Building Your Email List with Opt-In Offers
Creating freebies your audience can't resist!
When you're starting out, building a quality email list can be a daunting task, and it can seem to take forever to start with. It's not enough anymore to simply slap a 'Sign up' form in your sidebar or on your home page and hope that people will decide to hand over their email address to you.
Email addresses are like currency these days, and people know that, so they're not just going to give theirs out to anybody without there being something in it for them.
This is where an 'opt-in offer' comes in...
What is an 'Opt-In Offer'?
An 'opt-in offer' is essentially something that you will offer your audience in return for them giving you their email address. You've probably seen them before; things like:
- "Sign up and get a 40% off voucher!"
- "Download a FREE eBook when you sign up with your email address!"
- "Enter your email below and start your free trial!"
Or, for example, the Marketing Plan template offer in my sidebar >>
Basically, we have now come to the point where if you don't have something to offer in return for your audience's email addresses, it's going to be very difficult to grow your list.
What Can I offer people?
I hear this question a lot from clients and fellow freelancers; they're unsure what they can offer their audience for free. Here are some ideas:
-A pack of 'stock' photos that are CC0 and free for people to use anywhere
-A photography 'cheatsheet'; a one page document with basic camera tips
-A printable or virtual voucher (eg, 40% off or 3 for 2)
-A 'What's your style?' quiz or worksheet (for fashion retailers)
- Business Coaches:
-A worksheet to help people understand their business style
-A business tools 'cheatsheet'; list of tools & resources for small biz owners
-A printable voucher (eg, free dessert or 4 people eat for the price of 3)
-A free recipe pack; 2 or 3 recipes by your awesome chef
-A printable voucher (eg, free night stay when booking 3 nights or more)
-A local 'secret guide'; created by local people with the best places to go that are off the 'tourist map'
-Writer's tips toolkit; a document list of tips & tools for writing
-Worksheet to find writing style
-Templates for people to create their own moodboards, or mockups for their product designs
-Worksheets to help people work through their branding
-Printable voucher (eg, 40% off or free cut & blow dry)
-A 'find a style to suit you' worksheet to help find a hairstyle to suit them
- Accountants/Professional Services:
-Worksheets to help with understanding business needs
-Templates for contracts or bookkeeping spreadsheets
How do I create an opt-in offer?
If you're thinking about creating downloadable worksheets, templates or vouchers, there are a number of tools you could use.
For example, Canva is great for creating visual designs, and you can download your creations as PDFs too. Or you can create documents easily in Microsoft Office, Pages or Google Drive.
I offer a Content Design retainer to create things like social media post designs, blog post graphics and opt-in offer freebies for businesses on a regular basis, but I'm available to hire for one-offs too!
How do I set up an opt-in offer?
You can actually easily set up your opt-in offers using Mailchimp. Here's how:
1 // Create a List
The first step is to create a list where you want to keep the email addresses of the people who sign up for this opt-in offer.
Navigate to the 'Lists' tab in your Mailchimp dashboard and select 'Create List' on the right-hand side.
You'll then be asked to fill in a few details that your list will see when they receive emails from you. Your reminder should be something like:
"You're receiving this email because you signed up to receive [INSERT OPT-IN OFFER HERE] on [INSERT WEBSITE NAME HERE]."
2 // Create a Sign Up form (optional)
You may already have a sign-up form set up on your website, in which case you simply need to link that sign-up form to your Mailchimp account and select the correct List for it to collect emails in.
If you don't already have a sign-up form, and you'd prefer to use a button on your website to link to an external sign-up form instead, you can create these in Mailchimp.
When you're in viewing your new list, navigate to the 'Signup forms' tab and you'll automatically be taken to create a 'Signup form'.
You'll see a 'Signup form URL' here, and this is what you can link buttons or text to on your website. It will take you to your Mailchimp signup form.
As you scroll down you will also see that you can customise your signup form by changing the colours & fonts, and adding form fields & text.
3 // Create a Confirmation Thank You Page
Once people have signed up using your form, they'll receive an 'Opt-in confirmation email' to confirm their signup. You can also edit this in Mailchimp too if you like.
Then, when people click the 'confirm' button in their email, it will take them to what is called a 'Confirmation Thank You Page'. This is where you'll want to give them their freebie!
Select 'Confirmation thank you page' in the dropdown menu.
You can again edit the colours and text for this page. To give people their freebie, you'll want to edit the main text box.
Add the text you want to link to your freebie download, highlight it, and select the link icon in the editor bar.
You can then choose to link this text to a web address (perhaps if you are hosting your freebie download on your website or somewhere else - you can link to that here and it will take you to that page), or you can link to a file. This means that when people click on the link text, it will automatically download a file to their computer.
You'll then be asked to upload a file (use a PDF or zip file), and then save your edits.
One thing to note: In Mailchimp (for free accounts at least), you can only offer one opt-in offer per list. So if you want to create multiple opt-in offers (for example if you have a blog, you may be offering different things per blog post), you will need to create multiple lists.
This can get complicated when you go to send out campaigns as you'll need to duplicate the campaign several times to send to all your lists, and you risk sending the same email several times to people that appear in all your lists. This is where you may want to consider a tool like Leadpages or Convertkit which manages that for you.