This is a guest contribution from Charles Crawford.
For a blog or business, a quality opt-in campaign is worth its weight in subscribers.
Not only does a subscriber base give you direct access to the customers and readers that care most about your brand, but it also lets you target those who are most engaged and willing to come back for more. Truly, this is a marketing technique that should not be taken lightly – if you haven’t set up a mailing list, now’s the time.
Bear in mind, however, that an opt-in campaign must be more than a simple newsletter or a glorified advertisement in your subscribers’ mailboxes. People don’t part with their precious email addresses for just anything, the best opt-ins give them value, and promise even more down the line. You need to always be thinking how you can help your reader or solve a problem for them, and then make that the basis of your opt-in. Once they’ve signed up to your list, you keep providing value and helping them wherever you can.
However, this is putting the cart before the horse if you haven’t already attracted your subscribers. While you’ll find that a small number of people will happily sign up for your marketing outreach as raving fans, you’re still going to have to put in some real effort to get new subscribers and keep them happy.
Just as your opt-in campaign should focus on bringing readers and customers value, so should your methods for reeling them in. This means giving them something free in exchange for the subscription.
1. Free Information and Updates
Of course, a newsletter will already be giving out free information and updates about your posts or products. But it’s all in the way you sell it. Instead of just informing your website’s visitors that you have a mailing list, sell it to them just as you would any other product. And in order to do that, you have to get into the mind of your customers.
People like feeling that they’re a part of an exclusive club, that they’re getting the secrets that will put them ahead of everyone else and make them come out on top. To take advantage of this, tease them with tidbits you’ll include only in your mailing list. The best part about this freebie method is that if you’re an expert in your niche, it should be pretty easy to share your knowledge.
But don’t let that make you think you can provide your audience with something they could easily find on their own. Remember rule number one of opt-ins: provide value. Don’t take your space in their inbox lightly. Reward your opt-ins with regular, high-quality articles that they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
2. Resource Sheet
If your blog is in any way educational to your audience, they’re going to want a way of finding other helpful links that will help them learn more about your niche.
In return for signing up for your email or service, offer them a huge list of other resources they can turn to. You’ll be providing your audience with that ever-important value while simultaneously adding authority to your brand.
You don’t necessarily have to list all of your competitors on this sheet; instead, think of related niches, topics, blogs and sites that will genuinely help your reader.
These could be websites, books, tools, online communities, trade magazines–things you yourself use to become an expert in your niche.
3. Ebook Related To Your Industry or Niche
Ebooks are a great way to branch out with your service. Leverage your extensive knowledge into a short e-book that is helpful for your audience. The best part is, when creating an e-book, you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. It’s often enough to repurpose existing blog posts for new subscribers, but if you’re concerned about providing value for the long-termers then use those blog posts as a basis for an eBook and then include extra copy alongside.
The de-facto platform for creating and hosting e-books is Amazon’s Kindle Store, with which you have the extra benefit of marketing your brand to another audience. However, it isn’t the best when it comes to giving away free books. Instead, use InstaFreebie, which allows you to upload your ebook file and generate a link for sharing. Plus, it integrates with Mailchimp.
4. Discounts on Your Products or Services
While it may hurt you to give away your products at discount, there are some upsides. Firstly, discounts on older ebooks, courses, or content that isn’t top of sales any more can be a great way of keeping them moving. These discounts may even have the power to get your audience to purchase one of your products they perhaps weren’t going to in the first place.
Coupon codes are a great way to provide discounts to your audience. How you go about doing this will depend on the retailer you’re using or the ecommerce system you have set up for the business part of your blog. In any case, you’ll be able to generate discount codes that you can then pass on to your potential opt-ins.
Offer these discounts in exchange for your users signing up for your email newsletter or subscription-based service. Even if they only sign up to receive the discount, chances are that many will stay subscribed to your service, especially if they find that your campaign provides them with value that they weren’t expecting.
5. Unused Materials
If you have some material that you just haven’t been able to use – for example, a lengthy blog post or guide – and you just can’t figure out how to get it out there, consider giving it away for free. While you could go ahead and convert this material into a password-protected file, consider leaving it unlocked. If your audience decides to share it with others, that’s free publicity for your brand.
Chances are, this material that’s been sitting around will be a little unpolished. While you may have kept it from release due to quality concerns, customers will be a little more forgiving if you’re giving it away for free. Still, you should take some time to edit and perfect, just like you would with anything you release as part of your brand. Anything that shows an obvious lack of quality will turn off your audience and be a bad representation of your brand.
6. Case Studies
You can use the freebie giveaway as an opportunity to teach your audience how to best make use of your blog.
Consider giving users a collection of success stories that you or your readers have had from using the content they’ve found on your blog – post step-by-step instructions in how this success was achieved.
Always keep in mind the reader of your case study: it should be well-formatted with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and pictures to easily guide the reader along.
A case study is wonderful because it provides solid value to your audience, as they can model their own strategies off this success story. Plus, it has the added benefit of lending more authority to your blog and giving your audience more confidence in using it. After all, a confident audience is a repeat audience.
7. Counseling or Guidance
While this won’t work for all situations, you could consider giving away some special guidance to readers who sign up to your mailing list.
Such applications for this idea are an hour-long phone call or video chat, or a once-a-month catchup on something that they’re struggling with.
How you apply this idea will depend on your schedule and availability. While this probably won’t be appropriate for simple email sign-ups, it can be a good way to get readers to take the next step, especially when there are ecourses or other services involved.. There is one other upside to this idea: it will give you the social proof of being an authority in your field.
If you’re concerned about “wasting” your time and resources on giving something away, consider these two things: First, a freebie is an investment, and while you won’t see returns immediately, they’re guaranteed to bring in a bigger audience. Secondly, you can always find other ways to cut your expenses to make up for the fact that you’re giving away something for free.
Which opt-in type do you think would work best for you?
Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech start-ups for years, and he has been successful with multiple business ventures such as affiliate marketing (where 98%+ of users never make money).