More subscribers ≠ greater success
We already covered the base strategy on how to persuade website visitors to give us their email address -- by giving away a valuable lead magnet.
There are a few additional tips on how we can maximize the conversion from visitors to subscribers. i.e. how to get higher opt-in conversion rates.
Before we start, it’s important to understand that more subscribers doesn’t necessarily mean more success to your business.
Because you don’t want just any subscriber joining your email list. You only want those who’re really interested in your topic to be your subscribers.
- You’ll have greater overall email deliverability by only emailing the most interested subscribers. Higher open and click rates, less bounces and spam complaints.
- You’ll save money. Email marketing tools / ESP (email service providers) charge by the number of subscribers.
- Why would you bombard people who're not interested in your topic and what you have to offer?
Way #1 - Dedicated lead capture page
On this page, you ONLY explain what your lead magnet is and how people are going to benefit from it.
Then you put an opt-in form. That’s it. There are no other content or links that distract people. The only thing they can do is either opt-in or close the page.
Some time ago, I ran a few Facebook ads and got 143 opt-ins out of 225 link clicks.
143 / 225 = 63.6% conversion
So how did I manage to achieve such a high opt-in conversion rate?
I sent them to a dedicated lead capture page instead of a blog post (where there are many distracting links and content).
Here’s an example of a lead capture page from my site, BirdSend:
There’s nothing to do on the page except to either enter their email address or to exit.
Way #2 - Cast your "opt-in forms" net wide
A dedicated lead capture page will give you the highest chance of converting visitors to subscribers.
However, it doesn't mean you can’t put up additional opt-in forms across your website.
Opt-in forms on sidebar, in between and end of posts, and pop ups can also help get you more subscribers.
The wider the nest you cast, the more opportunities for you to succeed.
Way #3 - AOC equation
Audience (A) > Offer (O) > Copy (C)
Contrary to what you have heard, copy/copywriting is NOT king.
Target Audience is the real king. Next is the Offer (lead magnet). Last is the Copy.
Hence, the most significant conversion improvement you’ll get is by focusing on AOC.
You can have the best copy written by the best copywriter in the world, but if you target the wrong audience with the wrong offer, you’ll never sell anything.
Your copy can be standard (just enough to get by), but if you target the right audience with the right offer at the right time, some will still buy/opt-in.
Remember, the job of the copy is to facilitate and increase the likelihood that people convert — but to do that, the audience and offer have to be right first. There is no shortcut or magic.
When creating your lead capture page, make sure you understand who your target audience is. What problems are keeping them awake at night? After that you come up with a solution that solves their problems. Only then do you use your copywriting skills.
Way #4 - Hook the reader early
A hook is a unique angle (that contains benefits and curiosity) so that your target audience is “hooked” or “hypnotized”.
“Get my free ebook” is boring 🥱
Everyone is overwhelmed with information. What makes your lead magnet different from those found via a simple Google search? You must make it stand out and increase its perceived value.
Most folks do email marketing the wrong way. So I dare them to an email challenge where they’ll discover the email mistakes they’re making, via daily emails. It’s not just another email marketing ebook.
There are tons of email lists you can join about marketing. What makes Andrea Bosoni’s stand out?
- It’s not learning from theory. It’s learning from real case studies of real websites
- It’s only a 5-minute read every 2 weeks (he understands you’re busy and it implies his emails are easy and quick to digest)
Way #5 - Stop saying "Newsletter"
We covered this in a previous section.
But it’s worth repeating.
Cold website visitors don’t want to join a stranger’s newsletter. They’re already subscribed to many newsletters.
Saying “Join our newsletter where we’ll provide you with the latest tips on X” will not motivate them to sign up. What EXACTLY will I get if I enter my email? Latest tip is vague. What latest tip are you talking about? Will it solve my problem now?
Provide immediate benefits that people can visualize right now. A good, old-fashioned short pdf or email series is more enticing. We call this “lead magnet”.
And please don’t use the word “Sign Up” on your call-to-action button — no one wants to “sign up”. Use action and benefit words instead.
[Ace your next math exam]
[Start my 6 packs transformation]
[Make the perfect ice cream your kids love]
Another example (on the left is the boring newsletter; on the right is Nora Dunn's enticing 10 "crucial" things — ooo what could these 10 things be?):
Way #6 - Power words
Buffer shows these are the 5 most persuasive words:
New – everyone wants to be the first to get something new
You — makes it all about the reader
Free — who doesn’t like free
Because — explain why they should get your lead magnet
Instantly — today, nobody wants to wait. Even if your site loads just a few seconds longer, people complain. Hence it’s important to promise instant benefits (e.g. challenge that shows you the mistakes you’re making and how to correct them).
Way #7 - Use "3" instead of "three"
The use of numerals (instead of the number spelled out) makes a sentence stands out:
- How you can lose ten pounds in fourteen days without going on a diet VS
- How you can lose 10 pounds in 14 days without going on a diet
This is because numbers in a sentence are the odd ones out — and odd ones out are always attention-getters.
According to Nielsen Norman Group, “Numerals often stop the wandering eye and attract fixations…”
Way #8 - Stop obsessing over stupid things
Since we’re all limited with time and resources, we should do everything with 80/20 in mind — i.e. focusing on the most important tasks (above points) that bring in the best results. It’s okay to be imperfect.
