How to Create a Persuasive Email Opt-in Form: The Definitive Guide

leads May 04, 2018

Want to grow your email list fast? Creating high-converting email opt-in forms is critical. In this definitive guide, we'll share exactly how to create a persuasive email opt-in form (with examples).

If you have decent blog traffic but you still aren’t getting very many email signups, then this guide is for you!

This is an extremely in-depth guide where we will cover everything you need to know to create high-converting email opt-in forms, so feel free to use the table of contents to jump to a particular section.

If you follow these exact strategies, your email opt-in forms could convert as high as 785%!

Sound good?

Great! We’ll get into all the nitty-gritty details in just a minute, but real quick let’s cover the basics (this is important– don’t skip this section!)…

What Does Email Opt-in Mean?

If you’re new to building an email list, you may be wondering what is an email opt-in form. Well, here’s the email opt-in definition:

An email opt-in is a web form that businesses use to capture the email addresses of prospective customers, and get their permission to send them offers.

In marketing speak, email subscribers are referred to as “leads”. That’s because each email subscriber is potentially only an email (or a few emails) away from becoming a paying customer.

Does that sound exciting to you?

Great! Let’s keep going…

7 Email Opt-in Best Practices

If you want your email opt-in forms to be persuasive, you first need to understand what makes people “tick”. How do you get people to actually want to give you their email address?

Well, here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating your email opt-in forms…

1. Do NOT ask people to “subscribe to your newsletter”

Frankly, this is the lazy way to create an email opt-in form. And it simply doesn’t convert.

You need to remember that email is the most intimate form of online communication. In order to persuade people to give you their email address, you’ll need to give them a good incentive.

2. Instead, create a valuable resource and give it away for FREE in exchange for their email address

You may have heard the terms “freebie”, “lead magnet” or “opt-in bribe” tossed around. Well, that’s what we are talking about here: this is the persuasive way to create an email opt-in form.

Why? Well, it leverages a psychological phenomenon known as the Principle of Reciprocity. The reciprocity principle states that people are more likely to do something for you if you do something for them. In other words, people will feel indebted to you when you offer them something for free… and will be far more likely to give you their email address.

3. Your lead magnet needs to be highly relevant to your ideal customers

Many people make the mistake of thinking that the more email subscribers they have, the better. But that’s only partially true.

Yes, more email subscribers is better, but only if they are your ideal customers. Otherwise, I’ve got an email list full of people who will likely never buy from me, and who will be annoyed that I am sending them offers that they don’t want or need. That’s not only bad for my reputation as a business owner, but it’s also bad for email deliverability (because I’ll likely get a high percentage of unsubscribes, and possibly even get flagged as spam).

So attracting the right kind of email subscribers for your particular business is crucial. How do you do that? With a highly relevant lead magnet.

For example, what would happen if I were to offer free iPads to everyone who opted in to my email list? Well, even if I could afford to do so, that would be a terrible idea, because I would simply be attracting everyone. I mean really, who doesn’t want an iPad?

Instead, you want to offer something that only your ideal customer would want. For example, one of my lead magnets is entitled, “6 Jedi Mind Tricks for the Digital Entrepreneur”.

Do you see what I did there? I specified WHO this freebie is for. The more specific your lead magnet is about who it is for, the better.

4. Your lead magnet needs to be easily consumed

People have very short attention spans, and they are hesitant to download something if they think that it is going to take a long time to consume. So you’ll want to avoid creating something like an e-book–unless it’s a really short one–because it will just be too overwhelming for someone to easily consume.

5. Your lead magnet should promise a super specific, quick win

The purpose of your lead magnet should be to help someone take a very specific action step. It doesn’t need to be a huge step: just a small baby step in the direction that they want to take.

For example, you could provide a set of tools, or a skillset, or some useful information that your audience can apply.

6. Your lead magnet should create a noticeable improvement

The purpose of your lead magnet is not only to get someone to opt in to your email list: it actually goes even deeper than that…

You want to actually create a noticeable improvement in someone’s life.

That is what will build trust, nurture your relationship, and ultimately help to convince someone to buy your products or services– which is what you want, right?

7. Your lead magnet should be instant

People love instant gratification, so to be persuasive, your lead magnet needs to be something that can be delivered to them instantly.

For example, a PDF, a video, an audio MP3, or anything digital that can be delivered via email.

