Opt-in Form Strategies Guaranteed To Build Your Mailing List

by Ivan Bayross
Opt-in Form Strategies Guaranteed To Build Your Mailing List

“Build an audience (of engaged email subscribers), and great sales are possible”.

As website owner do you want to create a terrific, long term, profit generating asset?

Then you must build an engaged, sizeable, email list.

If you encounter the words sizeable and email list together in one sentence, don’t worry.  Sizeable means different values to different Internet businesses.  Excellent net based income can be delivered by as little as 300 engaged, registrants.

Here’s some food for thought, a Mc-Kinsey study says:

  1. Email is 40 times more powerful at acquiring new customers, than Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Email-based orders have dollar values, 17% higher than what social media channels deliver.

Here’s the bad news, getting site visitors to register is a struggle. One that many online marketers never get right.

Hence, today I’m sharing several strategies I’ve used which built my email list.

Does eleven strategies sounds too much for you to handle? Then chew on this. Buffer’s success in doubling its email sign-ups in 30 days required eight strategies.

Email Sign Up Sources

Email Sign Up Chart

The eleven strategies work together best. Hence, this post is lengthy.  Don’t be put off by the length. It’s packed with actionable content and real-world examples

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Here’s what I’m going to deal with.

  • Carrot content
  • End-of-post forms
  • In-line forms
  • Sidebar forms
  • Contact forms
  • Landing pages
  • Two-step (double) opt-ins
  • Entry pop-ups
  • Exit pop-ups
  • “Happy” buttons
  • “Painful” buttons

Carrot Content

All website owners will attempt to capture a Name and Email Id via a form.

There a lot of information available about:

  • What forms to use
  • Where to place them on your webpages
  • How to optimize the form

And more . .


If your form content does not offer compelling reason to site visitors, they will not share their Names and Email Ids with you.

This is where carrot content comes in.

Carrot content, is often called lead magnets, bribe-to-subscribe offers. This is a promise of immediate value to (potential) your subscriber.

The carrot (free) content could be:

  • How-to guides
  • Reports
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • Drip fed e-courses
  • Discounts and coupons
  • eBooks and more . . .

The goal of opt-in form content (i.e. carrot content) is to improve your subscriber’s life by solving a problem. Hence, such content must show a perceivable payoff to your (potential) subscriber.

The only way to find out if your carrot content is enticing enough is to test how click-worthy it is.  Hence, knowing how to use Google Analytics – Goals is a necessity.

Another tool is Cyfe. It goes one step beyond Google Analytics’ on-site data.  It’s all-in-one analytics dashboard measures marketing efforts, web analytics offsite sales and more.

When it comes to building your email list, Cyfe helps in two ways:

  1. It identifies the highest converting traffic sources for each piece of content
  2. It also tracks conversions over time to learn about their continued engagement and if they buy

Landing Pages

When emailing your list you will drive recipients to a landing page at some time or the other. This is a given.  Let’s look at important elements of landing pages.  Elements that help convert those who land on them into paying customers.

Here are some landing page best practices from the pros:

  • Make your Call To Action big and above the fold.
  • Use A/B testing to understand which message and CTA is delivering the best results.
  • Use videos. They notably improve conversion.
  • Keep you landing page content clear, simple, and focused.
  • Use only one Call To Action.
  • Craft compelling copy. Tell a story instead of stating facts. Never just sell.

Finally ensure your landing pages look terrific on mobile devices.

This example from GetResponse shows landing pages optimized for mobiles perfectly.


Image source: GetResponse

Happy Buttons

let’s get into some landing page details, starting with your Call To Action button.

What makes a seductive, click-worthy button?

One thing: Happiness.

Get rid of any and all Submit or Sign up buttons.

Instead, you should:

  • Use first-person language – at the very least try Sign me up or Send me updates.
  • Use active language: Give me access or Start discovering today.
  • Give a concrete preview of what a subscriber will receive.
  • Detail the ultimate payoff. Eg: Will make you a better marketer.
  • Tell people exactly how they benefit by signing up. Hint: It’s definitely not a weekly email.

All this means creating Call To Action button copy that shows the value of your offer.

Want a terrific formula for Call To Action button copy?

Ensure the copy instantly triggers I-want-to within the reader.

Write Call To Action button copy that completes the phrase:  I want to ________________.
Now use only the underlined part as your CTA button copy.

Compare these two buttons:

Happy Buttons

The second button completes the I-want-to phrase with end my scheduling hassles.
It identifies a problem and offers a specific, desire-based solution.

