I always thought the old saying “There are plenty of fish in the sea” was misapplied to romance. Besides the unsavory notion of kissing dead fish, to succeed at fishing is to attract more than just one special fish. It’s to fill your nets with buckets full of fish… bushels full!
Not exactly “my one and only” is it?
No, I think the fishing metaphor best applies to customer acquisition. There’s an area you do want to attract people in bulk. Ideally online, where you can get the most bang for your buck and where most of your customers hang out all day, every day.
So if your customers are fish, the Internet is the ocean. And what do you use to catch fish in the ocean? BAIT. Not just any bait. It has to be good. Real good. The opt-in offer is one of the most important aspects of your website.
Because, these days, with the profusion of spam, online security risks, and even identity theft, folks are more and more reluctant to part with their precious personal information.
So that bait better be darn good. So good that customers will want it badly enough to spontaneously share (or as they might view it – risk!) their email address.
The difference between good bait and boring bait can be subtle. But there are few guidelines you can follow that will make choosing the right ‘bait’ easy for you and your business.
8 Opt-In Offers Your Customers Will Love
1. Go Big
One way to get your prospects feverishly filling out your opt in form is to promise them the shot at something big and delicious. Think of the biggest, fattest prize you can afford and then crow about it all over your site.
Put a big tempting image of what it looks like right next to the opt-in form and get people excited to win. Here’s a great example of Saks Fifth Avenue employing this tactic:
2. Everyone Gets Something
On the flip side of that coin, instead of promising one huge prize to one lucky person, you could promise a smaller easy-to-giveaway prize to every single person who signs up. Instant 10% off discounts or small freebies are the easiest and most understandable and accessible kind of bait you could offer.
Arby’s does this wonderfully with their “Free Roast Beef Classic!” offer on their opt-in page (even if they do ask for too much information in the form):
3. Free Education
This kind of optin is clever because, unlike discounts or contests, you’re playing a bit with perceptions. Offer a free course on whatever topic you think will appeal to your customer base!
Now, before your hackles go up and you start to protest that you don’t know how to teach a course, that you’re no professor, calm down. You don’t have to actually “teach a course”.
You only have to do something that should come easy to you by now anyway. You need only record a few “how-to” videos, or write a series of articles. The difference is in the sequencing and how you drip the content out to your prospects.
Take 6 or 7 of your most popular blog posts, rework the titles, put some thought into which ones people should know first and which instead build on past information and package it as a “Six week online learning course!”
You can do the same. Here’s a perfect example of a fashion and beauty consultant using a “Free course” to get folks to opt in to her list:
4. Good Old EBooks
The eBook, that tried and true optin bait for years now, is not dead. It’s not even tired! In fact, with the advent and growing popularity of eReaders like the Nook and Kindle, it could be argued that eBooks are more attractive than ever to prospects.
So go for it!
Compile your best content into one solid eBook, design a great “cover” for it (or outsource it to Fiverr.com) and brag about it all over your site. Place images of this eBook right next to your optin form, like this cheesemaking and fermenting site “Cultures for Health” has done:
5. Helpful checklists
People like to read eBooks and articles and take courses. But they also love to take action. So help them do just that with fun, interactive downloadable guides and checklists.
There’s a handholding aspect to a good checklist, a way for them to feel that you, the expert, is by their side when they are out in the real world trying to accomplish something. Here’s a great example of checklist as opt-in bait from the Food Storage Made Easy site:
Printable? What’s a printable, you might be asking? Isn’t anything a printable? Well, yes, of course, but what most people think of as printables are things that are already graphically appealing.
Things that your customers won’t just be using for themselves, but that other people in their lives will see and….and hopefully be impressed with. These can include sign up sheets, place cards, games for kids, editable templates, you name it.
If it makes your customer look good to their clients, friends or family, consider creating an attractive printable of it and offering the free PDF version to anyone who signs up with you.
Here’s a printable that homeschooling site This Reading Mama offers to her new subscribers:
This one takes a bit of thinking and planning to pull off but if you think of something compelling enough, it could be very attractive to prospects. I call it a “daily.”
Urge your prospects to sign up and receive something of constant interest to them each and every day. It can be a daily joke, quote, reminder, puzzle, poem, recipe…anything that you think might make your customers happy.
If you find the notion of offering something every day forever and ever too daunting, I understand! Cut it off after 30 or 60 days. By then you can and should have more compelling content to send the folks who stick around that long.
Here’s a great example. The site CollegeBoard.com offers an “Official SAT Question of the Day”:
And finally, the best way to make someone feel enticed to sign up is to make that subscriber list feel special. Elite. That signing up on your site doesn’t just get them a newsletter or a coupon . . . it gets them a new community.
This is a more advanced tactic, but one of the “stickier” kinds of bait out there. If you have the technology and staff to set up a message board or forum of any kind and you have a customer base that has proven itself to be chatty online, try it out!
Free message boards are what built giant sites like iVillage and TheKnot.com. But you don’t have to be in a female-based business to offer a vibrant community as bait.
Copyblogger, the makers of Rainmaker that powers this website and sponsors the podcast, use this method and their list is huge. It works perfectly for them.
So what does it for you? What kind of “optin bait” have you found absolutely irresistible? What has worked for you in the past and made your subscriptions explode overnight?
Have you ever felt cheated or ripped off by the promise of an opt-in reward that just didn’t deliver? Tell me in the comments below.
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