Guest contribution from BestVPN – updated as of May 2019
Top marketers cite email marketing as a great way to drive traffic, nurture leads, and generate sales. And, when you look at the data, you can see why. On average, email yields a 4400% ROI—every dollar spent on email marketing results in $44 back.
However, with all this good news comes one fundamental problem: Getting someone to opt in to your email list is tough. On average, a person gets 121 emails every day. People are being overwhelmed with offers, coupons, and promotions. It’s becoming harder to convince people to give you their email address when they’re receiving messages from so many sources.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are four proven ways to increase your email opt-in rate and grow your list.
1. Use tactics for lead generation.
Almost every site looking to collect emails and grow their list has sidebars with boring, weak calls to action (CTAs) that don’t work. Plus, using the same tactics for decades produces diminishing returns.
For example, when live chat was first implemented for big brands, it focused on support only. So, if someone didn’t want to call a hotline or send an email and wait days for a response, they could talk to a live sales rep.
But, nowadays, live chat is hugely successful for lead generation. It’s becoming a vital tool in customer onboarding and lead procurement. Latest data shows that 44% of consumers state that a live sales rep was vital to helping them complete a purchase online.
But that’s not all. Live chat was cited as the communication tool with the highest satisfaction levels. When 52% of people will abandon their cart because they can’t find answers fast, live chat is the place to be.
And it goes beyond a simple customer service tool. You can easily collect emails for your list in a more natural way than standard web forms. For example, Drift recently stripped their site of forms and used live chat as their sole lead gen tool. When landing on their site, you’re prompted with a live-chat engagement message.
According to their data, of the people who clicked on the opening message, 63% became leads on their list.
Similarly, Directive Consulting is using the same strategy, engaging potential clients the moment they land on site.
This works to (1) qualify potential leads instantly and (2) capture emails for their list in a natural, conversational format.
Emerging lead generation tactics
There are many new tactics that can improve your lead generation practices. The one that has the most success with conversion rates is probably double opt-in emails. However, other measures can also shape your readers’ views and convince them they want opt in to all your future communications.
Using double opt-in as a confirmation step
Double opt-in is the best way to ensure your subscribers are dedicated and willing to receive your campaigns. Anyone who knows your email address has the ability to use it and sign you up for unwanted lists with a single opt-in system. This makes most people a little more wary of companies that still use the single opt-in strategy.
Not only is it good practice to use a confirmation step in your subscriber process, legislation may also require it. According the new GDPR laws in the European Union, double opt-in is the easiest way to prove “a clear affirmative action” before you start sending marketing emails to a new list member.
There are different opinions on whether GDPR explicitly requires a confirmation step, but it does clearly place the burden of proof on the sender. So erring on side of caution is advisable.
Upgrade your content strategies.
Subscribers may want information about your products, but they want to know about you too. Newsletters and regular features drive a content-rich campaign when shared with a wider audience than simply those who initially signed up.
Content upgrades can include PDF blog posts, cheat sheets, webinars, or knowledge base articles. Any one of these approaches—when used appropriately—can increase your lead generation and, most importantly, foster a relationship between you and your subscribers.
Create opportunities for feedback.
Using a survey or opinion poll will give recipients an opportunity to engage with your brand or service and can provide valuable insights for future content or marketing campaigns.
If you add benefits to the equation, no doubt, subscribers will willingly participate. If you give the people on your lists a voice, they’ll most likely reciprocate with improved conversion rates.
If all else fails, offer freebies.
If double opt-in, content upgrades, and crowd participation campaigns don’t seal the deal, offer freebies. This can be in the form of gated content, product giveaways, redeemable coupons, or free trials for software.
2. Employ exit intent pop-ups (they still work).
Exit intent boxes are a pop-up style function that appear once the user moves to close a current window. For example, if you landed on a site, browsed a few pages, and then moved your cursor to close the tab, the website would initiate a pop-up to entice you to stick around.
Unlike light boxes or instant pop-ups when you first land on the site, they’re only shown when users are about to leave, lowering the risk of annoying them, while also giving you one last shot at driving a signup. Since users are about to exit your site, there’s virtually no downside.
For exit-intent popups, keep them simple, like Search Engine Journal does. Leveraging social proof (“Join 23,857 marketers and counting”), Search Engine Journal entices users to download a free eBook of valuable content for a simple email exchange.
3. Create better CTA offers.
Nobody wants another email jamming up an already-cluttered and disorganized inbox, which means the cost of entry is higher for you. That means your offer better be incredible.
Your button copy and value proposition have to be on point if you want higher conversion rates—instead of the typical call-to-action buttons and using “subscribe” links, which can turn people off.
Convince them that they can’t leave without getting this deal, that giving you their email is a no-brainer based on the value they receive in return. Birchbox uses a light-box to draw attention to their email signup form, and tells site visitors what they’ll get when they do.
To do this, make sure that your button copy and value proposition answer this critical question: What is the most important, direct benefit that a user will get from clicking? For example, will they: boost rankings by six spots? Increase email open rates by 32%?
Check out how ContentVerve inspired signups using these ideas.
You should always be testing your CTA copy to see what offers resonate with your leads.
4. Run Facebook lead ads to engage social users.
Chances are you’ve generated quite a bit of traffic on social media. Many businesses use Facebook Ads as a huge driver of awareness. It’s your job to capitalize on those ads and combine your efforts with email.
Even if you don’t have any traffic on your Facebook page, using lookalike audiences, you can target customers who share similar interests as your current customers, giving you a shot at reaching new targets and collecting tons of leads.
You can use ads to capture email addresses. For example, check out this Facebook Lead Ad from The Skimm.
Just recently, Ladder.io used the same tactic, implementing lead-based ads to collect emails for their list. Using Lead Ads, they decreased their average cost per email acquisition by 80%.
To get started, create a new campaign on the Facebook Ads Manager and select “Lead generation” as your primary objective.
Email is a key driver of sales for tons of businesses worldwide. It provides a massive ROI when compared to other marketing tactics. Still, none of that matters if you can’t get people on your email list. These days, people get hundreds of emails each day just at work—not to mention all the promotional content they receive from companies.
It’s becoming harder and harder to convince someone to give you their email. Instead of using age-old tactics like a CTA sidebar, try re-inventing the wheel by using some of the tactics outlined here.
This post was originally published in April 2018