How many email opt-ins did you get in the last month? More than you planned for? Fewer? Or…gulp… zero?
What difference would it make to your business if you doubled those email opt-ins next month (or had more than zero if that’s where you’re at)?
Doing so may be easier than you think. That’s because, when creating an email opt-in offer, most websites make one huge mistake.
It’s a mistake that results in email addresses not being captured, sales not being made, and a business owner feeling like they’ve wasted their time creating an offer nobody cares about.
Surprisingly, the mistake is an easy fix, and could result in a far better start to your sales funnel—one that actually does its job by creating a connection with the reader, building your brand, and making sales on autopilot.
In this article, we’ll explain this big copywriting mistake marketers make with their opt-in offers and how, using examples and templates, it can be fixed.
BONUS: Make sure you read the whole article, because at the end you’ll have the opportunity to have your existing opt-in offer copy edited by me! I’ll edit the first 15 submissions in the comments.
Table of Contents
The Mistake Most Websites Make With Their Opt-in Form Copy
OK, enough with the suspense, here it is:
They don’t know how to get people to notice their email opt-in copy.
Most email opt-in copy says something like:
- Subscribe to our newsletter
- Enter your email address and receive weekly
- Download our free report
The reader isn’t given any incentive to opt-in. They’re not told how the opt-in product will benefit them. There’s nothing to care about.
So they ignore your offer and probably X out of the site.
Often, the business owner thinks the opt-in offer itself will make the sale. Whether it’s a report, template, ideas file, or email series—the offer itself does not sell, unless the copy that’s presenting it does the selling.
Here’s an example to bring this concept to life.
A woman’s walking down the street and is stopped by someone offering her a voucher.
“Here’s a voucher for you, madam.”
Aghast at being called madam, the woman politely declines the offer and walks away.
A woman’s walking down the street and is stopped by someone offering her a voucher.
“Here’s a voucher for you, madam. We’re offering 40% off summer shoes today. I’m sure a beautiful pair of sandals have your name on them! Our store is at the end of this street on the right.”
The woman looks past the fact that she’s just been called madam and happily accepts the voucher.
I was shopping for shoes, she thinks to herself. This voucher couldn’t have come at a better time.
What’s the difference between these two scenarios?
In scenario one, the voucher was offered with no reason attached to it. The woman made no connection between the voucher and her wants and needs. It was easy to ignore.
In scenario two, the voucher-giver explained exactly what she would get if she took the voucher. She was in the market for shoes, so saying yes was a no-brainer.
That’s exactly what great opt-in copy does—explains why your offer is irresistible to an audience that’s poised to find it irresistible.
So asking the reader to opt in to a report or email series isn’t enough. They must have a reason to subscribe.
What reason do you give them? Which angle do you take? How can you be persuasive (or even write persuasively) without coming off as too pushy or salesy?
Luckily for us, the Gods of Persuasion come to the rescue with valuable insights.
Fixing the Mistake: What All Opt-in Form Copy Must Have
When information is immediate, attention is expensive.
When the reader is clicking around your website, reading copy and watching videos, every inch of your website must be designed to capture and maintain this attention.
Opt-in form copy is no different—it has three main jobs:
- Grab attention
- Keep attention
- Convert attention into subscriptions
To do this, it must use one of the seven principles of persuasion (hat-tip to psychology giant Robert Cialdini).
- Reciprocity: People want to return a favor. This is the basis of every opt-in form. Give me your email address and I’ll send you something in return. Here’s an example from Moo.com showing reciprocity in action:
- Commitment and Consistency: If someone states their goal or objective out loud, they’re more likely to stick to it because they now see it as part of their self-image. An example of this is from My Body Tutor, below. By stating “lose 50 pounds and keep it off,” the opt-in form says something the reader has likely promised themselves. Stating it on the page feels like commitment when they click Sign Up Now.
- Social Proof: Looking to someone else similar to you to help you make a decision. An example of this is from IWillTeachYouALanguage.com, where the opt-in form uses this principle by showing the reader they’re not alone:
- Authority: Most people are swayed by authority figures. It’s why “Download the first chapter of this New York Times Bestseller” will increase opt-ins. Or why Seth Godin can get away with simply saying, “Subscribe to my blog.”