51 Email Opt-in Incentive Ideas

OK, so now that you know the components of a persuasive email opt-in incentive, here are some ideas to get you thinking about what you might create…

  1. Checklist
  2. Cheat Sheet
  3. Template
  4. Swipe File or Inspiration File
  5. Samples
  6. Scripts
  7. Toolkit
  8. Web App
  9. Resource List
  10. Calendar or Planner
  11. Worksheets
  12. Printable
  13. Journal Prompts
  14. Online Calculator
  15. Spreadsheet
  16. Recipes
  17. Tutorial
  18. eBook
  19. Guide or Report
  20. Infographic
  21. Video
  22. Audio
  23. Webinar
  24. Event Tickets
  25. Email Course
  26. Sample Chapter from Book
  27. Free Coaching Call
  28. PDF Version of a Blog Post
  29. Transcript
  30. Audio Book
  31. Mind Map
  32. Recording or Replay of a Live Event
  33. Slide Presentation
  34. Vault or Library of Digital Resources
  35. Quiz Results
  36. Survey
  37. Manifesto
  38. Giveaway
  39. Inspirational Quotes
  40. Desktop Wallpaper
  41. Mobile App or Game
  42. Challenge
  43. Membership Site
  44. Facebook Group
  45. Slack Group
  46. Free Trial
  47. Coupon Code or Early Bird Discount
  48. Case Studies
  49. Waiting List
  50. Free Shipping
  51. Free Quote or Consultation

…the possibilities are endless!

Wording for Your Email Opt-in

Alright, so you’ve created your email opt-in incentive. Next, you need to write the copy for your email opt-in form.

The first part of your email opt-in verbiage is the title of your lead magnet itself. This is important: you need to think of your incentive title as a headline. You don’t want to come up with some “cutesy” name that makes no sense to anyone except you… you want to be very straightforward about what they are going to get, and what your lead magnet is going to help them to do.

Here are some great examples of lead magnet titles:

  • 52 Headline Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts that Go Viral
  • The Ultimate Facebook Ad Template Library
  • Toolkit for Growing Your Online Business
  • 5 Free Meal Plans to Ditch Processed Food
  • Life is Messy Planners: Make Room for Genius Work
  • Logo Inspiration eBook
  • 60 Journal Prompts (for Self-Love, Self-Discovery + a Spot of Self-Coaching)
  • Free Workout: Shrink Your Thighs, Expand Your Mind

The second part of your email opt-in copy is the description: you’ll need to briefly describe what’s so special about your incentive so it will be irresistible for someone to opt in.

To do that, I’ve come up with a simple, 3-sentence formula:

“Want to [desired outcome]? Then you’ll need to [action they need to take]. In this FREE [PDF/video/MP3/etc.], you’ll get [repeat or paraphrase the title of your lead magnet].”

Here’s an example of the 3-step formula in action for my 6 Jedi Mind Tricks lead magnet:

“Want to stay at home and pay the bills? Then build a profitable website, you must! In this FREE, 8-page PDF, you’ll get the exact persuasion tricks I use to help entrepreneurs build 7-figure websites.”

The final part of your email opt-in language is the call to action copy, or the verbiage that goes inside your subscribe button. What you do NOT want to do is say something generic and boring like, “Subscribe” or “Submit”. That’s not very compelling.

Instead, you’ll want to use language that is specific to your particular lead magnet. So for example, “Download the Checklist” or “Grab the Printable PDF”. This call to action copy is much more persuasive because it reminds someone of exactly WHY they should click on the button.

How to Create Juicy Email Opt-in Images

Alrighty, we are moving right along! Now that you’ve created your lead magnet and you’ve written your title, description and call to action copy, now it’s time for the final component: your email opt-in image.

Having an enticing image to go along with your email opt-in form really helps to increase your conversions, so make sure to put some effort into yours!

There are many different types of images you could use, but I’ve found that your opt-in form will convert better when the image is relevant to your lead magnet. So for example, if your lead magnet is a list of recipes, you wouldn’t want to show an image of a Lamborghini. Make sense?

A great way that I have found to create email opt-in images is by using a mockup template to create a realistic looking photo. This makes your lead magnet look more tangible and helps to increase its perceived value.