Two-step (double) Opt-ins

Wouldn’t it be terrific if subscribers themselves validated their Email Ids for you?

Then as website owner you would be 100% sure that your mailing list consists of only genuine email Ids.   No fake email ids such as abc@xyz.com or worse spam@yahoo.com.

Here is how this is done. You need a subscription with a 3rd party email service provider, like, AWeber, Constant contact, MailChimp or others

A registrant fills in your opt-in form and hits submit.

The opt-in form content is dispatched to a 3rd email service provider.

All 3rd party email service providers deliver an Auto Responder service.

As soon as a registrant fills their Name and Email Id in your opt-in form and hit submit the following automatically happens.

The 3rd party email service provider you’ve signed up with receives your opt-form content. Its auto responder service immediately dispatches a confirmation email to the new registrants email id.

The confirmation email content in essence says:

Please click on the confirmation link in this Email to register with ___________ and access your freebies.

Followed by a clickable link.

NOTE: The contents of the confirmation Email can be customized if you need to.

Only when a registrant clicks on the confirmation link, is their email Id added to your mailing list.

If they do not click the confirmation link, their email Id is not added to your mailing list.

If the confirmation email bounces then that email Id is not added to your mailing list.

This technique ensures that there is a human being (i.e. the registrant) is connected to the email Id AND that the email id is not a fake.

NOTE: You should ensure that only when a registrant clicks on the confirmation link, will the freebie you’ve offered, be made available to them.

Today, almost all opt-in forms are of the double opt-in type.

Enter A Webpage – An Opt-in Form Pops-up

The entry pop-up form activates when a site visitor enters any of your site’s webpages. Often the entry pop-up form, hides page content.  This forces the site visitor to engage with it, even if it is only to click its Close icon.

Remember, visitors will do one of the following:

  • Close the pop-up and ignore the CTA
  • Engage and share their name and email id
  • Get annoyed and leave your website

The opt-in pop-up captures their name and email id in exchange for bribe they cannot refuse. To annoy the site visitor the least, you must time the opt-in, pop-up correctly.

NOTE: Do you want your site visitors to bounce off your webpage instantly? Pop-up your opt-in form the instant they land on your web page.


Image Source: AppSumo

To increase your chances of capturing a name and email id using a pop-up opt-in form, wait at at least five seconds before displaying the pop-up.

Obviously, if a person keeps coming back to read your blog posts, they are more likely to register with your site. Don’t be afraid to show the same pop-up opt-in form to the same visitor if they stick around on your website.

Make A Move To Exit A Webpage – An Opt-in Form Pops-up

The exit pop-up opt-in form is the exact opposite of the entry pop-up opt-in form.

Let your site visitor’s move their mouse cursor towards the top of their Browser.  This indicates they are about to exit the web page. That’s when the exit pop-up opt-in form displays.

Exit pop-ups are last-ditch efforts to engage a potential subscriber. This approach can/ v/ b help prevent a good lead getting lost.

This example from ConversionXL is perfect. As soon a site visitor is about to leave their webpage, their exit pop-up opt-in form displays.

ConversionXL uses the painful Call To Action button copy.  The decline button states: No, I prefer to suck at optimization.

Today, most websites use the Exit, opt-in form pop-up. Only when a site visitor has finished with the webpage and indicates their desire to navigate away from the web page is the opt-in form, with its irresistible bribe, displayed.

Pop-ups – both entry and exit can annoy site visitors, BUT they work.

CrazyEgg compiled data from four web sites and discovered awesome results.

  • Nikki McGonigal’s pop-up drove 1,375% more sign-ups than her sidebar alternative.
  • Darren Rowse’s light-box earned 400 new subscribers a day.
  • Ask-Leo.com increased its email conversions by 1,000%.
  • Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen saw sign-ups 10 times greater than the pre-pop-up, opt-in rate.

Create exit pop-ups which deliver honest and conversational copy. Admit that the exit pop-up is an exit pop-up.

Here are some good examples:

  • Social triggers: “Going so soon? Here’s why 1,500 visitors stick around each day.”
  • Specific added value: “Before you leave, grab the [free carrot offer].”
  • Damage control: “Didn’t find what you need? Can I help …”
  • Negative option: “Yes, I want help” or “No, I’ll take my chances”

Painful Opt-in Exit Button Text

Let’s take a look at painful button, Call To Action, text. This can be implemented for both entry and exit pop-up buttons.

