3 Ways to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate

How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate


When it comes to getting out the word about your ecommerce store, there really is no tool that beats email marketing: it’s low-cost while remaining extremely effective.

How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate

Email has an ROI of up to 4400% (or $44 for every $1 spent) and is 40x more effective in selling compared to social media. Why? because it goes straight to a person’s inbox—no need to worry about constantly changing algorithms and throttled organic reach.

How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate

Of course, not everyone that uses email marketing achieves this spectacular growth and these numbers. When implemented unsuccessfully, email marketing can come across as spam. Used more strategically, email marketing can help build relationships with customers, acting as a useful sales tool.

Gurus always preach about “best practices”: sending your email at a certain time, writing a compelling subject line, and incorporating the use of personalization. Certainly, you should consider all of these tips, but the real secret is in the content.

This article will take you through a few key concepts when it comes to getting it right with your opt-in conversion rate:

  1. The message is more important than the medium
  2. Quality trumps quantity
  3. Consider the user experience of your opt-ins and content delivery

Here’s how to increase your email opt-in conversion rate.

Don’t miss this! What you say is more important than how you say it. An ugly email form that offers something people want will beat a beautiful popup with a useless offer any day.

1. Build a Solid Foundation with Amazing Content

Regardless of constantly changing mediums, what matters most to people is the message and the context of what you’re saying.

Instead of fussing over minute details—like whether or not to use a popup or embedded form to capture your visitor’s email— you should instead worry about what you’re trying to say. You can get all of the technical details right but without a good message, these efforts are not going to contribute positively to your marketing goals.

One in three people dislikes ads, yet businesses still send promotional emails. In fact, 20% of people that unsubscribe from company email lists say that they unsubscribed because the company keeps trying to sell them something.

As an email or otherwise, content marketing advocates the creation of content with the intention of creating interest in a product or service without explicitly promoting the brand. Even so, there are many businesses that use content marketing exclusively to push promotional content. 45% of small businesses are using their content marketing/social media to promote specific products or services, and 38% use them to share information about promotions, sales, or discounts.

Brian Stutter believes that you should adapt a strategy to teach, instead of sell: give the audience what they need or want first before they give you what you want from them. Build trust first.

To craft the perfect message, you have to tailor-fit it to your audience and part of that is knowing your audience well. Don’t forget—the message is more important than the medium. Debating between a popup or embedded form won’t matter as much as what you’re offering in exchange for a person’s email.

Plan Your Content Strategy

Before you can create amazing content, you have to first get all the basics down pat. First, ask yourself the following:

  • Who are you creating this content for?
  • What are you trying to achieve with this content?
  • What does a good result look like?
  • What happens when the customer takes action?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help guide your resulting actions.

2. Create Better Opt-In Incentives

Every ecommerce business benefits from capturing relevant email addresses and growing their database. According to AutoGrow, 98% of the people visiting your website aren’t ready to buy now and 70% won’t visit your site again—that’s why it’s important to master the art of lead magnets.

Lead magnets (also commonly referred to as opt-in incentives) offer new subscribers something in exchange for their email address. As with social media contests, lead magnets are effective only if they are designed specifically to capture the email addresses of those that fit your company’s buyer personas.

For example, offering the chance at a free iPad in exchange for an email address will likely attract a wide range of people—not all of them true prospects. Recall that this article is about increasing opt-in conversion rates, not the overall quantity of your email subscribers!

In order to attract the right people, you have to create the right incentives. Create something that’s so full of value that your audience won’t be able to resist signing up for it.

Since ecommerce involves different motivations than a blog site lead magnet, here are a few general ideas  for making awesome ecommerce opt-in incentives:

  • Free shipping. 9 out of 10 consumers say that free shipping is the number 1 incentive for them to shop online. Here’s how Levi’s advertises this opt-in incentive:
    How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate
  • Discount code. Who doesn’t like a good deal, especially when giving a new brand a try? Here’s how Tanks that Get Around incorporates this opt-in incentive:
    How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate
  • Free gift with first order. A great way to introduce new customers to more products to encourage future purchases. Glossier does this on their checkout page:
    How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate
  • Exclusive membership to a VIP group. Teachable occasionally offers sign up bonuses that include access to their exclusive teacher Facebook group:
    How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate
  • Educational content. More on this when we talk about content upgrades, below.

Besides thinking in terms of new customers, think about creating opt-in incentives that might also appeal to your existing customers who may not yet have opted into your email updates. After all, they bring in 67% more sales than new customers and cost 5x less to acquire.

After you’ve got the email address, you’re really only getting started when it comes to creating an effective email content strategy.

Synchronizing your lead magnets with a smart email service provider can be a great way for you to segment your email list. Segmenting customers helps you create more personalized content that they’ll appreciate—leading to better conversion rates, overall.

Another important aspect of creating content that each individual subscriber can appreciate involves personalization. 59% of online shoppers believe that it is easier to find more interesting products on personalized online retail stores because they don’t have to sift through other products and will just keep adding the most relevant items to their carts.

Before you dismiss personalization as too much work, know that 86% of customers say that personalization affects their purchase decision. According to a report by Barilliance analyzing over 1.5 billion shopping sessions, it was found that personalized recommendation engines contributed to a 11.5% increase in revenue.

Add Content Upgrades to Your Most Popular Posts

Although you might already have one major site-wide lead magnet, you might also consider creating individual content upgrades for your most popular blog posts. If you have a solid SEO/content marketing strategy, this tactic will squeeze even more usefulness out of your hard work.

If you’ve written a helpful article that continuously gets a lot of views and engagement, you can this traffic from visitors to subscribers by offering an exclusive content upgrade that’s only accessible in exchange for an email address (or money, if that’s what your business is about).

Though it varies by industry and topic, here are a few general content upgrade ideas:

  • An ebook that offers a more in-depth look at a blog topic
  • A printable checklist
  • A customizable spreadsheet
  • A downloadable set of graphics

Brian Dean tested this tactic and increased his conversion rate of readers to subscribers from 0.54% to 4.82%. Here on HollerWP, adding content upgrades to our content marketing strategy increased our list size by 50%.

3. Adapt for Mobile

Although the message is more important than the medium, you want to make sure that you provide subscribers with the ideal opt-in and email reading experience.

Mobile email popups can cause a Google search penalty if deployed immediately upon page load. Google describes three factors that they consider as “intrusive” in terms of getting hit with a penalty:

  • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate

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Luckily, you can still make use of email popups to encourage a higher email opt-in conversion rate. Instead of deploying email popups immediately, make use of a tool or plugin that deploys popups based on a visitor’s time on page, percentage of page viewed, number of pages viewed, or exit intent .

More than half of people access the internet from their mobile devices. You can bet the same goes for email, so your mobile optimization can’t start and end with your ecommerce website. To be fully effective in this endeavor, make sure to test that your opt-ins and email messages are usable on a mobile device.

Final Thoughts: How to Increase your Email Opt-in Conversion Rate

Increasing your email opt-in conversion rate is key to creating a direct connection with prospects so that you can build a relationship and convert them into paying customers.

There are a lot of people that spend time on email marketing and don’t see results. A majority of the time, this is because they focus too deeply on minute, ultimately unimportant details. Instead of getting caught up on the medium and “best practices”, it’s more effective to focus on creating amazing content and drawing in customers via relevant, can’t-miss incentives.

Though the technical details aren’t quite as important as your content strategy, it’s important to consider the implications of technology as it relates to the user experience. With that in mind, don’t forget to adapt opt-ins and resulting messages for mobile—all your efforts to create amazing content will be for nothing if it’s too hard for subscribers to engage!

What are your best tips for increasing your email opt-in conversion rate? Tweet @ScottBolinger with your thoughts and I’ll share the best insights!

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