This opt-in form copy from Mark Manson shows authority by mentioning he’s a NYTimes bestselling author. The phrase, “Join millions of readers each month” nods to his authority as well. If he added a specific number of readers it could strengthen the copy even more.
- Liking: People are persuaded by people they like. Marie Forleo, for example, is well-liked by her audience, and her website copy is geared to give this feeling.
If you look at one of the opt-ins on her site and read the “opt out” copy (No thanks, I’m good!), it feels friendly and casual, rather than a potentially more aggressive-sounding opt-out (e.g., No, I don’t want to know how to get anything I want).
- Scarcity: A limited number of items for sale, or a sale for a limited time, persuades people to act now. Here’s an example of this from The New Yorker.
- Unity/Shared Identity: People are influenced by those they feel they have things in common with. A great example is this opt-in page from Shonda Rhimes, which uses language like “Join the tribe,” and “You are never alone in Shondaland.” Another example is from Appsumo, appealing directly to those with a common belief that they are in a rarefied category of people who shouldn’t have to pay full price for anything:
Now that you know the seven principles and have seen examples of them, take a look at the opt-in form copy on your website. Does it incorporate any of these principles?
If not, how can you edit it to use one of them?
And remember, the big thing these opt-in forms have in common is that they show a clear benefit to the reader for subscribing. It’s true; go back and check.
So along with using one key principle from the list from Cialdini, your opt-in form copy must show precisely what the reader gets in return for giving you their email address.
What difference will it make in their lives? What goal will it help them achieve? What step will it show them how to take?
Opt-in Form Templates Made to Sell
To get you moving and inspired to write your new opt-in copy, here are four opt-in form templates that can get your copy converting.
Template 1: Rapid Fire
This template clearly states the benefits your opt-in brings the subscriber. It helps them visualize what they’ll have or achieve after using the product.
Use the template when the opt-in product is an email series, short course, or something more than one download.
Get the for . What’s more, you’ll get:
Enter your email address and let’s get you
Get the digital guide for how to create surveys your customers can’t wait to complete. What’s more, you’ll get:
- Proven strategies on how to create products from survey results
- A swipe file of questions you can use (and the psychology behind them)
- The go-to, free survey software everyone’s raving about
Enter your email address below and let’s get you your first paying client
Template 2: The Riddler
This template asks a question that either the subscriber has asked themselves already and hasn’t found the answer, or allows them to look at their problem in a new way by asking this question.
Then, the template positions your opt-in product as the solution. It works well when the opt-in product is a survey that offers a report, advice, or review.
Do you know your ?
Take the and get in
Do you know your earning potential? Take my earning potential quiz and get a custom report showing you how you can make an extra $1,000 a month in as little as an hour a day.
Template 3: Just Imagine
Helping the subscriber visualize what life will be like after using your opt-in product is what this template is all about.
What one thing do they want to stop doing that your opt-in product helps them with? This template works well for products that are an instant download.
Enter your email below and get the . It’ll help you (so you never have to again).
Enter your email below to get the fill-in-the-blanks Travel Policy Template. It’ll help you create a company Travel Policy in less than 10 minutes (so you never have to get angry at colleagues for overspending again).
Template 4: More, More, More
While #2 and #3 point to pain points, this template looks purely at one benefit.
It showcases exactly what your opt-in product will give the subscriber more of. It works well with products showing subscribers how to make more money, achieve more of something, or focus on their wellbeing.
Want more ?
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Want more email subscribers?
Enter your email address below and we’ll send you 3 actions you can take today to get 100 subscribers.
BONUS: Write Irresistible Opt-in Form Copy, and I’ll Edit it!
You’ve learned a little about the psychology of sales thanks to Robert Cialdini, and you have solid templates you can use to edit the email opt-in copy on your site. You’re now ready to increase subscriber numbers.
Remember that testing different copy will show you what works and what doesn’t. Try using two different templates, or tweak the benefits to see which one is the most popular.
Most email providers have a built-in A/B testing feature to make it easier to test.
And finally, as promised…
If you’re still struggling to write persuasive email opt-in copy, I’m here to give you a little more help.
In the comments below, drop your existing copy and a link to your website, and I’ll edit it the first 15 submissions. See you in the comments!