When you start an online business, many people will tell you that traffic is everything. If you can get more traffic, they say, you can make more money.
That kind of thinking is wrong.
All the traffic in the world means nothing if you can’t convert those people to email subscribers. Because email, my friend, is where the money is.
Your subscriber list is the power tool to sell directly to a captive audience, both now and in the future. Even to the people who never come back to your website!
Now, as someone who makes six figures a year from selling via email, I know this. But a couple of years ago, I felt that I wasn’t converting enough of my visitors into subscribers.
At the time I was already making a full-time living from my business, but my opt-in rate was a measly 0.8%, and 95% of my income came from email subscribers. I clearly needed to make some changes to my site.
So I made 3 simple tweaks… and it increased my opt-in rate by 130%.
The greatest thing: That also increased revenue. Thanks to these changes and some updated web copy, sales in the following months increased by 44% and have stayed up!
Today I want to walk you through my 3 steps so you can implement them on your site and see your opt-ins (and revenue) increase.
Applying one of these techniques will grow your list, and of course a combination of all three will do even more.
Your site should exist to do only one thing
Before we move any further, we need to be clear about something: Growing your email list is the most important thing you can do to grow your business.
Because the money is in the list.
After people visit your site once, they may never come back and see what products or services you have to offer.
But if you have their email address, you can literally show up in their lives at any time you want and offer them something amazing (either paid or free).
For example, the number of people who open my emails and read them makes up 10% of my site’s monthly traffic — but they are responsible for 100% of my income!
This is why it’s important to change the way you think about your site.
It exists to do many things: host free content, explain who you are, offer products and services, ask for engagement, etc. But underneath all of that exterior, your site truly should exist to do one thing and one thing only: capture email addresses.
And if you’re being honest, chances are good that you haven’t given your email opt-in strategy nearly enough attention as it deserves.
Just because you have an opt-in form somewhere on your site doesn’t mean you’re going to grow a big list and a profitable business.
It’s your job to take visitors to your site by the hand and lead them to your opt-in form.
You also need to make it clear to visitors that the absolute best thing for them to do is to join your list. And you want to do this in multiple places on your site.
Now, I used to be really shy about promoting my email list. There was this one lonely opt-in form at the top right of my sidebar. I knew I had something good to offer visitors if they joined, but I really didn’t have the guts to tell people to join.
Just one place to opt in was a big mistake.
But over time, I saw how most of my revenue was coming from my autoresponder campaign sent to new email subscribers. And I realized that if I wanted to make more money, I needed to get more people on my list.
It was that simple.
So I decided to make my website ALL about joining the list.
That would be my site’s primary function — and my primary goal on each and every one of my posts and videos. Rather than focusing solely on delivering great content, I’d also focus on inviting readers to continue our relationship, via email.
Here’s how I did that.
Step #1: Make it impossible for someone to miss your opt-in
One of the “duh” moments I had a couple of years back was that if I wanted to increase the number of people joining my list, I simply needed to increase the number of places they could do that!
So if you’re already getting some signups on your one little opt-in form, that’s great. Now it’s time to up the ante and place more opt-ins around your site.
The two easiest places to start are 1) at the top of every page and 2) at the bottom of every post.
On my site I put a big, bright orange opt-in box as a permanent header above all the content. It lives beneath the header of the site and the menu, but always above the posts and sidebar.
You can’t ignore an opt-in like that.
It’s impossible to miss. And that’s the idea.
The next place I put an opt-in box was at the bottom of every post, like this:
Every post ends with this “you can’t miss it” opt-in.
The logic here is beautiful: By the time your readers have reached the end of your post and are loving what you have to say, there your little opt-in box is, waiting for them, saying, “If you liked what you just read, you’re going to love this!” It leverages their current enthusiasm for devouring your content.
And before you try to reinvent the wheel or anything, these two boxes (at the top and bottom of your pages) can say the exact same thing.
It’s OK if you’re not a website coder. I’m not either. These kind of changes are easy to make.
First consider that in your blog posts you can easily copy and paste whatever signup form code your email list provider (MailChimp, AWeber, etc.) gives you into the bottom of every article.
You can literally save that code somewhere in a Google Doc and just copy and paste it as the last part of your article. Like this:
Here is my email signup code in MailChimp. I can literally copy this…
… and paste it in the “Text” or HTML view of my blog post in WordPress.
As far as the opt-in form at the top of your site, most of the time this is a simple piece of code that is put into your website’s theme. If you’re tech-savvy, then you’ll be able to find where in your site’s CSS code or theme editor you can paste the line of code.
But if “CSS” and “theme editor” are like a foreign language to you and, like me, you can’t do it yourself, no worries. If you don’t know someone who can help, simply head over to Fiverr.com and hire someone. It’ll cost you a mere $5.
And once it’s in your site’s code, it stays as a permanent thing.
You can have the code for after a blog post permanently put into your site’s theme as well.
Remember, there’s no magic here. All you’re trying to do is increase the number of permanent opt-in forms on your site. Because, naturally, this will increase the likelihood of your visitors seeing one and opting in.
Now let’s get a little more creative.
