Email marketing works.
In fact, it’s still the best online method for converting prospects into customers or clients.
A critical part of the process begins, however, before a single email is sent. You’ve got to get people on your list in the first place.
This happens most effectively at a landing page specifically designed to convince the right people to sign up.
Some people call these opt-in landing pages “squeeze” pages, which, in addition to being a derogatory way to think about the process, is also technically incorrect.
Here’s a quick Internet marketing history lesson.
A squeeze page was originally a very specific type of opt-in page that required you to supply an email address just for the privilege of reading a sales letter. If you didn’t buy immediately, you got follow-up pitches.
Sounds crazy now, huh?
But things were easier back then, until hucksters and charlatans abused the privilege and people fought back.
I’m about to show you how to win the trust and interest of prospective subscribers despite any initial misgivings your audience may have.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Who do you want?
The first step is crucial, and yet time and again I see people plow ahead without a clear understanding of exactly the type of person they want on their email list.
Without a clear and detailed understanding of who you want, you can’t craft a message that resonates strongly enough to spark interest and gain trust.
Take a look at our Internet Marketing for Smart People opt-in page, for example.
The exact same course benefits could attract your typical “get rich quick” business opportunity type. But instead, the message is positioned squarely against that type of person, and aimed at people who are willing to put the effort in.
Take the time to figure out who you really want on your list in terms of your ultimate goal, which is likely to be moving enough of them to customer or client. Then and only then will you know how to “speak their language” with your opt-in copy.
2. What do you want them to do?
Your email opt-in page has one goal — to get people to sign up to your email list.
Every word and element of the page should support that single action. If it doesn’t, lose it.
That means lose your typical sidebar.
That means lose those links in your copy.
In many cases, that means creating a page so focused on the opt-in that you take an approach that’s different from your normal site design.
One page, one action. That’s it.
3. What are the essential elements?
No exceptions, you absolutely must have:
- The headline: You’ve got to instantly catch attention with your headline.
- The benefits: You’ve got to tell by teasing, usually with fascinating bullet points.
- The call to action: You’ve got to expressly tell people to sign-up.
- The opt-in form: You’ve got to have a way for them to sign-up.
You might also need number 5 …
The Proof: In this case, proof should be of the social kind. Number of subscribers, subscriber testimonials, reviews and media mentions, etc.
Whether or not you need to add in proof depends on a number of criteria, including the strength of your brand and the traffic source.
For example, if you’re driving existing blog subscribers to a focused email list, your good reputation (hopefully) precedes you. If you’re using Google AdWords to drive traffic, you likely have no reputation on your side and you’ll need everything you’ve got.
4. What incentive should you give?
It’s always been a smart tactic to offer an up-front incentive, or “ethical bribe” to convince people to sign up for your list.
This could be a free report, webinar, audio seminar, or other instant-gratification freebie.
In many markets, this strategy still works just fine. In others, you’ll face savvy subscribers who snag your incentive with an alternate “trash” email address, or simply unsubscribe immediately.
The better approach is to focus the incentive on staying subscribed.
The key is for people to realize that you’re giving more than you’re taking (pitching), and they’ll happily stay with you much longer.
5. How long should your copy be?
Same as it ever was: As long as necessary, and no longer.
In the case of an opt-in page, the essentials have to be there — headline, benefits, and call to action. But going back to step one, a bit more copy will help you better target the exact type of person you want on your list.
Again, look at the IMfSP page … we lead with three paragraphs of positioning before stating benefits, presenting the sign-up form, and then provide more copy for people who want more information.
You can follow this format, or use testimonials to round out the second call to action and opt-in form.
And don’t forget to reassure people that you respect their privacy.
6. How much information should you ask for?
This one’s easy.
The less form data you ask for, the more people sign up.
We tested asking for first name and email address against email address only, and the latter won. Now, we only ask for an email address (go figure).
If your business goals dictate getting more information, like a mailing address and phone number, so be it. Personally, I’d get the prospect on the list first, and then send valuable content that culminates with a call to action that asks for that information via a contact form.
The more trust you build, the more people open up to you. And you get to communicate with prospects regularly, which means it’s no longer an all-or-nothing situation.
7. What works better?
Everything above represents tried-and-tested wisdom for email opt-in pages.
But when it comes down to what specifically works for you and your audience, only your own split-testing will tell the whole truth.
Changes to headlines, button colors, and other tiny tweaks can make a big difference when it comes to your opt-in rate. Just don’t forget step one above.
In other words, tweaking your landing page to get the absolute best opt-in rate doesn’t mean much if you’re attracting the wrong people for your ultimate goal of selling something.
You need to make sure you test within the bounds of a well-targeted premise that resonates with your intended audience. Remember the first step at all times.
Opt-in pages made easy
Often, people are well aware of best practices for creating an effective opt-in page. And yet they don’t follow some of them (especially split-testing) because it can be a pain.
Our Premise Landing Page System for WordPress makes creating and split-testing opt-in pages a snap, and features easy integration with Aweber, Mail Chimp, and Constant Contact.
Plus, you’ll never attract the wrong crowd to your list with the Premise Guide to Effective Copywriting — a 23-page manual and hour-long audio seminar included at no extra charge.
About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Twitter.
Our Premise Landing Page System for WordPress manages all the heavy lifting when it comes to turning traffic into money:
- Quickly and easily create 7 critical landing page styles with WordPress, add visual flair with included custom graphics, and control fonts, colors, and styles without code.
- Make your words work with copywriting advice delivered directly from your WordPress interface for each type of landing page, plus the Premise Guide to Effective Copy seminar and manual.
- Detailed conversion optimization seminars, easy split-testing from WordPress, and SEO tools ensure that you’re getting the absolute most out of your landing pages.