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Mission Control / Strategy

How to Build an Email List Fast: 5 Creative Opt-In Incentives

Your readers will want to opt-in to your email list, especially after seeing these freebies.

You’ve maximized your paid media budget and optimized your articles for search engines, and you’re even getting good referral traffic from third party partners. But when is the last time you examined your email opt-in rates?

If it’s been awhile, you might want to take another look. Think about the money you spend to drive people to your site — wouldn’t it be nice if you could capture their information and keep bringing them back to your site for free? That’s exactly what effective email opt-ins do for your business: They grow an email list that continues to drive free, engaged traffic over time.

So how can you build an email list fast? Here’s five of our favorite opt-in incentives.

1. Cheat Sheets

We’re all busy, so a tool that saves time is a tool people want. Creating a cheat sheet accomplishes this goal and is the perfect way to grab a visitor’s attention. Check out this example from Curbly.

These cheat sheets have a clean design and are user friendly. In a home with several kids, these cleaning cheat sheets could be a life saver — giving site visitors a great reason to opt-in. The bonus: These are easy and quick to make, but can result in much higher conversion rates!

2. Step-by-step Checklists

Much like a cheat sheet, a step-by-step checklist can save people time. Not only that, but it can make ambiguous situations easier to manage. Take the checklist below, for example. Weddings don’t happen often, and even if you’ve had your own wedding it can be easy to forget all the steps that went into planning. That’s why this opt-in from The Knot works so well. It’s a tool visitors can use to reduce their anxiety — they just have to give their email first. And while this example is interactive, yours doesn’t need to be. Checklists can come in the form of a PDF and be just as effective.

3. Prize Contests

You or someone you know has probably called your local radio station at least once trying to win concert tickets. Why? Because everyone loves winning free stuff. Take this vacation giveaway Whistler, for example. This will garnish hundreds, if not thousands, of email submissions.

Clearly, this is a huge prize, and not all companies could do a giveaway of this size. But, that’s OK. There are plenty of small prizes that can still capture emails.

If you’re a hospital or wellness center, give away some workout gear or small exercise tools like tension bands or running shoes. If you’re a hotel, give away a free night. When that free night costs you $200 and you have several hundred submissions, your cost per email is less than a dollar. If you line it up with your slow season, the room would have been empty anyway and those emails could cost you nothing!

4. Deals and Discounts

If you’re selling consumer products, visitors are often on your site to buy. So why not give them a deal in exchange for their email address? Sure, you could capture it when they buy the product, but they may not feel they gave you consent to send them future content — not a risk you want to take.

When you give them a discount in exchange for their email, you’re giving up pennies today for dollars tomorrow. A great example of this comes from Oru Kayak. It offers a 10-percent discount for your email address. On a $1,200 kayak that’s $120; seems like a big loss for an email, right? But now they can send you content, keep you engaged, and sell you a $375 carbon paddle three months from now. You could say Oru has more than made up for it.

5. Fun or Informative Quizzes

There’s a reason why BuzzFeed never leaves your Facebook stream. When you build a fun or useful quiz, you can gate the results with an email capture form. After visitors have spent time filling out the quiz, they’ll have a hard time walking away without the results. One example of this is the epic weekender quiz from SPG Weekends, which walks you through a series of questions that determine your travel personality. Using this personality, the quiz supplies you the perfect location for your next trip.

Why Email Incentives Work

As you think about your own opt-in, don’t get hung up on these specific ideas or even these specific formats. The reason that email incentives work is because they inform, entertain or solve a problem. So, start there: What answers do your readers need? What content will help them solve a problem? If you need help answering these questions or developing the necessary content Casual Astronaut can help. Send us a message to find out more.

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