How to Create an Irresistible Free Opt-In Offer

checked-295296_1280Want to grow your business using online marketing? Then growing your email list is one of the smartest moves you can make.

Email marketing is a proven way to cultivate relationships with highly interested prospects. When they trust you with their email address, they are raising their hand and letting you know they’re interested. By staying in touch and providing valuable tips, insights, and useful information consistently, you’re setting yourself up to become a trusted, top-of-mind, go-to resource.

But before you start dishing out generous tidbits in your email marketing, you’ve got to entice the right people to opt in for your list. And because there’s so much information out there, what you’re offering better be good. In fact, it needs to be irresistible. Even though it’s free, it has to be worth their time and attention. Your free opt-in offer — also known as a lead magnet, ethical bribe, or free taste — has to be something they need or desire.

So what makes a free opt-in offer irresistible?

It must be prominent on your website or landing page. First and foremost, the opt-in offer should be visible and eye-catching. Place the form and/or button where people won’t miss it. When possible, include a graphic or photo to represent what people will be getting. And make sure it stands out from the rest of your content with bold colors and text. Consider adding a friendly pop up, because — no matter how annoying you might think a pop up is — evidence continues to show that pop-ups increase conversions.

It needs to speak directly to your prospect’s specific and pressing problem. To create a free opt-in offer that your prospects can’t ignore, it should go without saying that you need to know precisely who your ideal prospects are. Get clear on exactly who you want on your list, and know as much about that person’s wants, needs, challenges, and desires as possible. If you haven’t gone through the exercise of creating an ‘ideal client avatar’ or ‘buyer persona’, now is the time to drill down and figure out who your marketing should be targeting, and build your offer around that. What you offer them has to speak directly to something that’s on their mind at the time they land on your site. You want to offer something that relieves a pain point and that is a top-most priority for them.

Compelling copy matters. No matter how great the content of your free opt-in offer is, your prospects will pass right by it if the title, headline, description, and button text doesn’t catch their interest. That’s why it’s important to speak their language and know exactly how they talk about their issues. Use your prospects own words to have your copywriter whip up some hard-hitting text that grabs their attention and inspires them to take action. When your ideal customer lands on your page, you want them to take one look at your offer and think, ‘I’ve got to check this out!’

It should be easily consumable. A strong opt-in offer needs to provide a dose of instant gratification — your prospects should know it’s going to meet their needs within the first few minutes. You’ve made a promise, so you better deliver right away; otherwise, they will lose interest. And remember that this is the beginning of a relationship, so make it brief — few people want to commit to a long drawn-out e-course, for example, before they’ve tested you out and know it will be worth their time. You can always follow up with a nurture sequence of emails that add more depth, additional insights, or supplementary material, but you want to make sure your prospects get a good taste of what they’re looking for right from the start.

How do you pick the best opt-in offer format for your target audience?

Now that you have a better understanding of what will make your opt-in offer irresistible, you might be wondering what format delivery is best. And we often get this question from clients: “What attracts higher conversions — audio, PDF downloads, video?”

There is not a magic formula, and no particular format works best every time across the board. You have to know your audience. Formats vary from written to audio or visual, or even interactive, such as quizzes or assessments. Always consider your audience’s needs and state of mind as you develop your opt-in offer, but the format itself can vary.

Are your prospects seeking information to learn how to possibly solve a problem? Then create a free how-to guide or mini course. Teach them how they can address a problem that’s related to your company’s products or services. Give your best advice and be sure to provide real value they can use, not fluff. Some will take the information and move on, creating good karma or spreading the word. Others will realize they need more help, and start to seriously consider purchasing your products and services.

Are they shopping around, comparing different options? Then offer a free report that showcases your insights and capabilities or a set of case studies that illustrate how well your product or service worked for others. Another option would be to offer a workbook or assessment that walks them through your process step-by-step to give them a sneak peek at what sets you apart. While your competition remains a relative mystery, they now have a better idea of how you tick and what it’s like to work with you.

If you approach it right, and focus on the value, the content can be delivered as a downloadable PDF, audio, video, infographic, interactive form, or a combination of formats. What is most important is that you deliver on your promise and meet or exceed your prospect’s expectations. If they couldn’t resist your offer, make sure they don’t regret trusting you with their email address and investing their time and attention. Deliver crap, and you likely won’t get a second chance to make a good impression. Deliver quality, and this may be the start of a long-term, and hopefully profitable, relationship.

Want help creating an irresistible opt-in offer for your business? Give us shout, and we’ll be happy to cook something special up for you.

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