Do you want to increase your profits or do you want to achieve perfection?
This means you shouldn’t be fussing over what color to use for the call-to-action button or whether it should have rounded corners — as they return marginal improvement in conversions, at best.
Just make sure the text is easy to read and the call-to-action is easily noticeable (eye-catching).
CXL — a marketing training company whose clients include Google, Cisco, and Ikea — found what matters most is that the button stands out, not the actual color used.
Way #9 - Craft a great headline
Headlines are super important because it’s the first thing people see when they land on your page.
According to Copyblogger, on average 8 out of 10 people read the headline, but only 2 read the rest of your content.
The headline is the determining factor whether they want to continue reading the rest of your content.
Examples of bad headlines (generic):
- How to lose weight fast
- Men dating tips
- Tips and tricks to getting rid of acne
- How to cook delicious food
Examples of better headlines (more specific):
- How to lose 10 pounds in 14 days without going on a diet
- 5 practical steps to instantly get ANY lady (including supermodels) without a single rejection, ever
- How did this brand new formula manage to totally get rid of acne in just 3 hours?
- How to cook delicious food like chef Gordon Ramsay in 4 short weeks
To create the best headlines, here’s a formula you can use:
1/ Target audience
2/ Pain/problem you solve
3/ Proof (what makes you qualified to solve their pain)
Way #10 - Matching headline
A common mistake people make is not matching the headline of the lead capture page to what was promised before people clicked to get to that page.
This results in poor visitor-to-lead conversion.
If you say you’re going to show people how to play the guitar better, then you better repeat that on the lead capture page, preferably in the headline.
This is especially true if you’re driving cold traffic to your page. These people don’t know who you are.
Using the lose weight example, this is what you should be doing:
How you can lose 10 pounds in 14 days without going on a diet
Headline on lead capture page:
How you can lose 10 pounds in 14 days without going on a diet
The ad and headline don’t have to be always 100% identical in the usage of words, but they better be very similar and congruent.
Some time ago I ran an ad:
This is where people go to when they clicked:
The ad is very congruent to the landing page content.
My ad copy says “click here and enter your email to download”. People who clicked already know they have to enter their email to download… which means the opt-in conversion is going to be good. Those who don’t want to enter their email won’t click.
Way #11 - Above the fold
Make your headline and opt-in form above the fold.
This is the 1st screen people see without having to scroll down. Prime real estate. Remember 80% see this.
And only 20% scroll down to the rest of your content.
Way #12 - WIIFM
Instead of just telling features, you need to tell EXACTLY how those features can benefit your target audience.
Will they make people’s lives easier? How much time and money would they save? Would they become healthier? What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?
Do you even understand what it means?
Below are WIIFM/benefits that the average person can understand:
Our multiple steps of purification and filtration system remove 99% of all impurities and contaminants. Many consumers drinking O2 Aqua have seen tremendous health improvements over the years.
When you say an SSD can write up to 654 MB/s or read up to 712 MB/s, while HDD can write up to 85 MB/s or read up to 87 MB/s… these don’t provide much context to the average computer user.
What about HDD and SSD when talking about computers?
The difference between HDD and SSD basically comes down to speed.
A much better way to show the difference is to put it into context. With SSD the average boot time is 10 – 13 seconds while the HDD takes 30 – 40 seconds
Way #13 - Bullets
Everyone and his dog is competing for the attention of your audience, and their brain has to filter out information to keep themselves sane.
They’ll only pay attention to folks who are interesting. The question is: “Will you be one of these folks?”
People scan your content. They don’t read word for word. Nielsen Norman’s research shows people read in an F-shaped pattern.
Translate this to your lead capture page, and it means:
Your headline is the first thing they read.
Then they read somewhere in the middle — which is the perfect place to use bullet points.
Your copy should cover just enough to make people want to opt-in to get your lead magnet. This means your copy should be short and concise.
Terry Dean’s lead capture page
(interestingly, Terry put his face and big download button on the left side, probably wanting people to pay attention to the button)
Way #14 - Trust elements
These elements increase trust and boost your conversions:
- Customer testimonials
- Customer logos
- Media coverage/mentions (TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, online outlets)
E.g. 1 Teachable showcases this on their site:
E.g. 2 ehm ehm if you’ll excuse me tooting my own horn, BirdSend displays tons of customer reviews:
Way #15 - Irresistible CTA
After folks have read your headline and bullets, they’re excited to get your lead magnet.
Show them exactly what they need to do next. Now is where you present your prominent and enticing CTA button.
Don’t just say “Sign up” because you know sign up is boring 🥱
Use benefit + action words in your CTA button.
Way #16 - Preview content
Strangers who haven’t heard from you are wary of you. They might think you’re just another fake expert or scammer who just wants to bombard them with your sales emails.
A good way to combat this is to give them a sample of your content so they know your emails are going to be useful to them.
You can do this by linking over to a great piece of content that you’ve previously created (preferably one with a high engagement). It doesn’t have to be an actual past email message, it could just be one of your blog posts. The point is to get them to “sample” your content and show them that you know what you’re talking about.
If your content resonates with the viewer, there’s a good chance he’ll opt-in to your list.
Always hyperlink to your content to open in a new tab, so that he can opt-in easily if he likes your content. If you open in current tab, he’ll wonder, “Ehh where was that form just now... ”