Just Ask: 8 Ways You Can Increase Email Opt-ins and Get More Subscribers

If you want something, sometimes it’s best to just ask.

Email marketers know this all too well: opt-ins are the bread and butter of effective drip campaigns and perhaps represent the easiest way to build your list. After all, once your opt-in forms are up and running, you can encourage subscribers around the clock without lifting a finger.

That being said, today’s users are much stingier with their email addresses than they used to be. From fear of scams to security concerns and beyond, it takes some schmoozing on your part to build trust with your opt-in audience and actually convince them to provide their personal information.

That being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to asking for opt-in. Yet, regardless of your industry, your opt-in forms should tick the following three boxes:

  • Builds trust and shows that you’re looking out for the best interests of your potential subscribers
  • Contains enticing copy that piques the curiosity of your readers
  • Presents a unique selling proposition that differs from your competitors’ opt-in offers

Don’t freak out. Crafting a killer opt-in offer is much easier than you might think!

Thankfully, you have the freedom to choose from plenty of proven, surefire strategies to encourage opt-ins which work like a charm.

Consider These 8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Opt-Ins

1. Squeeze

I know what you’re thinking.

“But I don’t want to annoy anybody! Pop-ups are so 2001!”

You may be resistant to the idea of squeeze pages, but the numbers don’t lie: they just plain work to increase email opt-ins.

Besides, comparing pop-up ads from the early 2000’s and the squeeze pages of today is like comparing apples and oranges. While yes, squeeze pages do work to interrupt your visitors, they also give your traffic no choice but to look at your opt-in offer rather than ignore you.

When it comes to squeeze pages, it’s all in the presentation. You need to make your opt-in look like a warm invitation rather than present it as some sort of sales pitch.

Check out this inviting example:

increase email opt-ins - squeeze pages

Squeeze pages can be a stylish tool to grab your visitors’ attention: simply bear in mind the importance of presentation and copy.

2. exit pops

Similarly, exit pops work to turn the heads of your fickle visitors who are seemingly stuck on your site and don’t know what to do next.

Maybe they’re thinking it over. Maybe they want to opt-in by just need that extra push.

Most exit pops present time-sensitive deals and discounts as means of building trust for skeptical traffic. Much like what Neil Patel does in this example:

increase email opt-ins- exit popups

Exit pops are a win-win for building opt-ins as you can grab the attention of traffic that may have been on their way out anyway.

3. lead magnets

Encouraging opt-ins is all about creating a sense of value. Lead magnets do exactly that by presenting something potentially valuable to your prospects in exchange for their email address. Lead magnets come in many shapes and sizes. 

Creating a lead magnet doesn’t have to be rocket science, nor does it have to represent a massive investment. If your company has ever done any sort of case study or has a high-performing piece of content (think: a popular listicle or viral how-to piece), you already have the makings of a great lead magnet.

The secret is framing your offer as exclusive.

It’s under wraps. It’s breaking news. 

Lead magnets represent the ideal opportunity to pull psychological triggers such as urgency and exclusivity to drive your readers to act. See how this opt-in promises big results in the form of a content cheat sheet:

increase email opt-ins - lead magnets

Remember: your lead magnet doesn’t have to be something insane or expensive, it simply needs to be presented as being worth a million bucks.

4. gifts

Giving a “free gift” to your subscribers in exchange for their information is perhaps one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook.

That’s because it still works.

The difference between gifts and lead magnets once again boils down to presentation. Lead magnets often have some legwork involved on behalf of your subscribers. They’ll have some reading to do if they pick up your e-book, for example.

But with gifts, there are no strings attached, merely a simple exchange of information for something totally free.

Check out this off-the-wall example from Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels. Brunson is notorious for dangling free physical products in front of prospects in exchange for email addresses. This includes free copies of his book DotComSecrets or mp3 players preloaded with his “Marketing in Your Car” podcast:

increase email opt-ins

Why bother going through the motions to ship a physical product when a digital one is so much easier to manage? Fair question. But consider also that if someone is willing to opt-in for a gift and even perhaps pay for shipping to receive it, they’re probably a pretty warm lead, aren’t they?

5. content widgets

If you’re trying to build your opt-in list, there’s no reason to hide it from your visitors.

Content widgets can be spread throughout your site, including your landing pages, sidebars and blog posts to remind readers that your list awaits.

Widgets don’t interrupt the flow of your site and are often easy to integrate through platforms such as WordPress. Backlinko implements a variety of widgets such as this one:

increase email opt-ins - content widget

This particular widget does well in terms of copy, noting that the site’s newsletter contains content exclusive from their blog. Again, your readers need to know that your list delivers more than just rehashed content.

6. top bar widgets

Representing an alternative (or supplement) to squeeze pages and exit pops, top bar widgets such as Hello Bar and LeadBoxes allow you to present a static opt-in opportunity at the top of certain pages on-site. Check out this example from SocialTriggers:

increase email opt-ins - top bar widget

These widgets can be used to promote specific lead magnets and other offers that your readers may otherwise miss.

7. challenges

Looking for a more creative lead magnet? Challenges are a fantastic alternative to traditional offers as they allow to both show off your expertise and engage your audience. Elna Cain’s “Ditch Your 9-5 Challenge” is a great example:

increase email opt-ins – challenge opt in

Creating a drip campaign through a challenge is a subtle yet efficient strategy to make sure readers are interacting with your messages, meanwhile creating more positive impressions between your brand and your prospects.

8. seriously, just ask

Perhaps not the most creative tactic, but an effective one nonetheless.

Ask your followers on social media. Tweet about your amazing emails every once in a while.

Talk up your awesome email list on your blog.

Remind your readers time and time again that they’re missing out if they’re not opted-in.

And don’t worry about annoying your readers: if your email campaigns truly offer value, you have nothing to worry about. You know you can’t hope to begin building your list until you actually ask for opt-ins, right?

So why not start now?

Bringing It All Together

Never be afraid to ask for opt-ins: just be sure to do so with a bit of creative flair.

The question remains, though: what are you going to do once your list is built? Do you have the tools on deck to keep in touch with your list?

Whether you’re new to list-building or simply want to see what your options are for engagement, check out what Sendlane’s email automation tools have to offer to help you build your brand’s list from scratch.


Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson