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online-business-create-optin-page-1Offering people in your target market a free product in return for their name and email is such a basic concept in online marketing, but many people struggle with the technology.

Yet without this free product, often called a freebie, you won’t be able to grow your subscriber list. And without the list, you won’t have people to sell to via email. Email marketing is the bedrock of online success.

In this post, I’m assuming that you have something to give away and just need to create an opt-in page where people can subscribe to get it.

Here’s a brief overview of the process. Note that the specifics will vary depending on your email service provider, page builder, etc.

Upload the freebie to an online storage location

In order to deliver your freebie, you need to give subscribers a link that lets them download it. Here are some options:

  • Your WordPress Media Library: Use this only if the freebie is a small file and you don’t expect high volume. Click Add Media, upload the file, and click Edit to see the URL.
  • online-business-create-optin-page-2Amazon S3: This is what I use because it’s very inexpensive, fast, and reliable. Start here to create a free account but note that you will pay a small amount each month for storage and traffic, probably less than $5. Watch the video. Be sure to organize your content into “buckets” and folders. Once you’ve uploaded a file, click it to see its URL.
  • Google Drive: You can use Google Drive to store documents up to your limit. Once you’ve uploaded your freebie, click Share and Get a LInk to get the URL.

Once you have uploaded your freebie, note the URL. You’ll need it later so keep that URL handy!

Create your opt-in page

In WordPress, create a new page. (The same principles apply to other types of websites.) I say this because I DON’T recommend that you let your email service provider host the opt-in form. It won’t be branded properly and it will have an unexpected URL (owned by your email service provider) that will confuse and even worry people. (Was my browser hacked?!?) That will cause some people to close the browser tab and choose not to fill out the form.

Here are the elements you want:

  • A title with a strong benefit that will entice people to want your freebie
  • A few bullet points about what they’ll get and why they should want it
  • An image of the freebie cover
  • A statement that you’ll send the freebie to the email they provide in the form
  • It will then have the opt-in form–I explain the process of getting that below

online-business-opt-in-form-1

Below the opt-in form, you need some text that says that you’ll protect people’s personal information (their name and email) and that explains that they’ll get a subscription to your newsletter. Briefly explain what’s in the newsletter and how often it comes out. This will comply with the European Union’s GDPR law.

Here’s what I say on one of my opt-in pages. The link is to my privacy statement.

Create a new list in your email service provider

online-business-create-optin-page-3

I’m assuming that you have an email service provider. Go there and create a new list and give it a name that’s related to the freebie you will offer.

Note: Some newer email service providers work on the concept of tags — in that case, create a tag.

You’ll need to specify some settings and then you’ll have a brand new list. If you have questions about some of the settings, keep reading because I explain more below.

Get the opt-in form code from your email service provider

Your email service provider has a section for opt-in forms — they may call it something slightly different like a “sign-up form” — you get the code there. Remember what I said earlier — use the code and embed it on your website’s opt-in page. Don’t let your email service provider host the form.

I use a page builder to make prettier pages but if you don’t have one, you’ll want to use the design feature in your email service provider to make your opt-in form stand out more. For more information on what a page builder is, see this blog post, “Which tools do you need to build an online business?

You might have a choice of JavaScript or HTML — I always use the HTML because it seems to work in more places. Copy the code to the clipboard. If you want, paste it into a simple text editor like Notepad.

Keep your email service open because you’ll need to come back to it.

Insert the opt-in form code into your opt-in page

Go back to your opt-in page. In WordPress, click on the Text tab, go to where you want the opt-in form to be, click to place the cursor there, (or add a custom HTML block in the Gutenberg block editor), and paste in your opt-in form code. If you’re using a page builder (OptimizePress, Thrive Architect, Divi, etc.), paste the code into the right spot in the opt-in box element that you insert.

Save and view the page to check it out.

Create a thank-you page

Now create a thank-you page on your website. This is where people will go once they complete the opt-in form. Here’s what goes on your thank-you page:

  • A thank-you statement, of course
  • A statement that they should look for the email with the information to download. Remind them to look in Spam and/or Promotions tab (if they have Gmail)
  • Optional but recommended: An offer for a related product

Create a delivery page

Now create a delivery page. It should have:

  • The name of the freebie
  • A picture of the freebie
  • A big button that links to the freebie. Remember at the top, you uploaded it to an online storage location and got the URL? That’s what you will link to.
  • Optional but recommended: An offer for a related product

Finish setting up your list

There are a few settings you need to specify in your email service provider:

  • Make the list single opt-in: Because you’re requiring people to pick up the freebie via email, you’ll have confirmation that their email is valid and you’ll lose too many people with double opt-in
  • Specify where people go after they click the opt-in form button: If you can’t find this setting, contact the Support service. It should be the thank you page.
  • Create an autoresponder for the list that goes out as soon as someone signs up. The autoresponder should thank people for asking for the freebie and give them the link of the delivery page. You can add more, such as some information about you and what you do and an offer.

Test your opt-in form!

It’s extremely important to test your opt-in form by:

  1. Filling out the form
  2. Making sure you get to the thank you page
  3. Making sure you get the autoresponder email
  4. Making sure that when you click the link in the email, you go to the delivery page
  5. Clicking the download link on the delivery page to be sure you get the freebie

Write more autoresponders

Your autoresponders create your initial relationship with your new subscribers and help create trust. They should also try to turn them into customers. Write at least 5-10 autoresponders to:

  • Tell people who you are and what you do–tell your story, show off some of your accomplishments and expertise, develop their trust in you
  • Try to get them to respond to you with their needs and desires
  • Help them to get the most out of the freebie
  • Make them an offer for a related product

Promote your freebie!

Once you know it works, it’s time to let the world know.  Good luck!

One term that’s often used for building your list is “lead generation.” Sue Painter has a great post, “5 Lead Generation Tips for Small Business,” that will help you use your opt-in page more effectively to turn subscribers into customers.

What’s stopping you?

If you have questions about getting your free offer up and running with an opt-in form, leave a comment. And please share this using the Share buttons below because other people need to hear about this, too.

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    10 replies to "How to Create an Opt-in Page to Grow Your Subscriber List"

    • Jen Cooper

      Thank you for this tutorial. I tried it on my site but I can’t find any opt-in forms. I have a personal wordpress.com site. For the email service provider, I use mailchimp and it only allows me to create a campaign and a list. What should I do?

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      Here are instructions from MailChimp that include WordPress.com: https://mailchimp.com/help/ways-to-add-a-signup-form-in-wordpress/

    • momtraneur

      This is very helpful. I will come back to this again and again as I try to build my list and expand my offers in the future. Thank you.

    • Gary V.

      Sounds technical but doable. Thanks!

    • Kris O'Donnel

      I was just about to ask a question about wp.com’s opt-in forms when I saw the answer in one of the comments. Will try Mailchimp. Thanks!

    • Linda Milton

      This is one of the things that I find difficult to do. But I will try. Good thing you give a very well written guide and for that thanks.

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      Linda, which email service are you using? Some of them make it very hard, to tell you the truth. Also, be sure to ask their support when you get stuck.

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      I do want to say that I don’t recommend MailChimp or Constant Contact. They make it difficult to do this procedure in the most effective way.

    • Kathy Mason

      What plugin do you use to make the pdfs from blog posts?

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      Kathy, I use Post Gopher. Here’s my affiliate link: https://www.ellenhelps.me/pdf. It brings me new subscribers regularly.

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