making the experience pleasant and easy for them. Check out this post for a complete guide on how to do it.
Use Your Thank You Page to Get More Social Traffic
Here’s a simple but effective trick you can use on your thank you page (a.k.a. download page), to get more traffic and more subscribers:
- Offer some form of surprise bonus value that subscribers don't expect (if you're following the previous tips, an easy option is to just add one of the other opt-in incentives as a bonus).
- Add social sharing buttons and make sure those buttons share your opt-in landing page (see tip #08), not your thank you page.
With the first step, you’re generating goodwill, which leads to a greater number of shares. Those shares send traffic to your opt-in page, which puts more people on your list, which means more people see the bonus… and on it goes. To learn how to do this using our social sharing buttons, click here.
Sell (the Benefits of) Your Newsletter
Sell your visitors on the benefits of being a subscriber. Sure, your opt-in incentive is the main reason most people will sign up, but they do end up getting emails from your newsletter and they might have mixed feelings about that.
Create a page titled something like "Top 5 Reasons Being a Subscriber to My List is Awesome" and sell people purely on the benefits of being on your list and receiving your emails. Explain exactly what they get and what they can expect.
This is a page you can link to in the early stages of your follow-up emails for new subscribers. It's also a page you can add to your site's navigation - you might be surprised at how many people read it.
Add a Subscribe Link to Your Emails
Do you send out great, content-rich, useful or entertaining emails? Then you should add a “subscribe” link somewhere in your email. Your readers might be forwarding and sharing your emails and a subscribe link can add a few more people to your list.
This link should point to a dedicated opt-in landing page, such as the type discussed in tip #08, or it could link to the page advertising your newsletter (see tip #20).
Create a Dedicated Domain for Your Opt-In Page(s)
As an example, I have a landing page for my podcast (which includes a prominent opt-in form) that you can reach at: http://impactpodcast.com/
Why is this useful? Because it’s very easy to tell people to go to this domain. Especially when you’re on audio (podcast, interview) on a webinar or meeting someone face to face, this is a must. If you’re trying to tell people on a podcast that they should go to http://yoursite.com/pages/sign-up-to-the-brandname-newsletter.html your results won’t be great. Get a short, memorable domain that you can use to redirect to your most important opt-in page.