Step #2: Use your best content to drive signups
Chances are you have two things: 1) great content you want people to read and 2) a desire for more people on your email list. This idea will help with both.
In essence what you want to do is curate some of your best material and create one or more resource pages that point your readers to it. This not only helps them find your best material, but it gives you a chance to push them to an opt-in when they’re all buttered up and ready for more.
I put together two resource pages: one dedicated to recording, the other to mixing. These are the two main topics I teach at The Recording Revolution.
To create the pages, I combed through some of my most popular and helpful material from over the years, stuff that really stood out as powerful and shareable content.
I put them together in a fun-to-read page that speaks directly to my audience. I take them by the hand through a “museum” of my content, pointing out all the great resources I have for them.
At the bottom of (and throughout) these resources pages, I include a relevant opt-in box.
As readers keep scrolling, they get more valuable content, plus an opt-in. Click here for the entire page.
To create your own resource page, think of some of your best material that is lying dormant. The stuff that you wrote months ago that few people ever see anymore. Dig it up and pull it together into one page.
For example, if you are a fitness instructor, you might have a page called “Lose Weight the Easy Way” and link to some of your best articles and videos on the subject.
Or if you’re a career coach, you could create a page called “Land Your Dream Job.” Again, on this page would be some of your best free content that really whets your reader’s appetite and makes them hungry for more of what you have to offer.
Then make sure your opt-in relates to the content you pull out.
On my “Mix Like a Pro” resource page, I include only mixing-related articles and videos, especially ones that are unique to my way of thinking.
Then for the opt-in at the bottom, I offer them a free mixing video series. By that point they craving more mixing training and that’s what I offer them.
Now think of your readers: They stumble on your page and are looking for the most helpful info they can find.
They see you have a resources page of curated content, all nicely packaged and ready for consuming. How nice of you!
Seeing all this great and relevant content, all in one convenient place for them, they’ll be hungry for more and likely will opt in to your list since it’s right there. It’s a natural step for them.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to pull tons of content. Overwhelming isn’t the goal — adding value is.
If you have 3 articles, great. You’re adding value by doing the “searching” for your readers. Then put an opt-in box at the bottom and tell them they can find even more awesome stuff on your list.
Step #3: Turn your homepage into one giant opt-in
One more thing you can do is to turn your homepage into a landing page. Basically one giant opt-in form.
The benefit to doing this is that it takes your visitors’ first steps into your “store” and points them right to where the best stuff is: your list.
This is good for them because you aren’t making them look around for your best material (your emails are awesome, right?). Plus, it allows you to lock in the relationship (i.e. add their email to your list) right away in case they leave and never return.
Remember: You can’t assume that just because your website is awesome and people like it when they stumble across it, that they’ll bookmark and come back. Don’t take that chance like I did.
For the first 4 years I had the blog as my homepage.
You came to my site and there was a list of articles with my most recent post right on top. There was a sidebar, a couple of simple other pages, and that was it.
My old homepage was pretty bland.
Then I decided to make my homepage a place to welcome visitors and ask for their email address. But I don’t ask straight out — I offer them something valuable, in this case, my free video series and eBook. I tell them why it’s valuable and that it’s absolutely free.
In essence, this tells readers, “Even if you never get to my articles and videos, this free bonus for joining my list is the best thing you could do right now.”
Focus on the visitor and how your offer benefits THEM. Don’t talk about YOU and how awesome YOU are — they don’t care.
My new homepage is one huge opt-in.
See how on my page my headline says, “Get killer sounding mixes in your home studio… without spending a fortune” and then I give some bulleted benefits? These are all things visitors will learn if they join my list and get my free video series.
I’m selling them on the free opt-in bonus as the very first thing on my site. And you should, too.
Write copy that focuses on what results they will get from the content in your emails, not on the other stuff on your site. Your only goal is to sell them on the opt-in bonus.
Then simply have an opt-in form that asks for the email address — and let the games begin!
3 simple steps. 1 powerful result
Whether you do one, two, or all three of these steps, remember one thing: They are all doing the same thing — increasing your opt-ins on your site.
The more times you ask for an email; the more times you offer your amazing free report, ebook, or video series; and the more times you remind visitors that your list is the place they want to be, the more chances you have of growing your list — fast.
Before I implemented these steps, I already had a thriving business. It was working. People came, they joined the list, got my autoresponders, and bought my products. Nothing was really broken, per se.
But after these changes, my monthly opt-in rate grew by over 130%.
What’s amazing about increasing your opt-ins is that you can make more impact and more revenue (my sales increased 44% right after these changes), all while doing the same amount of work. Because now your content is going out to more people, automatically.
So let me ask you a question: What is your biggest fear when it comes your email list?
Are you afraid to ask people to join? Like you’re being scammy? Or are you (like me at times) too timid to email out to your list, as if you might be bothering them?
If you’re willing to be honest, leave a comment below and let me know what your biggest fear is. I’ll get back to you on how you can overcome it.
Remember: It’s OK to feel weird and uncomfortable around this subject. It wasn’t natural for me. But as you conquer your fear of “pushing” visitors to your opt-ins, you’ll see your list (and your income) grow.