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7 Steps to an Email Opt-in Page that Works

Email marketing works.

In fact, it’s still one of the best methods for converting prospects into customers or clients.

A critical part of the process begins, however, before a single email is sent.

You’ve got to get people on your list in the first place.

This happens most effectively at a landing page specifically designed to convince the right people to sign up.

I’m about to show you email marketing tips that help you win the trust and interest of the right prospective subscribers, so that they naturally want to join your list.

Let’s jump right in.

Step #1: Who do you want?

The first step is crucial, and yet time and again I see people plow ahead without a clear understanding of exactly the type of person they want on their email list.

Without a clear and detailed understanding of who you want, you can’t craft a message that resonates strongly enough to spark interest and gain trust.

What we teach here at Copyblogger could attract your typical “get rich quick” business opportunity type.

But instead, our message is positioned squarely against that type of person, and aimed at people who are willing to put in the effort.

Take the time to figure out who you really want on your list in terms of your ultimate goal, which is likely to be moving enough of your subscribers to customers or clients.

Then and only then will you know how to “speak their language” with your opt-in copy.

Step #2: What do you want them to do?

Your email opt-in page has one goal — to get people to sign up to your email list.

Every word and element of the page should support that single action. If it doesn’t, lose it.

That means lose your typical sidebar.

That means lose those links in your copy.

In many cases, that means creating a page so focused on the opt-in that you take an approach that’s different from your normal site design.

One page, one action. That’s it.

Step #3: What are the essential elements?

No exceptions, you absolutely must have:

  1. The headline: You’ve got to instantly catch attention with your headline.
  2. The benefits: You’ve got to persuade by teasing, usually with fascinating bullet points.
  3. The call to action: You’ve got to expressly tell people to sign up.
  4. The opt-in form: You’ve got to have a way for them to sign up.

You might also need number 5 …

The Proof: In this case, proof should be of the social kind. Number of subscribers, subscriber testimonials, reviews, media mentions, etc.

Whether or not you need to add in proof on your email opt-in page depends on a number of criteria, including the strength of your brand and the traffic source.

For example, if you’re driving existing blog subscribers to a focused email list, your good reputation (hopefully) precedes you. If you’re running ads to drive traffic, you likely have no reputation on your side and you’ll need everything you’ve got.

Step #4: What incentive should you give?

It’s always been a smart tactic to offer an up-front incentive, or “ethical bribe” to convince people to sign up for your list.

This could be a free report, ebook, audio lesson, video, or another instant-gratification freebie.

In many markets, this strategy still works just fine. In others, you’ll face savvy subscribers who snag your incentive with an alternate “trash” email address, or simply unsubscribe immediately.

The better approach is to focus the incentive on staying subscribed.

Offer that report over time as a series of emails in an automated sequence, break the video or audio into parts, and always entice subscribers with what’s coming next.

The key is for people to realize that you’re giving more than you’re taking (pitching), and they’ll happily stay with you much longer.

Step #5: How long should your copy be?

Same as it ever was: As long as necessary, and no longer.

In the case of an opt-in page, the essentials have to be there — headline, benefits, and call to action.

But going back to Step #1, a bit more copy will help you better target the exact type of person you want on your list.

You could start with your positioning before stating benefits, present the sign-up form, and then provide more copy — including testimonials — for people who want more information.

And don’t forget to reassure people that you respect their privacy.

Step #6: How much information should you ask for?

This one’s easy.

The less form data you ask for on your email opt-in page, the more people sign up.

We once tested asking for first name and email address against email address only, and the latter won. Now, we only ask for an email address (go figure).

If your business goals dictate getting more information, like a mailing address and phone number, so be it. Personally, I’d get the prospect on the list first, and as you gain trust, you can ask for more information with surveys and questions that offer content upgrades.

The more trust you build, the more people open up to you. And you get to communicate with prospects regularly, which means it’s no longer an all-or-nothing situation.

Step #7: What works better?

Everything above represents tried-and-tested wisdom for email opt-in pages.

But when it comes down to what specifically works for you and your audience, only your own split-testing will tell the whole truth.

Changes to headlines, call-to-action copy, button colors, and other tiny tweaks can make a big difference when it comes to your opt-in rate.

Just don’t forget Step #1 above.

In other words, tweaking your landing page to get the absolute best opt-in rate doesn’t mean much if you’re attracting the wrong people for your ultimate goal of selling something.