First and foremost, let’s talk about what an opt-in is. An opt-in is what you offer, for free, in exchange for an email address. I haven’t mastered the Internet (yet) or anything, but I do know that email addresses and your list is… well it’s everything. It’s how you ‘do’ the Internet if you want to be an entrepreneur. It’s your people. Your tribe. Your crew. You want an opt-in if you plan on monetizing. Heck, you want multiple opt-ins.
For example, on The Crown Fox, I have a resource vault opt-in and I have #1WkBrand, a free email course opt-in. Prior to these, I had a newsletter opt-in. An opt-in seems like something you just throw on your sidebar, but in actuality, it needs to be specific and niched. It needs to work for you, for your brand, and for your goals.
What does that mean? Well, let’s step back and look at your BIG goal and then we can work backwards to your opt in. For me, my BIG goal is to offer courses on topics like cohesive branding and design tutorials. When it comes time to sell said courses, who am I going to reach out to first? All those email addresses I’ve been collecting.
Sounds awesome, right? Totally! But… what if those subscribers have no interest in branding or design tutorials, and therefore would never even consider buying my course? What if those subscribers initially connected with me over a newsletter where I promised tons of DIY holiday decorations and recipes? They’d be like “Woah, what’s this branding stuff she’s talking about? I thought we were going to make pumpkin pie!” And I’d probably lose subscribers and not have a successful launch.
That would suck. Totally, completely suck. So, I want to avoid that and make sure the audience and subscribers I’m collecting care about the things I care about and care about the things I eventually want to monetize. If you feel like that sounds money hungry and shallow, then think about this: do you want to waste your subscribers’ time and make them go through the hassle of unsubscribing when you don’t deliver what you promised? It’s vital to choose an opt-in that comes full circle with what you actually want to see happen long term for your business. Here are a few tips to figuring that all out:
WHAT'S YOUR END GOAL?
First and foremost – what do you plan on collecting these email addresses for? You might claim to have no idea, but that’s not true. You have a “big goal” (or if you don’t, go work on #1WkBrand and figure out your “why” statement asap).
You have some vague, distant, hopeful dream. Do you want to get amazing clients for a service-based career? Do you want to teach others at huge conferences for your industry? Do you want to build a company that has 10 employees and a brick and mortar establishment? Okay, whatever it is – how do subscribers help you accomplish that?
Do they become your tribe? Do they become your buyers? Do they attend your conferences? Once you know who these people are to you, you can begin to give them content that is appropriate for helping build that relationship. If you want them to be potential attendees for your conference, maybe your opt in is a free video recording of you talking about whatever your niche is, like a sample of what you would be talking about at a conference. If you want them to be potential buyers of your e-course, then maybe your opt-in is a less intensive version of the course.
WHAT DOES YOUR TARGET LIKE?
So here’s an important tip – don’t send stuff to your target that they don’t like. Let's just say that I am your target client - you know what I don’t like? Really, really long newsletters. Reading exorbitantly long emails gives me a headache. I want big headers and subheaders and you to bold the vital parts, so I can skim easier.
If you really understand your target client, you really understand what appeals and what doesn’t appeal to them. More isn’t always better. Value is better. More doesn’t necessarily mean valuable. So give your target audience what they will value.
If your target client is someone who bakes vegan and gluten-free recipes, then send a fun weekly recipe. Don’t send them an e-course on turning vegan. Don’t send them a video of you talking about the perks of being vegan. They are already vegan – they get it! Just give them awesome stuff to make.
On the other hand, if your target client is someone interested in becoming a vegan, then yeah, give him or her all the material about becoming a vegan – but don’t send him or her recipes with ingredients like kala namak – they aren’t a vegan yet! That sounds like someone’s name, not an ingredient! (Can you tell I am not a vegan – I have no idea if you use kala namak in baking?)
WHAT ARE YOU ACTUALLY GOING TO DO?
When I first launched, I immediately threw up a newsletter subscribe option. I had no idea what I would ever write a newsletter about, but I thought it was “what you did.” I don’t have a statistic on this, but I’m going to go with a rough estimate that 99% of bloggers start off with offering a newsletter in exchange for email addresses. It’s easy, your viewer expects it, and it requires no extra effort (in actually offering it, following through on the other hand…). Do you know how many newsletters I’ve sent? Like a half of one. I tried to send one for November and it was kind of crappy. I’m not a newsletter kind of gal; I don’t ‘get it.’ That’s not bashing newsletters at all, a lot of people are awesome at newsletters. I'm just making a point that they aren’t for me.
I say that to then turn around and ask you: what are you actually going to do? I offered an e-course for a lot of reasons – but a big one is that I could do it easily. I had the blog post content to transform into an e-course. I had the outline of a course in my head already. I was excited about it. I don’t offer a newsletter anymore because I am going to put off writing that until the last second, and then it’s going to suck.
So if you are set on offering a resource vault – are you going to keep it updated and relevant? If you are going to offer a weekly recipe – are you going to write it, take a picture of the end product, and send it? If you are going to do monthly tutorials on something about your niche – are you going to take time and plan, record, edit, and send them?
It’s worse to promise something and not follow through, than to not promise anything at all. If you are really lost, confused, unsettled about what to offer then throw a sign-up on your sidebar that says, “Want to stay updated with all things related to ______?” and when you decide on your real opt-in you can send an email to them announcing your opt-in and giving them the opportunity to stick around. Don’t follow my lead of being like “Yeah, a bi-weekly newsletter of AWESOMENESS coming your way!” and then never send one. Or rather, send one bad one. That’s not cool.
In all, yes, you need an opt-in. It’s good for business, no matter what your business is. But, you need to approach opt-ins in a strategic and considered way. Put an emphasis on what you are actually going to do, what your target is going to enjoy, and what will get you closer to your end goals.