Building an engaged email list is high on most savvy business owner’s priorities, because email is the one platform that is unlikely to shift. Twitter might become too glutted with messages to be effective, Facebook might enforce stricter publishing guidelines, and Pinterest might be taken over by a new social media platform.
Only one mode of communication with your ideal prospects remains steadfast in the face of a changing social media landscape: email.
That being said, leveraging the power of word of mouth marketing through social media is one of the best ways to grow your email list. The trick is to design an opt-in offer that is built to be shared on social media. And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do today!
The Best Email Opt-in Offers Are Specific
When it comes to encouraging people to take action, the more specific you can be, the better. Back in the early days of the web, a website owner could get away with a simple “sign up for my newsletter” headline above their opt-in. But times have changed, the average internet user has gotten more sophisticated, and they now ask themselves “what’s in it for me?”
You need to be able to answer that question clearly, and to make sure it matches up with what your ideal subscriber really wants. I recommend create an opt-in offer that answers questions one or two steps ahead of what they’d need before they hired you or bought something from you.
Here’s an example: a dog walking service might have an opt-in that teaches dog owners how to make their own healthy organic dog food. Or that teaches dog owners how to train their dog to behave when a visitor comes to the door. If that’s interesting to the new dog owner, and you continue to deliver great regular email content, when it comes time to choose a dog walking service, you can bet that this person will pick your company.
Your Opt-in Can Deliver Results Before They Ever Spend Money With You
I like to think of your free email opt-in offer as a taste-test. This is the make or break moment where someone decides if they want to do business with you, and give you money in exchange for a service or product. If your free offer falls short of their expectations, or doesn’t deliver on the results it promises, then you might not be getting anyone’s business at the end of the day.
I often hear from business owners who are just getting started in content marketing or list building tell me that they don’t want to give away their best stuff for free. I get that. But I think there are ways to give away your best stuff as a lead in to your paid best stuff. Few people buy before they try, so give them a chance to really try your content on for size before you ask them for the sale.
What Opt-in Delivery Method Is Right For You?
There are a number of different formats for delivering your opt-in offer. You need to consider your audience and how they prefer to consume content. Some love to be able to listen on the go through their mp3 player, others prefer to sit down with a mug of coffee to read in their downtime. Still others prefer the interaction of something live, and each method has pros and cons. Let’s take a look!
- Email Series
- Live Webinars / Livestreams / Calls
Offering a video training or a series of videos is a great way to build rapport with a new subscriber, and to cater to people who want information in a fast and digestible format. Video is great if you have something visual to show and explain, or if you know that your paid offerings will also contain video.
One really important consideration is what’s easier for people to consume? If it’s too long, they might leave it till later and never get around to watching. In that case, doing something like a live webinar might be better.
Some people prefer to read, simple as that! If someone can read the same information that a 30 minute video would deliver in just 10 minutes, then’ll likely choose to read it instead of watching. The nature of your content is also important, if you have graphs and charts or other visuals that need to be delivered digitally, a PDF is a great format.
Most PDFs are also shareable, so make sure to include an active link in your document, in case your new subscribers share it with their friends… this could lead to even more sign ups for your list!
If you have something that’s best listened to, like a meditation or a step by step process that people can follow through auditory cues, this is a great format! It’s easy to create an audio based on a free call, too. If you’ve been wanting to do audio for a long time and just haven’t gotten around to it, check out option five below, and you’ll be well on your way!
The email follow-up series is one of my favorites. It can combine the other formats and deliver a little something for different people and preferences. In my website checkup quiz, I follow up with someone based on what top 3 things they need to improve on their website. This means each person will receive a slightly custom series of emails, each containing a tutorial or how-to article to help them make improvements. But you don’t need to get fancy to do a series of emails, and in fact they’re really easy to create if you sit down and write them as one article that is sent over a few days.
One main benefit is that an email series trains people to expect and open your emails regularly, because it’s why they signed up in the first place. So as you send more of your newsletters, people will look forward to opening them up! You can also place social media sharing calls to action within your email series, to get even more people to sign up!
The power of something live is that you need to make time for it when it’s happening, because otherwise you’ll miss it. Yes, there might be a recording, but people might want to ask questions or interact with you. If you don’t yet have an email opt-in offer created, the fastest way to grow your list and create one is to hold a live training via webinar, livestream/Google Hangout, or conference call and to record it.
The benefit of doing something like a live event, is that it lends itself to social sharing more easily. Attendees will forward the sign up email to their friends, or tweet about your event for you.
How Often To Replace Your Opt-in
For most business owners, the idea of spending time replacing or creating a new opt-in offer may seem like a pain in the butt. But creating a new offer every now and then is how you’ll convert casual readers and visitors into email subscribers who love your stuff.
I recommend planning out a few different free offerings you can put together throughout the year. These can be live online events, a new PDF that becomes a part of your “subscriber library” that everyone gets when they join, or putting together a video for a new sub-niche.
Creating new offers also combats ad blindness and will get people to re-engage with your brand.
How Long To Spend Creating Your Opt-in
Now that you might be planning to create a new opt-in offer or to upgrade your existing one, you might be wondering how long this process is really going to take. The answer is that it’s up to you and the business you want to create.
I spent a few months designing and writing the content for the free website checkup tool. I might spend a few hours creating a new presentation that becomes a live webinar or livestream. And in the past, I’ve spent weeks creating a free PDF with photos and all kinds of great content.
Each time, the efforts I put into my opt-in were rewarded. But don’t discount the other half of the “get more subscribers” equation… you need to promote your new opt-in offer after you create it!
I recommend the 80/20 rule when it comes to your opt-in offer: spend 20% of your time creating your new offer, and 80% of it promoting it.