Issue #4

How to customize your opt-in forms for performance and growth

Build Your Audience Email Marketing
6 min read
In this Article

Of all the pieces that come together to build your email marketing plan, opt-in forms generally get the brush off.

Most of the time these forms are undervalued and just get thrown together at the last minute. But they can actually be powerful when you utilize them to their fullest potential.

Opt-in forms are the cornerstone of your list building strategy and should be dealt with accordingly. They are the gateway to first contact between you and your new subscribers, and they’re the tool you use most to grow your list. Don’t you think it’s time to understand their importance and give them the respect they deserve?

This article will help you understand a little bit more about your opt-in forms and how you can customize them to fit your brand.

What is an email opt-in form and why you need one

Opt-in forms are the building blocks of targeted and segmented email lists. They are those little forms on the sidebars of websites or at the bottom of blog posts that asks a reader to enter their email address.

While you can have an opt-in form that simply asks for the reader’s email address so you can “keep in touch” and join your newsletter, the best practice for opt-in forms is to incentivize them. This means you create something of value for your reader and offer it for free in exchange for their email address.

Creating these opt-in incentives are a win-win for you and your reader:

  • Your reader gets free information on a subject they’re interested in
  • You grow your email list by adding a new reader
  • Your incentive helps you build trust and authority with your new subscriber

To get these incentives in your reader’s download folders and start growing your list, you need to create forms that are eye-catching, informative, and deliver on your promises.

What makes a good opt-in form

You’d be surprised how a few improvements to your opt-ins can go a long way when it comes to increasing your revenue. From how you write a form’s copy to where you place it on your site, even the smallest tweaks can turn a blah opt-in from into one that converts. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when creating your opt-in forms:

Keep it quick and simple

The whole point of an opt-in is to entice your reader into accepting an offer in exchange for their email address–so don’t make it any more than that. You’ll be competing against short attention spans, busy work days, and an overload of advertising, so it’s best to keep your email opt-ins as concise, direct, and to the point as possible. From copy to design, remember that less is more.

Here’s a couple do’s and don’ts on simplicity.

  • Don’t cram it full of custom fields. You can get more information on subscribers later on in their journey. When Expedia eliminated just one field from their opt-in it resulted in a $12 million profit.
  • Do ask for their email address. Maybe ask for their first name too.
  • Don’t write multiple paragraphs about your offer.
  • Do write one strong call to action.
  • Don’t add multiple images or generic stock photos.
  • Do stay on brand with your visual identity when creating forms.

Focus on one solution

Your offer should target a very specific part of your audience if you want it to be effective.  This will not only help you build an audience that is organically niched down to your topic, it will also help you segment your readers later. So figure out what your readers’ biggest problem is and create an opt-in and offer that solves it.

Make it consistent

Thinking through the consistency of your opt-ins is generally overlooked. But following through with tone, imagery, and onboarding goals will help your opt-ins feel more like an actual part of your blog strategy instead of a one-off attempt at more signups.

To find more consistency, walk yourself through your reader’s signup process. What page are they on when they sign up? What are they reading when your opt-in offer pops onto the page? Once you’ve gone through these steps you might see some ways to improve your messaging or even the incentive that you’re offering.

It should be convincing

Everything about your opt-in form from the copy, the style, and the length needs to be enticing enough to grab a reader’s attention and convince them to take a step further into your world. That means it’s time to put on your persuasive writing cap and make your readers an offer they can’t refuse.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Make sure your headline clearly describes the benefit of the opt-in. For example, the headline for our opt-in for a PDF of this issue is “Experience this issue your way”. That headline speaks to the benefit you get from downloading the PDF.

Tradecraft Opt-in Form

  • Did you say enough, but not too much? Use bullet points to convey your information in a quick and easy to read format.
  • Use strong action words on your CTA buttons compelling the reader to click through

Strong Call to Action Words For Your Opt-in Forms

The next step to optimizing your opt-in forms is to understand where your reader sees them.

Where to place opt-in forms

Close your eyes for a second and envision an opt-in form. Where do you see it on the website? If the first place you thought of was the sidebar, you’re not alone. It’s very common to see opt-ins on the the sidebar of most sites, but have you thought about all the other places on your blog they could go?

Here are 12 new places for your email opt-in forms:

  • After blog posts
  • With content upgrades
  • At checkout in your shop
  • In a homepage feature box
  • On a custom landing page
  • In your website footer
  • On your Facebook page
  • As a Twitter card
  • On your contact page
  • In a popup box
  • On a slider
  • On your YouTube channel
  • On your about page

Obviously, the more locations you have opt-ins, the higher your conversion rates can be. But just because you can add more doesn’t mean you should. When you’re adding your forms to new places on your site, make sure you’re thinking through your reader’s experience, the hierarchy of your site content, and the main objective of the page you’re placing the forms on. Never add a form if it doesn't flow with the content or makes the page feel cluttered or confusing. Keep maintaining your consistency and focus on your placement as well.

Complete guide to customizing opt-in forms in ConvertKit

Now for the fun part. It’s time to teach you how you can customize your opt-in forms to better fit the style, flow, and tone of your brand.

From here on out, don’t let your opt-ins be afterthoughts.

Complete Guide to Opt-in Form CSS Customization

Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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