Here are some examples of mockups that I created on my computer using book and iPad mockup templates:

These are actually really easy to create when you have the right tools…

First, you’ll need to download a mockup template. I like to get mine from Creative Market– they have tons of great ones to choose from!

Next, you’ll need Adobe Photoshop– this software will allow you to edit the mockup template to include your lead magnet.

Open the template you downloaded in Photoshop, and it will start off looking something like this:

If you open up the Layers panel, you’ll see that some of the layers can be edited to include your own image. Go ahead and double click on these one at a time to edit them.

When you double click on it, the layer will open up in a new tab, like this:

Now all you need to do is copy and paste, or drag and drop, the image of your lead magnet into this layer and save it.

Now, go back to the tab with your mockup template. It should look something like this:

That’s it! Now you’ve got a nice, juicy email opt-in image.

Best Email Opt-in Plugin for WordPress (or Any Website)

Now that you have all the components for your email opt-in form in place, it’s time to pull them all together and install them on your website along with the actual opt-in form! To do that, you’ll need an opt-in form software.

Whether you are using WordPress or some other platform to build your website, I highly recommend OptinMonster.

OptinMonster is simply the best tool there is for creating opt-in forms because it gives you the most advanced features available anywhere, for a really great price. It also integrates with any email provider you use (such as ConvertKit) so that you can easily deliver your lead magnets to new subscribers when they opt in.

Here’s how to create an email opt-in form with OptinMonster. First, you’ll press the Create Campaign button and choose your campaign type. You can choose from lightbox popup, fullscreen, slide-in, floating bar, mobile popup, inline/after post, or sidebar opt-in forms.

Next, select from one of their high-converting email opt-in form templates (or choose “Canvas” to create your own design from scratch).

From there, it will ask you to enter a name for your campaign and select your website that you want the opt-in form to load on. Fill that out, and click the Start Building button.

Now you’ll see the opt-in form edit screen. From here, you can add your email opt-in image, change the email opt-in copy, add your own fonts and colors, or if you are web design savvy you can even tweak the CSS to make it look precisely the way you want.

You can also go to the Display Rules tab to customize when, where, and to whom your email opt-in form will appear.

You can even change what appears after someone opts in to your list… for example, you can display a success message (multiple themes available), or you can redirect the user to a thank-you page.

Once your email opt-in form looks the way you want, click on the Integrations tab. Then select your email provider to integrate it with your optin form so that users will receive your lead magnet by email after they opt in.

Now it’s time to publish your opt-in form! Click on Publish from the top bar. Then toggle Status to the Live position, and select your platform. You can install your optin form on a WordPress site, or on any type of website.

If you are using WordPress, there is no embed code necessary! Just click on the button to download the OptinMonster WordPress plugin, and follow the instructions they give you to install it.

There you have it! Now you have a persuasive email opt-in form for your website.

How to Increase Your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate 785% with this Simple Trick

Here’s a quick little trick you can use to make your email opt-in even more persuasive and get even higher conversions:

Use a 2-step opt-in form.

A 2-step opt-in is where someone has to click on a call to action beforethey see the actual form fields.

This is proven to convert up to 785% better! That’s because it leverages the Zeigarnik Effect, which states that people who initiate an action are more likely to complete it.

You can create one of these 2-step opt-ins with OptinMonster by using the Lightbox campaign type, and then activating MonsterLink (On Click)from the Display Rules tab.

Then, click on the button to Copy MonsterLink Code. This code is a hyperlink that can be pasted into your website wherever you want the call to action for your opt-in form to appear.

The MonsterLink is just a simple text link, but you could use it with a button, or even an image if you want.

Conclusion

In this definitive guide, we gave you all the tools you need to create persuasive email opt-in forms.

You learned how to create an irresistible lead magnet, the 3-sentence formula for your email opt-in form copy, how to create email opt-in images, and how to install your email opt-in form in WordPress or any website using OptinMonster. You even learned how to use 2-step opt-in forms to increase your conversions by as much as 785%.

Following these exact strategies, I’ve been able to grow a huge email list of thousands of subscribers in a very short amount of time. So what are you waiting for?

Get started by brainstorming some opt-in incentive ideas, following the best practices we shared above. Then, get OptinMonster to start building high-converting email opt-in forms for your website.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to listen to this podcast episode, Case Study: How to Get 600 Email Subscribers in 3 Weeks.

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