The key is to display opt-out button text that pinches the site visitor.  Basically close-the-pop-up button text that makes the site visitor uncomfortable.

Why would you use close button text on an opt-in form, which makes a site visitor uncomfortable?

Here’s the reason.

Most opt-in forms, have one button. The button that’s clicked if the site visitor chooses to opt-in.

If the site visitor chooses not to opt in, they do not click a button to state their preference. They simply click the X to shut the opt-in pop-up window.

Hence, most opt-ins have active buttons to opt-in BUT opt-outs are passive.

A painful button eliminates changes the passivity of opting out.

Painful button text, tells the site visitor exactly what they are choosing to walk away from. Often a tad rudely.

Here’s a fabulous example from the Copy Hackers site.

Copy Hackers

Image Source: Copy Hackers

Strangely, this approach to closing the opt-in form window – Works!  There is an increase in site visitors subscribing.

QuickSprout takes a similar approach.  Take a look.


Wishpond uses witty, catchy-but-painful, opt-out-button text.


Image Source: Wishpond

End Of Blog Post Opt-in Forms

Unlike any kind of pop-up form, the end-of-Blog-post, opt-in form caters to actual readers.

Why? Because by the time site visitors have consumed your content, they’re invested. They should be looking for more. Hence, offering an opt-in form at this position is worth it.

Use an end-of-Blog-post opt-in form to capture your site visitor’s Name and Email Id. This is striking while the lead is hot.

As a general rule used the end-of-Blog-post, opt-in form at the very end of every post.

This is what the School-Of-Digital-Marketing uses at the end of every Blog post.


Blog Post In-line Opt-in Forms

In-line opt-ins forms are the simplest of all.  They convert well.

A site visitor is not forced to move their eyes away from what they are doing, i.e. reading your Blog post content. Such opt-in forms are definitely impulse driven.

Being impulse driven, in-line opt-in forms work best within long-form content. Posts of at least 1,000 words (or more).  In line, opt-in forms, become part of the natural flow of the content itself.

Three special things are happening. Your (long form) content provides value. The in-line opt-in form integrates well with page content. Both trigger the site visitor’s impulse to engage and get more.

In-line opt-in forms are like – Oh, by the way, if you like what you’re reading now, then you’ll love the other stuff we deliver. To get our other stuff, just register here.

In-line opt-in forms provide site visitors the opportunity to engage with your content. As long as your content delivers measurable value to them, they will act.

Sidebar Opt-in Forms

Sidebar opt-in forms are universally found.

Often, this type of opt-in form is built into website Blog template itself.  Hence, they’re incredibly easy to implement.

There are basically two kinds of sidebar forms:

Anchored sidebar opt-in forms. They are static. They stay in one place.

Sidebar Opt-in Forms SDM

Sticky sidebar opt-in forms. These are also called scrolling sidebar forms. They appear once a site visitor passes a certain point on your web page.

Sticky sidebar

Contact Forms: Used To Capture Name & Email Id

Don’t overlook the obvious. Don’t underestimate the converting power of contact pages.

These simple tips will help conversions.

  • Fewer fields means greater conversion power.
    On average, asking visitors to complete three fields results in a 25% conversion rate. Six or more fields, has a 15% or less conversion rate.
  • Mobile design is paramount.
    81% of site visitors access the Internet using smart phones. Ensure your contact form is responsive. (i.e. It looks good, and fits smaller screen sizes.  If not you’re losing possible conversions).
  • Ask good questions.
    Do not leave the message field blank.  Spur conversation by crafting engaging questions. Questions that relate to the product or service you offer, perhaps.

In Conclusion:

Remember how this blog post started. Once you build an engaged list of email subscribers, anything is possible.

Try out the opt-in form strategies in this blog post. Test them out for yourself.

Start converting. Build an engaged Email list.  Craft a well-planned email marketing campaign. The impact it will have on your website income will amaze you.

Please Leave Your Comments They Are A Huge Help

If you liked this Blog post, I’d love to read your comments. If you thought that this Blog post was not up to your expectations, I’d love to read your comments.

It’s your comments that help me get better each day. Please pass on your bouquets or brickbats in the comments section right below.

Would You Like To Connect?

I’d love to hear from you. Just use admin@school-of-digital-marketing.com.

Want to talk? My Skype Id is bayross. Send me an invite. Let’s connect and chat.

I do enjoy engaging with site visitors. I’ve made several lifelong friends this way.

I promise that I’ll reply to your email never later than 2 working days.

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